Familiar Face

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Chapter 7

Chapter 7

When Anna entered the kitchen on Thursday morning, her dad was hidden behind the morning newspaper. She couldn’t resist chiding him, “When I was growing up, my dad claimed that it was rude to read at the breakfast table.”

He folded the newspaper and put it beside his plate. “Humph. For all the good it did me. You were still doing last minute studying until the day you graduated from high school. Good morning to you too, darlin’. How was your Asheville trip?”

Anna poured a mug of coffee, gave her mom a kiss on the cheek and joined her dad at the table. “Enlightening. I’m glad I made the trip. Allison asked me to tell you that she will be in Clarksville two weeks from Friday. She asks that you pencil her in on your calendar. She claims that Mom feeds her every time she’s in town, and it’s her time to feed the two of you.”

Her dad said, “Since her mom died, she’s been a stranger in town. I’ll bet Hallie asked her to be part of the project she’s putting together.”

“She did, and Allison is interested. Asheville is too far away to do anything but client evaluations, but she’s enthusiastic about the program, and wants to be involved.”

Her dad glanced at his watch, took a sip of coffee and said, “Duty calls. You girls have a wonderful day. I’ll see you tonight. Don’t forget, the meeting starts promptly at seven. He kissed the top of Anna’s head, and gave his wife a smacker. “Love my girls. It’s a good day when I get to start my day with the two of you.”

When the door closed behind him, Bertie slid a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and hash-browns in front of Anna. “Bon Appetit.”

“Mom, you’re spoiling me.”

“You bet. It’s my way of showing you how much you’re missed.”

“No more than I miss you. That was some kiss Dad planted on you . . . does he still kiss you every time he goes out the door?”

Her mom grinned. “You bet he does, and when I leave, I kiss him. Keeps our marriage strong.”

Anna asked in wonder, “Have you and Dad ever had a major disagreement?”

“Anna! You know better than that. You lived with us for almost fifteen years.”

“Sure, you had minor squabbles, but I don’t remember a disagreement that went on for days. Sometimes your relationship seems almost too perfect. I don’t know how you do it.”

Her mom took the chair that her husband had vacated. She was quiet a moment before responding. “Do you remember the story I used to tell you about the day you came to us?”

“Of course. It was my favorite childhood story.”

“What I didn’t tell you about that day, Anna, was that I was going to ask your dad for a divorce that evening.”

Anna was shocked. “Seriously?”

“I wouldn’t kid about a thing like that.”


“Your dad and I had become so involved in our jobs that we neglected each other. I gave up my job with social services to work on my marriage. I had decided that if I couldn’t turn our marriage around that I would ask for a divorce. I planned romantic dinners, bought new outfits, went to the spa and did everything else the authorities on marriage suggested, to no avail. The problem was that your dad didn’t get the message.”

“Did you ask him, or did you change your mind?”

“Fate intervened. You made the difference. After you finally went to sleep that night, we talked for the first time in months. We decided that we wouldn’t make any changes as long as you were with us. Sully couldn’t find a home for you, so you stayed on. Looking back, I’m not sure we would have been able to let you go even if he had found a home. Your dad and I fell in love with you that very first night. The longer you lived with us, the more attached we became. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we wanted to adopt you, but there were legal hurtles we faced. Working together, fighting for you, we began to rebuilt our relationship.

“We learned not to take our relationship for granted. Since then, when challenges come our way—and, challenges in life are inevitable—we talk our way through the issues. One of our cardinal rules is: never leave without a kiss. It’s a reminder that relationships are fragile.”

“That’s beautiful, Mom. Thank you for telling me.”

“Now . . . Your turn. I want to know what Allison had to say about your concerns.”

“She agrees with you that I’m not in danger. She did say that hypnotism is an option, if I decide that I want to delve into my early years. I’m not sure that I do. I told her that I would think about it, and get back to her.”

“What about the nightmares?”

“I’m going to take a “wait and see” stance. I don’t want you and Dad to worry about me, Mom. Allison has promised to set up skype sessions if the nightmares continue, and Mark Quinn has promised to buddy with me when I get back to Raleigh.”

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