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“But what about the legal stuff? Birth certificate?”

Kelly shook her head and looked away. “My aunt took care of it. I don’t know how she did it. I didn’t care. I wanted to keep that baby.”

“Then you and Chris got back together.”

“He was shocked to hear I’d had a baby, but once he saw Jessica he loved her.”

“You didn’t know she was Suzanne’s?”

Kelly’s head came up and she looked out the window, watching her daughter create a snowman smile from stones. “Not until she was about five. One day I saw her do that head tilt and wrinkled nose thing.” Kelly demonstrated, and Lacey held back a gasp. “You know what I’m talking about? It shocked me. I could see Suzanne doing the exact same thing. Then I realized she has Suzanne’s eyes. That’s when I knew.”

Lacey was speechless. How many times had she seen Suzanne do that?

“I realized then that Bobby must have done something to Suzanne. His brother was in jail, so someone must have held Suzanne captive through her pregnancy. I was absolutely sick once I realized what possibly had happened.”

“You could have gone to the police!”

“He’d long vanished. He and his mother. And I wasn’t sure he’d actually been the one who did something with Suzanne.”

“But, Kelly! He brought you a baby that you figured out was Suzanne’s! The police should have been told so they could find him and question him about Suzanne!”

“It’d been over five years!” Kelly argued. “I didn’t know what to do! Then when…Suzanne’s remains turned up and those men started to die, I knew he was the one behind it. They were obviously revenge killings. During the trial, I’d seen his devotion to his brother. If anyone was striking out at the people who’d put away Dave DeCosta it’d be his brother.”

“Why didn’t you go to the police? Maybe they could’ve stopped him! All of this could have been avoided!”

“I was afraid the truth about Jessica would come out.” Kelly turned fierce, stormy eyes on Lacey. “I wouldn’t let him destroy my family.” Kelly’s sweet face blazed with hot emotion.

But you’d let other people die. Maybe even me. Lacey squeezed her eyes shut.

“I know you don’t agree with what I did. But you don’t understand. You don’t have kids—you can’t understand. I would have killed him to protect Jessica.”

The doorbell rang, splintering the tension in the room. “I need to go.” Kelly grabbed her purse, dashed for the door, and threw it open.

“Kelly. Good to see you.” Lacey’s father stood at the door, a cardboard box in his hands. “I saw Jessica out front. She’s growing up.”

“Yes, she is.” Her eyes wet, Kelly looked at Lacey over her shoulder. She slipped by Dr. Campbell and darted across the porch.

Lacey silently watched Kelly escape, utterly stunned by her revelations. Kelly had held the power to stop everything. And she’d done nothing. Lacey’s heart cracked. She knew she’d never talk to Kelly again. Dr. Campbell shot a sharp look at his daughter’s face.

“You don’t have to ring the doorbell, Dad.” Lacey forced a smile and her gaze locked on the box. He brought it.

“My hands were full.” He held out the box. She kept her arms at her sides.

“Is that it?”

“I went to a lot of trouble to sneak this out. I need it back tomorrow.”

Lacey reluctantly took the box. It was about fifteen inches in height and length, and weighed next to nothing. Willing her hands not to shake, she set it on the sofa.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

Her father wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight. “I don’t get it.”

“I know.” She squeezed him back, pressing her face against his coat.

The room fell silent.

“Have you heard from Michael?” He stepped back, his arms slowly letting go. He searched her eyes.

Lacey smiled. “He’s not coming home for a while. Something about climbing red rocks and rafting the Colorado River.”

“And a woman?” Her father’s eyebrows rose.

“I don’t think he’s doing either adventure alone.”

He studied her, searching her face. “He’s a good man. I always thought the two of you…”

She shook her head. “Not meant to be, Dad. Michael knows it. And it’s OK with me.”

Her father looked like he didn’t quite believe her, but he changed the subject. “Where’s your other young man?”

“Right here.” Jack stepped out of the kitchen, his silver eyes twinkled, and Lacey knew he’d heard the last exchange.

Dr. Campbell nodded at Jack’s bandaged right hand. “How’s it coming?”

“It’s doing good. Grafts are coming along.” Jack ran a hand over his buzzed head. “Hair’s nearly grown out past army length.”

His hair had also burned. He’d shaved his head, making Lacey feel like she was dating Vin Diesel. She missed his thick black hair.

Lacey also wore her hair short, just below her ears. Several inches had burned in the flames, and her hairdresser had chopped off even more to give it a bouncy, perky look that framed Lacey’s face. She’d never had short hair.

She hated it.

Her father grinned, gave Jack an affectionate slap and squeeze on the shoulder, hugged Lacey again, said his good-byes, and left.