310 115 133

A restful night's sleep was forgone on Paloma. She flailed in the sheets all through the night as though she was fighting a losing battle against a wicked dragon. By the time morning came, Paloma found herself appeasing the vicious bags under her eyes using nothing more than concealer and foundation—both of which got the job done in record time.

She figured, at the very least, she'd make an attempt at looking her best considering the years between twenty-five and twenty-eight hadn't been as kind to her as she'd hoped. And, if Quinn was anything like she remembered her, she'd pick up on it a mile away.

"Ms. Sullivan?"

The voice was just familiar enough to break Paloma from her fleeting trance. Affable smile on full broadcast, Paloma initiated a firm handshake—a gesture the social worker accepted with immediacy.

"Paloma." She nodded towards him. "Jonathan, right?"

"Yes, I'm the one you spoke with on the phone last night. Sorry about the late call by the way."

Paloma shook her head, promptly dismissing the apology. "It's never too late to call when it's about Quinn."

"Speaking of which..." With the wave of his hand, he summoned Paloma to a black sedan, occasionally peaking over his shoulder as he spoke. "I picked your sister up from the foster home nearby and brought her on over."

It took no more than the gentle tap of his knuckles for a girl that vaguely resembled Paloma to emerge. Her hair had gotten longer, Paloma instantly decided. It adorned her shoulders like the vines of an aging tree and each strand was redder than the last.

A round face stood amongst it all. Her cheeks weren't quite as plump as Paloma remembered them thanks to puberty being underway but she'd expected them to sustain their chubby state until the transformation was all said and done. Quinn's glasses were black and stark against her fair skin. The frames were as thick as the lenses were wide. Somehow, they just suited her.

An eternity seemed to pass before Paloma felt an urgent pull to break the silence. "Hey."

Quinn exchanged a similar greeting, her smile far tenser than the brunette's. It went without saying that they were all appreciative of the quiet tune the wind whistled as it offered more of a response than either of them could summon. Thankfully, Johnathan took the reins from there.

"So, Paloma, I know last night you mentioned wanting to take a look around your uncle's house. Is that something you're still interested in?"

The woman's eyes snapped to Jonathan's once she finally managed to cease her long-term gaze at her sister. "Yeah, I just wanted to peep in and see the conditions of the home."

"Okay, that's fine. But..." he dragged, peering at the girl. "Since you're underage and we're not really supposed to be here, I'm afraid you're going to have to wait outside. It's pretty dangerous in there, as I'm sure you're aware."

"That's fine. Perfect, actually. I'll just wait in here." A considerate smile ensued and before they knew it, Quinn returned to her post, keeping the Sedan company.

"I've worked with a lot of children like her." Johnathan approached the home, Paloma close behind. "She seems like a nice kid, just a little shy." Chuckling, he welcomed the brunette to take a brave step inside.

Paloma could hardly step through the door before a foul smell embedded itself into her nostrils. Her hand couldn't shield her sniffer fast enough. Luckily, she met success when suppressing the fierce gag that threatened to arise in spite of the odors that seemed to be trash, urine, and what she could only describe as death.

The Sullivan SistersWhere stories live. Discover now