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   Chapter 25 No.25

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 10922

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:03


AFTER SYDNEY DROVE OFF, I sat alone in my car not wanting the memory of Sydney's visit to fade just yet—reliving the day over and over, able to still feel her in my arms. Finally, I started the engine and drove to my parent's house. As I slipped into Martha's darkened room, she turned her head and blasted me with a radiant smile that I could see even in the faint light.

"Hi, " she whispered.

"What are you doing laying here in the dark?"

"I took a Percocet. I had therapy today."

"Are you okay?"

"Fair, " she whispered. "I'm glad you came by. You need to straighten things out with Daddy."

I sat on the edge of the bed. "He's the least of my worries."

She exhaled slowly. "No, you need to."

"He doesn't care about me. He's just humiliated by this whole thing and wants me to get it straightened out. Quickly."

She reached out and gripped my arm. "He loves you, Richie."

"Ha!"

"He asked me to find out what was going on; if you were all right."

I turned to her. "Why can't he just ask me? Huh?"

"Richie! What happened to your face?"

I dropped down next to her on the bed and told her everything that had happened.

"For heaven sake, " she said. "It's a wonder you weren't blinded."

"I'm okay."

She shifted her weight on the bed and groaned. "You have got to be more careful." Her voice was tense. "I'm proof enough that these kinds of people can be ruthless."

I exhaled. "Yeah, I'm starting to get the picture, but I think I'm onto something now."

She wiped a tear off her cheek and sighed. "What?"

"Something tells me that Ashleigh set this whole thing up."

"She what?"

I placed an arm under my head and explained about the house at the beach, Angie, the missing money, and the video cassette. "Ashleigh is most likely the one that stole that guy's money and—if she did—might have set her place up to look like she'd been murdered in order to get away with it."

Martha slapped her hand against the bed. "Damn! Why do I have to be trapped in this bed?"

I touched her arm. "What's wrong, Babe?"

She shifted her weight again. "If those people at the beach are into porn, they could be the same ones that did this to me, that are killing those girls."

"Jesus, Babe. I never thought of that."

She laid back and dropped an arm over her eyes. "I need to get a look at this place. Check out the occupants. Get fingerprints."

"I slipped in last night and got a video cassette, but Scott McGillikin has it now. No, wait!" I rolled up on my elbow. "It got smashed. I transferred the tape. I've still got the cassette it came in."

With her arm still over her eyes, she exhaled. "I want it. But don't touch it."

"I've already touched it. I had to take it apart."

"I still want to check it for prints."

"Okay, I'll bring it to you."

"Tomorrow, when you pick me up?"

"Tomorrow? I—can't."

"Aren't we going to see Sister Hazel?"

"Oh, shit. Is that tomorrow?" She didn't answer, just sighed. "I—I'm going out on the river in the morning."

She took shallow breaths. "What's happening on the river?"

I laid back and told her about the boy, the bicycle, and the boat. When I finished, she grabbed my arm. "Take me with you, please?"

"Gosh, Babe. It's an open workboat. It doesn't

pre-dawn darkness thinking about Richard. The feelings she'd had for him growing up had been revived—feelings she thought she'd locked away long ago. And she couldn't get him off her mind.

She and Scott McGillikin had been together for five years and—in the beginning—he had pulled her out of the depths of emotional devastation after her break-up with a radio DJ and given her the strength to go on with her life. She had been grateful then and had felt safe with him. He had been strong, patient, thoughtful, and understanding.

Later, he helped her start her dance school. "Plan the work and work the plan, " he'd say. He'd even taken charge of investing her profits and now—thanks to him—she had a sizable savings account. He was everything she'd needed…back then. But, over time, he had become less nurturing and more possessive and had begun to spend more and more time away. She'd even suspected there were other women and eventually came to hope he would find someone else. It would be an easy breakup. She'd fake being hurt and he'd be gone. But he'd continued to drop by every week or so. And when she tried to push them apart, he would twist things around and make her feel guilty and selfish. Now she felt trapped and alone and just wanted things to be over. She knew that if she wanted things to change in her life, she'd have to make changes. Plan the work, work the plan. She also knew that making changes isn't easy.

A tear rolled down her cheek as she lifted a hot cup to her lips. Through the window, the sun broke over the horizon and spread its warmth and golden-orange light as far as it could reach.

"The dawn of a new day, " she whispered.

She wondered where Richard might be at that moment, if he was warm and dry, and if he, too, had seen and appreciated the magnificence of that glorious sunrise.

Her thoughts drifted back to the sound of that gun exploding and the shock on Richard's face and the sight of him riding back in that car—humiliated, with his clothes tattered—and began to laugh. It was an uncontrollable, cleansing, loving laughter and with it came more tears.

If you want change, you have to make changes, she thought.

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