SILVERBACK Book Blurb- Molly’s twin sister’s death four years ago hasn’t been the only hardship her family has endured. It’s been one hard knock after another.
Now she has not one, but three little brothers to deal with, and it doesn’t help that two of the boys are disabled. Her mom wants to try again for another girl – a replacement for her dead twin, Madeline – the shining star everyone idolized.
When her family vacations in Florida, animal lover Molly is thrilled to spend her time at the animal park. It’s a chance to cast off her life-sucks attitude for a while.
When she receives an S.O.S. message from a gorilla behind the glass at the park, nobody believes her. Molly has no idea why or what she can do to help the Silverback, but she’s determined to figure it out.
It quickly becomes apparent doing so will change her family forever. What she doesn’t realize is, it might just change the world.
We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.
Molly woke before the rest of her family. Dressing quietly, she left the room and headed to the lobby, where they were serving breakfast. Grabbing a donut and a carton of juice, she was almost back to the stairs when her phone vibrated with a text message.
‘Hey stranger. Want to hang out?’
She smiled, bit into the donut, tucked the juice under her arm and typed.
‘Hey yourself. I’m in Florida. Duh. Remember?’
Molly snorted, barely managing to rescue her donut as it dropped from her mouth. Deciding to finish the donut before responding, she wiped her hands on her jeans and began to type.
‘So, it might be a little difficult to hang out, unless you own a private jet.’
A ding sounded down the hall, as she stared at the phone, waiting for his response. When Andre didn’t text again, she shrugged, slipped her phone into her back pocket and headed back to the room, keeping her eyes averted from the other people walking along the hall.
“I don’t need a private jet,” a voice said.
Molly’s head jerked up, and a wide grin split her face. “What the…”
Andre bounded over and hugged her tight. “My parents sprung this surprise vacation on me the day you left. When I told them where you guys were staying, they decided it sounded great, and here I am.” He inclined his head down the hallway. “We’re in Room 304. The parentals just left to take the other kids to Gatorland. So, I’ve got the day to myself.”
Molly fist-pumped the air. “Awesome. Let me run and tell my parents where we’re going. Meet you in the lobby?”
“Uh, where are we going?”
Molly’s eyes lit up. “To see Ben.” When Andre didn’t react, she added, “the gorilla.”
Molly grinned and nodded. “Yep.”
“See you in the lobby in five.” Andre turned and headed for the elevator.
Molly ran back to her parent’s room, earning a few disapproving looks from other resort guests along the way. She held her wrist band against the door, pushing it open when the light flashed green with an audible click.
Her mother was sitting by the small table, holding Ryker in her lap. “Oh, there you are.”
“I went to get breakfast. You’ll never believe who I ran into,” Molly began.
“Oh, hey, Molly. We’re not going to be able to go back to the animal park this morning,” her dad said, emerging from the bathroom with a damp washcloth in his hand. He handed it to Molly’s mother, who began to dab Ryker’s forehead.
Molly stared at Ryker, and her heart sank when he moaned as if on cue. “Did he have a seizure?”
Her mother nodded. “Yes, and I’m going to need your father’s help here this morning.”
Molly glanced over at the other two boys who were still sound asleep. Charlie had his left thumb in his mouth, and his head was nestled against Ryan’s chest.
Her father walked over and clapped her on the shoulder. “Sorry, kiddo.”
“It’s fine,” Molly said. Seizures were just a part of their lives since Ryan and Ryker had been born.
“I’m going to go down and get some breakfast,” her dad said. “I’ll bring enough back for you and the boys.” He walked out, closing the door softly behind him.
“You don’t have to look so angry, Molly,” her mother began. “I know you were looking forward to going back today, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices.”
Molly’s eyes widened in surprise. “I’m not angry. Andre and his family are here. He’s waiting in the lobby for me. I promised him we could see the gorillas. You know what an animal lover he is.” Molly waited, holding her breath, heartbeat whooshing in her ears.
Molly’s mother dabbed Ryker’s forehead as he moaned softly. “I suppose. His mother mentioned they might be coming down. Are you sure his family doesn’t mind dragging you along?”
“Uh, I’m not exactly going with his family. They went to Gatorland. It’s just Andre and me.”
The expression on her mother’s face almost made Molly laugh. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. You two kids-“
Molly rolled her eyes. Trying to keep her voice steady, she started to speak. “Mom, I’m almost fifteen. This park is the safest place on earth. There’s never been a child abduction from here you know.”
“It’s not that, honey. It’s just that he’s sixteen, and, well, he’s-“
“Black?” Molly spat out. “So it’s okay for me to go with his family, who incidentally are also black if you hadn’t noticed, but not with him?”
“No, of course not.” Her mother looked flustered now. “I raised you better than that. It has nothing to do with his color. Although, it might make people talk.” She stood and moved Ryker to the bed, stretching him out next to his brothers, and rolling him onto his left side. “Poor dear. He’s always exhausted after a seizure.”
Molly groaned. “Mom, Andre is waiting for me in the lobby. What is the big deal?”
Her mother turned and stared at her. “He’s a boy, and you’re a girl, and you’re both teenagers, and I’m not sure what you might get up to, that’s what.”
“Are you seriously going there, Mom?” Molly snapped, slapping a hand on her forehead. “We spend time together at home and school all the time you know…” Trailing off, she folded her arms, trying to ignore the rising heat in her cheeks. “I’m not into Andre that way, Mom. Besides which, he’s-” She snapped her mouth shut. “Oh, never mind. Fine, what do you want me to do? Go down and tell him to forget it? Maybe he can spend the day sitting in his hotel room too.”
Molly’s mother turned away from her and waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. “No, you can go. But I expect you to call me every hour and let me know how things are going. I suppose you need some cash for lunch. I don’t have any. You’ll have to wait for your father to get back.”
Ignoring the part about calling, Molly waived her wristband. “Dad said I have charging privileges.” She could use her wristband just about anywhere in the park to charge to the hotel room. Her mother wouldn’t even notice if she didn’t call, but she’d call once or twice to be fair. She had to get back to see the Silverback. She’d promised the gorilla she’d return and she had to figure out a way to help him.
Her mother let out a deep sigh. “I wish Madeline were here. She loved her baby brothers so much. She wouldn’t have even considered leaving them alone.”
Molly had reached the door as her mother spoke, and her knuckles turned white as she clutched the door handle. She opened her mouth to respond, decided against it, and stepped out into the hallway.
The words burned into her heart like a hot poker, branding her as the second-rate daughter in her mother’s eyes. It didn’t matter that she gave up her afternoons and evenings to watch the twins and Charlie. Or that she’d missed her high school dance because her mom had been sick and needed her to stay home and help at the last minute.
All she heard was how much Madeline adored the boys. She’d died before Charlie was born, but to listen to her mother talk, you’d think Madeline was Mother Theresa personified.
She took the stairs down to the lobby, walked up to Andre, and tapped him on the arm before walking outside ahead of him.
“Whoa, Princess,” Andre called out, running to catch up with her. “What’s up, buttercup?”
Molly spoke through gritted teeth. “My mom.”
The friendly smile on Andre’s face faded. “Is she drinking again?”
Molly shook her head. “No, I’m just not Madeline, the saint, that’s all.” Molly toed the grass with her sneaker as they stood by the bus stop. “Plus she didn’t think it was a good idea for us to be going off alone together.”
Andre, who’d just lifted his pop bottle to take a drink, snorted, spraying Seven-Up all over the pavement in front of him.
Molly tried not to laugh without success. “I’m sorry, Andre,” she finally gasped.
Andre’s smile widened. “Did you tell her I’m -”
“Gay? Hell, no. It’s none of her business. Besides, she probably would think I made it up to cover up my intentions. Unlike her precious angel daughter, who probably would have only ever conceived if she became the next Virgin Mary.”
Andre’s brow furrowed. “I’m sorry.” He grimaced. “I wish she wouldn’t do that.” His mind skipped back to the days before Madeline had died. She and Molly had been inseparable and the very best of friends. They hadn’t even fought ever. He’d always thought it must be a twin thing. He loved his brothers and sisters, but man, they could be super irritating. He shook his head. Molly’s mom had a lot to answer for the way she treated her only surviving daughter. He disliked hearing Molly talk about her sister as though she’d hated her. It wasn’t true.
Molly chewed her lip. “Yeah, well, don’t be sorry. It doesn’t matter. Anyway, I need to tell you something, and this is so cool, you won’t believe me, that is until you see it for yourself.”
The bus pulled up, and they boarded, walking to the back.
“Okay, shoot,” Andre said.
Molly’s stomach fluttered as she remembered the look on the Silverback’s face yesterday. She leaned over as the bus pulled away from the curb and began to whisper into Andre’s ear.