Chapter 14

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From the moment they met, Anya and Manny were inseparable. It helped that a friend for Anya suddenly appeared at her sides and with his arrival, Eve and Christopher's worries for their newly acquired ward eased. It also helped that Manny didn't mind Anya's somber and quiet mood. He loved being the only one of them who talked at all. And Anya was a great listener.

It also helped that Anya didn't have any other friends or any sort of inclination to go and make some. She was the new girl with dead parents at school and that rang out as a massive red flag to all of her new classmates. Everyone, that is, except Manny.

He had done as Gloria had told him to, he had gone and sat next to Anya that fateful Christmas night. His determination to stick around was his own doing.

It took a while but Anya eventually found her voice again, found a way to deal with the pain and loss of her parents and found reasons to start to smile and laugh again.

She would never know it but Manny had taken it upon himself to try and make her smile at least once a month at the beginning of their friendship. When the laughter started to come easier from Anya's lips, Manny made it a weekly goal, then a daily goal. Within a year, Anya was laughing and smiling as if she was just like any other young teenager.

Anya even found friends of her own. Manny was considered popular at school and so she had a large group of people willing to let her join them for lunch every day but they still stared at her and whispered when Manny wasn't looking.

If he caught them, then they received the death glare of the century. They didn't know it was a family trait to stare people down until frightened and Manny's used his natural-born talent on anyone who dared say anything remotely negative about Anya.

Life slowly but surely started to take on a normal routine for Anya. She was even finding ways to help out around the inn. It made her feel useful and less like she was constantly in everyone's way.

She became Christoper's shadow and followed him around every day after school, asking a million questions about everything thing he did. Eve spent most of her time behind the front desk or up in her office, dealing with the business side of things. There was nothing interesting there for Anya to learn about just yet.

She had made it through the first Christmas at the inn with moderate success and so she was ready for when the next one came around. She found out very early on that Christmas's at the inn were the same each year. The same parties, the same food, the same jazz band, the same games, and outings.

It grounded her year and it furthered established her new life living with her grandparents when she knew what to expect at least for a small portion of the year.

The sadness was still there. It was easier to manage and look like she was happy and getting along just fine during the day. She still had nights where she woke up from a dream and had to come to terms that the parents she had just seen were no longer there. She was no longer in her childhood home. They were all gone.

With her room next to theirs, it made it easier for Eve and Christoper to hear when she would wake up crying. It took two years for the dreams to finally become pleasant memories instead of harsh reality checks.

To keep herself busy, Anya joined up with clubs at school. The thought of maybe one day going away for college first became a dream and then a goal. The thought that she could go explore the world past the small towns she had grown up in gripped her down to her very core but she only ever dared tell one person.

When Anya began to add to his one-sided conversations, Manny had to learn to become a better listener. And he always gave her his full attention when she talked about her dreams for life.

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