Duke's Redemption

Page 76

Duke looks from the solid black case to me. “Do you have any idea what’s in there?”
“Not a clue.”
“Any idea what the combination might be?”
“I didn’t think so. But that’s not why I called you down here.”
“Okay?” I ask. “The creepy safe isn’t enough?”
“You haven’t seen creepy yet.”
He takes a couple of steps to the right and grabs an old box labeled ANTIQUE DOLLS.
“Duke, please don’t open that and reveal some sort of creepy Chucky or Annabelle situation. I will freak the fuck out.”
“It’s not what you think.” He whips the top off of the box.
I’m almost too scared to look inside, but slowly, I take a peek. It isn’t full of devil-possessed dolls, though. It looks like a collection of papers and photos.
Duke stops me before I can touch anything. “How about we go upstairs and look through this? You’re going to want to sit down.”
There is a pit in my stomach that grows by the second. “Duke, you’re freaking me out.”
“Come on, Angel.” He grabs the box and leads me back up the stairs.
We walk into the kitchen, and he sets the box on the table. Without a word, Duke opens a bottle of wine and pours me a glass.
“Isn’t it a bit early?” I ask.
As he sets it in front of me, he says, “You’re going to need it.”
Okay, enough suspense. I pull the top off of the box once more and start picking up the items inside. My mouth involuntarily drops open at what I find.
What the fuck?
Chapter 29
Haveyoueverfeltlike your entire life has been a lie? Like no one around you has been honest with you?
That’s exactly how I feel right now. I feel like my world is coming crashing down on me a little more with every single thing I grab out of this box.
As I bring out the final piece out of the box, I set it amongst the others on the table. Stepping back to get the full picture, I find it hard to breathe.
Laid out in front of me is documentation of my entire life.
Not my father’s life.
There are pictures of my father in the room with my mother when I was born. He was holding me and hugging my mom. In one photo, they were even kissing.
Flash forward, and there are photos of the three of us when I was learning how to walk and celebrating my first birthday. This is a far cry away from the portrait of my father that my mother painted. He isn’t the man who immediately disappeared when I was born.
Eventually, my father fades from the photos, but I still remain in them. And where the early pictures were close and intimate, they turn into ones that are clearly taken from afar.