We arrive at Veronica’s address almost three and a half hours later. The second we’re dropped off in front of her home, Madeline and Adrian approach her front door.
They knock and stand patiently, waiting for her to open the door. I turn to Mason who’s being completely oblivious to the two of them.
“They seem to be spending a lot of time together huh?” Mason’s eyes glance up from his phone and to Maddie and Adrian who’s still standing and waiting.
“Yeah,” He replies, uninterested in my conversation topic. His eyes scan his phone again and he smiles slightly as he types away on the screen.
“Alrighty then,” I turn to look at the couple at the door and they’re now talking to somebody. They turn around and walk towards us, “What happened?”
Adrian points to the person standing at the door, “They said ‘Tracy’ went out to the store but she should be back any minute. We can wait inside if we want,” I nod and Maddie begins to walk toward the house and we all follow.
The house is almost as cold as it is outside, “Sorry about it being cold, our power got shut off not too long ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. You have a fireplace though, why don’t you use that?” We all look at Madeline like she’s crazy, she has no filter when it comes to talking to anyone. Including strangers.
“I’ve never been one to deal with fires, if you guys would like to there’s wood out back and you can use it,” He looked tired as all hell and anyone could see he’s probably stressed out of his mind. Adrian nods and leaves to the backyard. He comes back moments later with an armful of wood and begins putting it into the fireplace.
“If you don’t mind me asking, are you and Tracy married?” Mason’s eyes are locked on the wedding ring on the guy’s finger and I couldn’t help but notice it either. I don’t know how I feel about it when he moved his finger to look at the ring, I can see a trail of green making a band around his ring finger.
“We have a kid too, she’s almost five,” So Bo has another sister, great. This is going to be a lot more than she can handle. I can feel it, “Ah, here she is now,” He opens the front door and a lot of commotion goes on before we actually see Veronica.
“Todd, who are they?” She asks when she spots us sitting in the living room. Her voice is similar to Bo’s but has a little raspiness to it.
“They came here looking for you, said you’re an old friend of their friend,” Todd gives her a hug and a kiss before taking the groceries out of her hands, “Let’s go, Vivian, Mom has to speak with some people.” The little girl comes into view and her tiny ringlets bounce as she follows her dad into the kitchen.
Finally, we look at Veronica who closes the doors to the living room. The fire is crackling and we are instantly warmed up.
“Let me tell you one thing, I’ve never seen or heard of any of you people. If you don’t get out of my house this instant I will call the police.”
Madeline scoffs and crosses her legs, “Oh Veronica, I don’t think you’ll be wanting to do that.”
The second her name is mentioned her eyes grow wide and I see all of her defenses rise, “Who are you, people? Are you working for Joseph? Is he still after me?”
“Listen to me and then you may speak,” Madeline leans forward for emphasis, “Or there will be consequences,” Veronica sits down in the rocking chair in front of us, her mouth sewn shut, “We know all about your past life, the fact that your real name is Veronica Wilson, you had twins in March of 1999, you were a druggie and a prostitute, shall I go on?”
“What do you want from me? I already told Joseph the last time he sent his goons after me that I will end him.”
Adrian tsks and shakes his head, “Who’s Joseph? And what do you know about him?”
“You don’t know who Joseph Alvarez is?” Veronica practically snorts, “You’re way in over your heads then kids, why are you even here then if you’re not with him?”
“What did I say?” Madeline gives her a deadly look and she shuts her mouth.
“They don’t know anything about my past alright?” She’s obviously referring to her husband and kid.
“They’ll find out soon enough if you don’t give us the answers we’re looking for,” Mason chimes in, tapping his foot on the floor.
“Fine, what do you want to know?”
“Why did you leave Gianna at the hospital?” The question slips from my mouth before I could even process the words.
“You know my Gianna?” She looks at all of us, purposely avoiding my question,“You guys do look about her age. Is she alright? How is she doing?”
“Judging by the looks of it, she isn’t here with us so what do you think?” Maddie seems too invested with this detective shit but we should let her keep doing her own thing. Otherwise, she’ll complain about us refraining her from ‘doing her womanly job.’
“What happened to her? Is she...dead?”
“No, she’s not dead, but she isn’t good either. Her evil twin, Nicole, has her locked up somehow on over 27 murders and drug dealing charges, we have yet to figure out how.”
“I’ve never met Nicole but the things I’ve heard about her, she’s practically a duplicate of her father. An evil, sick, twisted man,” She places her hand on a necklace she’s wearing and begins playing with it.
“Alright, I have something I need to ask you. I have a theory about all of this and I need you to tell me if it’s right,” Adrian sits back and wraps his arm around Madeline, “We haven’t had the time to find out who this Joseph character is but he fits right in with my theory.”
So we let Adrian go on about his master drug lord theory and Veronica sits and listens to every word he says. Drinking it in more and more as he drags on with his ridiculous story.
“You’re not completely wrong, but you’re not completely right. Joseph Alvarez leads one of the biggest Mexican drug cartels in the world. When I had first met him, I didn’t know that all I knew was that my pimp wanted me to make good friends with him, he was good money.”
“So, he kept requesting me, everything time he came back. He even bought me from my pimp for over three million dollars. Joseph wanted me to himself, forever. I was his property. Soon, I ended up getting Stockholm syndrome, I fell in love with him and he fell in love with me, or so I thought.”
She takes tissues out of the tissue box next to her and begins to get emotional, “I ended up getting pregnant with the number of times he used me, almost every day. So, when he found out I was pregnant, he threw me into the basement and kept me on watch. He wanted to make sure I didn’t run away with the heir to his throne. From the beginning, I knew there were two, but I never told him. Hell no I never told him. I didn’t want him taking Gianna away the way I knew he was going to take Nicole.”
Adrian interrupts her story telling, “So what you’re saying is, you guys were in love — or what you thought was love—, you got pregnant, he threw you into the basement until you were ready to give birth, brought you out and because you couldn’t make it to the hospital they made you have the baby in the alleyway next to the hospital, they ran once you had Nicole and then someone found you, brought you in, and now you can answer Lukas’ question, why did you leave Gianna at the hospital?”
She sighs, “I didn’t leave her. Before I got pregnant I was a user, I had to stop the drugs because I didn’t want my babies to end up with mush for brains. But the doctors saw the needle marks in my arms that hadn’t fully healed yet, so they took Gianna away from me because they knew I was a user. And when they came back I ghosted. They had already taken my baby, what else was I gonna be there for?”
“You should see how torn up she is about you and here you are, living your life with a whole new family, a whole new lie!” In the heat of the moment, I stand from my chair and go to take a step toward her.
“Lukas keep your voice down,” Madeline grabs the sleeve of my jacket to get my attention but I don’t listen.
“No, she wants to lie to her husband, is he even your husband Veronica? That ring he’s wearing is faker than the stories you’re telling.”
“Fine, he isn’t my husband, but she is my daughter. He’s a runaway, he used to work for my old pimp, gathering girls and bringing them to him but he decided that wasn’t the life he wanted, so now he’s here. With me.”
“Thanks for finally telling the truth,” I sit back down, waiting for someone else to ask her questions.
“I think this is enough for one day, come back tomorrow or something. I need some time to process all of this.” Veronica gets up from her seat and opens the doors which lets all the cool air in the house in.
“Honey, are they staying for dinner?” Todd comes from around the corner and looks at all of us, his eyes scanning over each and every person.
“Uh no, but they’ll be returning one of these days to talk more with me, so if they come, just let them in.” He more and opens the front door for us, “Goodbye.”