Rachel, Delaney and Elizabeth were in Emily’s bedroom getting ready for Emily’s return. “When do you think Emily will be able to come home?” Delaney was asking. Elizabeth’s head poked out from under the bed. She had a small broom in her hand. “Depends on when the doctors think that she’ll be ready to go home.” She answered her sister. Rachel was in her sister’s closet, hanging up clothes that were laying on the ground. “I hope it’s soon.” She said. She missed her sister so much.
Delaney nodded. “The sooner she gets back, the sooner we can start to investigate the mystery of why those guys were after her.” She said. Rachel looked at her. “Did we ever find out what that S stood for?” She asked. Both her cousins looked at her. She could tell that from the way they were looking at her, that the answer was no. “We should go see if my dad has found anything out about it.” Rachel said. Elizabeth and Delaney looked at each other but before they could say anything, Rachel left the room. Not wanting to be left in the dark about the S, Delaney and Elizabeth both ran after Rachel.
Downstairs, the three girls ran up to Mr. Tual. He was working in his study on his laptop. Whatever he was working on, he seemed pretty focused on it. “Daddy?” Rachel asked. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to get her dad’s attention but she did. Mr. Tual looked up from his computer. “Yes Rachel?” He asked. He noticed that Delaney and Elizabeth were with her. “Do you remember how we asked if there was any relatives on Mom’s side of the family whose names started with the letter S?” Rachel asked.
Mr. Tual couldn’t believe he had forgotten to tell the girls about what he had found. He figured he had forgotten it because of Emily’s disappearance and then reappearing in a hospital five days later. “I do Rachel and I did find something I think you would find interesting.” The three girls looked at each other. Mr. Tual stood up and joined them at entrance to his study. “Come with me. I left it in the dining room. I just didn’t realize that no one has been in there since before your sister’s disappearance.” He said.
The three girls followed him into the dining room. Mr. Tual pointed to the table where he had left the report he had found in the attic. “Right there is the information that you’re looking for.” He told the girls. He picked up the report and gave it to Rachel. “It’s pretty interesting how far back your mother’s family go.” He told his daughter. “I didn’t even realize that she had tracked that far back.”
Rachel frowned as she held the report. “What do you mean?” She asked.
Mr. Tual shook his head. “I’m not sure how but your mother managed to trace her family back several generations.” He explained. “At least thousands of years back with prove of her lineage.”
Delaney and Elizabeth both looked at each other. It sounded like there were things about their aunt that not even her own husband knew. They had a feeling that it had to be connected with Emily’s book now more than ever. Rachel smiled. “Thank you Daddy.” She said. “I’m sure this will be helpful for Emily.” She said. She looked at the other two girls. “Let’s go!” The three girls quickly took off running up the stairs to Emily’s bedroom.
Mr. Tual shook his head. He still wasn’t sure why the three girls were so interested in the name he had found. He had read the entire report himself. It sounded too crazy to be true in some parts. There was no way that his wife’s ancestor had written that book. If she had, why would Joan need to hunt it down? Wouldn’t it had been kept in her family. He thought back to the professor who had shown up with it. He had been Joan’s history professor. Would he know about the book’s past or why Joan wanted it? “Seraphina.” He whispered to himself. He had a feeling that the girls would believe that she had written the book herself.
All of this thinking made himself realize that he didn’t really know all that much about his wife’s ancestry. He didn’t know that much about his own ancestry. Just that he had great-great something grandparents from Germany who had come to the states a long time ago on his dad’s side of the family. His mother’s side of the family was a mystery. His own mother didn’t know much about her ancestry so that was a dead end. He did remember that shortly after Joan had written that report, she seemed like she had a secret that she had kept from him. He never did find out what the secret was but he hadn’t let it bother him. Now though, he was really curious about what it was.
In Emily’s room, Rachel, Delaney and Elizabeth were sitting around the report. “What do you think we’ll find?” Elizabeth asked.
Rachel reached for the report. “We’ll find out once we start reading this.” She said. She opened to the first page. It looked like it was the beginning of her mother’s report. Elizabeth and Delaney watched Rachel read the first page.
“What does it say?” Delaney asked.
Rachel looked up at the two. “It sounds like my mom knew it was going to sound hard to prove what she had learned about her family but she was going to show evidence and proof about her findings.” She answered.
As Rachel read the report, she started to see why her mother had said that her report was going to sound impossible to believe. Some of it did sound like it would be made up. She kept reading it though. She had to find out who the person was whose name started with S. She wondered who the professor was that her mother had turned this in to. He must have been taking a big chance by giving her mother an A for her report. She then flipped to the end and saw why her mother had most likely been given the A. There was a large tree sketched there with her family members’ different names. She traced her mother’s branch to the different branches her branch came from. She noticed that the branches seemed to stop suddenly while others around them went even farther. She traced the branches to the trunk.
Elizabeth and Delaney looked at each other after seeing Rachel put the report down. The way she was looking screamed that she had learned something she hadn’t expected. “What is it?” Delaney asked as they turned back to Rachel.
Rachel looked at them. “Seraphina.” She said. “The S on Emily’s book belongs to Seraphina, our ancestor according to my mom’s family tree.” She showed the two the family tree.
Elizabeth whistled. “That is impressive.” She said. “She was able to trace her family that far.”
Delaney frowned as she looked at the name Seraphina. “Are you sure that the S on the cover of Emily’s book is the same S as Seraphina’s name?” She asked.
Rachel nodded. “My mom said in her report that she believed there was a book written by her ancestor and that on the cover of it was her initial.” She said. “My dad said that a professor of hers brought that book here because my mom had asked him for help finding it.” She pointed at Seraphina’s name. “What if she had realized that Seraphina is the one who wrote the book?” That theory sounded farfetched to Elizabeth and Delaney. Did Rachel not see the missing spots in the family tree? There were spaces that should have had names but didn’t.
Elizabeth then spotted something written in the corner of the page. She frowned and turned the report to her so she could read it better. “House of Rose.” She looked up at Rachel. “Why would your mother write that on her report?”
Rachel looked at what Elizabeth had read. “I’m not sure.” She admitted. “There’s somethings that I read in the report that didn’t make sense at all.” She turned back a few pages and pointed at a paragraph. “There’s something here that keeps mentioning a “him” but she never said who he was. Just that he was to be avoided at all costs. Sounds like my mom’s family has had some guy after them.”
Delaney read two of the words upside down. “Black Hand.” Rachel and Elizabeth looked at where Delaney was reading.
“The Black Hand is a group of people I believe that were descendants of a man who hated my ancestor and wanted to hunt my family down. When trying to find out more about them, I couldn’t find any. They just simply vanished after records of them. I believe that they all died out years ago.” Rachel read. She thought back to that day in the library. She gasped.
Delaney and Elizabeth looked at each other before looking back at her. “What is it?” Elizabeth asked.
Rachel looked at her. “Black Hand.” She said. “Do you guys remember those men at the library?” They knew that she was referring to the ones who had tried to kidnap all four of them. “I can’t be for sure but I’m pretty sure that several of them had black hands on their shirts.”
Delaney shook her head. There was no way her cousin was possibly trying to say that the Black Hand was still around. “Might have just been a bunch of kidnappers like what that F.B.I. guy said.” She told Rachel. “All because they targeted us and got Emily doesn’t mean that they’re Black Hands. Besides, your mom said that they were all gone.”
Rachel looked at her. “But she said that they simply vanished after records of them. What if they had gone into hiding or went by different names? It would explain why there were no records of them existing.” She had a feeling that she was right. Her mother had written that report years ago. Before Emily and her had even been born. Even before their parents had gotten married. They could have easily been still around but by different names.
Rachel went to another page of the report and read it again. “Although there is no record of my ancestor getting married, I believe that the man who loved her, Gabriel, was the father of Seraphina’s descendants.” She read. “Gabriel.” She said softly. She couldn’t remember why but she was very sure that she had heard that name before. She just couldn’t remember why.
“What about Gabriel?” Delaney asked, snapping Rachel out of her train of thought.
Rachel shook her head. “I don’t know.” She said. “I thought that the name was familiar but I can’t remember why.”
Rachel closed the report and set it on the bed. She covered her eyes. “I thought that this report would help us but it’s just giving me more questions.” Who was the “he” that her mom had spoken of? Was Gabriel, whoever he was, her great-great-great-great, who knows how many greats, grandfather? Was the Black Hand really descendants that hunted her family down? Why didn’t Seraphina and Gabriel ever get married? Did Seraphina write the book that Emily had? If Seraphina did, why didn’t her mother put that in the report?
“We need to get this to Emily.” Rachel said. “Maybe if she sees this report, it’ll help her read that book.” She got off of the bed and picked up the report. “If we hurry, we might be able to get a visit in.” The three girls left the bedroom really quickly.