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Authors: Mardi Maxwell

Tags: #General Fiction

Soren's Bondmate (32 page)

BOOK: Soren's Bondmate
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“A table just opened up.” The customers who had been waiting in line started to groan, grumble, and protest.

“You just keep a civil tone. I’ve always done right by you. This is Frannie from the food pantry, she’s taking a break from packing lunches for the kids who need ‘em. She has to get back quick. So you can all quit your whining.” Margie cast an evil eye at the crowd and some of them chuckled, most just quieted down.

After they were seated, Margie popped menus in their hands and said she would be back in a moment to take their orders.

“I can’t let you pay for my breakfast,” Sophia protested.

“I can afford to buy you breakfast so pick whatever you want on the menu.” Sophia knew Tony and Frannie lived on Social Security and really didn’t want to take her money.

“I can afford it. Now order what you want.” When Margie came back she placed her order, and Frannie added a cinnamon roll and a large glass of orange juice.

“Honey, in the five months you’ve been coming to the food pantry, you’ve lost a lot of weight.” Frannie’s tone was blunt, but she gave Sophia’s hand a motherly pat.

“I’ve always wanted to be this size. Who knew the being broke diet was so damn easy.” Sophia loved Frannie’s laugh.

“Tell me what’s going on with your mother and your brother, Billy.” Sophia smiled at Frannie’s tone. There were no questions from Frannie DeLuca, she expected to be kept up-to-date like a kindly aunt. She made Sophia feel good.

“The nurse that came over yesterday said it would be anytime now. I feel guilty coming to the pantry, but it feels wrong staying in the little trailer, basically sitting on top of her and waiting for her to die, you know?” Sophia’s voice broke. For the past two years she’d been taking care of her mother, who was slowly dying from lung cancer. In the last few months it had gotten much worse when the cancer metastasized to her brain. Her mother didn’t have much longer to live.

“Does she recognize you?”

“Occasionally. She did last week. Most of the time she calls me mom and asks about her dad and brothers.” Sophia pulled at her hair and her voice trembled as she explained.

“What are your plans regarding Billy after she passes?” Frannie held Sophia’s hand tighter.

“I want Billy to come and live with me. We’re family. He likes the Bards, but he’s told me again and again he wants to live with me. After she dies, I’ll need to get a job and a place to live that DHCS will find suitable and then petition for custody.” Sophia was now pulling and twirling her hair with one hand, as she held onto Frannie’s hand with the other.

Margie placed the food in front of her, and even though she’d been so hungry, she couldn’t seem to bring herself to eat.

“I’m so sorry about your mama honey. But after she passes you’ll be able to take in Billy and that’ll be a blessing,” Margie said kindly as she patted her shoulder.

Sophia looked at the icing on the cinnamon roll and felt like she was going to throw up. It was all too much. She didn’t know what she was going to do. As soon as her mother passed away the pension would stop. Sophia needed a job like yesterday, but she couldn’t leave her mom, but no more than a month after she died she wouldn’t have a place to stay.

Dammit, how had this happened? She’d been going to college, had scholarships, and a part-time internship. She’d even had a boy who she thought loved her. She’d been normal. She’d been making it. It all stopped when her mom needed full-time care. Now she needed to find a job fast. She’d already started to contact local women’s shelters, so she’d have a place to stay until she could afford first and last month’s rent. She didn’t know if she would be able to get a good enough job to be able to pay for an apartment that would pass muster with DCHS, so Billy might have to continue in foster care. What was she going to do?

“Honey, you have to eat.”

“Don’t you like my food?” Margie asked as she topped off Frannie’s coffee.

To Sophia’s absolute horror, Frannie explained Sophia’s circumstances to the owner of the diner. She had no idea Frannie knew every little detail, and here she was gossiping about it. Sophia wanted to crawl underneath the table.

“I am so sorry to hear that. I remember when my mom died, it damn near broke my heart,” Margie said as she sat down next to Frannie. “But perhaps you could do me a hell of a favor when the time comes.”

Sophia looked at the older woman in confusion. She was still considering sinking beneath the table, except Frannie was looking at her with love.

“What kind of favor do you need?” Frannie asked.

“I need someone to start opening the diner for me. I promised my son I would move in with him and his wife, and stop the early morning openings. I’ve been looking for someone reliable that I could have takeover the apartment above the diner, start the morning baking, and then open.” Margie stopped and turned red in the face.

“What Margie?” Frannie asked. “What the hell are you doing looking like you swallowed a golf ball? It sounds like a perfect set up for Sophia.”

“Do you know how to bake?” Margie blurted out. Sophia nodded and Frannie laughed.

“I used to bake all the time.” Sophia’s eyes lit up.

“Well all right then. When the time comes, come talk to me and we’ll set it all up.” Margie nodded her head and smiled.

“Look Margie, I couldn’t possibly. I don’t even know your last name. I haven’t filled out an application. This just isn’t right.” Sophia was appalled the woman was making such a big decision after barely knowing her an hour.

“It’s right. I believe God sends us who and what we need when we need it. The apartment over the shop probably won’t be good enough to get custody of your brother, but it should be a start to get you back on your feet.”

“I can’t,” Sophia said, but Margie smiled and left the table.

“Well that went well,” Frannie said.

“She can’t possibly be serious,” she said looking at her friend in amazement.

“Oh, she’s serious.” Frannie chuckled.



Chapter Three


Five Months Later…

Downtown San Diego at three in the morning was scary and Sophia couldn’t imagine how frightening it would be for a twelve year old boy. The police were on the lookout for Billy, but she had to try to find him herself. This was the fourth time he’d run away. Last time he had been found near Encanto Park so she thought looking for him there made sense.

She’d been walking up and down the streets and checking out the different hidey-holes. Last time she’d found Billy huddled in an alley with a homeless man. He wasn’t in the same place so she looked even further afield. She had brought a flashlight with her and turned it toward the sounds coming from a Mercedes parked on an empty industrial street.

The back door was open and a man was standing beside it. She heard the sound again and realized it was a girl’s voice crying the word, “No.” As she got closer she saw another man with his pants around his thighs bent over the backseat of the car. It was obvious what he was doing.

“Come on hurry up, I want my turn,” the man who was standing said. Sophia grabbed her phone out of the front pocket of her hoodie just as the man looked up and saw her.

“Well hello, nice of you to join the party.” He leered.

She got the phone unlocked as the man rushed her and batted the phone to the ground. She heard the girl scream again. Ducking her head around the side of the man in front of her she yelled, “Quit hurting her.”



About Caitlyn O’Leary


Caitlyn O’Leary was raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. She has always been an avid reader. Her earliest creative writing endeavors consisted of “ghost writing” exercises where she pretended to be her younger brothers and sister when she did their homework assignments.

Years in corporate America honed her ability to manipulate words by day and at night she read everything she could get her hands on, including many steamy romances.

Now happily married to her long, tall Texan and living in Southern California, Caitlyn has finally found the time to write erotic happily ever afters. She enjoys swimming, traveling, babysitting for her nieces and nephews, spending time with friends and family, and doing lots of “research” with her husband for upcoming novels.


Keep up with Caitlyn O’Leary:








Books by Caitlyn O’Leary


The Found Series

, Book One

, Book Two

, Book Three


Navy Seal Series

Her Vigilant Seal
, Book One


Fate Harbor Series
Published by Siren/Bookstrand

Trusting Chance
, Book One

Protecting Olivia
, Book Two

Claiming Kara
, Book Three

Isabella’s Submission
, Book Four

Cherishing Brianna
, Book Five


Table of Contents

Book Description

Title Page



Glossary of Zarronian Terms

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

About The Author

Books By Mardi Maxwell

Lyric’s Accidental Mate

About Elle Boon

Other Books by Elle Boon

Her Vigilant SEAL

About Caitlyn O’Leary

Books by Caitlyn O’Leary

BOOK: Soren's Bondmate
9.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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