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No. It might have been somewhere I’d lived, but it felt like anything but home.

It didn’t even have stilts.

“Nadine will show you to your room,” the senator said, nodding to the middle-aged woman with olive skin and dark brown hair pulled into a bun at the nape of her neck, as she emerged from the house. She wore black slacks and a white short-sleeved Polo shirt. “Nadine here has been filled in on your situation. She can answer any questions you might have.” The senator looked satisfied with his introductions as if he’d just introduced a new man on the job to his boss. “Do you remember Nadine at all, Ramie?”

“No, I don’t remember anyone,” I clipped.

The senator rolled his eyes. “I see your attitude hasn’t suffered along with your memory. Nadine is…well, Nadine does it all. She’s been with us since you were born. We will talk more soon.” With a curt nod the senator popped back in the car. He rolled down the window. “Despite what you may be thinking, it is good to have you home, Ramie.”

“You’re leaving?” I asked. “Just like that?”

“I should be back in a few days. I have meetings. Your mother isn’t around. She’s at the spa…again. We’ll talk soon.” The car drove off.

“Mr. Fucking Personality,” I mumbled. Nadine laughed out loud then clasped her hand over her mouth. She cleared her throat. “Well, he’s right about one thing,” she said, with a slight southern accent, “that attitude of yours hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Nadine led us up the steps and opened the front door, stepping aside so I could enter. “So you know me well, I take it?”

“Girl, I’ve known you since you were in diapers. I know you the best,” she said with a smile that made me believe her. “Now come on, let’s get you something to eat and then I’ll let you get settled in your room.” I followed Nadine like a lost baby duck and I hated it. I hadn’t felt so helpless since I’d lived on the streets and I’d promised myself I never would again. But there I was, following a stranger around an unfamiliar house because I had no other options.

No, I’d been left with no other options, I reminded myself. Sure, I could have called a cab and hightailed it out of there, but there was only one other place I could go.

And it was empty.

Even if King weren’t on his way back to prison would he even still want me there after being fully prepared to give me away?

Would I even want to be there after all that?

I wasn’t prepared to think about that just yet.

Inside the house floors were all dark wood. The walls a light dove gray. It was tasteful but not overbearing. Comfortable yet modern.

I fucking hated it.

“Kind of simple for the house of a politician, no?” I questioned.

Nadine shut the door behind me while I stood in a small foyer, which doubled as a hallway, and took in my surroundings. “He’s a rising politician,” she explained. “He doesn’t come from old money like a lot of the good ole boys in this state. He was a computer programmer. He’s made it to where he is on his campaign promises, not his bank account,” Nadine informed me. “And that’s rare these days.”

“You sound like you like him” I asked in surprise.

She shook her head. “It’s not a matter of liking him or not liking him. He has his downfalls. We all do. But the man deserves credit where credit is due.” She stepped out in front of me and again led the way. “Certainly his fathering techniques leave a lot to be desired, but when it comes to politics, no one can argue that the man hasn’t achieved some remarkable things.”

We came to a stop in the center of the house. The kitchen, dining room, and living area all shared one open space, with the kitchen at an angle in the far corner. The cabinets were tall and off-white. The countertops a shiny black. “Sit.” Nadine nodded toward one of the high-backed barstools tucked under the raised counter. But I just stood there; the realization of what was really happening finally started to resonate. I’d always wondered what the house I grew up in looked like, and I was finally there. However, I didn’t feel any of the elation I’d imagined I would.

I was still in shock. Angry. Bitter. Confused as all hell.

But elated?

Nope.

Nadine pulled out ingredients from different cabinets and turned on the gas burner. “Sit, girl. I’ll fix you something. You can ask me anything you want. I know how you are with questions.” She grinned and wiped her hands on the apron she’d tied around her waist.

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