“Never thought it would, Darlin’. But I just needed to say it. It was time.”
I take the ring out of the box and hold it between my finger and thumb. Thoughts of Avery wearing this ring and calling herself my wife flash through my mind. I can’t believe how happy the thought of that makes me.
Thinking about Avery also makes me come to another realization. “Mom, over the past couple of weeks, I have watched Avery’s life completely get turned upside down. She figured out that people she’s loved have been lying to her for her entire life. But you know what? She still manages to put on a happy face. She still manages to find the good in everything. I think I need to take a page out of her playbook.”
I look back at my mom, who now has tears in her eyes.
“Mom, I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet. Why are you crying?”
Her lip quivers. “I think this is the most I’ve heard you speak in the past ten years.”
“Yeah, I get it. I don’t talk a lot.” I chuckle. “But anyway, I think it’s about time that you and I bury the hatchet—or try to. I know it’ll take time, but maybe we can give it a shot.”
She goes to give me a hug but stops herself. “Sorry,” she says, knowing I haven’t wanted to hug her in years.
I walk toward her and wrap my arms around her. I feel her cry on my shoulder.
Through all the shit that I went through with this woman in my childhood, I can see that the woman in front of me isn’t the same one I grew up with. I wish I could have grown up with this woman.
As we break the hug, my phone starts vibrating in my pocket. I see that it’s Boyd calling me. I haven’t heard from him since our original talk. I tried to respect Avery’s wishes about not finding out anything more, but I should probably tell Boyd that so he doesn’t waste any more time.
“Give me a minute, Mom.” Answering the phone, I say, “Hey, Boyd.”
“Hey, Samson. I’ve done some digging on your guy.”
“Yeah, about that. You don’t have to keep looking if you haven’t found anything. I didn’t mean to bug you with this.”
He cuts me off before I can get further. “Duke, listen to me.”
“Shit, man. What’s up?”
“When I did the search for your guy, it triggered some sort of alarm in the system.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“It means that while I was looking, someone else was watching me. They found all the same information that I found.”
“Were you able to figure out who was watching?”
“Looks like it was some guy working in intelligence. Name is Thomas Lawrence. I’m not sure why he’s looking, but he backdoored in behind me and saw all the same information that I got.”
It starts to click in my head that maybe this is the same guy who Samuel was trying to track down when he was alive. Fuck. The search I asked Boyd to do must have showed Thomas who was tracking him.
“Do you know what any of it means?”
“I have a pretty good idea.”
“Let me know what else you need from me.”
I thank him once again and hang up the phone.
“Is everything okay?” My mom asks.
“I’m not sure. Do you ever just have a bad feeling that you can’t quite shake?”
“Of course. Maybe you need to try to get to the root of it before it gets worse.”