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Authors: Adrianne Byrd

Wishing On A Starr

BOOK: Wishing On A Starr
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Wishing on A Starr

 

By

Adrianne Byrd

 

Prologue

Christmas Eve, Talboton, GA 1990

“I told you ain’t had no business marryin’ that boy,” Ma Belle ranted as she paced across the dingy blue-gray carpet of her small shotgun house. “Now he done run off and got himself killed in that damn war.”

Seventeen-year old, Gia Hunter sobbed in the cupped palms of her hands. Her short life had been riddled with pain and loss-and it showed no signs of ever ending.

“Now you might as well cut out all that hollerin’. Cryin’ never fix nothin’,” Ma Belle continued. “You need to figure out what you gonna to do about that baby. I’m too old to be having another nappy-headed chile runnin’ around here. Your sister, Glenda, has plenty-and let’s not talk about all those babies that hard-headed brother of yours, Byron, got.”

“I c-can take care of my own baby,” Gia spat out in between sobs and finally pushed herself out of the rickety dinning room chair. “I don’t need nobody’s help.”

“Now where have I heard that before?” Ma Belle settled her hands against her thick hips while her heated face twisted with a fusion of anger and disappointment. “Oh, yeah. I believe it was Glenda with her first child or maybe it was the sixth.”

A waterfall of tears poured down Gia’s determined face. Why she thought she could come to her grandmother for support in her time of need she’d never know. She snatched her husband’s army dog tags from the table and headed for the door. Her strides were slow, her gait wide.

“Lawd have mercy. Look at you. You’re ruining my carpet.”

Gia stopped and feverishly wiped away her tears so she could glance down. She still couldn’t see anything, but she could feel the moisture running down her legs. “My water broke.”

“You don’t say.” Ma Belle’s face flushed burgundy as she turned and hollered toward the back of the house. “Byron, go and pull the car around. It’s time to take your sister to the hospital.”

Gia’s eyes widened as a painful contraction nearly buckled her knees. “But it’s too early. I-I’m not due until-” She eased toward the kitchen table.

“No, no. You’re not going to ruin my good chairs.” Ma Belle strolled over to her and draped a firm arm around her shoulders and redirected her toward the door.

Gia heard Byron’s dry callous feet shuffle across the kitchen floor before she saw his tall, thin frame.
“What’s all the yellin’ about?” he asked groggily, turning toward the refrigerator.
There wasn’t much in the old, olive green icebox, but it didn’t stop him from peering inside of it twenty times a day.
“Boy, I told you to get the car. Gia is about to have this baby.”
“Now?” Byron asked, scratching his large, matted, and lopsided Afro.
“Yes, now,” Ma Belle barked.

Another contraction hit Gia and she dropped her husband’s dog tags and leaned the majority of her weight against her grandmother. Luckily, Ma Belle was built like the rock of Gibraltar, and she voiced no complaint.

However, her brother was another story. He grumbled and mumbled under his breath while he dressed, started the car, and drove them toward the Baptist hospital on the edge of town. Ma Belle and Glenda squeezed into the car and everyone fussed about there being another hungry mouth to feed.

Gia tuned them out and focused on the tiny life inside of her. She was about to become a mother...a single mother-just like most of the women in her large and dysfunctional family. She closed her eyes while fresh tears leaked from them.

Jermaine Hunter, her high school sweetheart and husband of one year, smiled back at her. She loved and missed him, but she was also angry with him for leaving her. He was supposed to take her away from all of this. Instead she was stuck in a dead-end town with a tenth-grade education, and no hope of escaping her family’s curse of poverty.

She cried out as another tidal wave of pain slammed into her small frame. She could feel something happening between her legs.
“All that hollerin’ ain’t necessary,” Ma Belle preached, but there was an undeniable note of concern laced in her voice.
“I feel the baby’s head,” Gia panted with worry.
“Oh, hell,” Byron grumbled and sped up.

Thanks to the lack of tire suspension on the thirty-year-old car, she felt every pebble and dip in the road. A cramp crept along her spine and Gia swore she was just seconds away from crawling out of her skin.

Glenda reached over and took her hand, and Gia squeezed it with all of her might.

The ten-minute drive felt more like an eternity. And sure enough, the baby’s head had already crowned by the time the emergency room nurses took over.

Everything seemed like it was going in slow motion and the pain consumed her. There was no time to administer the epidural. And the tension rose at the announcement of the baby being entangled in the umbilical cord. Gia was instructed to stop pushing, but she wasn’t aware that she had been doing so.

The pain lasted so long she was becoming numb to it. Once she did, Gia fretted over everyone’s pensive expressions and deep frowns. Was something wrong?

When the voice in the back of her head reminded her that she was a month early, Gia feared the worst.

“Here we go,” the doctor said, glancing up to meet Gia’s gaze. “I want you to give me a big push now. Do you think you can do that?”

She nodded even though she was filled with doubt. She couldn’t feel the lower part of her body so how could she muster the strength to push?

“That’s it,” the doctor encouraged to Gia’s surprise. Seconds later, the room filled with a baby’s strangled cry.
“It’s a girl,” the doctor announced.
“Time: twelve-ten,” a nurse announced. “We have ourselves a Christmas baby.”

Joy and relief erased her body’s pain instantly, but she was stunned to see a nurse, after cleaning, and wrapping her baby, rush from the room.

“Wait,” she called out.

A nurse moved to her side and placed a reassuring hand against her shoulder. “Don’t worry. We’re going to take good care of her. She’s a tiny little thing, but I’m sure she’s a fighter.” She winked.

More tears spilled down Gia’s face. She wanted to see her baby girl. She wanted to see if she could spot some of Jermaine’s beautiful features.

“Okay, here comes the next one.”

However, Ma Belle stepped in, and Gia never got that chance to see her beautiful baby girl.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

New York, today.

 

On the first official shopping day of the Christmas season, Daniel Davis couldn’t believe he’d agreed to let his daughter, Starr, and her best friend, Neve, drag him down Fifth Avenue to ogle the department store Christmas windows. Moreover, he was stunned by the number of people who crowded around in the freezing cold to do the same thing. Thirty minutes into the trip, he grudgingly admitted he was quite impressed with the spectacular displays. “Is there a prize or something involved?” he asked.

Starr playfully rolled her eyes in a way that was adorable even though the gesture usually meant her father was the biggest goofball she’d ever known.

“No, Mr. Davis. Not unless you count drawing in the most Christmas shoppers. That in itself would be a prize worth fighting for,” Neve said, staring dreamily up at him.

Daniel smiled. “I believe you’re right.”
The teenager beamed a wired smile, while her dimpled cheeks darkened.
Starr elbowed Neve out of her trance and hissed, “Cut it out.”
“What?”

Daniel just shook his head at the life-long friends. However, after another hour of bobbing and weaving between shoppers and tourists, he was beginning to feel like an old man.

“Dad, can we go in here to shop for a little while?” Starr asked with anxious eyes.

Daniel glanced up at the name of the store. “Saks Fifth Avenue?” He gave her a dubious look. “I don’t think your allowance is going to quite cut it in there.”

“Daaad.” Starr glanced around, looking as if she hoped no one heard him. “It doesn’t cost anything to just look around.”

Or use his credit cards
, he wanted to add. Though he sensed a trap, Daniel could feel himself succumbing to her ever tried-and-true, lost puppy-dog expression. “All right.”

The teenagers squealed and turned toward the door.

“Just for a little while,” Daniel shouted above the crowd, but was uncertain if they heard him. By the time he made it inside the door, the girls were gone. He glanced at his watch. “Great. Now I’m going to be here all day.”

A petite, Asian salesclerk approached him, wearing a wide smile. “Can I help you with anything, sir?”
“Unfortunately, no.” He removed his gloves.
“Ah,” she said, brightening. “You must be shopping with your wife. Usually, I can tell, but I didn’t see you holding a purse.”
Daniel’s smile downgraded considerably as his fingers rubbed against his gold wedding band. “Actually...I’m a widower.”
“Oh,” the woman’s smile collapsed on cue as she moved closer. “I’m so sorry. Did she pass recently?”
“It feels that way, but it’s been a while.” The flow of traffic increased and Daniel quickly stepped out of the way.
The salesclerk moved with him. “And a while is...?”
He blinked. “Four years.”
Her smiled returned. “My, that has been a while.”

“Yes, it has.” This part was always a little tricky for Daniel. Did the glint in the woman’s eyes mean she was interested or were there were too many Christmas lights reflecting off of them? He hoped the latter, because he was guessing that he had a minimum of twenty years on the woman.

To say Daniel was a little rusty at the dating game would be putting it mildly. Starr had even gone so far to tease that she never understood how he ever got married in the first place.

“So does this mean you’re here with a girlfriend? I’d imagine someone like you has a long line of willing women and an equally long line of broken hearts?”

Daniel laughed awkwardly. “Uh, no. It’s nothing like that. I’m just here with my daughter.” He moved to check out a table of silk scarves.

Once again, the salesclerk moved with him. “So how old is your daughter?”

“How
old
are you?” Starr’s high, tense voice sliced through the conversation.

Turning with a frown, Daniel found his daughter and her best friend glaring up at the salesclerk.
“Oh, this must be your beautiful daughter. I can definitely see the resemblance.”
“I’m adopted,” Starr said with a no nonsense attitude and obvious disdain. “How old did you say you were?”
“Starr! That’s no way to talk to your elders,” he reprimanded.

“Er, you know.” The woman took a tentative step backwards. “I need to be getting back to the other customers. If there’s anything I can help you with just let me know.” She turned and quickly disappeared among the shoppers.

Daniel glanced back at his daughter in time to see her and Neve high-five each other. “I can’t believe you just did that.”

“She was too young for you,” Starr said simply. “I leave you alone for two minutes and you’re rocking the cradle with some nine-year old.”

“She’s hardly nine.”
“Might as well be. Jeez, dad. If I’d known you were that desperate I would’ve set you up with Neve.”
Neve smiled and then looked confused to whether she had just been insulted or not.
“I’m not taking dating tips from my fourteen-year old.”
“I’ll be fifteen on Christmas Day,” she announced proudly.
“Keep putting your nose where it doesn’t belong and I doubt you’ll make it that far.”

The lost puppy-dog look came back into play and Daniel resisted wound around Starr’s finger. “I mean it, Starr. I’ll not have you talk to grownups that way. Know your place.”

“Fine.” She huffed.
“Excuse me?”
“I mean, yes, sir,” she amended.
“That’s better.” He leaned over and planted a kiss against her forehead.
BOOK: Wishing On A Starr
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