“One day, he met your momma, and they fell in love and soon after, found out that you were coming into the world. He was the happiest I’d ever seen him. He took a desk job and decided to settle down with the two of you. Trouble was that his past caught up with him. Someone he had found out some shady information about sent people to the house for some revenge. They beat him and your momma up pretty bad until he finally was able to take them down. Unfortunately, he had no idea who sent the goons, and he knew the two of you wouldn’t be safe until he figured it out.
“He went back to work and sent you and your momma off to Lord knows where. He spent his whole life trying to figure out who was behind it all, but he never did.”
“And that’s why he never reached out?” I ask.
“He tried once. Wrote you a letter.”
I nod. “I actually just found the letter. My mom never gave it to me.”
“I don’t think your mom ever forgave him for sending you both away. I don’t blame her. She was in love and had the perfect little family, and then, suddenly, she was a single mom. And I’m not defending what my son did. I told him time and time again that I thought he should come get you guys and bring you home, but he told me he couldn’t risk anything happening to you two. He did always keep tabs on you, though. And he sent your momma a check every week. He even gave you the name Avery—his true last name that he didn’t use anymore. I know it’s not the same as being there for you, but I just want you to have all the facts.”
“I appreciate that,” I say in barely more than a whisper.
Duke sets his hand on my thigh, trying to let me know that he’s here for me. I’m so glad that he is because I don’t know if I could have done all this by myself.
Clearing my throat, I say, “I guess I’m glad to know that it wasn’t that he didn’t want me or something.”
“I wish someone could have told you that a hell of a lot sooner. I tried to track you down once I knew you were an adult, but I had no idea where you were. Your dad wouldn’t even tell me your last name. I hope now, though, you and I can have some sort of relationship.”
I smile as big as my mouth will allow. “I’d like that.”
I’m looking forward to getting to know my grandfather better, but it looks like that isn’t going to happen today.
A nurse pokes her head into the door and says, “Harold, are you ready to go to physical therapy?”
“No,” he replies playfully. “But I guess I have to, huh?”
He stands up and gives me one more hug. “I hope to see you soon, Darlin’. I’ve always wanted to know my granddaughter.”
“We will come back to visit soon, I promise.”
He follows the nurse out of the room. The moment the door shuts behind him, I start to cry. Duke jumps up and comes over to hug me.
“Sshhh. I’ve got you, Angel.”
At this point, I don’t even know why I’m crying, aside from all of this is beyond overwhelming. Another piece of the puzzle has been added, but it doesn’t make it any easier to adapt to any of this.
More than anything, I’m exhausted. The past couple of weeks have taken such a toll on me that I feel like I could sleep for the next month and still be tired.
“Can… we… go…home?” I ask, a sob in between each word.
“Whatever you want, Angel.”
My eyes flick open when I feel a tiny tongue licking my face. George is clearly trying to get my attention. When I look at him, he immediately lays down and rolls over to show me his belly.
“Hey, buddy,” I say, starting to give him scratches.
I reach over and grab my phone to see what time it is. After we got done seeing my newfound grandpa, I came home and crawled into bed to nap.
“Holy shit,” I mutter as I look at the phone. “I slept for eighteen hours.”
Well, no wonder my stomach is growling. Not quite ready to stop snuggling my puppy, though, I decide to lie here a little longer.
After my eighteen-hour nap, everything doesn’t seem quite as dramatic as it did yesterday. Sure, maybe my life is quite a bit more messy than I originally thought, but I remember growing up and wishing that I had some sort of intricate backstory—other than having a drunk for a mom. I guess I got that now.
Daughter of a secret agent who sent her away to protect her.
Definitely more intriguing.