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Ted had it all. He had a big house, and all the money and women a man could ever wish for. He was living a life many would only wish for, and although he was already in his early forties he wasn’t even thinking about the prospect of marriage.

His parents had passed away when he was at the ripe age of fifteen, leaving him with his father’s oil business. From then on, money practically made itself, and he never had to worry about going hungry again.

One would be inclined to think he had everything, but something was missing; it was worth more than any amount of riches he could ever hope to get his hands on. This was the greatest gift of all: the love of a child.

Ted was bestowed over five hundred million dollars worth of real estate from his parents’ will, along with a small movie theater chain. Anyone looking in from the outside wouldn’t hesitate to say he was set for life.

As far as his other family was concerned, Ted was grateful to have his maternal grandmother Julie. She had been the one to see him become a full-fledged man. She was more like a mother to Ted than the real thing! And although he was more than happy to have her as a living relative, she was always pestering him about getting married and starting a family.

But Ted was the type of man to enjoy the company of multiple women. At some point, Julie had lost hope of Ted starting a family. She had warned him time and time again about the importance of passing down his family’s legacy. Time and time again, she told him that it was time to settle down. Ted always ignored her though; he was far too stubborn a man to listen to the advice of others.

Ted lived with his grandmother in a lavish mansion in Brownwood, Florida. After his parents had passed, he sold his childhood house. The reminder of his childhood days was far too painful, and he would rather the memories be buried deep in the back of his mind where he wouldn’t have to think about them.

The house they had now sat on over twenty acres of land. The main house had over twenty two thousand square feet, and the design was reminiscent of a luxurious castle.

Not only were there sixteen bedrooms and nineteen bathrooms, but to top it all off there was a smaller, seven bedroom guest house and farm on the property as well. The farm had all kinds of different animals, including cows, pigs, and horses.

Behind the main house was what Ted liked to call “The Playground”. It contained three tennis courts, two racquetball courts, and three swimming pools. Nearby the extensive array of sporting courts was a recreation center, which contained pool tables, bowling lanes, and even a basketball court.

It was apparent that Ted had almost anything and everything a man could ever want. But through the monotonous days of doing the same things, Ted felt that something was missing. Little did he know, he was lacking the love of a child. It was a special kind of love that only a child could bring into his heart.

Maggie was a young woman of twenty four years. She immigrated to the States from Mexico, and lived with her mother, Juanita. Maggie’s life had always been very tough, and for her age she had gone through more than most.

She always had nightmares of the night her younger sister Silver died during a terrible storm. Their house in Mexico hadn’t been built with a very sturdy roof, and it had collapsed on Silver during the storm, killing her instantly.

Debris also fell on Maggie’s father, paralyzing him. This had taken an extreme toll on his mental health. After all, he wasn’t able to work his construction job if he couldn’t walk. After three years of being in a wheelchair, he pressed a shotgun to his brain and ended his life.

Maggie had heard the fatal shot, and running into the living room she was then presented with an image that would be burned into her skull for many years to come: her father laying on the floor in a pool of his own blood.

At the young age of sixteen, Maggie had to drop out of school and start working to put food on the table. She didn’t really mind, though, considering she was the quiet kid at school and mostly kept to herself regardless. Being around the other kids always made her feel lonely.

Maggie and her mom lived in Dickson, Boston. It was a small town with only nine thousand people, and Maggie liked it that way. She worked at the town’s only home video store, and because her main hobby was watching movies it was a match made in heaven.

Maggie shared a small house with her mom. It didn’t have much, but Maggie didn’t mind. It was home to her, regardless of what they did and didn’t have.

As for Maggie’s mom, she worked at a clothing factory and got paid minimum wage. It didn’t bother her, though, because she was grateful to have a job at all.

Maggie was at the video store, getting ready to close up for the day. Walking over to the counter, she opened up the register so she could start counting the day’s total profits.

“Oh dear, it’s really coming down, isn’t it?” said Beth, the store’s manager as she walked over to take the money from Maggie. “Would you like a ride home?”

Maggie smiled, “No thank you, I brought my umbrella with me just in case.” She grabbed her umbrella and waved goodnight to Beth before heading out of the video store.

The rain pushed the limits of Maggie’s cheap umbrella, but this didn’t bother the girl whatsoever. She loved the rain, and it was a short walk from the video store to her humble home. Rain or shine, Maggie saw the daily walk as a great way to get some exercise.

Maggie and her mom did have a car, but she always let her mother take the car. After all, the clothes factory was too far a walk from their house and Maggie would feel guilty using the car for a mere two minute drive.

It was a beautiful night, even with the rain pouring down. Nights like this occasionally reminded her of her ex boyfriend, Datch. She would always call him to pick her up on rainy nights, but they had broken up three months ago.

It wasn’t that Datch was a bad guy, it was his lack of motivation that pushed Maggie away. His life was going nowhere, and Maggie knew that it was time to move on.

Maggie closed her umbrella as she stepped onto her front porch. Unlocking the front door, she made sure to wipe her shoes on the mat and shake the water off of her umbrella before stepping inside.

“Mom! I’m home!” She called out.

Juanita, who had been in the kitchen making dinner, immediately stopped what she was doing to go hug her daughter in the doorway. She planted several kisses on Maggie’s head.

“My friends at work always say I’m the splitting image of you.” said Maggie, returning her mother’s hug.

This made her mother smile.

“How was work?” asked Juanita, who was leading Maggie back to the kitchen for dinner.

Maggie sighed, and although she was smiling it wasn’t hard for her mother to tell that something was up.

“Oh you know,” Maggie served herself a bowl of her mother’s caldo de pollo as she spoke, “the usual. People renting and returning videos.”

“What’s wrong mija?” Spooning herself a generous portion of caldo de pollo as well, Juanita joined her daughter at the table.

“Nothing really, it’s just… I want more out of life. I don’t feel fulfilled doing the same routine everyday.” Maggie paused to eat a spoonful of soup before continuing, “Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But everyday I go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to sleep.”

Juanita reached across the table and grabbed her daughter’s hand.

“Life has a way of changing when we least expect it.” She gave her daughter a reassuring smile.

“I want my life to hurry up and change, then.” said Maggie.

Her mother’s brows furrowed in concern.

Mija, I need to ask you something and I need you to be honest with me.” Juanita’s eyes were planted firmly down at her soup while she waited for her daughter’s reply.

“Mom, you know I don’t keep secrets from you.” As Maggie began to realize the gravity of her mother’s concern, she set down her spoon and gave Juanita her full attention.

Juanita took a deep breath, and then looked up into Maggie’s eyes.

“Are you thinking about joining the Army again?”

Maggie sighed a breath of relief, a small laugh sputtering out of her lips as

she felt her shoulders sink.

“Mom, you have nothing to worry about. That was a long time ago.”

“Thank goodness.”

The pair finished dinner and after Maggie washed the dishes and kissed her mother goodnight.

Meanwhile, Ted was at The Playground playing tennis with his best friend, Johnny. Although they had been playing the sport together for over fifteen years, Ted usually had the upper hand.

“It’s because you’re so rich you always beat me!” Johnny always joked.

And every single time, Ted would retort: “That’s no excuse! You’re just as rich as I am!”

It was an inside joke between the two.

Johnny came from a very rich family. His father made millions off of the boat accessories he designed himself. He then invested the money he made from the boating industry into building gas stations all around town, which brought in twice the profit.

The pair had just finished up another singles match, with Ted beating Johnny again 6 to 2.

“At least I put up a fight in the second set!” Johnny exclaimed across the court. Although he usually lost he tried his best to beat the master at his craft.

“That’s what you always say! Next time I might have to let you win. I feel bad that you lose almost every time.” Ted said, smirking.

“Don’t you dare!” Johnny looked down at his watch and realized that he had to get going. Unlike Ted, Johnny had been married for ten years and two beautiful twins. “Oh, would you look at the time. I have to get going. Maybe you’ll have a good woman before our next game.”

Ted laughed at his friend’s remark.

“I could never settle down like that, Johnny. I couldn’t stand having someone tell me when to come home.” He slung the tennis racket over his shoulder and used his free hand to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

However, despite his confident facade, Ted did want a good woman. He wanted to find someone he could share a connection with. He had been lying to Johnny and his grandmother; he didn’t like showing those kinds of sappy emotions around other people.

“Tomorrow at the same time?” asked Ted.

“Can’t. I promised Janet I would spend the day with her and the kids.”

The two shared a fist bump and Johnny left to go back home.

When Johnny got back home, he parked his car in the garage and went inside.

Janet was waiting for him in the living room.

“Did you win this time?”

“No, love. He beat me again.” Looking around, he noticed that neither of his children had come to greet him. “Where are the kids?”

“They’re watching a movie in the home theater.” said Janet, gesturing her head towards the hallway that led down to the theater room.

Johnny gave Janet a kiss on the cheek.

“I’m gonna see the kids.” Stepping past his wife, he eagerly made his way down the hallway and opened the door to the home theater room. “Jojo? Elizabeth?”

The eight year old boy and six year old girl were cuddling on the sofa, their attention fully enraptured with Lady and the Tramp on the big screen.

“Guess who’s home?” He plopped next to them on the couch, ignoring the fact that he was covered in sweat from his tennis match.



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