CHAPTER ONE

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LAINE

If you told me that I would be spending my thirtieth birthday alone, I probably would've laughed in your face. The old me loved to party. I threw myself into any event, always being the last one to leave, but things changed.

I prefer to be inside these days.

I relish in the safety of my home.

Even if my parents are throwing the party of all parties. I'll let them spoil my sister, and hear all about it tomorrow when she pops over with the twins for a duvet day.

Sudden loud footsteps are echoing on the floorboards above me, which means George is ready to show me his birthday present—a handmade one.

My heart could barely stand it when he told me so.

My sweet baby boy.

"Mum, I'm ready now," he shouts down in an excited tone.

My smile hurts as I climb up from the sofa. "I'm on my way, buddy."

"Hurry up, please," he says back, which causes my step to speed across the carpet.

I'm at the top step when he comes over to tug me towards his bedroom door. "And you tidied your room? It must be my birthday."

George laughs. "It'll be the only time I do it."

Isn't that the truth.

"No, we still have our chore chart, remember? You won't get your treats otherwise," I reply, going to sit on his semi-neatly made bed when he points to it.

His shoulders go up and down. "I know. So, close your eyes."

I do.

"And, put your hands out in front of you," he whispers.

My hands float outwards.

George places the cold object on the palms of my hands. "Open your eyes."

"Oh, it's beautiful, baby," I say when my gaze falls on what looks to be a hand-painted pot aeroplane.

He plonks himself beside me on the bed. "It's a special plane. You can hold it whenever you get scared, and it will grant you one wish!"

Uncontrollable tears push to the surface as my chest aches in the best of ways. "Oh, Georgie, my sweet boy. I love you."

Letting him see me at my worst is my biggest regret. If I got my time again, I would've shielded him from it all.

Let him be a child with no worries.

Give him the life of his cousins.

He falls into my arms. "It's okay, mum, I love you too."

I bury my nose in his dark blonde, messy hair to bring in his scent. It comforts me instantly. "So, show me how this magic stuff works again."

George is obsessed with everything concerning the word: Magic. There's an enormous box downstairs that contains several packs of playing cards, wands, plastic cups, and metal arm rings, to name a few.

It's his passion, and I couldn't be prouder.

George takes the clay model from my hands to rub the top of the left wing, muttering a long word that I don't catch. "Here, now you try. Rub the place I just did, and tell it your biggest fear right now."

I do as he says, muttering, "I'm worried that TGIFriday's will have sold out of mozzarella sticks when we go next Saturday."

He giggles. "It's the worst when that happens. They're our favourite thing on the menu."

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