Chapter 1

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A/N : Ok so I've completed this story and I understand that some people are absolutely annoyed with my lack of knowledge with the US military system. 

1. I fully apologize. I wrote this story with just pure adrenaline pumping and ideas flowing. I'm sorry for offending you guys. I really am.

2. I am working on fixing it -- but really slowly. I'm a Junior in university and I try as much as I can to work on my writing.

3. Also, if my spelling or characters get mixed up -- once again I'm sorry guys.  :(

Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this story (and my other ones as well) LOVE YOU. xx

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Nothing we ever want is handed to us; we must work hard for it.

This sentiment holds true, particularly on the path to professional success. However, in matters of love, the rules are entirely different. Love, as we all know, can be terribly unfair and one-sided, often unrequited.

One cannot simply work to earn love; it is something that must be gained organically. Love comes unexpectedly, hitting you in the face when you least anticipate it.

In my case, the formidable Talen Noah Parker seemed light-years away from noticing someone like me. At 20 years old and towering at 6'2'', he effortlessly commanded attention. Talen gravitated toward girls resembling my sister – those with seemingly less substance.

My sister, Sarah Lynn Baker, at 18, possessed big blue eyes reminiscent of my mother's, making her everyone's favorite. With her petite, girl-next-door appearance, she effortlessly captivated hearts, coupled with the reputation of being the queen bee. Sarah, armed with a sharp, snake-like tongue, could manipulate anyone.

My oldest brother, Ryan, had been best friends with Talen since childhood.

"Alright, kids. Your mother and I will be back in two days. Don't do anything stupid," my dad cautioned as he loaded their luggage into the trunk.

"I've informed your grandma that we're out. She's agreed to make you some food. Someone just needs to pick it up every day," my mother added, prompting everyone to look at me.

"Sure, I'll do it," I replied with a smile.

Trips to Grandma's were not favored by Ryan or Sarah, as Nana enforced rules and provided a stark contrast to the free reign they enjoyed in our parents' absence.

My grandmother, Rosa, was eccentric and filled her house with valuable life lessons through storytelling and a collection of art from her world travels.

"Alright, thank you, Kat. Remember, your curfew still applies," my mom warned before hugging us and leaving with my dad.

Their absence always weighed on me. While my parents had blessed me with a comfortable life, the lack of their presence for important events made things challenging. Nana had become a surrogate for that emotional void.

"Talen will be coming over. You guys are free to join us," Ryan announced as he entered the kitchen.

"Cool, I will," my sister replied.

"I've got a test to study for," I shrugged, ignoring their snickers.

As a high school senior excelling in AP classes, I followed the path my parents envisioned for me, yet I harbored a secret passion. Locked in my room, I pondered whether to share my true desires with them.

An hour later, the house transformed into a party scene. Resigned to my siblings' choices, I joined the chaos in the kitchen, hoping for a quiet escape.

"Jackpot," I muttered, spotting pizza boxes. Unbeknownst to me, Talen leaned against the counter, engaged in conversation with a girl.

"You're totally hot. I heard you're enlisting in the NAVY?" she exclaimed, causing me to drop my cup in surprise.

Talen's attention shifted to me. "Hey Kat, you okay?"

"I'm fine. It just slipped, that's all," I stammered, grabbing pizza and retreating to my room. As I leaned against the door, the realization hit me – the man I loved was leaving.

The following morning resembled a chaotic movie scene, worsened a thousandfold. Trash littered the house, and people sprawled in the backyard, including my unconscious brother. Avoiding the mess, I headed to Grandma's.

"Nanaaaaaa. I'm here!" I called out upon entering her house.

"Honey, I'm in the kitchen. Come on, time for a lesson," she replied.

Her kitchen, a haven of warmth, housed a medium-sized brick oven and wooden countertops.

"I'm going to teach you how to make lardy cake, Kat. Trust me, you will make someone fall in love with you when you give this to them," Nana giggled.

Love, something I desperately yearned for, was momentarily fulfilled by the woman before me.

"Only time can tell about that, Nana. Now, what do we need?" I rolled up my sleeves, tied my long black hair, and donned an apron.

"The key ingredient is lard—lots of it. If you want to make it a tad healthier, you could add some raisins," she chuckled. We kneaded, rolled, and whipped everything from scratch.

"Nana, I'm worried," I blurted out while spreading the lard and sugar mixture.

"About what, love?" concern etched her forehead.

"I have to start applying for university soon. What if they don't let me go to culinary school?" I confessed.

"Oh, honey, come here. Come hug Nana," she said, pulling me close. "If that happens, let me deal with them. Promise me you will come to me."

"I will," I gulped.

"Good. Now back to kneading and slathering on more of the lard and sugar mixture. We Bakers never skimp on anything!"

Smiling, I felt a sense of happiness after a long time.

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