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Patric wasn't like other boys she knew – not like her ma's boyfriends. He didn't drink, for one thing, and he didn't take no crap about it. He was steady, and Elcina knew that was rare.

There was more to it, of course. He got real shy with her sometimes, but he brought her flowers, and sometimes candy. She could get him talkin' if she wanted, mostly 'bout his family, or listenin' if she needed that. In the end, she had to lead him where she wanted. She believed him when he said he loved her, and she never looked back.