“We have a lot to tell you.”
“Your leg . . .”
Matt waved her off. “It’s fine.”
“The cane is cool, Uncle Matt,” Paul said.
“Yeah, way cool,” chimed in Ethan.
They approached the door where Kyra was standing. Matt remembered how she had helped him escape from the backyard. “Hey, thanks for that scream.”
She blushed. “You’re welcome.”
Kyra took the boys into the yard. Matt and Olivia began to explain. Marsha listened closely. They told her everything. They did not hold back. She seemed grateful. When they were done, Marsha said, “Let me make you both lunch.”
“You don’t have to—”
They did. Olivia looked off. Matt could see that there was still a giant hole.
“I already called Cingle,” he said.
“We’ll find your child.”
Olivia nodded, but she didn’t believe it anymore. “I want to visit Emma’s grave. Pay my last respects.”
“I can’t believe she ended up so close to us.”
“What do you mean?”
“That was part of our pact. We knew each other’s new identities, of course. But we never communicated. I thought she was still at the parish in Oregon.”
Matt felt the tingle start in his spine. He sat up.
Olivia said, “What’s the matter?”
“You didn’t know she was at St. Margaret’s?”
“But she called you.”
“As Sister Mary Rose. There were phone records. She called you.”
Olivia shrugged. “She could have found out where I was, I guess,” she said. “She knew my name. Maybe she tried to reach me or warn me.”
Matt shook his head. “Six minutes.”
“The call lasted six minutes. And she didn’t call our house. She called here.”
“I don’t understand.”
And then another voice said, “She was calling me.”
They both turned. Kyra stepped into the room. Marsha stood behind her.
Kyra said, “I’ve been wondering how to tell you.”
Matt and Olivia stayed still as a stone.
“You didn’t break the pact, Olivia,” Kyra said. “Sister Mary Rose did.”
“I don’t understand,” Olivia said.
“See, I always knew I was adopted,” Kyra said.
Olivia put her hand to her mouth. “Oh, my God . . .”
“And once I started looking into it, I found out pretty fast that my birth mother had been murdered.”
A sound escaped Olivia’s mouth. Matt sat stunned.
Olivia, he thought. She was from Idaho. And Kyra . . . she lived in one of those Midwestern “I” states. . . .
“But I wanted to learn more about it. So I tracked down the policeman who investigated the death.”
“Max Darrow,” Matt said.
Kyra nodded. “I told him who I was. He seemed to genuinely want to help. He took all the information—where I was born, the doctor, all that. He gave me Kimmy Dale’s address. I visited her.”
“Wait,” Matt said, “I thought Kimmy said—”
Kyra looked at him, but Matt stopped himself. The answer was obvious. Darrow had been controlling things again by keeping Kimmy in the dark. Why let her know that there really was a daughter in the picture? Maybe Kimmy, already emotionally unhinged, would swing the other way if she knew that the girl who visited her really was Candi’s flesh and blood.
“I’m sorry,” Matt said. “Go on.”
Kyra slowly turned back to Olivia. “So I visited Kimmy’s trailer. She was so nice. And talking to her just made me want to find out more about you. I wanted to . . . I know how this will sound, but I wanted to find your killer. So I kept digging. I kept asking around. And then I got a call from Sister Mary Rose.”
“How . . . ?”
“She was trying to help some of her old girls, I think. Make amends. She heard what I was up to. So she called me.”
“She told you I was still alive?”
“Yes. I mean, it was a total shock. I thought you’d been murdered. And then Sister Mary Rose tells me if I do what she says, I might be able to find you. But we had to play it safe, she said. I didn’t want to put you in danger or anything. I just wanted . . . I just wanted a chance to get to know you.”
Matt looked at Marsha. “You knew?”
“Not until yesterday. Kyra told me.”
“How did you happen to live here?”
“That was part luck,” Kyra said. “I wanted to find a way to get close to you. Sister Mary Rose was going to try to get me hired at DataBetter. But then we heard Marsha needed a live-in helper. So Sister Mary Rose called someone at St. Philomena’s. She gave them my name.”
Matt remembered now that Marsha had met Kyra through her church. A nun would have that kind of pull—who would question that kind of recommendation?
“I wanted to tell you,” Kyra said, her eyes only on Olivia. “I was just looking for the right time. But then Sister Mary Rose called. Like you said. Three weeks ago. She said it was still too soon—that I shouldn’t say anything until she contacted me again. I was scared, but I trusted her. So I listened. I didn’t even know she’d been killed. And then the other night, when you both came here so late—I was going to tell you anyway. That’s why I came back in from the garage. But Matt was running out.”
Olivia stood, opened her mouth, closed it, tried again. “So you . . . you’re my . . . ?”
Olivia took a tentative step toward Kyra. She reached out with one hand. Then, thinking better of it, she dropped it back to her side.
“Are you okay, Kyra?” Olivia asked.
Kyra smiled, a smile so heartbreakingly close to her mother’s Matt wondered how he’d missed it before. “I’m fine,” she said.
“Are you happy?”
“I am, yes.”
Olivia said nothing. Kyra took another step.
“I’m fine, really.”
And then Olivia started to cry.
Matt looked away. This wasn’t about him. He heard the sobs and the shushing sounds of two people trying to comfort each other. He thought about the miles, the pain, the prison, the abuse, the years, and what Olivia had said about this life, this simple life, being worth fighting for.