Note: So you all aren’t super confused, this is a heads-up that this chapter kinda breaks away a bit from Phoenix for a moment. I wanted to do something a little special because, believe it or not, this one is my 500TH CHAPTER! 😮 I honestly never would have believed I’d have made it so far with this story. It’s a very exciting (but also kind of embarrassing LOL) milestone for me and I’m really happy to share it with you guys 🙂
I feel that it always sounds so hollow when I try and thank you all for reading. But seriously, know that it means so much to me that you’ve all read and supported me during these last five hundred (!!!!!) chapters. The fact that you’ve taken so much time out of your lives to follow this messed up little family is truly humbling, and I can’t thank you all enough ❤
With a soft sigh, Harper returned the notebook back onto the shelf where it belonged. She’d read enough for today — the memories from over two decades ago now felt so fresh and vibrant in her mind. But they were memories that no longer brought her the crippling shame and regret that they once had. The sadness she felt at reliving those days still remained. She knew it always would. But now, she also felt… Well, Harper wasn’t quite sure how to describe it.
Maybe pride, she decided at last as she returned to her spot on the sofa. At how far I’ve come…
Harper ran her fingers along the green tattoo on her forearm. I hope you can still see me, Ivy, she thought. And I hope you’re proud too.
As hard as it still was for her to believe, today marked twenty-one years since the day she’d left prison. Twenty-one years since her life had changed forever… in both terrible and wonderful ways.
Every year, she liked to come up to the library and flip through some of the old journals she’d kept back then. Back when she was at her lowest. When she was such a terrible, entitled, angry person. A scared little girl who needed to stop feeling sorry for herself and blaming the world for her problems.
Harper had once asked her father if he’d ever done the same. Had he ever gone back and read the journals he’d kept in his youth?
He didn’t, she’d learned. Zayne told her he believed in moving forward and striving to do better, not dwelling on the past.
But his daughter didn’t quite agree. How could you move forward if you forgot where you came from? How could you do better if you didn’t remember what things were like at your worst?
Harper glanced back over at the shelf that held the dozens upon dozens of her family’s journals. There had been a time when they all sat in boxes up in the attic. But one of the first things Harper did when they expanded the library was to dedicate an entire shelf to the dusty old journals that held her ancestor’s stories. Their legacies.
Because just as she didn’t want to forget her own past, Harper didn’t want to forget theirs either.
She’d spent countless hours over the years reading through the lives of so many of the Rosebrooks who came before her. And the more she read, the more connected she felt to all of them.
She felt their pain. She understood their struggles… Though sometimes she wished she could reach through the pages and smack some sense into them. But other times, she wanted nothing more than to go back in time and just give them a hug. To tell them that everything would be okay.
Harper usually chose to do her reading up in the library. It was the one room in the house where she felt the most connected to the past generations of her family. That room held so many reminders of all the Rosebrooks that had come before her.
And, as silly as she knew it was, sometimes she swore she could feel them there with her.
So much of who they were still lived on in those old relics of her family’s past. Like that old writing desk.
Or that beautiful grand piano.
Or those sparkling trophies.
Or in the yellowed pages of the books on the shelves.
And in all those old journals too.
But though he’d been gone for nearly two years now, there was one set of journals that Harper still refused to touch.
Harper missed her father so much more than she’d ever imagined she would. It had taken many years to repair their broken relationship… But once they had, she and her father were as close as they’d ever been. And part of her almost wanted to take a peek at those journals — to learn more about his past. To remember him. But she just couldn’t do it.
She knew that part of it was simply fear… Mostly of looking back and seeing what sorts of things her father had written about her when she was at her worst. Those were wounds that would simply be too painful to reopen, even now. And of course, she also wanted to respect Zayne’s wishes too… He’d never wanted to go back and read his own story. So she shouldn’t either, should she?
But Harper still kept his journals carefully tucked on the shelf beside Jocelyne’s. Perhaps someone else would want to look at them one day.
Maybe even Phoenix…
The thought sent a wave of dread rushing through her. Because if her son chose to read Zayne’s journals one day, maybe he’d want to read hers too.
Phoenix already knew she’d stolen from her grandmother. He knew she’d gone to jail. And that was bad enough already. But he didn’t realize just how truly bitter and hateful and selfish she’d been…
What would happen if he ever found out what a monster his mother once was?
I guess he’ll be thankful he turned out better than me. Harper almost laughed as the thought crossed her mind.
But she felt her amusement quickly begin to fade. Because though her son would never be as terrible as she once was, maybe he was just as lost…
The more time that passed, the more she had begun to worry for him. Especially since he’d rushed into his marriage to Gigi and gone off to live in Brindleton Bay.
She could sense that something was wrong. Mothers always knew, didn’t they? And she could feel it every time she spoke to him.
But no matter how many times she tried to hint or even outright ask, he would never open up to her. All he did was tell her things were fine. And, well, Phoenix was an adult now. And he lived literally an ocean away. There was only so much she could do.
It was so frustrating knowing that her son didn’t want to open up to her… Or Erik either, from the sound of it.
What did she expect though? She’d be a hypocrite if she expected anything less from him, wouldn’t she?
Guess that’s one thing we all have in common… Harper couldn’t help but laugh softly to herself at the thought. It was something she’d noticed in every Rosebrook journal she read. We all suck at opening up, don’t we?
But that wasn’t the only thing the Rosebrooks had in common either.
And that was what helped keep her mind at ease. That was why she never let her worrying consume her. Because Harper knew that no matter what happened or what challenges Phoenix faced, things would be okay.
She still hoped he would finally open up to her one day. And she wouldn’t stop trying to help him however she could.
But no matter how badly he screwed up or how cruel fate decided to be, Harper knew he would figure things out, one way or another.
He’d be strong. He wouldn’t give up.
And he’d find his way…
Because he was a Rosebrook.