As the youngest of seven children, I’ve experienced radical changes in my relationships with my siblings. I was born seven years after the sibling closest in age to me so in the beginning of my life, my older brothers and sisters functioned as secondary parents to me. When I was a child, I couldn’t partake in activities like playing wiffle ball because I was too young. I eventually became one of their equals and I could do adult things with them: going out to pizza with my brothers, laying out in the sun with my sisters. My relationships with all of them continued to transform, and as I grew older, not only was I on equal footing, but they’d often turn to me for advice and support.

I’ve illustrated these ever-changing relationships in all of my novels. In Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Silvia turns to Cosmo for support and unintentionally, turns to him for guidance on how to live. In Discovery of an Eagle, this dynamic is reversed with Cosmo turning to Silvia for help. In The Bird that Sang in Color, Donna is constantly looking out for Vincent in what she thinks is in his best interest. She’s determined to improve his life as she sees fit, while disregarding his own wants and needs. But in the end, he ends up saving her. Angie and Cosmo have a tough relationship throughout all of these books but towards the end of Discovery of an Eagle, Cosmo makes a heartfelt apology to Angie for all their years of disharmony. Enjoy the scene below.


“Hey, Angie,” he said. “It’s Cosmo.” The tone of his voice was sad and remorseful.

“Hey, Cosmo,” Angie said with surprise, her greeting sounding more like a question than a statement. He hoped that she’d say more, but she didn’t. He’d never called her, so she might have been so shocked to get a call from him that she was speechless.

“How’s it going?” he said. It was the only thing he could think to say. It was a conversation starter though, and his sister was good at conversation.

“Good,” she said. “Not so different than when I talked to you last.” Cosmo couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that it was only a week ago when they last talked. He had even forgotten about it until she reminded him. When he talked to her at Frank’s house, he had been forced and had nothing to say to her. Now he had something to say. He just didn’t know how to say it.

“Yeah, twice in one week,” he said, attempting a laugh.

“Yeah,” she said, her voice still sounding puzzled. “Why is that? I mean, I haven’t heard from you for years. So, I have to say, I’m a little surprised.” She certainly had a right to be, and he knew now that he couldn’t stall with what he had to say for another second longer. Silvia was waiting for him, and she really wanted to make it to Portland some time tonight or at least by the early morning hours of tomorrow.

“Well, Silvia and I have to get back on the road, so I don’t have long to talk,” he paused for a few seconds, gathering strength for what he was about to say. “I just wanted to say sorry for beheading your Barbie dolls, and for all the times I called you a stupid girl, and for not accepting the honor of being Isabella’s godfather. And well, I’m just sorry for being such a jerk of a brother to you all these years.”

“Wow,” she said with surprise. “I wasn’t expecting that.” He heard something besides shock in her voice. He could hear her happiness coming through the phone. As far apart and as different as they were, they were still brother and sister, and they could still have a connection and could still hear each other even when the other was silent. He heard her crying, but he could tell that she wasn’t crying out of sadness. She was crying happy tears. “Thank you, Cosmo,” she said through her tears. And then she added, “I’m sorry too, and I love you.”

These were easy words for Angie. Cosmo had heard her say them to every member of their family at least once. He had never said it to anyone that he could remember. It didn’t mean that he didn’t feel love for people. He just couldn’t speak those words so freely. He had written them in a letter to Donna once, and once to a girlfriend he had years ago. When he considered the great infrequency in which he had conveyed those words to the people in his life, he realized that this was one more way in which he had safely shut himself off to the world. What if he and Silvia had died a week ago? What if Angie and everyone he loved died? He would have one more regret to stuff in his big bag of regrets. It might even have been the biggest of all. He couldn’t hold himself in any longer.

“I love you too,” he said. And with those words, the many years of dirty looks, cruel remarks, and bad wishes that they had both had for each other had faded into the air. Just at that second, he looked at Silvia, who looked nervous, undoubtedly about the time. Cosmo was sure that despite her nervousness, she didn’t want to interrupt the exchange between her brother and sister.


Grace Mattioli is the author of Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.