With two boys, Anna Stratton had no hope of a daughter when she became pregnant for a third time. The pregnancy was a surprise and at first, Jason wanted nothing to do with the new baby. He'd only wanted one child, a son, and felt completed in his oldest boy. Plus a job offer had just come in from Baylor Medical Center of Dallas, Texas, and he didn't want to pass up the opportunity. When she was five months pregnant, Anna packed up her two boys and left Boston with her husband. By the time the family had settled in Dallas, Anna was ready for the July 21 birth of her first and only daughter. As soon as her brothers set eyes on Tinlee Arabella, they were smitten.
Coming home was a chaotic affair but one met with family, new friends, and semi-high enthusiasm. But the novelty of a new baby wore off quickly and things settled back into a normal routine as Jason went back to work and Anna began taking care of three children. As much as she loved her children and liked being a mother, she often missed having her own life and time to herself. Through her toddler years, the loud and rambunctious little girl saw a long stream of nannies come in and out of her family's home. The only constant in her daily life came from her older brothers, who were nine and two (respectively) years older than the rough and tumble blonde.
As Tinlee grew, Anna realized that her only daughter would be walking in her brothers' footsteps. A noticeable tomboy streak developed in the girl, though Tinlee usually conceded when the five-year-old had to attend gymnastics and ballet classes in a leotard and tights. Sports came into the picture as she progressed through her elementary years and Tinlee soon found that she loved soccer and baseball more than she loved ballet. Anna hated the change in personality, but was surprised to see Tinlee's willingness to compromise. She was allowed to drop ballet in favor of softball and gymnastics. The summer Tinlee turned seven, a new tradition was introduced by the oldest Stratton child; camping. Jason and Anna didn't much like the idea of their sixteen year old son taking his younger siblings out into the woods for a weekend, but there wasn't much they could do. Jacob was more than qualified to look after his little brother and sister and had even agreed to take the nanny-of-the-moment along for the trip as an adult chaperon.
After that first weekend, monthly camping trips were soon adopted by the Stratton siblings. The only time these trips were called off was when Jason and Anna took their children back to Boston for month-long visits in the summer. At first Tinlee despised the trips. She had a Southern accent, thanks to her friends and teachers at school, and was often laughed at by her Boston-based family members. But she stuck it out, refusing to complain or let the taunts get to her. These taunts eventually led to hints of the violent nature Tinlee always tried to keep hidden. Anything could be solved with a well-placed punch, she'd learned from her oldest brother very early on.
One bright spot did form through the visits and it came in the form of her cousin, Tabitha Stratton. The girls were alike in a lot of ways and Tabi was often left to her own defenses while her parents worked. The two girls hit it off quickly but Tinlee was often blamed when Tabi came home covered in dirt and muck. The girls were just having fun and Tinlee didn't see why she had to act a certain way around family. They were family, after all, didn't family accept you as you were?
High school changed everything for Tinlee. With her parents talking constantly about returning to Boston, she worried that she wouldn't be able to complete her education where she wanted. She had friends, was involved in softball and now a cheerleader. Aaron was close to finishing school too but he made no arguement against leaving Texas. Jason, much to Tinlee's sadness, had already decided to return to the family's hometown for school and work. Tinlee seemed to be the only obstacle. Especially when she met her first love.