Free Maria by Briana Gaitan

Book: Maria by Briana Gaitan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Briana Gaitan
Chapter One
    She stood in the hallway of my apartment building with her sparkly backpack thrown over one shoulder. I watched her foot tap against the carpet. What is she nervous about? She attempted to catch my eye by waving her hands in front of my face. “Uh, hell—o?”
    “Um, who did you say you were looking for again?” I asked. I rarely got visitors, let alone young girls in the middle of the night.
    “Maria Rose. Are you Maria Rose?”
    “I—I am. Who are you, kid?”
    She pushed her way past me and walked straight into my living room. I spun around ready to push her out. Who was she? “Excuse me, but you can’t burst into other people’s apartment uninvited.”
    “You got a husband?” She peeked into the adjacent kitchen then twirled around to look into the hallway. The whole apartment was three bedrooms, tiny, but the only thing I could afford on a LA waitressing budget.
    “No, no husband. Who are you? Are you lost?”
    “Got any more kids?”
    “ Any more? What—” I may have been a beauty school dropout and college dropout, heck, I was even a bartending school dropout, but I wasn’t stupid. I was smart. Street smart and that was all that mattered. She turned to look at me, and I instantly recognized her blonde hair and enormous blue eyes engulfed in long dark lashes. I tugged at my own blonde hair, brittle from years of bleach to lighten it back to its former glory. She had my lean frame, but the rest of her…well that was from her father. She was the spitting image of her father.
    “Ah, so it’s finally clicking.” She threw her backpack on the table and pulled out a giant pen and Kitten notebook. “I’ve got like a million questions, and if we hurry I can still get home in time to watch Bones. ”
    “Wait. I don’t understand. Why are you here? How did you get my address? How did you find out about me?”
    Annoyed, she threw her pencil down on the kitchen counter. I watched it bounce a few times and roll to a stop on the linoleum floor.
    “Ugh! You’re slow. I am your daughter.” She extenuated every syllable and spoke slowly in that unruly teenager tone. “I got your information from the adoption files. Your address is public record.”
    “How did you get ahold of those files?”
    “You’d be surprised what people will do for money. Took a whole three months allowance to save up.”
    I raised an eyebrow at her. “Don’t get smart with me, kid. This is a pretty big shock.”
    “Didn’t you think I’d come looking for you eventually?”
    “Yeah, when you were eighteen maybe. You were supposed to be able to find me when you turned eighteen. Not when you were…” I counted the years up in my head. “…twelve.”
    I’d prepared for this day ever since she was born, but suddenly all my speeches didn’t fit. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
    “When did your parents tell you that you were adopted?”
    She pulled out a few Andes Mints from her bag and offered me one. I declined and put my hands on my hips. She popped it in her mouth before speaking. “At the end of the summer before school started. Great timing, huh? Like I didn’t have enough going on with classes and stuff.”
    “I—I suppose.” How do I talk to a kid? I didn’t hang around them very often.
    “Well, I have this genealogy report due at school, and my parents are never around to help me so I thought I’d go straight to the actual source. My birth mother.” You can tell me all about my fabulous relatives and stuff.”
    “Genealogy? They actually make you do that type of stuff.”
    “Apparently, but whatever, you’re going off topic.”
    “Wait.” I shook my head, finally coming to my senses. “Did you say your parents are never around?” That couldn’t be right. I’d handpicked them myself. The father was a director, the mother a model. They came from old Hollywood money; they were supposed to be the perfect fit. They were supposed to be the perfect American family.
    “They work a

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