From Riches to the Zoo [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Tonya Ramagos
eBook Category: Young Adult
eBook Description: Wealthy teen Miranda loses her both parents in a plane crash. Suddenly, she has to leave her mansion behind and move in with her aunt and uncle who keep a zoo. Then Miranda's boyfriend dumps her. What else can go wrong? But on the first morning in her new home, Miranda meets a great-looking guy, makes friends with his sister, and tangles with a mud-slinging alligator. Her new world starts to look a lot brighter!
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net/ebooksonthe.net, Published: ebook, 2001
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2006
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The blinding afternoon sun glistened wildly millions of miles away. Not a single cloud was visible for the first time in ages. Birds chirped in song and a cool breeze blew from the north. Ordinarily it would be perfect weatherÓthe kind one would wish for everydayÓbut not this day. This day the glorious conditions were inappropriate and downright nauseating. For today was the day that Miranda's parents were being laid to restÓa double funeral for the two most important people in her life.
It was all she could do to turn away from the graves. Walking with her head bowed to the ground, she reluctantly allowed her best friend and boyfriend to lead her away from her loved ones. Brock slid a loving arm around her slim waist while Stacey held her hand on the other side.
"Would you mind catching a ride to the house with Stacey?" she asked Brock softly. She gazed up at him, her sapphire eyes reddened and puffy from rivers of tears. Any normal time just looking at that gorgeous face would bring a smile to her lips. After all, he was the best-looking guy in school. Tall, sandy blond hair, and deep hazel eyes, he was without a doubt perfection personified.
"Are you sure?" Stacey tilted her head compassionately.
"Yes, I really appreciate you being here for me, both of you, but I could use a few minutes alone before I have to deal with the crowd of people that are going to be at the house."
"Sure sweetheart, no problem," Brock smiled lovingly. He leaned closer to her and planted a tender kiss on her forehead before he turned to walk away with Stacey.
"We'll see you in a few minutes," Stacey said as they sauntered across the cemetery to her parent's car.
Miranda climbed into the back seat of the black stretch limousine that sat at the curb waiting for her.
"Home Ms. Miranda?" Ellis the driver, asked. He didn't turn around. Instead he gazed at her in the rear view mirror.
Miranda simply nodded. "And please drive slowly," she responded almost as an afterthought.
As the limo began to pull away from the curb, she stared out the dark tinted glass, her eyes fixed on her parent's graves until they disappeared from sight. Ellis did as requested and drove as slow as humanly possible back to the mansion but the time it took to get there still wasn't long enough. As the limo pulled around the circular drive to the enormous double mahogany doors, Miranda winced at the thought of walking into the house full of people ready to express their condolences at the loss of her parents.
Everything from Rolls Royces and Jaguars to dozens of black stretch limousines lined the grounds of the Hobson estateÓeach and every one belonging to some highfalutin millionaire who once knew Garrett and Sylvia Hobson. But not a single one of them would miss their presence the way she would. None of them could possibly understand the loss she felt, the abandonment that tarnished her insides from loosing both her parents at the same time years before she was supposed to. She didn't even know why most of the people had showed up at the funeral. They had been nothing more than a pool of money hungry piranhas when her parents were aliveÓalways scheming for a way to get a quick buck of the Hobson fortune. Did they think they could continue to rob them blind even after their deaths?
Miranda was lost in her own little world when the driver opened the limo door for her in front of the house.
"Ms. Miranda," Ellis said almost in a whisper to jar her to reality. "We're here Miss."
She glanced up and sighed with sadness. The first to catch her attention were Stacey and Brock who were standing at the marble pillars that lined the front of the two-story modern day mansion. As Miranda approached them they resumed their positions, Brock with his muscular arm around her waist and Stacey with her long slender fingers laced through hers, and led her through the double doors.
Inside the elaborate structure, it was exactly the picture she had expected. The massive banquet room in the west wing swarmed with people. A half dozen elegantly decorated tables covered with hors d'oeuvres lined the walls and a wet bar had been set up in the far corner.
Boy, what I wouldn't do for a nice stiff drink right about now, she thought, gazing around the room. Not that she really drank alcohol. Only a small glass of wine here and there when her parents had given permission. Even so, her dry mouth began to water from the thought. Make it a double, she wanted to say. Anything to make me forget this horrible reality.
From the moment she was told the news she had prayed she was dreaming. She had even pinched herself so hard a couple of times in hopes of waking herself up that she had left marks on her silky skin. But in the end all she proved to herself was that she was wide-awake. No matter how she wished, prayed, or pretended her parents were gone and nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to bring them back.
"At least the caterers did a good job," Stacey was saying, attempting to make conversation as they stood of to the side of the room.
"Mom would be pleased," she nodded slightly in agreement. "Everything always had to be so perfect for her. Aunt Ellen was concerned that the caterers wouldn't do as good of a job as our servants would have."
"Your mom had your servants trained well. They knew exactly how she wanted things," Brock said, rubbing the back of her shoulder. "But I think she would also be pleased to know that your Aunt and Uncle let all of them have the day off to be at the funeral."
"They weren't just servants to my parents. From the day they were hired they were treated like part of the family not as slaves. They're as saddened as anyone by their death."
"Miranda darling, how are you holding up?" her Aunt Ellen questioned, rushing to her side.
"Considering the fact that I would much rather be alone right now I guess I'm doing alright. I know mother wouldn't approve of me running away from the gathering. A daughter in my position should always be the good little hostess, right?"
"That's what Sylvia would have said," her aunt smiled in agreement.
Tears surfaced in Miranda's sapphire eyes. As if she hadn't shed enough tears over the past few days.
"Look at your uncle over there," her aunt giggled softly, pointing across the room to her medium height shaggy chestnut brown haired husband. "The poor dear looks so uncomfortable in that tuxedo."
"He looks like a clown," she shook her head hopelessly. She knew her aunt was doing her best to make her smile but as hard as she tried the melancholy expression on her face refused to break. "I don't think I've ever seen him out of those kaki shorts and shirt with the Greendale Audubon Zoo logo that he always wears."
"Come to think of it, neither have I," her aunt chuckled.
Then it started. One by one each and every person in the room came up to her to voice their sympathies and talk about what great people Garrett and Sylvia had been. She had to bite her tongue until it nearly bled to keep from screaming at some of the people who approached her. They had treated her parents so horribly when they were alive and now they had the gall to act like they had been the best of friends with her parents all of their lives. One man, a Mr. Anton Shillinger, even caused her father to have a heart attack once and yet he seemed to be the main one who spoke as if her father had been his best friend since birth.
You must stay strong darling, she could almost hear her parents' voices inside her head. You must keep your unpleasant thoughts to yourself. No matter what has happened in the past that's no way to treat a guest in our home. Keep you head held high sweetheart. It will all be over soon.
So that's exactly what she did. As hard as it was at times, she kept her head held high and did her best to be the hostess her parents had raised her to be. Of course it helped to have Stacey and Brock by her side the entire time, clinging to her like a poor person would to a winning lottery ticket. They never left her once. Not until the last guest was out of the house and she had convinced them she would be all right. The instant the door closed behind Stacey and Brock, she announced to her aunt and uncle she was going to her room.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay down here for a while?" her uncle asked, flashing her a comforting smile. "We can get Betty to make us some warm milk and sit around the kitchen table and chat."
Miranda stopped at the bottom of the steep cheery wood staircase and turned to face her uncle. "I don't feel much like chatting. Thanks but I would really rather be alone for the rest of the night." Without waiting for another word from her uncle, she proceeded up the stairs to her room. Behind her she could hear him whispering to her aunt.
"Shouldn't we talk to her tonight?" he said.
"There will be plenty of time for that tomorrow dear. She's been through so much and I'm sure she just needs some time by herself," her aunt replied. "It's best that we wait until she's had some time to absorb the past few days."
She didn't have the slightest clue what they were talking about and at that moment could really care less. Inside her colossal room, she slipped out of her long solid black funeral attire and sauntered to the dresser for a nightshirt. But what she found on top of all the clothes in the first drawer was a short white cotton blouse that had belonged to her mother. A single tear trickled down her rosy cheek as she pulled the shirt out of the drawer and held it against her chest.--From the day her mother purchased the blouse she had driven her nuts for it. She loved it. Not to mention the fact that she always looked stunning in it. But seeing the blouse now only filled her with guilt. It was in her drawer because she had taken it from her mother's room without asking. Sure, her mother would have known exactly where to find it if she had started looking for it but that was beside the point. She had stolen it from her mom and now she would never get the chance to return it.
"I'm sorry Mom," she whispered, her voice cracking from the tears begging to be released. She reached on the dresser top and grasped a bottle of Satin Lace perfumeÓher mother's favoriteÓand sprayed it on the shirt before sliding it over her glistening long blond hair. Across the room, she curled up on the bed with her favorite teddy bearÓa bear her father had bought her for her thirteenth birthday.
She could remember it so clearly. It was the first and only birthday of her life that her father had been away from home. A last minute crash in the stock market had dragged him half way across the United States almost the instant he had awakened that morning. Deeply saddened that he had been pulled away, as his way of apologizing he had returned the next morning baring loads of gifts, one of which being the cute cuddly brown fuzzy teddy bear.
Oh why hadn't her father returned from his business trip this time? Why did her mother have to go with him? Why did the plane have to crash?