He laughed a little bit.
"Well she married into the family. She married our son Nikki."
I stood there in absolute shock and horror. What was he saying? I was married to my first cousin? I thought I was going to be sick.
"So you're saying I married my cousin?"
He laughed again but this time it didn't seem so cute.
"Well, by marriage only. You see, Janice may be your mother. But Nicholas was not your father. That boy who killed him was your father!"
"No! No this can't be true. How? How could this be? How did you know where I was, who adopted me?"
I was falling apart. I don't know how I was able to continue standing there. I wanted to collapse on the floor. I wanted to scream. This was like being in a nightmare but while awake. It was almost an outer body experience. My head felt as light as a helium balloon but my body felt like two tons of lead.
"It's okay Dana. I worked for the city back in those days. So I knew who your adopted parents were. I knew where you moved to. We moved to get away from the media. But we also moved to keep an eye on you. Our son was born a week before you. So we knew that one day, there was a chance you two could be together. It just worked out. We never imagined you two would actually fall in love and get married."
"So we're not really cousins then?"
Everything about this was so bizarre and crazy. Yet that was all I could focus on.
"Not by blood no. My brother died before you were ever born. You are your mother's redemption. You are our family's redemption."
"What are you talking about Mr. James? I didn't know anything about any of this until today."
"Of course not dear. I know this is all a big shock for you. I'm sorry. But when Nikki called me this morning to tell me what you knew I took that as a sign."
"A sign for what?"
"A sign it was time for you to know the whole truth. Don't you see?"
"What I see Mr. James is that you've kept a lot of secrets from me. I don't understand why."
He let out a loud sigh. He rubbed his whiskers on his chin with his hand.
"See there's one other part of this story you don't know yet."
My heart dropped. What could be any worse than what he had told me already?
"There's the matter of your biological mother and how she met her fate."
"I thought you said she died of a heart attack?"
"That's true. She did dear. But you see, she had a little help."
"I don't understand."
"It's fairly simple dear. I poisoned her. I had her over for tea. I put a little oleander in that tea. She dropped dead of a heart attack a short while later."
There was that grin on his face again. My head was achiing. Was this all really true?
"That woman, your mother, had my brother murdered. She had her high school boy lover shoot him so she could collect the insurance money. She seduced that boy and had my brother murdered. The police wouldn't do anything about it. So I had to do it. They don't test for that. So I knew no one would suspect s thing. Plus she'd been under a lot of stress after losing her husband, as far as the rest of the world knew. But she was a black widow and she needed to pay for her crimes."
"Mr. James...please tell me this is just some sick joke."
The tears were welling up in my eyes. I had a huge knot in my throat. My stomach was doing flip flops and my head felt like it was going to cave in.
"It's no joke dear. She took my brother's life so I took hers. I couldn't have my brother in my life so I wanted her daughter. And here you are my dear. You're our little redemption story. It's like a miracle."
I began sobbing uncontrollably. I leaned hard onto the counter top to keep me upright. My knees wanted to give out. He stood up and came over to my side. He wrapped his arm around me across my shoulders and squeezed me into him.
"So what now? What am I supposed to do with all of this."
"Well dear, keep it to yourself like we agreed. Don't even tell Nikki. He doesn't need to know. What's important is that you know. You know the rest of the story
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