Unbound (Forbidden Bond Book 1)(5)

By: Cat Miller

Adele paused, and for the first time in Griffin’s memory she looked nervous. She cleared her throat, another thing he’d never heard her do, before she continued. She handed him a stack of papers. “I acquired documentation from a source at the human hospital. Apparently, the girl was hemorrhaging. The delivery had taken the ultimate toll on her body. She succumbed to the injuries she received during birth and died in the ER.”

Adele handed Griffin a death certificate for Tessa Lynn Taylor. Tears began to stream down his angry face, and he did not attempt to wipe them away.

Adele continued. “The child lived two more days before she also lost her battle. The cause of death is listed as failure to thrive.” She then handed Griffin the birth and death certificates for Soleil Taylor. The documents both listed the father as unknown.

“It’s really too bad we didn’t find the child sooner. The idiots at the human hospital had no idea she needed blood to survive. The girl’s parents died years ago, and she had no other family besides an older stepsister. By the time the authorities were able to locate the stepsister, the bodies had been cremated, as per hospital policy in cases of unclaimed persons. The sister collected the ashes and had them buried in her father’s family plot.”

Lloyd stepped up, coolly patting Griffin on the back, and said, “Well, now that you know the truth, you can stop all this foolishness.”

Griffin’s body shook with sobs as his mother went to the window, appearing bored with it all.

His father continued. “We have done all we can to keep this mistake quiet so your name won’t be damaged. But people are starting to ask questions about your behavior. It’s time for you to move on, son. We have had a binding arranged for you since you were small. Richard Ashburn wants to know if we are going to back out of our agreement. His daughter, Sarah, has waited patiently for too long now. Will you finally do your duty and stop shaming our family name?”

Griffin got up on wobbly legs, still sobbing, and quietly left the room. He clutched the papers to his chest as if they were all he had left in the world. He didn’t make a sound as he retreated to the bedroom of his childhood and collapsed onto the small bed. His feet hung way over the footboard.

He wept all night, trying to understand how he could’ve been unaware of his family’s death and why he still felt a connection to Tessa. The only conclusion he could come to was the fact that their bond had not been as strong as he had expected. The emotional bond could not have been stronger, but her humanity had impeded the blood bond.

When morning came, he emerged, red-eyed and defeated. He found his parents in the kitchen, trading sections of the newspaper.

“Mother, Father, I am ready to do my duties as your son and carry on the Vaughn family name with pride. I will disappoint you no longer. Please tell Mr. Ashburn I’ll be coming to ask for Sarah’s hand today.” Without waiting for a response, Griffin left them in the kitchen and set about the business of moving on with his shattered life.

 Present day

The day Danielle had been dreading since she received her college acceptance letter the previous spring had arrived. She was transferring from community college to an out-of-state school in upstate New York. How was she supposed to leave Lucas there in Perry Hall? How could she say good-bye to the person she had spent almost every day with for two years? Lucas had been her boyfriend and one of her best friends since the first day of college. She thought back to that day and smiled.

 Dani could tell the freshmen from everyone else, because they all wandered around, staring at maps of the campus with anxious expressions similar to her own.

She pushed her way through a swarm of plastic-looking girls with cell phones and too much hair product, to get into the science building. She could feel the stares burn through the back of her head. She ignored them and headed off to her first class. She could hear the snickers and comments about her hair as she walked down the corridor.

 In high school, nobody even noticed it after a while. They were so used to it that it was no longer mentioned. Dani was going to have to start all over. On the way into class, several jocks shadowed her. They, too, had noticed the white streaks in the front of her dark, chocolate-brown hair. She took a seat at the front of the room and pulled out her map and schedule to find the shortest route to her next class.

One of the jocks snickered, “This place is a zoo. Did you see? They’re enrolling zebras now too.”

That was when an angel in blue jeans and a Hollister T-shirt came to her rescue. He had entered the classroom just in time to hear the comment and the laughter that followed. He scowled at the jock and quipped, “They’ve also started letting jackasses on the local football team.” Another round of laughter erupted.

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