Many thanks to my dear friend and wonderful mentor, GrayRainbows, whose flair for story-telling and naming characters never ceases to amaze me. Without you, my O.C. would be doomed to remain nameless, in a world where names are as important to have as books. Thank you as well for helping me come up with a proper title. :)

Disclaimer: I hold no claims to the pre-existing characters, likenesses, or places cited in this story. They belong to V.C. Andrews. The following is set in an alternate universe, some time after the events in Heaven. I'll let you, the readers, decide for yourselves exactly how many years it's been between then and now.


Perched on the arm of the white recliner in our guest bedroom, I watch Mommy doing what she does best next to people's hair.

She is putting the finishing touches on her latest creation: a mold of two dolphins she aims to make into a bedside lamp for me. When I was little she made me another lamp, one resembling a kangaroo the color of a summer's sun. Now that I'm growing up, my tastes in decoration change as often as my shoe size. Now it's dolphinsI love. Just as Mommy loved a man named Luke Casteel once, before she met and married my daddy.

Setting aside her paintbrush in a cup of warm water, Mommy lifts her beautiful face and smiles at me. Her seawater eyes twinkle in the fading light filtering through the full-scale windows behind her. The light catches her naturally red hair, scattering it with flecks of gold. It is not for the first time that I wish to have been born with hair the color of a twilight sky. I touch my hand to my own hair, catching one chestnut strand around my finger and twisting.

"Mommy," I ask, "how much longer 'til you teach me to make your special kinds of animals?"

She swings her eyes to her pottery wheel, placed in a corner of the room over a pile of faded, pink towels. The pottery wheel, which is a gift from Daddy, is older than I am. I remember very well all the hours I spent as a small child, sitting captivated, almost hypnotized, by the endless rotations of that wheel. How Mommy's strong, graceful hands formed with such clarity and capacity every detail that makes each of her creations unique and wonderful.

"Soon." Her eyes fall across my face, silently sealing that which I consider the Most Important Promise of All. So determined am I to do more than merely sit and observe the activity in her Saturday ceramics classes! I want to be up there, with her,showing her students everything I know. Impressing them with myabilities, just as she impresses them with hers. "Yer mighty young still, honey. Hands ain't big or steady enough yet t'hold t'clay in place while ya spin t'wheel." She pauses, noting my dejected expression. "Now see here, Mirabelle Rose! Don't ya be lookin so disappointed! I promised I'd teach ya, an I will. But ya gotta be patient. Ya gotta listen t'me an understand I'm doin what I knows is best by ya."

I nod. She is my mother, and I know she's right. She always is.

"Yer daddy ought t'be gettin home from work soon," she says, intent to take the frown from my porcelain doll's face. I beam brightly back at her, and her hot-pink lips widen into a satisfied smile. "Ha! Knew that's all ya needed t'hear. Knew it's what would git ma sweet little girl t'quit poutin an t'start smilin."

She returns the lid to the canister of light blue paint and then rises from the table. Slowly she strides over to me and catches my hand. The feeling of my hand in hers stirs within me a sense of warmth and security. She is my mother, my real mother, and I love her, just as she loves me. Just as I know she'll always love that big brother or sister of mine. The one God called back to Heaven before I could meet them.

Hand in hand, we leave the room together, Mommy and I, and go downstairs to wait for Daddy.