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Dearest Bethany,

I am near. Do not leave or it may take years to find you. I know this may all seem confusing to you, but trust me. The lightning was not the end, merely a beginning.

Love, Ethan

P.S. It really is me. If you doubt it, I’ll take the Buzz test.

By the single candle in her bedroom, she read it over and over again. How was this possible? The Buzz test?

Some part of her knew what that meant, but like a dream image, she couldn’t pull it into full consciousness. And this name, Ethan. It sent a thrill through her, but she did not know who he was.

She examined every scrawling curlicue of each word in the note. This handwriting looked familiar, though shakier than she had ever seen it, but still with the distinctive curls and verticals that she dredged from memory. But again, though she had a piece of memory, she seemed unable to connect that piece with another to build a picture that made sense.

She heard footsteps on the stairs. Panicked, she blew out her candle and hopped back into bed. Her bedroom door opened and George Hawley entered, carrying an oil lamp. He stood next to the canopied bed, staring down.

“I know you’re awake. I smell the candle smoke.”

Forsaking subterfuge, sat up and stared at the bulky figure before her.

“Soon as I can make the arrangements, I’m sendin’ you west to . Miners out there pay a pretty penny for mail-order brides. They don’t really care if they’re sluts. You’ll start a new life there. You and yer bastard.” He turned to leave.

“How can you do this to your daughter?”

He turned back. “You know you are not my daughter.”

Beth’s face twisted in confusion.

“Don’t play the idiot with me. Your act does not deceive me.”

“How can you be so cruel to your own family?”

“Don’t anger me, girl.” He turned to the door, his outline silhouetted by the lamp. He muttered, “Whatever possessed me to marry that damn woman?” The door closed and ’s room plunged into darkness.

She groped under her pillow and found the note she had received from a man named Ethan who was also a man named Charles Watson. She clutched the note to her bosom, thoroughly confused.

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