Same/Difference by DD Lorenzo by DD Lorenzo - Read Online

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Summary

Metamorphosis.

An exquisite transformation. A necessary mechanism of evolution whereby the change is not only in appearance, but also behavior. My transformation possessed no beauty. Only pain.

But just as the caterpillar morphs to a butterfly my strength is refined in the struggle, my flaws cocooned in the dark. If I survive the alteration my reward is to drink nectar and float on the breeze. Where I was once vulnerable, I will rise above.

The same, but different.

My name is Paige.

I'm spreading my wings.

Published: DD Lorenzo on
ISBN: 0991235967
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Same/Difference - DD Lorenzo

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ADVANCED READER COPY

Same/Difference

Book 4 in the Depth of Emotion Series

Copyright © 2016 D.D. Lorenzo

Editing by Catherine Dietz

Cover Design by: Regina Wamba of www.MaeIDesign.com

Stock woman: www.Thinkstock.com

ISBN-10: 0991235959

ISBN-13: 978-0-9912359-5-7

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without prior written permission from the copyright owner.

This is a work of fiction. While reference may be made to actual events or existing locations, the names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Title Page

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

About the Author

October 1998

Laughter drifted through the air, as invisible as dust particles floating in sunlight. Paige’s long, brown hair bounced and swayed in concert as she ran through the house. A lyrical note of giggles glided behind her. Her mother loved the sweet sound of this little one’s laugh.

Three was an odd number, but never more so than in relation to Paige. There was a special term for her—‘three-tween’. She was three going on thirteen. It was a term that Kyla coined to describe her youngest child. She was an effervescent bubble of charm, but this little girl could quickly exhaust her mother’s patience. She behaved as innocently as her years yet was fiercely independent beyond them.

Today, her older brother instigated her current happiness. He chased her around the house, inciting her sailing shrieks of excitement as he surprised her by doing goofy brother pranks like peeking around a corner, or plunging in the air as she entered the room unaware. Ricky enjoyed the game. His eyes were as brown as melted chocolate, the small specs of gold accentuating a mischievous sparkle. As a baby, Kyla rocked him gazing into his eyes endlessly. The gold flecks fascinating her. They gently reminded her that her little boy was as priceless as the metal itself.

Kyla was thankful that her children enjoyed a sibling friendship. Her friends assured her that the closeness was rare. Despite their age difference Ricky, or Rick as he preferred to be called now that he was in fourth grade, was extremely protective of his little sister. When Kyla was a little girl she shared a similar bond with her own brother.

"Hi-Yah!"

Ricky yelled as he extended his leg to demonstrate a karate kick. It was an attempt to intimidate his sister. His efforts were in vain. Paige rolled her eyes to prove the point. This wasn’t the first time he tried to impress his little sister. She was neither delighted nor bored with his imitation of a Kung Foo master. His next move made him fall over the arm of the brown, corduroy sofa. Paige barely escaped his projectile limb as it flew through the air.

Stop it, Ricky! she giggled.

Make me, punk!

Accepting the challenge, she pushed his foot out of her way. Her tiny giggle graduated to laughter when she realized she’d pushed so hard he lost his balance.

Spinning his body in a poorly executed roundhouse kick, his confidence faltered when his foot landed in the hollow of Paige’s collarbone.

Her bottom lip puckered as her eyes filled with tears.

Why did you do that?

I didn’t mean to hurt you. His shoulders slumped in defeat. I was just having fun.

"Mommy!"

Paige ran to the kitchen and gripped her mother’s leg for protection. She watched for her brother.

THUD!

He landed right in front of them. The old kitchen floor rebounded from the unwelcome force. Kyla jumped, as the sound jarred her from her thoughts. All that was left of Paige was a peek of her curls as she ran into the next room. The kids were in full force today! Wiping her hand on a dishtowel, she went after them shouting loud enough for them to hear her.

I’m warning you! Slow down, or you’re going to go to your room!

The threat had no effect. They whizzed by her and she grew increasingly more exasperated as they ignored her. She shook her head and returned to the kitchen. All the craziness was stressing her out and short-circuiting her nerves. Right now their only outlet was running around, playing games, and acting like wildlings. She decided to ignore it one last time. While the kids took off in the opposite direction she went back into the kitchen to prepare tonight’s dinner.

Under normal circumstances Paige and Rick would have been outside playing, but a hot and humid Baltimore day threatened thunderstorms. The sky waxed and waned with dark colors since the morning. Adding insult to injury was the putrid smell from the neighborhood garbage. The metal trashcans stood all over the vinicity like stinky sentries. On the radio the announcer said pick-up delays were a result of the weather. The sanitation workers couldn’t come soon enough for her. When she’d walked a bag out to the curb the pungent combination of household waste and sweltering heat made her nauseous.

Summer days were notorious for hot humidity on the East Coast. It was a unique mugginess that drenched you in perspiration as soon as you stepped outside. Today was no exception; in fact, it was one of the hottest days on record so far that year. The air reeked and was so oppressive that even air conditioning seemed inadequate. The poor window cooling systems had been working overtime but everything was still sticky to the touch. She hoped the weather forecast was correct and that a cool, soaking rain would be arriving to ward off the scorching temperatures.

Rick and Paige had given her a temporary, peaceful reprieve it seemed. Her decision to turn on the television paid off and when she glanced in the other room both of them were sucked into a show. Up until then the entire day had been an exercise in tolerance. Any weather that forced the kids to stay inside made her forfeit her sanity, but she reminded herself that they were just kids and didn’t want to be inside any more than she did.

As a damp tendril of hair fell across her check she pushed it out of her face and tucked it back into her ponytail. Any effort she made to fix her hair and makeup was in vain. The weather wasn’t conducive to looking pretty. If the coming rain was a shower and not a downpour, she could take the kids outside to jump in puddles. A good, rumbling shower could be a kid’s best friend. Kyla loved a good thunderstorm. As a child, she and her mom would take an umbrella outside and walk barefoot during a downpour. Now that she was an adult she was always glad when the opportunity presented itself to repeat the memory.

She silently tiptoed to the doorway, looking from the kitchen into the family room. Rick was sitting in his father’s overstuffed chair, engrossed as he watched Captain Chesapeake. Paige had wiggled beside him and was leaning her head on his shoulder. It was almost time to put her down for a nap but she knew it would be difficult. Her little girl was terribly afraid of storms, but a good children’s book could work miracles if Paige fell asleep while Kyla read it to her. Ricky would be happy watching something on television and she would have a little quiet time before her husband came home.

Her mind swirled. Kids. Storms. Dinner. She needed to get moving. Once she had the pan sizzling she washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. It was the calm before the storm, both literally and figuratively. Looking out the kitchen window she saw large black clouds moving in the direction of the house. Thunder had started to boom when she wiped down the counter and static was filling the air. As if right on cue, a loud smack sounded against the window. She shook her head. After the loud noise it would be a battle to get Paige to lie down.

I’ll bet you can’t catch me! It appeared Paige lost interest in the TV show and was goading her brother into playing Tag.

You wanna bet?

The children were once again running through the house. Paige’s voice percolated between laughter and squeals. Much to their mother’s dismay they darted behind, around, and in front of furniture, evading each other’s grip. It was only a matter of time before something was broken or someone was hurt. They ran relentlessly from room to room, bumping into walls with loud threats and screaming laughter. The excitement escalated. Paige seized the opportunity to hide under the dining room table.

Where are you?

Ricky shuffled through the house investigating her normal hiding places. Paige refused to answer him. She’d found the perfect hiding place under the table. Crouching low like a kitten she smiled while she tried to hold in her giggles. The tablecloth draped far enough over the sides so as to give her a sense of security. Watching his feet, she slapped her hand over her mouth. She tried not to make any noise as Ricky crept silently around the room. He came closer to the table, his footsteps hesitant. She barely breathed when he leaned against the table. It was too much excitement for a three-year-old.

"Tickle, tickle, tickle."

She got his foot and Ricky fell to the floor, banging his knee in the ruckus.

"Tag! You’re it!"

Even the most patient mother had a limit and Kyla had now hit hers. While the kids were running around, the storm had started. The wind was howling, the rain coming down in sheets and her nerves were shot. Exasperated, she threw the book angrily on the table.

"That’s it!" she yelled.

The proverbial straw had broken the camel’s back. She stomped quickly into the family room where the television still blared. Ricky froze in place. She pinned him with her stare, her expression forecasting that he was in very deep trouble.

"You!" She pointed at him with a rigid finger. Sit! Now!

He obeyed immediately. Opening his mouth to speak, he quickly closed it in the hope that he wouldn’t get into more trouble than he was already in. Kyla surveyed the room looking for Paige before returning her attention to her son.

"Where is your sister?" Her demanding tone should have given him a healthy dose of fear. He shifted his eyes from right to left and then looked down to the floor. She raised her voice louder.

"Where is she—NOW!"

I don’t know, Mom! The last time I saw her she was running!

He innocently shrugged his shoulders then folded his hands on his lap. He never took his eyes off his mother, watching silently as she pivoted toward another room in her quest to find Paige.

Paige! Get your little butt in here!

Kyla’s footsteps were heavy with irritation as she went in search of her daughter. In the days that followed, she would remember the exact moment she took a step toward Paige’s bedroom because blinding lightening ripped through the house. It cracked the sky so violently that the vibration shook the house.

An explosion of thunder boomed through the air making the windows rattle. Ricky hurled himself to the floor in fear and threw his arms protectively over his head. Kyla’s stress level heightened to panic and she grabbed her heart. The downpour that immediately followed produced grenade-like drops that detonated deafening sounds when they came in contact with the panes of glass. The two of them had barely caught their breath when the front door flew open and hit the wall behind it. In the doorway, Kyla’s wet husband stood soaked and heaving for breath. He wrestled with the wind to close the door behind him. Finally succeeding he stood in the living room dripping from the rain and heaving from the exertion. Ricky wasted no time and ran over to his father and threw his arms around the large man’s waist. His little face disappeared beneath the wet trench coat once he was safe in his father’s arms. Kyla’s own composure disintegrated and for a split second Paige was an afterthought. Everyone froze when sounds of banging and clanging metal came crashing to the floor.

"Aaaiiieee!!!"

An outburst, then silence.

A scream with no sound.

An unspeakable torment.

Flooded with a feeling of helplessness, Kyla rushed to her daughter. The entire scenario moved in slow motion. Her husband and Ricky ran behind her. Once they reached the kitchen her lungs were stripped of oxygen. Paige’s mouth was open with unspeakable pain, the kind that rips through the body and steals the voice of its’ victim.

Oh my God! Paige!

***

The heat was visible as it rose from the Vegas strip. It wiggled like a Genie from a lamp made of black tar. I stood in one of my favorite spots—the overpass between New York, New York and The MGM Grand. It embraced me, nestling me in its’ warmth like a long, lost lover. Each time I come to Vegas I find myself in the same place. It’s become as much a ritual as taking a breath. Here is where I decompress. Like most people, my life is filled with stress from work and home. Good stress, but stress nonetheless. The hot embrace of the city caressed my skin and strokes me day by day until my body responds and the tension is released. Most people think it’s hot here. I prefer to believe the energy makes me glow as the pulsing beat deepens our affair.

To most people, I have it all together. I’m financially independent and have all the material things that everyone hopes for. The truth is, it’s all an illusion. I’ve always fancied myself a mistress of deception. I would say that’s why Vegas and I are kindred spirits; we are imposters. Each of us presents an alluring outer shell while disguising our true intent; we both want to sell you something.

Hotels in the form of concrete behemoths surround you with their architectural magnificence. The distinction of respective properties pours itself into your senses until you’re esthetically drunk and unable to resist. They open their arms and you go happily inside to spend your hard earned cash. Bad decisions are oblivious to attacks of common sense as each unique building stands as a sentry in the world I languish. I’ve witnessed many of their births. Masculine steel mates with feminine glass and together they deliver the most sensuous bodies of architecture. This is a city dedicated to self-indulgence and it invites me to be one of its disappearing souls. Vegas and I are kindred spirits sharing a cliché.

Appearances can be deceiving.

Anything can happen in Las Vegas. This is my mecca; my holy ground. I left the church of due diligence behind to find peaceful obscurity in the land of smoke and mirrors. Vegas was the temptress that flooded my soul and I was happy to be in her arms again. At thirty-five thousand feet in the air I left behind my constant introspection and relentless self-examination in favor of sinful anonymity. With each complimentary and carefully measured cocktail, I left behind the woman in me who guards and approves everything I do from appetite to asshole. Here hundreds of people pass me by, as my desires remain incognito. Vegas and I have another common trait.

We’re opportunists.

This trip is both business and pleasure. If I focus on the business, the pleasure is sweet indulgence. That’s my purpose. A balance of the two. The Realtors Conference and Expo were being held here, and I had to dedicate some time in a business direction in order to write off this trip. Necessary but boring. Most times the networking required is tolerable but lately I’ve been working my ass off and needed a break.

That’s where Elizabeth comes in.

Elizabeth Santiago is my second best friend. By choice I don’t have many. Usually I’m private, who most people take as shy, but in my professional life I’m a masterful extrovert. I can sell you anything. At home I travel in a select, small circle of people. There are some who believe themselves to be my friends but in reality I’m still deciding if they make the cut. There is a second person who is privy to the real me. Aria Sinclair.

Aria and Elizabeth are the two people who have proven their friendship and loyalty and who I’d trust with anything. I’ve known Aria since childhood. We met at the beach during our families’ vacations. Elizabeth is a more recent friend. We met several years ago. She’s much more an extrovert than I. Gorgeous, Latina, and a ‘party in a petite package’ would be a good way to describe her, and she’s seen me at my worst! Of course, Vegas is known for bringing that trait out in people. It was during one of those horrible nights, while I was puking my guts out in a nightclub bathroom, that Elizabeth handed me cool, wet paper towels under the stall door. A true bonding moment. She stayed with me, talking the whole time. She lives in Vegas and took care of me for the rest of the night. She nursed me with a big glass of ginger ale and Angostura, insisting that it would settle my stomach. She also walked me back to the hotel room, and gave me her business card, making me swear to call the next day and let her know I was okay. Although the next morning I was terribly hung-over I respected her request and called her. She’s one of those women who wear her heart on her sleeve, and I owed her—at least a phone call. She insisted that I have lunch with her and somewhere between our iced teas and salads my radar told me her sincerity was real. We’d been friends ever since then.

Elizabeth was meeting me today for lunch. I was late and hurried down the Strip to the Hard Rock Hotel. There’s a quirky little restaurant there called ‘The Pink Taco.’ They have the coolest tee shirts and really good drinks.

Perfect!

Once I arrived I approached the hostess and gave her a quick description of Elizabeth to see if she was waiting for me. After I learned that she wasn’t there, I wasted no time getting into my sin city frame of mind. The waitress took my order for a mojito and I positioned myself so that I could see Liz when she came in. Of course, while I waited I couldn’t help but eavesdrop—another beneficial talent I’d honed over time. Bits and pieces of conversations traveled to my ears as I enjoyed my drink. I’d learned much about people over the years by dissecting verbiage and learned that most people had an agenda, and most people are opportunists—just like me. I had done it for so long that it morphed into a beneficial talent that allowed me to eavesdrop on a conversation, to decipher what people really thought, and expose what they really were after. The ability drove my success when showing homes to prospective buyers. I peeled away the kind, acceptable words to unveil what they really loved or hated about a property. That was one of the reasons I needed a vacation; my head was filled with lots of bullshit. The best cure for that was alcohol, which I rarely indulged in at home but had in great amounts while on vacation. I was just about ready to order my third drink when I saw Liz rushing to the table.

Where have you been? I held up my empty glass. "I’m two ahead of