“Did you see what happened to Sarah Palin when they found out she had a sixteen year old who was unwed and pregnant? It killed her! I couldn’t do that to my party, and I knew Ramie wasn’t really missing. She’d just run away like she’d had so many times before. So I made up excuses, lies. I told people what they wanted to hear, and her mother and I prayed every day she would at least call.” He looked distraught. “Tell me she’s okay.”
“Yeah. She’s fine.”
The senator let out a relieved breath.
“Why did she never come home? Does she really hate us that much?” he asked, his fingers pressed to his temples.
“She doesn’t remember. She was in some sort of accident. She woke up with no memory. She doesn’t even know her own name.”
“What?” He stood up again. “Take me to her. Now! I need to see her!” he demanded.
“Not so fast.” I held up a hand. “Sit the fuck back down, Senator. It seems we have a little trade we need to work out.”
He sat back down. “Yes, of course. What are your terms?”
“No bullshit. No money. What I’m offering is a flat trade. Ramie for Max. My daughter. Here is her information.” I placed a receipt on his desk. “On the back is my daughter’s name, social security number, and the address of the foster home she’s been living in, as well as all my information. Be at my place. Tomorrow at noon. Bring Max and all the custody papers, giving me full rights to my daughter and then and only then, you’ll get yours back.” The words hurt coming out of my mouth, but they needed to be said because the trade needed to be done.
“That can be arranged, but I’ll need more than a day,” the senator said, nervously shuffling his thumbs one over the other over and over again. I stood and walked to the door.
“Tomorrow at noon. If you’re not there, if you don’t bring Max—” I turned and faced him one last time. “I’ll slit your girl’s throat. No hesitation. If I can’t have my daughter, I won’t let you have yours. I don’t give a shit what happens to me after that.”
I waited until I was in the car and Bear was driving out of the parking lot to exhale.
“How did it go?” Bear asked.
“It went about as good as it could have gone. It’s what I did that I’m sighing about.”
“What exactly is it that you did in there?”
“I just traded, Doe.”
“For what?” he shouted.
“Who,” I corrected.
“Okay, for who?”
“Max. I just traded Doe for Max.”
“Oh. My. Fuck.”
“Yeah, that about sums it up,” I said, running my hand over my head. “If I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever sold my soul, I’m positive I have now.”
I was in bed with Doe. It was almost midnight, and I was already counting down the hours to noon. Noon was when I would see Max for the first time since I held her in my arms the night I let my mom burn in the fire.
Noon was also the last time I would ever see my girl.
Doe was going to become the person she was supposed to be, the person she was born as, Ramie Price. She probably wouldn’t bother glancing back at me in the rearview mirror after realizing the life of luxury she was heading back to. I was never good enough for her to begin with, and this was going to be both the most selfish and selfless thing I’d ever done when it came to her.
I was giving her back.
I was getting my daughter back.
I’d never been so miserable, and excited at the same time. A few months ago, I didn’t think that if I got Max back I would be doing it all alone. I thought at least I’d have Preppy. Then, I thought Doe would be in the picture.
Now, it was down to just me.
I lifted my leg over hers. I couldn’t get close enough. I’d convinced her to let go of the person she was to be with me, but unlike Preppy, her past life had risen from the grave and had been haunting me since I hit the search button.
I was tossing her back like a fish that wasn’t worth keeping.
But she WAS worth keeping.
She was worth fucking everything.
Everything I couldn’t give her.
There was no doubt in my mind if something like soulmates did exist that Doe was mine. The problem was that Ramie wasn’t. Ramie had a boyfriend. Ramie had money. Ramie had a future that didn’t include a felon with tattoos and a penchant for violence. Ramie wasn’t going to have to put herself in danger, risk getting shot, or ever have to worry that either one of us was going to get hurt or end up dead.