I was completely freaked out from my outlandish discovery but I wasn’t going to let it show. I got to work early and was wearing a white blouse, black jacket and pencil skirt and polka-dot flats. My long hair was pulled up in an elegant red twist and my makeup was done with muted colors. I looked professional and confident and not the least bit like I was having a meltdown.
I sat at my desk working diligently for the entire morning. I didn’t let my mind wonder to anything else until Randall walked into my office at lunch. “Hey, Ly. Do you wanna go get something to eat?”
I looked up and smiled. “Of course. I have something to show you anyway.”
I was really quiet through most of the meal we had at the little cafe down the street from the office. Randall made small talk for a while before I guess he got annoyed with my silence. “Okay, Lyra, what is it that you wanted to tell me?”
I took a deep breath and pulled everything about past Lyras that I’d found from my tote bag. “Do you remember I told you about that girl Vega from my parents’ party?”
“Yes,” he answered slowly with the tiniest bit of hesitation. “But so what?”
“Well I was curious about her so I started doing some research. I couldn’t find anything on her specifically but she started popping up in articles about me.”
“Lyra, if she’s part of your family then that doesn’t really surprise me.”
I started shaking my head before he was even done speaking. “It’s not that, Randall. She looks the exact same in every picture she’s in from the time I was born. She hasn’t changed since at least ’88.”
He rolled his eyes. “Lyra, there is this little thing called Photoshop. You were a photographer at the paper for nearly a year, you know.”
“Will you shut up and let me finish? I found more and it wasn’t just about her. Look at these. These women are all named Lyra from different places and times. They all look exactly like me.”
He took the pictures gingerly and blanched visibly. His eyes were wide in horror. “Lyra, what have you done?”
My eyes narrowed at him. “Randall, what do you mean? Something is going on and I want to know what. Is that so wrong?”
His head shook slowly as if coming from a daze. “You don’t know how much damage you can do. You have to stop looking for answers.”
“What aren’t you telling me?” I demanded.
“Forget about this, Lyra. You’re digging yourself a deep hole and I don’t want to see you fall into it.”
My nostrils flared and I shoved away from my seat. “Screw you, Randall. You’re supposed to be my friend. How dare you tell me to give up and not trust me enough to let me know what the hell is going on? This is my life we’re talking about! If you know something I have the right to know what it is.”
He didn’t say anything. He simply dropped his head and stared down at his hands folded in his lap. I sniffled and wiped my eyes before any of my mascara could run. “Fine. If that’s the way you want it. Enjoy your weekend,” I snarled.
I turned and walked out of the place completely ignoring him calling after me. I didn’t care that ditching Randall meant that I had to take a cab that smelled like feet or even that I was almost late back from my lunch break because of the idiot driver that kept checking me out. I felt so betrayed by my best friend that I took the long way to get to my office just to avoid seeing him.
My phone started buzzing the second I sat at my desk. My stomach knotted up before I glanced at the Caller ID. I let out a low huff before answering it. “Hi, Mom.” I didn’t want to talk with my mother but there were a few people that I wanted to avoid above her so I guess it could have been worse.
“That is not how you’re supposed to answer a phone, Lyra-Rose.”
I rubbed my already throbbing temples. “Mom, I have Caller ID so I knew it was you.”
“Even more reason to show respect,” she snapped in my ear. “We are having dinner tonight as a family. I expect you to be there and dressed by seven.”
“Darn, I was hoping to go in the nude,” I replied, my voice dripping thick with sarcasm.
“Lyra-Rose Dawson. You will be well dressed and act properly tonight. Do you understand me? This dinner is very important so I expect you to behave like a lady.”
I sighed heavily and rubbed the migraine that was rapidly starting to form in my temples. “Yes, Mother.”
So far my Friday was just one disaster after another.
I hated dinner with my parents on a regular basis but it was made ten times worse without Randall there as a buffer. My mother’s dark hazel eyes narrowed at me almost instantly when I walked through the door. I shot her a saccharine smile that made her disdainful frown deepen even more. I didn’t care if she disapproved of me; she hardly accepted anything I did. My mother’s eyes rolled unceremoniously and she flicked her curtain of chestnut hair over her shoulder in contempt. I thought I looked pretty good in my purple cocktail dress, silver flats, and my hair curled and pulled up but apparently I wasn’t nearly good enough for her criticism. I rolled my eyes and sat on the couch in the parlor on the opposite end from where she was seated.
“I’m glad to see that you’re only twenty minutes late, Lyra-Rose,” she said sarcastically.
“Happy to oblige,” I replied with the same amount of cynicism.
Her hazel eyes once again narrowed at me before she deliberately looked past me to Maxine and her family. “So, Ethan, how have you been?” she asked my brother-in-law. I rolled my own sapphire orbs again- Mom had never really taken an interest in Ethan so it was obvious she was making conversation with him in a failed attempt just to spite me.
“I’ve been great, thank you, Loral.”
“And how’s work going?”
“It’s good. I’ve been busy and the pediatric ward can keep you on your toes.”
My mom looked bored by then although I personally found Ethan’s job as one of the hospital’s pediatricians worth-while. “Mm-hm. Maxine, how have you been doing, darling?”
“I’m fine, Mother. I’ve mostly been focusing on work and taking care of Mackenzie. She starts preschool in a couple of weeks, you know.”
My mom smiled at her favorite daughter. “That’s wonderful, Maxine. I’m so happy for both of you girls.”
Dad put down his scotch glass and turned his attention to me. It was no secret that I was a Daddy’s Girl and that he did his best to keep me in on the conversation whenever my mother tried to exclude me during one of her moods. “Lyra, I’m glad that you could make it. Is Randall planning on joining us this evening?”
I bit my bottom lip. “Well, not tonight. He and I are sort of on the outs right now.”
“Oh?” My father was a man of few words but he did know how to get answers from me without prying. He was a large man, an ex-football player that now owned one of the largest car dealership companies in northern Utah. His short hair was dark brown with streaks of silver from thirty years of being married to my mom.
“We had a little argument,” I explained. “I’m sure that we’ll work it out before the weekend’s even over.”
He held his arms out to me and I made my way over to sit in his lap. “You two are thick as thieves, Lyra. I’m sure that everything will be fine. Now, what else is bothering you, Princess?”
My dad was the intuitive one when it came to me. He always knew when something was wrong and he was the one I’d turn to. But this time I had to figure it out on my own. I shot him a watery smile and shrugged as easily as I could. “It’s nothing, Daddy. I-“
Mom cleared her throat loudly. “Ben, that’s enough babying her. Lyra-Rose, go sit down like an adult. We are having a nice family dinner and you will act like a proper young lady, not a child.” Her voice was shrill by the time she was done yelling at me.
“Don’t, Maxine. Your sister needs to realize that we have given her the best and it’s about damn time that she starts acting like the socialite we raised her to be.”
My jaw snapped shut with a click and my hands balled up into tight fists. “I’m here, Mother. Now, what is the reason that you called and ordered that we have this stupid dinner? Or is it just ‘pick on Lyra day’?”
Her hazel eyes blazed nearly golden as she glared daggers in my direction. “Lyra-Rose, I will not be spoken to that way. Your father and I needed to see both of our daughters and so far you’ve done a brilliant job of screwing up this night.”
I jumped to my feet before I realized what I was doing. “Oh, really?” I snapped. “Well if that’s the way that you see it, I’m going home. Have fun without me, okay?”
I gathered up my black faux fur coat and started trudging toward the door. I wasn’t even halfway there when my father’s cool hand landed on my shoulder and held me in place. “Lyra, your mother and I have an announcement that both of you need to hear. Please, go sit down and I’ll pour you a drink.”
I let out a huff but didn’t move from my tense position. “Lyra, you have to listen to me.”
My sparkling beige eyelids pasted themselves together for a long moment while I forced myself to calm down. Several infinite seconds passed by before I maintained enough control of my body to nod stiffly once and lumbered back to the overstuffed armchair. My father went to the bar in the far corner of the room and poured me a glass of scotch and coke before he finally settled into his place beside Mom.
The room was eerily silent after my little outburst and not even Mac was making a sound. The awkwardness stretched out to eternity before Dad took Mom’s hands in his and set them on his lap. His green-brown eyes darted between my big sister and me before they stopped to rest on Mom’s face. Her own gaze was downcast and if I didn’t know any better I would’ve sworn that her eyes were swimming with unshed tears.
Dad let out a big sigh and I turned toward him rather than analyzing my mother’s demeanor. “Listen girls, you know that I love you and I love your mother.”
“Yes,” Max and I answered slowly, cautiously.
“And you also know that our relationship has been very strained in recent years. This marriage has not been an easy one, girls, as you must know. We have both invited all of you here tonight to tell you that we will not be together anymore. We thought that it would be best to announce this when we were all together and in person.”
The dead quite room exploded into a rumble of mine and my sister’s voices bouncing off the walls, vying to be heard. We each fought for the chance to voice our complaints but nothing but confusion rang out in the large parlor room of the massive mansion. The noise only died down when my dad held out his large palm for silence. Being the obedient debutants that we were, Maxine and I stopped immediately.
“I know that this is hard to understand but you two are not children anymore so I expect you to act with a little more maturity. At the moment, Loral and I will only be separated and not legally divorced. However, for the time being, I think that it would be best that I move down to Salt Lake City.”
My eyes widened in horror. “What? No, Dad, you can’t. You have to stay in Logan. Please?”
His expression was somber when he turned to me. “Lyra, my darling, it’s what’s best at the moment. And while I’m away I expect you to show your mother respect and do as she asks.”
My full lower lip jutted out into a pout and a few stray tears streaked down my cheeks with my mascara. I saw that my mom’s face already had black tear tracks running down to her chin. Her steady gaze met mine for a brief moment before she stood and stormed to the bathroom to fix her appearance.
Needless to say, the rest of dinner was awkward and uncomfortable for everyone except for little Mac who didn’t have the faintest idea of what was going on. Lucky kid.