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Chapter 1 Leaving Dad

"Dad! Please you have to believe me! It wasn't me. I didn't do it!" I cried to my dad. He wouldn't even believe me now.

"I expect better from you, they're your stepsisters, they're younger than you. Do you actually think that they would be capable of doing this? That's it you're grounded. I'm going to work."

The two siblings were laughing at me, while their mother ushered them away calmly. They were trying to make my father hated me. I cried again, alone in my room.

Everything at home was a disaster. That was when I decided to move out after I finished high school. I was arranging everything, I would walk out of my childhood home, leaving my dearest father behind.

I needed to get away from this toxic environment. I didn't know where to go, I was planning my getaway every day. I had been saving my money, from my allowance. Selling off my branded stuff online and put all the money in my secured account. Not even my dad know I had one.

Since mom died three years ago and dad was remarried a year after. I was living in a fairy tale. A real—life Cinderella story with a stepmother and two ugly siblings that terrorized the hell out of me.

The evil stepmother raised up to her title. She would belittle me in front of my dad. Saying I did all the wrong things at home. Years later I just let her be. I didn't have the spunk anymore to fight her, I was just done.

I love my dad dearly but he had hurt me a lot in the two years, where he kept on siding with his new family. I didn't even know how much tears I cried for him. I used to be his little princess. Now, I'm the bad apple. The bad apple that would leave him and his new family in peace.

I was picking my battle and this one was not worth the fight.

I was walking with my backpack. I had carefully planned my moving out carefully for months. I had done my research, I was doing this the smart way. I needed to survive. I had moved all my clothes, shoes, and important stuff to a storage unit just outside of town, carefully packed.

My room slowly became empty, nobody ever checked on me, so I was good. I was taking my old family photo album that I flipped religiously every night. It reminded me of our happy little family, how we used to be happy just the three of us.

I left my car behind, but I was still keeping the phone. My stepmom would try and find me if I brought the car, but by leaving it behind I was good to go. I already emailed my dad that I was leaving for good. Knowing that my text would be buried with his work.

But he still hadn't get back to me, I guessed that was it then. It twisted my heart, that he didn't even acknowledge my email anymore. All my feelings that I had for him, should slowly be gone by now, but they still came back every now and then making me teary.

I wiped my tears roughly, as the seaside air welcomed me. I was walking from the bus stop, looking for the address that I got from the internet. It was a book shop, I got myself a job at a bookshop. The wage was minimum, but I couldn't care less.

I also got a place to stay. It was within walking distance of the book shop. I was saving my money. Next year I'm planning on taking an online college degree. This year I would focus on my sustainability. I needed to be smart, not drown in tuition debt.

Mom would cry if she was still alive, she was brought up wealthy, so did my dad. But her own daughter was struggling for money, stranded by her own dad with his evil new family.

Finally!

The bookshop was beautiful. It was located on the rows of shops, leading to the coastal shore. I carefully stepped into the shop and greeted by an old man in his sixties.

"Morning, I'm Marissa Henderson. I'm here to meet with Mr. Archibald Michaels?"

"Ah...there you are, come in Ms. Henderson. Call me Archie, welcome to "Novelty", my little bookstore. I didn't know why you answer my opening, but you seem too lovely to tend to this old bookstore. Come sit down and we will have some tea." He ushered me to a window seating, the place was nice.

"Oh, thank you. And call me Marissa please." I followed him.

He came back minutes later with a pot of tea, I offered to help but he wouldn't have it. "As I said on the phone, I'm having personal issues with my family. I'm not going to start lying to you. But I do hope you would still hire me. I will work diligently. I just need a fresh start. I have finished high school. And now I'm taking a year off." I took his tea and sipped it slowly, and carried on with our conversation.

"Next year, I'm going to enroll in an online college and get my degree. It's way cheaper and more foreseeable, as long as I could get into the best college. I have been planning this since two years ago. I can't thank you enough for hiring me." I finally smiled at him.

"Well, for an eight—teen—year—old, you surely do think way ahead of yourself. And thank you for being honest with me. I've seen the grades that you've sent me with your application letter. I'm sure you will get into the top universities. I'm just hoping that you will stick in this shop long enough." He laughed at his own words, making me also laughed with him nervously.

"So, where are you staying then? You still got your backpack on you. Have you find a place to stay yet?" He drank his tea, then pouring me another cup.

"Yes, I have. I'm renting a very small cottage. I think it's a bit rundown. But it's all I could afford at the moment." I gave him the cottage address.

"Oh the Barnaby's, I know them. Their cottages are good, it has good bone structures. Maybe they need a paint job but that's probably all. The Barnaby's take good care of their properties and they always give a fair price. You're good there." He told me in confidence making me feel relieved.

We talked more about the shop. Then he let me go to get settled in and told me to start at the shop by ten the day after tomorrow, but I could come tomorrow to look around the place. He told me to get settled in and walk around town for one day tomorrow. He was like the grandpa that I never had. We talked a lot and we laughed a lot more.

"Ah Marissa, I haven't laughed this much since my wife passed away." With that I started to get teary all of a sudden, I was reminded of my mom, of my own loss of a loved one. I quickly wiped my tears hoping he did not just see that, but unfortunately he did.

"Oh, I'm sorry child. It's okay, we will talk when it's time. You just go and get settled in now okay? I will wait for you tomorrow morning." He patted my shoulder and walked me out the door.

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