Overview: Blue is living example of how brutal the foster system is. The only way she knows how to protect herself is by pushing everyone away, to detach herself from those around her.
Trust isn’t something she knows how to do. Self-sabotage on the other hand—it’s her best talent.
After another failed attempt at finding a family, Blue decides to run. She’d rather take her chances alone on the streets than go through another gruelling process of trying to fit in with a new family who would never understand her.
Convinced she’s destined to be alone, fate intervenes and Blue cross paths with a horse who seems just as lost as she is.
She can’t explain it, the undeniable connection she feels with the stallion. But whenever she looks at him, she can see her own pain and fear reflect in his eyes—something they both seem to find comfort in.
A deep friendship blossoms. A dynamic of mutual understanding and trust is found in the most unlikely way. But with it comes the shadows of a past that threatens to tear them apart and ruin the special bond forged between them.
This is a tale of how two lost souls find hope in the most unexpected way, and their fight to protect it.

 

Blue by Maggie Joan Book Chapter One

 

Life was good. It had been a long time since I’d been able to even think such a thing. At fifteen years of age, I finally felt like I’d found somewhere I could call home, a real home.

Marsha, my foster mum, was everything you could ever dream of in a mum. Always smiling, she loved giving cuddles and kisses, and she baked, every day. From divine tasting bread to delicious cupcakes, I’d come to love nothing more than walking through the front door and having the sweet aroma of freshly baked goodies invade my senses.

Sitting on a deck chair in the back garden, shredding chunks of cheesy bread and scoffing it like I’d not eaten for a week, I sighed in contentment. A glass of homemade lemonade sat to my right, on a little white plastic table. Roger, Marsha’s husband, my foster dad, had mowed the lawn this morning which meant the smell of freshly cut grass combined with the heat from the June sun made this moment absolutely perfect. I couldn’t want for anything more right now.

My phone pinged with a text message, which I knew would be my friend Isabelle, or Izzy, demanding my time once again. Right now, though, I wanted nothing more than ‘me’ time in this idyllic moment.

Wearing my favourite red bikini, I nestled back into the chair and closed my eyes, touching my sunglasses to make sure they were in the right position. The sun heated my skin gently, my factor twenty sunscreen providing the perfect balance of protection and light bronzing.

I laid there long enough to slip into a cat nap, the true sign of complete happiness. I dreamed of walking through a daffodil field, my hands skimming the tops of the bright yellow flowers. The sun sat high in a bright cloudless sky. I found myself wearing a pretty white dress which billowed slightly as a cool breeze kissed my skin.

On the horizon, across the sea of yellow, something moved, something grey and big. It looked like an animal of some sort. As I walked towards it, I realised it was a horse, a beautiful grey horse. His ears were pricked, his head turned to watch me. His creamy white tail swished lazily from side to side, swatting the flies off his twitching skin.

Step by step, I approached him, he didn’t move, or show any fear, he seemed as curious about me as I was him. Within a few feet of him, I held out my right hand for him to sniff, offering him a piece of reassurance I wouldn’t hurt him. He reached out, blowing through his nose, his velvety soft muzzle millimetres from touching my fingers…

Ice cold water jolted me back to reality. I screamed from the shock, jumping up in an instant. Roaring laughter from my foster brother, Archie, had my blood boiling in seconds.

“Archie!” I yelled. “I’m going to kill you, you little s—”

“Blue!” Marsha shouted, stepping outdoors. “What have we said about your language?”

“But look!” I said, motioning to my soaking hair and body. “I was quite happy there and he had to come and ruin it, just like always.”

Archie ran to Marsha and clasped his arms tightly around her soft middle in a proper ‘save me’ hug. The grin on his face made me want to strangle the little sod.

“He’s eight years old, Blue,” Marsha said, patting his dark head of hair like he was a good boy. “He just wants to play.”

I took my sunglasses off and glared at the little prankster I hated so much. “Tell him to go and play with a bus or something then.”

I plastered a sickly-sweet smile on my face and enjoyed Archie’s look of horror. As always, to get the sympathy vote, he burst into tears.

“Blue, that was totally uncalled for and not very nice. Apologise to him please.”

“When he apologises for doing this.”

Marsha tilted her head to one side and sighed. That was the classic sign of me being in the wrong and here comes the lecture to prove it. “It was just some water, Blue. What you said was very hurtful and scary to a young boy. If he has nightmares, it will be your fault. You’re the eldest one here so it’s up to you to be the grown up in the situation and swallow your pride.”

I used every ounce of willpower not to roll my eyes. “Yes, Marsha.” I made eye contact with Archie again and said, “I’m sorry,” in the least sarcastic voice I could muster.

He snuggled further into Marsha’s side and stuck his tongue out at me. I will get you, you little shit I thought to myself.

“See?” Marsha said. “Wasn’t too hard, was it?”

I smiled at her and put my sunglasses back on. On the ground, two green water balloon skins lay burst open, the source of my untimely shower. I fought the urge to prove to her that he’d been in my room, again, but instead I silently promised that I would settle this sister to brother. After all the crap he’d pulled on me over the past seven months, revenge would be a sweet sweet thing.

Sitting down on the now wet deck chair, I grabbed my phone and read my message.

Izzy: Want to head to the beach tonight?

I quirked an eyebrow up and grinned. That was Izzy’s code for ‘there’s a party and we’re going’. Scooping up the water balloon skins, I stood up, picked up the remainder of the cheesy bread, which was now a soggy mess, and headed indoors.

“You can thank Archie for that,” I said to Marsha, giving her a sweet smile as I plonked her ruined home baked bread down on the worktop.

She eyed the water dripping off it and shrugged her shoulders. “I can always make some more, it’s not a problem.”

I tried my hardest not let it irk me that that boy could do no wrong. Archie had been here before I arrived. Marsha had been fostering him since he was three and I think her and Roger had been thinking of adopting him. His story was a regular case of a hooked-on drugs prostitute mum and an alcoholic abusive dad/pimp.

“I’m going to the beach with Izzy later,” I said. “So I'll find my own tea.”

“Have you done all your homework?”

I rolled my eyes. “Yes, not that there’s much to do anyway. I've got like four days left before the summer holidays.”

“You know the rules, Blue. Homework is homework.”

“I know.” I opened the cupboard above her head which was full of crisps, biscuits, and chocolate bars, and took a packet of unopened jammie dodgers.

“You’ll spoil your tea,” Marsha said.

“You mean my healthy fish and chips?” I replied, grinning.

“Get out of here,” she said, laughing and swatting my bum with a tea towel. “Before Roger catches you.”

I pecked her cheek lightly and ran upstairs to get changed. The cream long pile carpet felt so lush under my feet. It covered the entire upstairs of the house and I had been known to fall asleep on it more than once because of how soft and comfortable it was.

My bedroom sat at the front of the house. A big detached four-bedroom house, two master bedrooms were at the front, both with en suites, and two smaller bedrooms were at the back of the house, both still big enough for double beds and lots of furniture.

Archie viewed the modest sized bathroom as his considering the front bedrooms had en suites. What he didn’t appreciate was that sometimes, people didn’t want a shower and they wanted a nice long hot soak in a bubble bath. I should correct that, not people, me. Marsha and Roger could use ‘his’ bathroom as much as they pleased, but me, that was a different story.

When I'd first arrived here, just after New Year, I'd not had any form of bathing myself for a week. Imagine my delight when I walked into this beautifully clean, exquisitely decorated house, to not only discover they had a bath, but that it was clean, and I didn’t have to share it with anyone. So excited, I'd almost cried and poured half a bottle of Radox ‘Feel Restored’ Lavendar and Waterlily bath soak. The bubbles were over a foot high and the water deliciously hot.

As the bath ran, Marsha showed me where the clean towels were kept in the spare back bedroom. They were gigantic bath sheets, pink for us girls and blue for the boys, and so soft and fluffy. I ran back to the bathroom, stripped off and jumped in, allowing a little tear to roll down my cheek in sheer joy.

And then I sat down. My moment of ecstasy became clouded when something gritty poked my bum and all along the backs of my legs. I dropped my hand in the water and felt along the bottom of the bath. To my sheer horror, the entire bathtub was covered in some sort of grainy material. I scraped some of it together and lifted it out of the water.

Salt.

I jumped out of the bath, wrapped myself up, and shouted for Marsha.

“What’s up, sweetie?” she said, rushing to the bottom of the stairs.

“There’s salt in the bath. Did you put that it in there for some reason?”

“No, poppet. I haven’t been in the bathroom.”

A creaking floorboard next to me turned my attention to the grinning eight-year-old child stood in his bedroom doorway. He shook a white plastic bottle labelled ‘Table Salt’ at me and stuck his tongue out.

My jaw dropped. “You little shit!”

I ran after him, Marsha ran up the stairs shouting my name, and Archie threw himself on the floor and hid under his bed. By the time Marsha came into the room, I was dragging him out, backwards, by an ankle. Archie was screaming like a cat trying to sing, and I was calling him all the names under the sun.

“Blue, let him go, now!”

I continued yanking on him as he refused to let go of the opposite side bed post.

“Mummy! Mummy!” he screamed.

“BLUE!” Marsha bellowed.

The booming voice coming from the sweet lady startled me into stopping. I stood up and backed away, my shoulders slumped and my head hanging low. This would be the part where I got a smack round the earhole or forced to go without food for a week.

I stood, trying not to shake, as Marsha coaxed Archie out from under the bed. She soothed him with lots of “It’s ok, sweetpea,” and “No one is mad at you,” lines. The boy eventually emerged and threw himself around Marsha’s waist.

“I was just trying to help, Mummy,” Archie said, sniffling and looking up at Marsha with big puppy dog eyes. “I wanted to put bath salts in like when you do. I thought it would help.”

Marsha hugged him to her side and kissed the top of his head. “That’s very thoughtful of you, Archie, but not everyone likes bath salts, especially when they’re not expecting them.”

He nodded and sniffed again, then looked over at me and gave me the evil eye.

That was the beginning of my relationship with a miniature Satan.