Wings Over Poppies (Over #2)

Wings Over Poppies (Over #2) by J.A. DeRouen

Book: Wings Over Poppies (Over #2) by J.A. DeRouen Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.A. DeRouen
Tags: Wings Over Poppies
recovered from the shock, I gave Marlo the affirmative, and she welcomed me with open arms. I’ve been laughing every day since. She’s high on life and doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks about her. It’s hard not to follow that same thought process when you’re in her presence.
    “This is the last of the paintbrushes, so I’ll take the kids to the front of the gallery to wait for their rides.” Marlo dries her hands and takes a quick moment to assess the damage. Once she’s satisfied that her nails came out unscathed, she turns to address the kids. “Please bring your projects to the back table to dry, and then follow me to the front so we can wait for everyone’s ride!”
    Her words cause a frenzy of activity. Little hands and feet scurry about the workroom with the exception of Celia and Timothy, one of the more challenging children.
    Timothy struggles with the fact that his father has been deployed to the Middle East for the better part of two years. His mother tries her best to assume the role of both parents, but Timothy has anger issues at home and school. E-mails, phone calls, and Skype sessions with his father haven’t been enough for an eleven-year-old boy who’s struggling.
    “No!” Timothy screams, wiping the table clean of his project and all the paints and brushes. Celia doesn’t even flinch, keeping a calm and reassuring smile on her face. Her expression says, “I care about you despite the way you’re acting. You won’t chase me away.”
    The ping of my phone pulls my attention away from them, and I grab it off the counter.
    Caroline: I have something for you. Can you stop by New Horizons after art class?
    Startled, I raise my hand to my heart. I don’t think I’m ready. Only a few weeks have passed since I solicited her help, and it took all the nerve I could muster to go to her. Do I have enough left in me to deal with whatever she tells me?
    Do I really have a choice? No. I have to meet this head on. I may grieve, I may rejoice, I may ache with hurt, but I won’t remain in the dark any longer.
    Me: I’ll be there in an hour.
    A fire lights within me, and suddenly I can’t lock up the gallery and get out of here fast enough. I look over to Celia and Timothy and see them both kneeling, collecting the scattered art supplies in companionable silence. I’m not sure how she calmed him, but his temper seems to be in check now. He may need extra attention, but I see the great kid hidden behind the anger.

    “Knock, knock.” I slip into Caroline’s office, fighting my conflicting emotions of running away and shaking her until she tells me what she knows.
    “That was quick. I wasn’t expecting you for a while yet.” Caroline closes the file in front of her to give me her full attention.
    “We got out of there fast today. Marlo was able to help this morning, and the extra hands made for quick clean up.”
    She remains quiet, watching me closely, as if I may spontaneously combust at any moment. Who knows, I may do just that. Her gentle eyes ease my soul more than any words can, but I can’t forget why I’m here. It’s only been minutes, but it feel like hours have passed since either of us has spoken.
    “He’s alive, Alex.”
    A sob escapes me before she finishes the sentence, and the relief floods my body in a swift wave.
    “Thank God. Oh, thank God,” I whisper as the tears take over.
    I grip my chest and bend at the waist to ease the tremendous ache. It’s like my longing, my loving him, has magnified a hundred times over with just that one declaration from Caroline. Maybe it’s my mind’s way of protecting itself. Maybe I couldn’t process the entirety of my feelings in case he was lost to me. Now that I know he’s still with me in this world, my need is amplified and overwhelming.
    I feel Caroline’s hand running up and down my back, whispering words of encouragement.
    “Let it out, sweet girl. It’s all right. You need to feel it and be grateful for

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