Sterling- A Montana Dayton Novel Capter 1

ec556-moonthumb“Antana! Antana!” Charlie shouted at me as she barreled down the stairs. “Me and dad are going swimming at the ocean today.”

“First of all that’s ‘dad and I,’” my sister said, grabbing Charlie and swinging her up onto her hip, “and secondly I suggest you make those two words, like ‘Aunt Tana’ or ‘Aunt Montana’. Now give me a hug and go get ready.”

Charlie threw her arms around her mom while shooting me a, “I was just having fun look.” As soon as she ran up the stairs I laughed.

“I’ve got to admit ‘Antana’s a good one.” I said.

Charlie’s my niece, she’s 3 years old, or should I say “almost 4 years old.” She has black hair like her father, blue eyes like her mother, and is very outgoing and happy. She loves people and animals, is as cute as a child could be, but is also hell on wheels.

“Try being called a parental guidance counselor.” My sister said blowing out a breath and smiling. “She tried that one on us last month. We told her to stick with mom and dad. I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff.”

“That’s almost better than Antana. Can I call you parental guidance counselor?”

“No!”

“Aunt Tana!” Charlie screeched running back down the stairs with her dad in tow. “Please come swimming with us. Ittlbefun!”

“Not this time.” I said as I picked her up and tickled her. “Your mom and I are going shopping. We’ll meet you at the Shed for lunch, before we go dolphin watching.”

“Okay.” Charlie said giggling.

Shopping wasn’t the real reason I didn’t want to go swimming. I hate shopping.

Last year I had bought a house up in the mountains. It was supposed to be my winter retreat where I could take time for myself. Unfortunately a government experiment escaped, and in a fight for my life I was left with some massive scars across my upper arm and side. I hadn’t told my family about it and wasn’t sure I wanted to. I like to think of them as my battle scars.

If I mentioned that time of my life to my family I would also have to explain about Max. I was trying really hard to forget about Max.

The scars were easy enough to hide until I decided whether or not I wanted to go through plastic surgery, but I wasn’t convinced all of the poison injected into me from those claws was out of my system. I wasn’t sure if I should have the surgery. My scars still burned periodically to this day.

“Alright, hand her over.” My sister’s husband Shawn said.

Shawn, my favorite husband, is what I usually call him, and Charlie’s father. He’s gorgeous, sensitive, and totally in love with my sister. He would do anything for her. That was the type of guy I wanted if I could ever get myself to settle down. He has short black hair, already starting to gray at the sides, and hazel eyes, along with a nice muscled body from working construction most of his life. He’s the kind of guy that wakes up with a smile on his face every morning, which is kind of disgusting, but can be strict when he needs to be.

I blew out a breath and smiled. This had turned out to be a better vacation then the winter one I’d planned, and it was all because of my sister. She wants another baby. What better way to make one then sun and beaches? I’m happy for them, and much better equipped to be an Aunt than a mom.

“You two enjoy your swim. We’ll see you at lunch.” I said as I gave Charlie a big smooch on the cheek.

I grabbed up my purse and stepped out onto the porch with Zoë behind me. The weather down here in Florida was absolutely fabulous. The perfect amount of heat and humidity warmed up my body. And the water wasn’t too cold either.

“It’s perfect down here.” Zoë said pulling out her sunglasses, “Just perfect.”

My thoughts exactly, not quite summer yet, so not too hot or humid.

“Charlie’s not going to try to ride Killer again is she?” I asked.

Killer’s my chocolate lab/bull-mastiff mix. He’s still a puppy even though he weighs about 100 pounds now. If there’s a mean bone in his body I haven’t seen it yet. Charlie tried to ride Killer like a horse a few days ago, he wasn’t very happy about it. He laid down, and rolled over on top of her, pinning her, but not hurting her.

“She promised she wouldn’t. She didn’t like being stuck under 100 pounds of dog.”

“Good.” Charlie was usually good about keeping her promises.

The house we were staying in was only a short walking distance to the Watercolor Resort and all of its shops and restaurants, but still far enough away for the privacy I craved. We took our time walking to the store front.

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