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“Okay, baby girl,” Mo said, hugging her and planting a chaste kiss on her forehead.
She walked over to the bar to get another drink, watching as Melanie’s parents took down all the photos of their daughter. Many of the guests left the area as normal bar patrons began to flood the second floor to see the band perform their regular set.
Olivia approached Melanie’s mother as she was about to remove a framed photo from the piano. “Leave that one,” she said, grabbing her arm. “Please…” she implored.
Sandra smiled. “Of course. And thank you, Olivia, dear. I know you must be so confused right now, thinking that this is all Alexander’s fault.”
Olivia looked at her in shock.
“Tyler told us all about it and we spoke with Alexander this evening. He feels extremely guilty for what happened but, the thing is, I don’t blame him. And I don’t blame you. The only person I blame is sitting in a jail cell right now.”
“But if he hadn’t kept secrets from me, none of this would have happened.”
Sandra took a deep breath. “Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll never know. But what I do know is that it’s not worth losing someone over. Haven’t you already lost enough?”
Olivia looked at her and simply nodded. “Maybe I just want him to stop keeping things from me.”
“Oh, dear,” Sandra said, smiling. Melanie looked so much like her mother. The resemblance was remarkable. “We always tend to keep things from people we love to protect them. It’s our human nature.” She wrapped her arms around Olivia. “Thank you for everything.”
Olivia contemplated her words for a moment as she watched her walk away. Maybe she was right. She had lost enough already. Losing Melanie was one more person than she had ever wanted to, and here she was pushing Alexander away because he was trying to protect her. But she wanted to know who she was.
Mo walked up to Olivia, a concerned look on his face. “Hey. Are you okay? You ready?”
Olivia looked over to see Alexander standing at the bar, drinking a beer.
“Yes.” Olivia climbed onto the stage, helping the guys rearrange the set and pushing the baby grand piano toward the center. Dale sat behind the drum set and Mo stood off to the side with his guitar as the other band members hung back.
“How’s everyone doing tonight?” she asked, her voice void of emotion. She took a deep breath and began to introduce her song. “Sorry if we’re kind of out of it tonight, but we all lost a dear friend a few weeks ago. Her name was Melanie Brooks and that’s her photo sitting on the piano. I hate to think her death could have been avoided if it weren’t for all the fucking secrets.” She looked at Alexander, his eyes growing wide in response to her words. “I don’t know what else I can say to you anymore,” she continued, her voice quivering. “I just want the truth.” Taking a deep breath, she positioned her hands on the piano. “This is Come Clean by Tristan Prettyman.”
Alexander listened as she began to play the opening chords of the song, her sad voice filling the bar. Her eyes met his as she begged him to tell her what she wanted to know. At that instant, he realized that Olivia deserved to know who she was, where she came from. She deserved to know her family and it was selfish for him to keep her past from her any longer, regardless of what the consequences were.
He turned away, unable to look into her cold, hard stare any longer. As he walked out of the bar, he knew the only way to hold on to her was to do what she was begging him to do. He needed to come clean.
“DELIVERY FOR MISS ADLER,” Olivia heard one morning several weeks later, waking her up.
She groggily dragged herself off the couch toward the front door. “Who the fuck is banging at my door on a Friday morning?” she muttered under her breath. She looked through the peephole and saw several men dressed in military fatigues with boxes stacked high.
“What is all of this?” she asked, opening the door, glancing up the street. A disappointed look crossed her face when she met Carter’s eyes and not Alexander’s sitting watch outside in the SUV. He had been mysteriously absent from her security detail since Melanie's memorial service. She wondered if he had decided to move on, not wanting to give her the information that she longed for.
“We’re not privy to the contents, ma’am,” he answered in a very matter-of-fact manner. “Mr. Burnham just asked us to safeguard the boxes as they were transported here this morning.”
“Okay…” She stepped aside to allow the men to enter her house, her heart fluttering in her chest at the mention of Alexander's name.
“Where would you like everything? There are over fifty boxes.”
She led them to the large guest bedroom off the living room. “Go ahead and put them in here, please.” She watched as the men entered her home and stacked the boxes, rather efficiently, where she had asked them to. One person checked off the numbers on the boxes, matching them with a spreadsheet as they were brought in. Once he was able to ensure that everything was present and accounted for, Olivia signed the manifest and was left alone in her house, wondering what all the boxes contained. She spied an enveloped attached to one and decided to begin there.
My Dearest Olivia,
I’ve thought long and hard about what to do. I know that you’re desperate for information about your past. I hope you find some answers in these boxes. My dad, apparently, kept everything that belonged to you so I’m returning it all. Maybe these will help you to remember your life before the accident.
What I don’t want to tell you, but I know I have to, is what those men are after. You see, your father was a CIA analyst and he became suspicious that certain people in the agency and other governmental agencies were making deals for U.S. military equipment and intelligence with known terror organizations. He had amassed evidence to that tune. Instead of keeping it at work where anyone could have found out what he did, he brought it home. He became concerned that someone was onto him, so he wanted to hide it. He locked it in a small chest for safekeeping until he could turn it over to the right hands. Of course, you were just a little girl at the time and you didn’t know, but you wanted to play your little Treasure Map game. That’s why these guys are after you. You hid those documents and these people want them.
Please heed my warning. These people are dangerous, Olivia. If you do remember what happened to that chest you buried all those years ago, your usefulness is gone. They will kill you, and I cannot have that happen. We will find a way to make sure that everyone gets taken down and that you survive. I will protect you.