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My Step-Dad's Brother

By´╝ÜFiona Davenport

Chapter 1


Harrison


The rapid clicks of the camera were a comforting sound to me. It was familiar, a constant in my life when everything else was ever changing.

As a photo-journalist for a respected magazine, I spent most of my time traveling to new places. It was my job to document the events of the world through pictures. Sometimes, my assignments were full of adrenaline and danger. Other times, I immersed myself in the local cultures, an extended vacation that earned me a paycheck. I had even spent days alone with wild animals, not speaking to another soul until I left their company.

No matter the job, though, it kept me on the move and I loved every minute of it. And, everywhere I went, the purr of the shutter on my camera went with me.

Lowering the lens, I looked up at the sky and then back at the scene I was photographing. The sun was fading, and I was about to lose my light. Quickly clicking through my digital screen, I nodded to myself, satisfied that the perfect shot was among them. Carefully, I packed away my equipment, my eyes often straying to the party below the bluff where I was perched.

This small town on an uncharted island in the South Pacific had a rich culture, and I was grateful at their open and friendly manner, allowing me to immortalize them through my camera.

A young couple danced in the center of a large circle of people. Their clothes were bright and decadent, befitting a bride and groom. They gazed into each other’s eyes with such love, I felt a slight pang in my chest. My lifestyle wasn’t exactly conducive to relationships, and I’d never been interested in one-night stands. I was married to the job. And at thirty, I still had a lot of years left to devote to it. But lately, I’d begun to feel an odd restlessness, a longing that I didn’t quite recognize or even understand.

Heading down to the village, I dropped my equipment in my hut and joined the celebration. It reminded me that it wouldn’t be long before I’d be attending my older brother’s nuptials in the states.



I drove through the small town of Fentonville, Florida, and looked all around. My face twisted in disgust, the photographer in me noting the lack of anything remotely interesting to take a picture of. It was sleepy and boring. Perfect for my brother, Stanley.

As I pulled up to the address he’d given me, I had to laugh. Stanley had warned me that his fiancée, whom everyone called Bunny apparently, was a bit of a free spirit. Which was quite a shock coming from a man who’d spent his entire life coloring inside the lines with ultimate precision.

Now, I was even more blown away by his choice. Not disappointed, though, my stodgy brother needed some spark in his life. The small house was painted pink, not overly ostentatious, but bright enough to stand out among the drab surroundings. The yard had large, plastic flowers on metal sticks stuck haphazardly around it and . . . I blinked. Yep, there was also a flamingo.

There was also a small flower bed that was perfectly manicured, clean and organized with complimenting colors. It seemed a little out of place until I remembered Stanley mentioning that his soon-to-be step-daughter was much different than her mother.

I would have plenty of time to get to know my new niece in the coming weeks. Stanley had asked me to extend my trip here for the wedding and stay while they went on a honeymoon. Bunny’s daughter was still in high school and they didn’t want to leave her completely alone for two whole weeks. She didn’t graduate for a few months yet and like most parents, it was clear they wouldn’t see their child as an adult until graduation. I didn’t mind, though, it felt good to take a break, even if it meant being caged in this tiny town with my young, soon-to-be niece.

Magnolia Bloom. A real flower-power name, I chuckled to myself. She probably hated it. A picture of a gangly teen with wild, curly hair, ripped up jeans, and glasses that were too big for her face, conjured in my mind. It just seemed to fit the name.

I parked my cherry red, Charger convertible in the driveway, next to a sliver Prius hybrid. It was one thing I kept, along with my small studio apartment in Miami, though, I never spent much time with either. Turning off the car, I grabbed a bag from the back seat and hopped out. I shut the door and rounded the front of both cars to reach a walkway that led to a white front door. I pressed the door bell and almost laughed out loud when I heard the chime through the door playing Walking on Sunshine.

When it opened, I was greeted by a plump, pixie-like woman smiling brightly at me.

“Harrison?” she asked in a high, musical voice vibrating with excitement.

I grinned and tipped an invisible hat. “The one and only.”

“I’m Bunny. Welcome! Welcome!” She practically threw herself into my arms and hugged me tightly. “We are so glad you’re here!” When she released me, she turned and called into the house, “Stanley! Magnolia! Harrison is here!” Then she slipped her arm through mine and led me into the house.

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