THE SEVENTH CROSS

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CLAIRE

Claire’s emergence into a new world began the moment she walked onto the Campus at the University of Houston. She’d been raised in a great home but knew she never really fit in, and was anxious to find her true self. She knew she’d be completely alone here, but that is exactly what she relished. She’d worked her butt off in school, and now with the advantage of several scholarships, she could fly on her own. And fly she would.

The next four years were a dream come true for our girl, and she emerged with a degree in Journalism, and to no one’s great surprise, top of her class. Now she was working with a major newspaper and apprenticing as an investigative reporter under an incredible mentor. As if that wasn’t enough, she was in the beginning stages of writing a novel (who isn’t), as well as blogging on a regular basis. Claire was actively looking for The Story that would let her play with the big boys!

Claire was a loner, and though she had many friends on campus, she was notorious for always wanting to be alone. It frustrated her friends to no end, but she was the type of person who could tell you to take a hike and you’d still enjoy the journey!

She rarely talked of her past, and soon it became obvious that the topic was not up for discussion. Period. But, that didn’t mean she didn’t think about it, and in fact, it probably led her to pursue the career she had chosen. But, enough psychoanalysis, there was work to be done!

What Claire chose to bury as deeply as possible were the first eleven plus years of her miserable life. She knew full well that when Pandora’s box was opened it would be impossible to put the lid back on again. Although she had been rescued, at least physically, from hell itself, psychologically it was quite another matter. Especially when she refused to share her life with the myriad of professionals who poked and probed her like some specimen under glass.

Oh how they tried to rescue her, to bring her back from that dark place. She was placed in a loving home for a number of years but she could not reciprocate the love extended to her. And when she could legally move on, she did so, and rarely looked back.

Looking back now after the passage of some thirty plus years, she knew she had some serious amends to make, and she had some skeletons in her closet that needed to be exorcised once and for all.

She’d seen it all in her career as an investigative reporter, and had in fact, broken several large stories that brought down some very powerful individuals. Claire had been threatened on many such occasions and more than once felt that she may not live a very long life. But as time when on, she became calloused to the multitude of threats that seemed to come and go like the wind, and became zealous in her pursuit of what she considered justice long overdue, particularly for the rich and powerful. They thought they could buy their way out of anything, and often did, but they soon learned she was not for sale. Not at any price. Thank God she didn’t have a family that they could use as leverage against her!

Thank God! Really? Ok, someday I do want my own family. Some day, just not now.

She had begun to open Pandora’s box a few years ago, knowing full well that she could never seal it up completely ever again. So she dabbled around the periphery and was finally able to gain access to her entire file. That’s what happens when you become a “star” in this world. You gain access to files that you should not be able to. This was one of those files kept under lock and key, and still remained thus, but now she had a copy of it in its’ entirety.

Dad, mom, brother, sister. Dad murdered. Mom institutionalized. Brother on death row for murdering his father. Sister sent to an orphanage. That was all back in 1983. Sister adopted in 1986. End of story.

But it wasn’t the end, and it certainly wasn’t the beginning! Claire had worked many, many cases involving heinous people, and she’d developed a thick skin but this one was different. This was up real close and personal, and she knew full well that you can’t “unsee” something once you’ve seen it. And from what she’d been told by those who had worked the file, it was nasty.

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