Jane appreciated Spenser’s honesty, but her eagerness to see her parents burned less bright now that she knew about her mom’s skepticism about her identify. The situation had the potential to spiral out of control. If her mom and dad walked away from their comfortable lifestyle out of fear for their safety, their support would probably be conditional. If they were in Gardner out of a sense of obligation, or out of guilt, their meeting could become a battle of wills. Even if they came out of love for her, their presence didn’t necessarily mean they had forgiven her. Why should they? Her behavior over the past few years, didn't reflect their believes or her upbringing.
She wondered if the relationship with her parents was salvageable. She was no longer the naïve teenager who left home at seventeen. Her looks and personality bore little resemblance to the daughter they remembered. Could they accept the woman she had become? Time and experience had taught her to be suspicious of strangers. She had become a loner out of necessity.
The positive side of the coin was that she valued the people she did trust. The quiet, unassuming Jane they would meet this evening was more adaptable and more thoughtful than Kathryn. She was also more at peace with the world. Unfortunately, Jane wasn't real. Kathryn lived behind Jane’s face, and she was a magnet for trouble.
When Springer went to trial—if he went to trial—the ugly truth would be fodder for the scandal mongers. His lawyers would attempt to prove that her testimony was nothing more than words of spite from a disgruntled employee and ex-girlfriend. She feared that Springer would accuse her of skimming money from the club, or some other crime. Even if she was offered immunity, her reputation and her parent’s reputations would suffer.
Spenser stopped abruptly and turned to face her. He whispered, “I warned your parents not to answer the door if there was a knock. We will enter their room through the connecting door in my room.”
He opened the door to his room, crossed to a door and knocked softly. “It’s Spencer.”
Her mom opened the door. She stepped back and motioned for them to enter.
Kathryn immediately noticed the lack of sparkle in her dad’s eyes, and the lack of warmth in her mom’s gaze. She tried to speak but the words stuck in her throat.
Her mom turned to her dad. “Ken, I need to sit down.”
He took her arm and led her to a chair in the sitting area of the room. He mumbled something under his breath.
Jane turned to Spenser. “Should I leave?”
Her mom held up her hand in protest. “No. Give me a moment to get over the shock.”
Her dad crossed the room to an apartment size refrigerator and took out a bottle of water. He removed the top and handed it to her.”
After a sip of water, her mom said, “Spenser showed us a photo of you but that’s not like seeing you in person. I apologize for my reaction. You don’t look like our daughter, but Spenser assures me that you are.”
Jane spoke quietly. “You don’t need to apologize. I realize the changes in my appearance are disconcerting. My enemies are searching for a very thin, blond-haired, blue-eyed woman who uses too much make-up and dresses in flashy clothes. Jane couldn’t be more different.
“As Spenser told you, I needed to disappear until the FBI and NYPD had sufficient evidence to bring Wayne Springer in for questioning. In addition, I needed a break before the grilling that I will be facing when I turn over the photos and copies of documents I collected while working for Springer.
“Without Spenser’s advice and support, I’m not sure I would have found the courage to disappear. Unfortunately, people who can back up my testimony are disappearing, so I can no longer run scared. I need to go back to New York.”
Her mom asked, “How did this happen, Kathryn?”
“I was young and stupid. I wanted fame and fortune so badly that I closed my eyes to the corrupt practices of Wayne Springer. He promised me the world, and I believed him.
"I accept responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for endangering you and Dad. If you and Dad choose to disown me after Springer is behind bars, I will understand.”
Her mom looked at her dad, then reached out and took her hand. “Never. It will take time for me to get used to having a daughter with brown hair and eyes, but I will. It’s who you are on the inside that counts.”
“It’s amazing what hair dye and tinted contacts can do.”
Her dad spoke up for the first time. “I like your natural look. I never have been a fan of cosmetics. You look healthy, and that’s a plus. The last time we saw you, I feared you had an eating disorder.”
“I wasn’t healthy, Dad. Since I’ve been in Gardner, I have an exercise routine, and I eat three healthy meals a day.”
Her dad nodded. “Your diligence shows. The past is past, sweetie. You’re here. We’re here. Whatever needs to be faced, we’ll do it together.”
Spenser, who had remained silent during Jane’s exchange with her parents, finally spoke. “Unless something unforeseen happens, we will remain in Gardner until Friday evening. When we arrive in New York, your time won’t be your own, so try to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening.”
Kathryn said, “I like your suggestion. I’m eager to hear about what’s going on back home. I’m especially interested in your business Dad, and yours Mom.”
Spenser was obviously eager to go. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have some phone calls to make. When you get ready to leave, Jane, knock on my door. I want to follow you back to your apartment.
She nodded. She wanted to protest, but she had promised Spenser to abide by his rules.
When the door closed behind him, her mom stood. “Speaking of business, I have something for you.” She crossed the room to one of the bedside tables and picked up a box and a bag, then returned to her chair. She handed the box to Jane.
Jane opened the box and gazed at the necklace inside. It’s exquisite, Mom. The beads are porcelain, aren’t they?”
“They are. The necklace is the first piece I designed. I couldn't let it go because it was a reminder that there are second chances in life. I hope the beads will be a reminder to you."
Jane's eyes filled with tears. “Thank you. None of the commercially produced porcelain beads on the market hold a candle to yours. I’ll cherish the necklace.”
Her mom handed her the bag. “I added a new item to my line last year. I sell several different designs, but your purse is one of a kind.”
Jane removed a macramé purse from the bag. Her hand went to her heart. “The purse is as gorgeous as the necklace, Mom. A purse like this would cost hundreds of dollars in New York, if you could even find one.
“I was a aware that you admired crafters, but I never realized that you were a crafter at heart.”
“When I was younger, I wasn’t. My therapist suggested I find a hobby I liked. I attended a ceramics class with a friend. I liked the feel of clay, but I couldn’t master throwing pots on a wheel. It took a year of experimenting with beads and glazes, but the year was rewarding. When I’m working, I forget about everything except the design.”
“I know the feeling. My worries are forgotten when I’m arranging flowers.”
The rest of the evening passed in a flash. When Jane glanced at her watch it was ten o’clock. She stood. “Mom. Dad. I hate to leave, but tomorrow is a busy day.” She hugged her mom first, then her dad. “Thank you both for being understanding. I realize I haven’t answered the hard questions, but I assure you I will.
“Thank you again, Mom, for the gorgeous necklace and purse. I’m going to ask Spenser to put them in the inn’s vault. When I pack to leave Gardner, I intend to pack light.”