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“Right,” Tres sighed. Then he announced to the room, “Come on, everybody, Ana needs her rest.”

There were protests, hugs and kisses, some last-minute arranging of flowers and cards.

Tres didn’t look happy to leave either, though Maia knew his last round of meetings with the DA wouldn’t be so bad.

Charges would be considered. Tres’ PI license might still be revoked. But the true killer, Hernandez, was behind bars. In the end, he had confessed to everything freely, including Franklin White’s murder. He planned to plead guilty. Much to his lawyer’s exasperation, Hernandez had not even bargained for a plea agreement that might spare his life.

Hernandez was unlikely to face retribution from the White family. According to Madeleine, her father had taken a turn for the worse over the last week. He was now confined to his bed twenty-four hours a day, allowed no visitors except nurses. Madeleine offered no comment to the press about Hernandez’s arrest, but rumors were flying that she had other things on her mind. A purge was underway. Madeleine was swiftly consolidating control of her father’s organization. A fresh slew of bodies had begun turning up in the San Antonio River or dumped in the fields off Mission Road. One of the victims was a mobster named Alex Cole. He’d been shot through the forehead at point-blank range.

With all that for SAPD to worry about, with all the bad press about the head of homicide being a killer himself, felony charges against Tres for aiding and abetting a fugitive would do no one any good, legally or politically. The city didn’t want any more publicity to come out of this affair than it had already gotten. Nor did it want to face scrutiny for the false DNA match that had led to Ralph Arguello’s murder. Eventually, Tres would go free.

Ralph’s sister gently picked up baby Lucia, who fussed in her sleep but allowed herself to be resettled against her aunt’s shoulder.

At the door, Tres looked back. “Maia, you coming?”

Maia met Ana’s eyes. An understanding passed between them.

“You go ahead,” Maia said. “We have some girl talk.”

Tres hesitated.

“It’s okay,” Ana promised him. “I won’t keep her long.”


After a few spoonfuls, Ana sat back, her head cratered in the pillows.

As often happened in quiet moments, Maia felt a fissure expanding in her chest—the raw, painful absence of Ralph.

Before she could lose her nerve, she said, “I’ve got something for you.”

From the bag at her side, she pulled the photo album she’d found in Lucia DeLeon’s garage—Ana’s baby book.

Ana took the album, ran her fingers over the cover. “You looked through my mother’s things in the garage.”


“What’d you decide?”

“The same thing you did, I imagine.”

Ana studied her wistfully. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”

“You’re changing the subject.”

“Oh, boy.” Ana sighed. “That’s a yes.”

She opened the baby book to the first page, traced her fingers over her mother’s picture—Lucia Sr., looking battered and exhausted and terribly young in her hospital bed, her parents holding newborn Ana.

Maia remembered the look of Ralph’s face. He had died with his head against her shoulder. She’d felt his last breath against her forearm.

It wasn’t fair. A childish protest, but Maia couldn’t help it.

He’d taken one bullet. He’d gotten attention faster than Ana had. He should have lived.

The doctors talked about tissue damage. They talked about point-blank range. The only thing Maia really understood was that he’d absorbed the shot meant for her, kept the damage inside himself, shielded her completely. And he’d left Ana to raise a child alone, just as Ana’s mother had done.

Ana turned a page in the album—a picture of her first Christmas, her grandfather holding her up to catch an ornament.

“How old was your mother?” Maia asked.

“When she had me?” Ana murmured. “Just barely twenty. Nineteen when . . .”

“When she was raped,” Maia finished.

“She never admitted it until I was in high school, but by then I’d figured it out. I didn’t understand the whole story . . . the truth . . . until I started looking into Frankie White’s death.”

She stared at the yellowing pictures of herself as a baby, eating yams, opening presents, grabbing at her grandfather’s spectacles.

“How did your mother meet Guy White?” Maia asked.

“They must’ve met at one of the clubs down on South Alamo.” Ana looked almost relieved to be concentrating on it, as if it felt good to slip into her professional self, to hold her life at the distance of a case file. “I figure White would’ve been about thirty-two. My mom was nineteen. She was pretty. Willful. She wasn’t afraid to talk to men. Perfect prey.”

“She didn’t tell anyone that White raped her.”

“No. I’m not sure she even knew who White was at first, but she would’ve found out. He was on the rise. He was getting a reputation as a man you didn’t cross. She would’ve had no choice except to stay quiet.”

“She kept you.”

“She kept me.”

“White never knew?”

Ana gazed down at the photo of her grandparents. “My mother tried to avoid Guy White after she became a cop. The sad thing was—I don’t think he even remembered her. I’m sure I never occurred to him.”

“Your mother told Etch about the rape,” Maia guessed, “once they got to be friends.”

“They were more than friends,” Ana corrected. “But, yes. She must have. Etch loved her. For him, I was always a reminder of what White had done to her.”

“And when Frankie White started victimizing women just as his father had—”

“It brought back all my mother’s worst memories. She was a wreck. Her drinking got worse. I didn’t know why at the time. Now, it makes sense. When I started looking into the Franklin White murder, I thought I understood. Etch had killed Frankie, out of revenge for my mother. He loved her. He hated what Guy White had done to her. I figured my mother had committed suicide with alcohol because she knew what Etch had done, and that knowledge was killing her. It wasn’t until Etch shot me . . . Something in his eyes told me I’d put the case together wrong.”

“So you know.”

Ana stared at the ceiling. Her heart monitor beeped steadily. “My mother killed Frankie White. She had the patrol car. The area Frankie cruised was on the way from her house to the Pig Stand. She must’ve pulled Frankie over. He must’ve said . . . something. I don’t know. He grabbed her, enough to scratch her. It must’ve brought back the rape, years of anger and fear she couldn’t share with anyone. She lost control.”

“And Hernandez covered for her.”

Ana closed the photo album. “For years. Too perfectly. He protected her reputation so well she never got help. But it was my fault, too. I was afraid. I couldn’t stand what was happening to her. I stayed away, and she died without me there.”

Maia took DeLeon’s hand. It felt as warm and fragile as a bird. “Your mother wouldn’t blame you.”

“I don’t know. I hope not. She raised me alone, and . . . she was good to me. But distant. Terrified of love. I was so determined not to repeat her mistakes, when I met Ralph . . .”

Maia felt the fissure opening inside her again. She could only imagine how bad it was for Ana—Ralph’s absence a gaping canyon, every word, every thought a walk along the precipice.

“What will you do?” Maia asked.

“Medical leave. Six months. I’m taking it all to be with Lucia.”

Maia had to do a momentary mental shift to remember which Lucia Ana was referring to. “You could retire with full pay, full benefits.”

Ana shook her head. “I’m going back to the job. I have to. It’s part of me.”

“And Ralph’s shops?”

“I’m keeping them,” Ana said with no hesitation. “Some of Ralph’s cousins have offered to help out. But I think . . . I think that’s what Ralph would’ve wanted. He worked so hard for so many years. I don’t think he ever wanted the shops to leave the family.”

Maia felt dizzy thinking about the challenges Ana was facing. Guilt pressed against her ribs.

And yet Ana sounded strangely confident. She would have enough money. She’d be surrounded by Ralph’s relatives whether she liked it or not—all the cousins and nephews and siblings Ralph had quietly helped over the years, now taking Ana as one of their own, another orphan in need of a family.

More than that, Maia saw a resilience in Ana’s eyes that was nothing like the old photographs of her mother. Maybe Ana would not be raising her daughter quite the same way.

“What about you?” Ana asked.


“The pregnancy. Are you close with your mom?”

“Male relatives,” Maia managed. It seemed selfish, ridiculous to open up her own problems in the face of what Ana was going through. “An uncle raised me, mostly.”

Ana seemed to sense there was more. She waited.

“My mother died in childbirth,” Maia said. “Having me. The women in my family have a tendency to die in childbirth.”

“And now you’re pregnant.”

“I’m scared shitless, Ana.”

“Things are better now than they were in our mothers’ generation. Medically. In a lot of ways.”

“There’s more.”

It was the first time Maia had ever explained it to anyone. She had trouble finding the words, but something about Ana’s grief, the fact that she was already hurting, somehow made it easier for Maia to talk.

When she was done, Ana didn’t offer any consolations.

They sat together, Ana in her bed, Maia at her side. Steam curled off the chicken broth.

“That’s a lot to consider,” Ana admitted. “Are you going to have the baby?”

Maia said nothing.

“What about Tres?” Ana asked. “Would he help?”

“Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.”

“You’ll have to tell him soon. I mean, what, you’re about six weeks along?”

“Eight and a half.”

“Wow.” Ana folded her hands over the photo album, rested her head against her pillow. “Being a mother is the best thing I’ve ever done, in case you’re wondering. I can’t . . . I can’t pretend I have your concerns. But Lucia is the best thing in my life.”

“What about Guy White?” Maia asked. “Are you going to confront him?”

Ana’s eyes shone clear and intense. “Maybe when I’m stronger. I can’t do it now. The idea of having his blood inside me . . .”

Maia nodded. “I’ll keep it our secret.”

Ana turned up her palm, gave Maia’s hand a squeeze.

“I’ll need the rest,” Ana said. “I’ll need time just to be a mother for a while.”