The man opens the truck door and a beam of light hits my father, tracing the lines of his strained features. Discomfort burns in my belly and I am instantly on edge, certain this meeting is not a good one. The other man hands my father a large envelope and my father glances inside.
“This isn’t what we agreed upon,” my father says, his angry tone biting through the silence on a rare breeze, which lifts dirt and chokes me to the point I begin to cough. Both my father and the stranger turn to look at me…
“Amy. Amy. Damn it, Tellar, call Dr. Murphy.”
“No,” I gasp at Liam’s command, trying to push away from my chair to discover my chair is now Liam’s lap. “I’m okay.”
“Holy hell, woman,” Liam mumbles. “You scared the crap out of me. Again.”
“Uh yeah,” Tellar agrees. “Me too.”
“Add me to the list,” Derek adds. “I say call the doc.”
“No,” I insist. “I don’t feel pain. It wasn’t bad. It was good.”
He looks at me like I’ve finally lost it. “That was not good.”
Tellar stands up, the gun nestled in his shoulder strap glaringly obvious as he fixes Derek with a pointed look. “We should give them a few.”
“No,” I insist quickly. “You both came here to help me get answers and I’ve never needed them as much as I do right now.” I try to get up and Liam holds me in place. I glower at him. “Let me sit back in a chair.”
“Had a blackout. I get it. I’ve been having them for years.”
“You weren’t pregnant.”
The barked out worry of his reply gives me pause and I stroke his cleanly-shaven jaw. “Dr. Murphy knows about the flashbacks.”
“And she obviously doesn’t know about you passing out and hitting your head like you did in Denver, or she would have done more to stop them.” His tone is pure disapproval. “I’ll be calling her today.”
In my worry about ending this nightmare before the baby arrives, I didn’t ask enough questions when I was with Dr. Murphy. I stroke my thumb over his neatly trimmed goatee. “She’s planning to meet with us for an in-depth consultation on Monday. Let her have her weekend.”
He scowls. “I’m not letting her send me out of the room this time.”
“Agreed. Now can I go back to my chair?”
Looking less than pleased, he allows me to stand, but he isn’t about to let go of me completely until I’m settled back at the table on my own. Tellar is still standing and all three men stare at me like they expect me to black out again any second. And if not for the baby, I’d almost wish they were right. I want to remember more, faster.
I flatten my hands on the sleek wood of the table and begin revealing what I think is one of my most important flashbacks to date. “When I was in Egypt at one of the last dig sites I was at with my family, I saw the man who was having an affair with my mother.” The rest of the admission is painful. “He was with my father.”
Liam rolls his chair around to face me and Tellar moves to sit back down. Apparently, I’ve gotten their attention. “Who is he?” all three men ask at once.
“I don’t have a name.” I try to visualize the man’s face but can’t. He’d turned around. I’d seen him. Hadn’t I? “All I saw clearly was the back of his head and his profile, or that’s all I remember right now. It was the middle of the night, so it was dark, and all of the workers on the sight were tucked away in tents and sleeping. I’d left mine to go to the bathroom. They were by a supply tent.”
“Just your father and this man?” Derek prods.
“Yes, and…” I wet my suddenly parched lips. “I’m not sure why I hid, but I hid. I tried to make out what was being said, but it was no different than the night this man was with my mother in Jasmine Heights. I couldn’t hear much.”
“Anything you heard could be helpful,” Liam encourages, “even if you think it’s not.”
“The man handed my father an envelope and when my father looked inside he was angry enough that he raised his voice and I heard him say...he told the man that “it”, whatever was in the envelope, wasn’t the amount promised.”
I expect questions and comments and all I get is blank looks that frazzle my nerves. “No,” I say, to the accusations in the air they don’t even have to speak.
Liam covers my hand, his expression as grim as his tone. “You know what it sounds like. You have to.”
My defenses flare. “It’s not some sort of payoff for illegal activity. We had investors and donations. It had to be that, or maybe it wasn’t money at all. My point is simply that my mother was having an affair with someone my father was doing business with.” My throat tightens. “That somehow makes it worse.”
Tellar interjects, “I started out working for a PI who specialized in cheating--” he seems to catch himself, “domestic disputes. It’s common that the affair happens with someone close to the couple. I’d bet my two front teeth that this guy is at the root of all of this.”
It was never about the money. I’d overheard my mother say that to someone. Who? And if someone claims it’s not about the money, then money is involved.
Liam sets my sandwich more fully in front of me. “Let’s eat and then we’ll all dig into the files with the connection in mind.”