Wasn’t as hard as I thought. Daniel Fitzgerald, Class of 1992, Economics major. Google “Daniel Fitzgerald Boston.”
I opened a new tab and typed in the search. The first result showed attorney biographies at a law firm where his name was listed first as a partner. The second result was an official website for Daniel Fitzgerald’s run for governor of Massachusetts, featuring a stylish red, white, and blue logo and a catchy campaign slogan. Beneath was a photo of an aged version of the man in the photo. Oh God. I scrambled for my phone and called Marie.
“Hey, baby girl,” she answered happily.
“Daniel Fitzgerald,” I said.
“That’s the man in the photo.”
“Oh.” She sounded more resigned than surprised.
“I know Mom didn’t tell me for a reason, but I need to know.”
“Marie, I have a right to know. You were her best friend. If anyone would know who my father is, it’s you.”
She was silent for a long stretch before speaking. “Yes.”
“He’s your father.”
“Oh, God.” My face dropped into my palm, my head suddenly spinning. I’d had my suspicions, of course, but I half expected her to say no. To lie or to tell me I was crazy thinking up something so far-fetched. Now, faced with the truth, I didn’t know what to feel.
I’d spent my whole life accepting the shadow of his absence, ignorant to the other half of my origins. But had I ever truly accepted it? By the time I was old enough to really demand the truth, my mother had been gone. Knowing that no one could ever hope to fill that place in my heart, I never bothered to seriously wonder who he could be.
Now, I had a thousand questions and no answers. Did he even know I existed? Did he love my mother? What was he like?
“Honey, are you all right?” Marie interrupted my reeling thoughts.
“Did you know he’s running for governor?” The one thing I did know about him was the one thing that could keep us apart. I had no idea how I’d get through the layers of people that surrounded him for a chance to know him.
“No, but I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“It’s not going to be easy connecting with him,” I said.
“Just be careful, honey.”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t know what you’re walking into with him.”
“What do you mean? Should I be worried about something?”
“You’re a smart girl. Just pay attention and don’t let your guard down,” she said quietly.
I hung up with Marie and collected my thoughts.
I stared at the photo on his website, wishing I knew the man on the other side. Not the lawyer or the politician, but the man.
I clicked around and learned as much as I could about him, which only reinforced how difficult it would be to get a meeting with him. I couldn’t simply walk into his office and announce myself. The idea of Blake as a connection crossed my mind, but I squashed that idea. I didn’t want to associate him with any of this, for my sake and his.
I scrolled through my phone and called Alli. We still hadn’t spoken, and I was shocked when she picked up.
“I’ve been trying to reach you,” I said, trying not to sound as concerned as I was.
“I know, I’m really sorry. I’ve been flat out with work, and dealing with all this crap with Heath doesn’t help either.”
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“He seems good...better. He’s in L.A., so I can’t go see him right now with work.”
“Right,” I said. “I can’t imagine what this has been like for you.”
She laughed listlessly. “I’m thinking I should have majored in psychology instead, because being with him has been like dating two completely different people.”
“Except you’re in love with one of them.”
She sighed on the other end.
“Alli, I know I haven’t always been the most supportive friend when it comes to Heath, but I hope you know you can talk to me about this. This came as a shock to me, but I want to be here for you. You’re still my best friend. I don’t want this to keep us apart.”
“Thank you,” she said. “That means a lot. Obviously, I can’t talk to my parents about any of this. They would completely freak out.”
“Hopefully Heath can get straightened out before you have to.”
I tapped my fingers on the counter. “So I have some interesting news.”
“I think I found my father.”
“I need your help though. He’s some big-wig lawyer and running for governor, so I have no idea how I’m going to get in touch with him. You know, discreetly. I was hoping you had some ideas.”
“Wow, okay. Let me see what I can do. I know some people at the Review. We might be able to request an interview.”
Alli’s mood had shifted. She was suddenly peppy with a new mission. The girl was born for marketing.
“No problem, I’ll call you later.”
I wanted to move things forward with meeting Daniel, but I hated that so much time had passed without connecting with her. Hopefully we were over that, at least until Heath came back on the scene.
“Sounds good,” I said and hung up.
Nervous, I flipped through a magazine until Daniel Fitzgerald’s beautiful blond receptionist gave me the go ahead to enter. The offices of Fitzgerald & Quinn were nestled in the heart of Boston’s financial district, and the large corner office I stepped into left little doubt that the man in front of me was one of the most important executives in the city’s corporate landscape. Dressed in an imposing three-piece suit, he pored over the paperwork on his double pedestal desk, his reading glasses resting on the ridge of his nose. He was no longer the carefree young man I’d seen in the photo.
“Mr. Fitzgerald.” My voice faltered at the simple greeting.
He looked up at me, a mirror of my own cool blue eyes. His hair was graying and his face was lined, but he was still very handsome. The essence of the man in the photo was recognizable.
“I’m Erica Hathaway.” I reached out to shake his hand.