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The Family Tree Barbara Delinsky A thought-provoking novel about a family with a secret that has the power to tear them apart. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult.Dana Clarke has it all – a husband, Hugh, who she adores, a beautiful home in a wealthy area, and a baby on the way. But, when her daughter, Lizzie, is born, what should be the happiest day of her life turns out to be the moment that her world falls apart.Lizzie is beautiful, healthy, and black… Born from two white parents, there are only two possibilities: that a distant relative was of African descent, or that Dana has had an affair.As the Clarke family reel from the shock, accusations are thrown and soon the trust that Dana and Hugh had prided themselves on is slipping away. So begins a poignant journey to uncover the truth about their past, to discover what legacy their ancestors left them. And, as the stability of the Clarke family is torn apart, the reader is forced to ask how much any one of us really knows about our own identity. BARBARA DELINSKY The Family Tree For Cassandra, a precious gift Contents Title Page (#u0ab81981-0299-582b-8f5b-367e2be5b5d5)Dedication (#ue002ff28-aa63-54d8-9337-40a8b84657e4)Chapter One (#u656261c4-527c-546d-b7de-74608c456189)Chapter Two (#u25ece7ad-3e21-5b12-bf7e-339ae37080d4)Chapter Three (#u1a4ac17f-148a-5de8-a7ba-0b4706ca6a59)Chapter Four (#uc395fbd2-426b-51ce-8c04-8034d0818ad1)Chapter Five (#ubd5c4b4c-a67d-5339-91ac-f04638db7f43)Chapter Six (#u38b24638-a53f-5518-b8da-605da1ec79a5)Chapter Seven (#u802e3374-b39a-56b6-9ebe-6ec18c511991)Chapter Eight (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Nine (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Ten (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Eleven (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twelve (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Thirteen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Fourteen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Fifteen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Sixteen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Seventeen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Eighteen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Nineteen (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty One (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Two (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Three (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Four (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Five (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Six (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Seven (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Eight (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Twenty Nine (#litres_trial_promo)Chapter Thirty (#litres_trial_promo)Acknowledgments (#litres_trial_promo)About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)By The Same Author (#litres_trial_promo)Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) 1 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) Something woke her mid-dream. She didn’t know whether it was the baby kicking, a gust of sea air tumbling in over the sill, surf breaking on the rocks, or even her mother’s voice, liquid in the waves, but as she lay there open-eyed in bed in the dark, the dream remained vivid. It was an old dream, and no less embarrassing to her for knowing the script. She was out in public, for all the world to see, lacking a vital piece of clothing. In this instance, it was her blouse. She had left home without it and now stood on the steps of her high school – her high school – wearing only a bra, and an old one at that. It didn’t matter that she was sixteen years past graduation and knew none of the people on the steps. She was exposed and thoroughly mortified. And then – this was a first – there was her mother-in-law, standing off to the side, wearing a look of dismay and carrying – bizarre – the blouse. Dana might have laughed at the absurdity of it, if, at that very moment, something else hadn’t diverted her thoughts. It was the sudden rush of fluid between her legs, like nothing she had ever felt before. Afraid to move, she whispered her husband’s name. When he didn’t reply, she reached out, shook his arm, and said in full voice, ‘Hugh?’ He managed a gut-low ‘Mm?’ ‘We have to get up.’ She felt him turn and stretch. ‘My water just broke.’ He sat up with a start. Leaning over her, his deep voice higher than normal, he asked, ‘Are you sure?’ ‘It keeps coming. But I’m not due for two weeks.’ ‘That’s okay,’ he reassured her, ‘that’s okay. The baby is seven-plus pounds – right in the middle of the full-term range. What time is it?’ ‘One-ten.’ ‘Don’t move. I’ll get towels.’ He rolled away and off the bed. She obeyed him, partly because Hugh had studied every aspect of childbirth and knew what to do, and partly to avoid spreading the mess. As soon as he returned, though, she supported her belly and pushed herself up. Squinting against the sudden light of the lamp, she took one of the towels, slipped it between her legs, and shuffled into the bathroom. Hugh appeared seconds later, wide-eyed and pale in the vanity lights. ‘What do you see?’ he asked. ‘No blood. But it’s definitely the baby and not me.’ ‘Do you feel anything?’ ‘Like terror?’ She was dead serious. As prepared as they were – they had read dozens of books, talked with innumerable friends, grilled the doctor and her partners and her nurse-practitioner and the hospital personnel during a preadmission tour – the reality of the moment was something else. With childbirth suddenly and irrevocably imminent, Dana was scared. ‘Like contractions,’ Hugh replied dryly. ‘No. Just a funny feeling. Maybe a vague tightening.’ ‘What does “vague” mean?’ ‘Subtle.’ ‘Is it a contraction?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Does it come and go?’ ‘I don’t know, Hugh. Really. I just woke up and then there was a gush—’ She broke off, feeling something. ‘A cramp.’ She held her breath, let it out, met his eyes. ‘Very mild.’ ‘Cramp or contraction?’ ‘Contraction,’ she decided, starting to tremble. They had waited so long for this. They were as ready as they would ever be. ‘Are you okay while I call the doctor?’ he asked. She nodded, knowing that if she hadn’t he would have brought the phone into the bathroom. But she wasn’t helpless. As doting as Hugh had been lately, she was an independent sort, and by design. She knew what it was to be wholly dependent on someone and then have her taken away. It didn’t get much worse. So, while he phoned the doctor, she fit her big belly into her newest, largest warm-up suit, now lined with a pad from her post-delivery stash to catch amniotic fluid that continued to leak, and went down the hall to the baby’s room. She had barely turned on the light when he called. ‘Dee?’ ‘In here!’ Buttoning jeans, he appeared at the door. His dark hair was mussed, his eyes concerned. ‘If those pains are less than ten minutes apart, we’re supposed to head to the hospital. Are you okay?’ She nodded. ‘Just want a last look.’ ‘It’s perfect, honey,’ he said as he stretched into an old navy tee shirt. ‘All set?’ ‘I don’t think they’re less than ten minutes apart.’ ‘They will be by the time we’re halfway there.’ ‘This is our first,’ she argued. ‘First babies take longer.’ ‘That may be the norm, but every norm has exceptions. Indulge me on this, please?’ Taking his hand, she kissed his palm and pressed it to her neck. She needed another minute. She felt safe here, sheltered, happy. Of all the nurseries she had decorated for clients, this was her best – four walls of a panoramic meadow, laced with flowers, tall grasses, sun-tipped trees. Everything was white, soft orange, and green, myriad shades of each highlighted with a splotch of blue in a flower or the sky. The feeling was one of a perfect world, gentle, harmonious, and safe. Self-sufficient she might be, but she had dreamed of a world like this from the moment she had dared to dream again. Hugh had grown up in a world like this. His childhood had been sheltered, his adolescence rich. His family had come to America on the Mayflower and been prominent players ever since. Four centuries of success had bred stability. Hugh might downplay the connection, but he was a direct beneficiary of it. ‘Your parents expected pastel balloons on the wall,’ she remarked, releasing his hand. ‘I’m afraid I’ve disappointed them.’ ‘Not you,’ he answered, ‘we, but it’s a moot point. This isn’t my parents’ baby.’ He made for the door. ‘I need shoes.’ Moving aside knitting needles that held the top half of a moss green sleepsack, Dana carefully lowered herself into the Boston rocker. She had dragged it down from the attic, where Hugh hid most of his heirloom pieces, and while she had rescued others, now dispersed through the house, this was her favorite. Purchased in the 1840s by his great-great-grandfather, the eventual Civil War general, it had a spindle back and three-section rolled seat that was strikingly comfortable for something so old. Months ago, even before they had put the meadow on the walls, Dana had sanded the rocker’s chipped paint and restored it to gleaming perfection. And Hugh had let her. He knew that she valued family history all the more for having lived without it. That said, everything else was new, a family history that began here. The crib and its matching dresser were imported, but the rest, from the changing pad on top, to the hand-painted fabric framing the windows, to the mural, were custom done by her roster of artists. That roster, which included top-notch painters, carpenters, carpet and window people, also included her grandmother and herself. There was a throw over one end of the crib, made by her grandmother and mirroring the meadow mural; a cashmere rabbit that Dana had knitted in every shade of orange; a bunting, two sweaters, numerous hats, and a stack of carriage blankets – and that didn’t count the winter wool bunting in progress, which was mounded in a wicker basket at the foot of her chair, or the sleepsack she held in her hand. They had definitely gone overboard. Rocking slowly, she smiled as she remembered what had been here eight months before. Her pregnancy had just been confirmed, when she had come home from work to find the room blanketed with tulips. Purple, yellow, white – all were fresh enough to last for days. Hugh had planned this surprise with sheer pleasure, and Dana believed it had set the tone. There was magic in this room. There was warmth and love. There was security. Their baby would be happy here, she knew it would. Opening a hand on her stomach, she caressed the mound that was absurdly large in proportion to the rest of her. She couldn’t feel the baby move – the poor little thing didn’t have room to do much more than wiggle a finger or toe – but Dana felt the tightening of muscles that would push her child into the world. Breathe slowly … Hugh’s soothing baritone came back from their Lamaze classes. She was still breathing deeply well after the end of what was definitely another contraction when the slap of flip-flops announced his return. She grinned. ‘I’m picturing the baby in this room.’ But he was observant to a fault. ‘That was another contraction, wasn’t it? Are you timing them?’ ‘Not yet. They’re too far apart. I’m trying to distract myself by thinking happy thoughts. Remember the first time I saw your house?’ It was the right question. Smiling, he leaned against the door jamb. ‘Sure do. You were wearing neon green.’ ‘It wasn’t neon, it was lime, and you didn’t know what the piece was.’ ‘I knew what it was. I just didn’t know what it was called.’ ‘It was called a sweater.’ His eyes held hers. ‘Laugh if you want – you do every time – but that sweater was more angular and asymmetrical than anything I’d ever seen.’ ‘Modular.’ ‘Modular,’ he repeated, pushing off from the jamb. ‘Knit in cashmere and silk – all of which comes easily to me now, but back then, what did I know?’ He put both hands on the arms of the rocker and bent down. ‘I interviewed three designers. The others were out of the running the minute you walked in my door. I didn’t know about yarn, didn’t know about color, didn’t know about whether you were any kind of decorator, except that David loved what you did for his house. But we’re playing with fire, dear heart. David will kill me if I don’t get you to the hospital in time. I’m sure he’s seen the lights.’ David Johnson lived next door. He was an orthopedic surgeon and divorced. Dana was always trying to set him up, but he always complained, saying that none of the women were her. ‘David won’t see the lights,’ she insisted now. ‘He’ll be asleep.’ Placing her knitting on the basket, Hugh hoisted her – gently – to her feet. ‘How do you feel?’ ‘Excited. You?’ ‘Antsy.’ He slid an arm around her waist, or thereabouts, but when he saw from her face that another contraction had begun, he said, ‘Definitely less than ten minutes. What, barely five?’ She didn’t argue, just concentrated on slowly exhaling until the pain passed. ‘There,’ she said. ‘Okay – boy or girl – last chance to guess.’ ‘Either one is great, but we can’t just hang out here, Dee,’ he warned. ‘We have to get to the hospital.’ He tried to steer her toward the hall. ‘I’m not ready.’ ‘After nine months?’ Fearful, she put her hand on his chest. ‘What if something goes wrong?’ He grinned and covered her hand. ‘Nothing will go wrong. This is my lucky tee shirt. I’ve worn it through every Super Bowl the Patriots have won and through the World Series with the Red Sox.’ ‘I’m serious.’ ‘So am I,’ he said, all confidence. ‘We’ve had tests. The baby’s healthy. You’re healthy. The baby’s the perfect birth size. It’s in the right position. We have the best obstetrician and the best hospital—’ ‘I mean later. What if there’s a problem, like when the baby is three? Or seven? Or when it’s a teenager, you know, like the problems the Millers have with their son?’ ‘We aren’t the Millers.’ ‘But it’s the big picture, Hugh.’ She was thinking of the dream she’d had prior to waking up. No mystery, that dream. It was about her fear of being found lacking. ‘What if we aren’t as good at parenting as we think we’ll be?’ ‘Now, there’s a moot point. A little late to be thinking of it.’ ‘Do you realize what we’re getting into?’ ‘Of course not,’ he said. ‘But we want this baby. Come on, sweetie. We have to leave.’ Dana insisted on returning to the master bath, where she quickly washed her face, rinsed her mouth, and brushed her hair. Turning sideways for a last look, she studied her body’s profile. Yes, she preferred being slim – yes, she was tired of hauling around thirty extra pounds – yes, she was dying to wear jeans and a tee shirt again. But being pregnant was special. ‘Dana,’ Hugh said impatiently. ‘Please.’ She let him guide her down the hall, past the nursery again and toward the stairs. In architectural circles, the house was considered a Newport cottage, though ‘cottage’ downplayed its grandness. Built in a U that faced the sea, with multiple pairs of French doors opening to a canopied patio, a large swath of soft grass, and a border of beach roses that overlooked the surf, it was a vision of corbels, columns, white trim and shingles gently grayed by the salt air. One wing held the living room, dining room, and library; the other, the kitchen and family room. The master bedroom and nursery were in one wing of the second floor, with two additional bedrooms in the other. The dormered attic housed an office, complete with a balcony. Every room in the house, with the sole exception of the first-floor powder room, had a window facing the sea. It was Dana’s dream house. She had fallen in love with it on sight. More than once, she had told Hugh that even if he had turned into a frog with their first kiss, she would have married him for the house. Now, approaching the nearer of two staircases that descended symmetrically to the front hall, she asked, ‘What if it’s a girl?’ ‘I’ll love a girl.’ ‘But you want a boy deep down, I know you do, Hugh. It’s that family name. You want a little Hugh Ames Clarke.’ ‘I’d be just as happy with Elizabeth Ames Clarke, as long as I don’t have to deliver her myself. Careful here,’ he said as they started down the stairs, but Dana had to stop at the first turn. The contraction was stronger this time. She was prepared for pain, but the fact of it was something else. ‘Can I do this?’ she asked, shaking noticeably as she clung to his arm. He held her more tightly. ‘You? In a minute.’ Hugh had trusted her right from the start. It was one of the things she loved. He hadn’t hesitated when she suggested barnboard for the floor of his otherwise modern kitchen or, later, when she insisted that he hang his family portraits – large, dark oil paintings of Clarkes with broad brows, square jaws, and straight lips – in the living room, though he would have gladly left them packed away in the attic. He took his heritage for granted. No, it was more than that. He rebelled against his father’s obsession with heritage, said that it embarrassed him. Dana must have convinced him that he was a successful figure in his own right, because he had let her hang the oils. They gave the room visual height and historical depth. She had splashed the large leather furniture with wildly textured pillows, and Hugh liked that, too. He had said he wanted comfort, not stuffiness. Butter-soft leather and a riot of nubby silk and chenille offered that. He had also said he did not like the settee that had belonged to his great-grandfather because it was stern, but he gave her wiggle room there, too. She had the oak of that settee restored, the seat recaned, and cushions and a throw designed to soften the look. Not that she saw any of it now. She focused on one step after the other, thinking that if these contractions were just the beginning, labor might be pretty bad, and if there were any other way to get this baby out, she would opt for it now. They were barely at the bottom when she gasped. ‘I forgot my pillow.’ ‘They have pillows at the hospital.’ ‘I need my own. Please, Hugh?’ Settling her on the bottom step, he ran up the stairs and was back with the pillow under his arm in less than a minute. ‘And water,’ she reminded him. He disappeared again, this time into the kitchen, and returned seconds later with a pair of bottles. ‘What else?’ ‘Cell phone? BlackBerry? Omigod, Hugh, I was supposed to have a preliminary meeting with the Cunninghams today.’ ‘Looks like you’ll miss it.’ ‘It’s a huge job.’ ‘Think maternity leave.’ ‘This was supposed to bridge it. I promised them that I’d make schematic drawings right after the baby was born.’ ‘The Cunninghams will understand. I’ll call them from the hospital.’ He patted his pockets. ‘Cell phone, BlackBerry, what else?’ ‘Call list. Camera.’ ‘In your case.’ He scooped the bag from the closet, staring in dismay at the yarn that spilled from the half-zippered top. ‘Dana, you promised.’ ‘It isn’t much,’ she said quickly, ‘just something small to work on, you know, if things are slow.’ ‘Small?’ he asked as he tucked in the yarn. ‘What are there, eight balls here?’ ‘Six, but it’s heavy worsted, which means not much yardage, and I didn’t want to risk running out. Don’t be impatient, Hugh. Knitting comforts me.’ He shot a do-tell look at the closet. There were bags of yarn on the shelf above, the floor below. Most closets in the house were the same. ‘My stash is not as big as some,’ she reasoned. ‘Besides, what harm is there in making the most of my time at the hospital? Gram wants this pattern for the fall season, and what if there’s down time after the baby’s born? Some women bring books or magazines. This is my thing.’ ‘How long did they say you would be in the hospital?’ he asked. They both knew that, barring complications, she would be home the next day. ‘You’re not a knitter. You wouldn’t understand.’ ‘No argument there.’ Squeezing the water bottles into the bag, he zipped it, put the strap on his shoulder, and helped her out the front door. They crossed the porch to the cobblestone drive where Hugh’s car was parked. Rather than think about how she was trembling or, worse, when the next pain would hit, Dana thought about the little cotton onesies in that bag. They were store-bought, but everything else was homemade. Hugh thought she had packed too much, but how to choose between those tiny knitted caps and booties, all cotton for August and exquisitely done? They took up no space. Her baby deserved choices. Of course, her in-laws hadn’t been any wilder about these items than they had about the nursery décor. They had provided a layette from Neiman Marcus, and didn’t understand why the baby wouldn’t be wearing those things home. Dana let it pass. To explain would have offended them. Hand-knit to her meant memories of her mother, the love of her grandmother, and the caring of a surrogate family of yarn-store friends. Hand-knit was personal in ways her husband’s family couldn’t understand. The Clarkes knew their place in society, and much as Dana loved being Hugh’s wife, much as she admired the Clarke confidence and envied their past, she couldn’t forget who she was. ‘Doin’ okay?’ Hugh asked as he eased her into the car. ‘Doin’ okay,’ she managed. She adjusted the seat belt so that the baby wouldn’t be hurt if they stopped short, though there was little chance of that. For an antsy man, Hugh drove with care, so much so that as time passed and the contractions grew more intense, she wished he would go faster. But he knew what he was doing. Hugh always knew what he was doing. Moreover, there were few other cars on the road, and they had green lights all the way. Having pre-registered at the hospital, he had barely given their name when they were admitted. In no time flat, Dana was in a hospital gown, with a fetal monitor strapped around her middle and the resident-on-call examining her. The contractions were coming every three minutes, then every two minutes, literally taking her breath. The next few hours passed in a blur, though more than once, when the progress slowed, she wondered if the baby was having a final qualm itself. She knit for a while until the strength of the contractions zapped her, at which point Hugh became her sole source of comfort. He massaged her neck and her back and peeled her hair from her face, and all the while, he told her how beautiful she was. Beautiful? Her insides were a mass of pain, her skin wet, her hair matted. Beautiful? She was a mess! But she clung to her husband, trying to believe every word he said. All in all, their baby came relatively quickly. Less than six hours after Dana’s water had broken, the nurse declared her fully dilated and they relocated to the delivery room. Hugh took pictures – Dana thought she remembered that, though the memory may well have been created later by the pictures themselves. She pushed for what seemed forever but was considerably shorter, so much so that her obstetrician nearly missed the baby’s birth. The woman had barely arrived when the baby emerged. Hugh cut the cord and, within seconds, placed the wailing baby on her stomach – the most beautiful, perfectly formed little girl she had ever seen. Dana didn’t know whether to laugh at the baby’s high-pitched crying or gasp in amazement at little fingers and toes. She seemed to have dark hair– Dana immediately imagined a head of fine, dark-brown Clarke hair – though it was hard to see with traces of milky-white film on her body. ‘Who does she look like?’ Dana asked, unable to see through her tears. ‘No one I’ve ever seen,’ he remarked with a delighted laugh and took several more pictures before the nurse stole the infant away, ‘but she’s beautiful.’ He smiled teasingly. ‘You did want a girl.’ ‘I did,’ Dana confessed. ‘I wanted someone to take my mother’s name.’ Incredibly – and later she did remember this with utter clarity – she pictured her mother as she had last seen her, vibrant and alive that sunny afternoon at the beach. Dana had always imagined that mother and daughter would have grown to be best of friends, in which case Elizabeth Joseph would have been there in the delivery room with them. Of the many occasions in Dana’s life when she desperately missed her mother, this was a big one. That was one reason why naming the baby after her meant so much. ‘It’s a little like being given her back.’ ‘Elizabeth.’ ‘Lizzie. She looks like a Lizzie, doesn’t she?’ Hugh was still smiling, holding Dana’s hand to his mouth. ‘Hard to tell yet. But “Elizabeth” is an elegant name.’ ‘Next one’ll be a boy,’ Dana promised, craning her neck to see the baby. ‘What are they doing to her?’ Hugh rose off the stool to see. ‘Suctioning,’ he reported. ‘Drying her off. Putting on an ID band.’ ‘Your parents wanted a boy.’ ‘It’s not my parents’ baby.’ ‘Call them, Hugh. They’ll be so excited. And call my grandmother. And the others.’ ‘Soon,’ Hugh said. He focused on Dana, so intent that she started crying again. ‘I love you,’ he whispered. Unable to answer, she just wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tightly. ‘Here she is,’ came a kindly voice, and suddenly the baby was in Dana’s arms, clean and lightly swaddled. Dana knew she was probably imagining it – infants couldn’t really focus – but she could have sworn the baby was looking at her as if she knew that Dana was her mother, would love her forever, would guard her with her life. The baby had a delicate little nose and pink mouth, and an every-bit-as-delicate chin. Dana peered under the pink cap. The baby’s hair was still damp, but it was definitely dark – with wispy little curls, lots of little curls, which was a surprise. Both she and Hugh had straight hair. ‘Where did she get these?’ ‘Beats me,’ Hugh said, sounding suddenly alarmed. ‘But look at her skin.’ ‘It’s so smooth.’ ‘It’s so dark.’ He raised fear-filled eyes toward the doctor. ‘Is she all right? I think she’s turning blue.’ Dana’s heart nearly stopped. She hadn’t seen any blue, but given the speed with which the baby was snatched from them and checked, she barely breathed herself until the staff pediatrician had done a thorough exam, given the baby a resoundingly high Apgar score, and pronounced her a hearty, healthy seven pounds. No, her skin wasn’t blue, Dana decided when Lizzie was back in her arms. Nor, though, was it the pale pink she had expected. Her face had a coppery tint that was as lovely as it was puzzling. Curious, she eased the blanket aside to uncover a tiny arm. The skin there was the same light brown, all the more marked in contrast to the pale white nails at the tips of her fingers. ‘Who does she look like?’ Dana murmured, mystified. ‘Not a Clarke,’ Hugh said. ‘Not a Joseph. Maybe someone on your father’s side of the family?’ Dana couldn’t say. She knew her father’s name, but little else. ‘She looks healthy,’ she reasoned. ‘I didn’t read anything about skin being darker at birth.’ ‘Me, neither. She looks tanned.’ ‘More than tanned. Look at her palms, Dee. They’re lighter, like her fingernails.’ ‘She looks Mediterranean.’ ‘No. Not Mediterranean.’ ‘Indian?’ ‘Not that, either. Dana, she looks black.’ 2 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) Hugh hoped he was being facetious. He and Dana were white. Their baby couldn’t be black. Still, standing there in the delivery room, scrutinizing the infant in Dana’s arms, he felt a tremor of fear. Lizzie’s skin was a whole lot darker than any other Clarke baby he had ever seen, and he had seen plenty of those. Clarkes took pride in their offspring, as evidenced by the flood of holiday pictures from relatives each year. His brother had four children, all of the pale white Anglo-Saxon type, their first cousins had upward of sixteen. Not a single one was dark. Hugh was a lawyer. He spent his days arguing facts, and, in this case, there were none to suggest that his baby should be anything but Caucasian. He had to be imagining it – had to be blowing things out of proportion. And who could blame him? He was tired. He had been late coming to bed after watching the Sox play Oakland, then awake an hour later and keyed up ever since. But boy, he wouldn’t have missed a minute of that delivery. Watching the baby come out – cutting the cord – it didn’t get much better than that. Talk about emotional highs! Now, though, he felt oddly deflated. This was his child – his family, his genes. She was supposed to look familiar. He had read about what babies went through getting out of the womb, and had been prepared to see a pointy head, blotchy skin, or even bruises. This baby’s head was round and her skin perfect. But she didn’t have the fine, straight hair or widow’s peak that marked the Clarke babies, or Dana’s blond coloring and blue eyes. She looked like a stranger. Maybe this was a natural letdown after months of buildup. Maybe it was what the books meant about not always loving your baby on sight. She was an individual. She would grow to have her own likes and dislikes, her own strengths, her own temperament, all of which might be totally different from Dana’s and his. He did love her. She was his child. She just didn’t look it. That said, she was his responsibility. So he followed the nurse when she took the baby to the nursery, and he watched through the window while the staff put drops in her eyes and gave her a real sponge bath. Her skin still seemed coppery. If anything, juxtaposed with a pale pink blanket and hat, it was more marked than before. The nurses seemed oblivious to the skin tone. Biracial marriages were common. These women didn’t know that Hugh’s wife was white. Moreover, there were far darker infants in the nursery. By comparison to some, Elizabeth Ames Clarke was light-skinned. Clinging to that thought, he returned to Dana’s room and began making calls. She was right about his parents’ wanting a boy – having had two boys themselves, they were partial to children who passed on the name – but they were excited by his news, as was his brother, and by the time he called Dana’s grandmother, he was feeling better. Eleanor Joseph was a remarkable woman. After losing her daughter and her husband in tragic accidents four years apart, she had raised her granddaughter alone, and through it all she built a thriving business. Its official name was The Stitchery, though no one ever called it anything but Ellie Jo’s. Prior to meeting Dana, Hugh knew next to nothing about yarn, much less the people who used it. He still couldn’t even remember what SKP was, though Dana had explained it to him more than once. But he could appreciate the warmth of his favorite alpaca scarf, which she had hand-knit and which was more handsome than anything he had seen in a store – and he could feel the appeal of the yarn shop. During these final weeks of Dana’s pregnancy, as she cut back on her own work, she spent more time there. He dropped in often, ostensibly to check on his pregnant wife, but also to enjoy the calm atmosphere. When a client was lying to him, or an associate botched a brief, or a judge ruled against him, he found that the yarn store offered a respite. Maybe it was the locale. What could be better than overlooking an apple orchard? More likely, though, Hugh sensed, it was the people. Dana didn’t need her husband checking up on her when she was at the shop. The place was a haven for women who cared. Many of those women had been through childbirth themselves. And they showed their feelings. He had walked in on conversations having to do with sex, and it struck him that knitting was an excuse. These women gave each other something that was missing from their lives. And Ellie Jo led the way. Genuine to the extreme, she was delighted when he told her they had a girl, and began to cry when he told her the name. Tara Saxe, Dana’s best friend, did the same. He called his two law partners – the Calli and Kohn of Calli, Kohn, and Clarke – and called his secretary, who promised to pass the news on to the associates. He called David, their neighbor. He called a handful of other friends, called his brother and the two Clarke cousins with whom he was closest. Then Dana was wheeled back to the room, wanting to know what the baby was doing and when she could have her back. She wanted to talk herself with her grandmother and Tara, though both were already on their way. Hugh’s parents arrived first. Though it was barely nine in the morning, they were impeccably dressed, his father in a navy blazer and rep tie, his mother in Chanel. Hugh had never seen either of them looking disheveled. They brought a large vase filled with hydrangea. ‘From the yard,’ his mother said unnecessarily, since hydrangea was her gift for any occasion that occurred from midsummer to first frost. Chattering on about the good fortune that this year’s batch contained more whites than blues, for a girl, she passed Hugh the vase and offered her cheek for a kiss, then did the same to Dana. Hugh’s father gave them both surprisingly vigorous hugs before looking expectantly around. With his mother still marveling about the speed of the delivery and the many advances in obstetric care from when her children were born, Hugh led them down the hall to the nursery. His father immediately spotted the name on a crib at the window, and said, ‘There she is.’ At that point, Hugh hoped for excited exclamations on the sweetness and beauty of his daughter. He wanted his parents to tell him that she looked like his mother’s favorite great-aunt or his father’s second cousin or, simply, that she was strikingly unique. But his parents stood silent until his father said gravely, ‘This can’t be her.’ His mother was frowning, trying to read names on other cribs. ‘It’s the only Clarke.’ ‘This baby can’t be Hugh’s.’ ‘Eaton, it says Baby Girl Clarke.’ ‘Then it’s mismarked,’ Eaton reasoned. A historian by occupation, both teacher and author, he was as reliant on fact as Hugh was. ‘She has an ID band,’ Dorothy noted, ‘but you never know about those. Oprah had a pair of parents on whose babies were mislabeled. Go ask, Hugh. This doesn’t look like your child.’ ‘It’s her,’ Hugh said, trying to sound surprised by their doubt. Dorothy was confused. ‘But she doesn’t look anything like you.’ ‘Do I look like you?’ he asked. ‘No. I look like Dad. Well, this baby is half Dana, too.’ ‘But she doesn’t look like Dana, either.’ Another couple came down the hall and pressed their faces to the window. Eaton lowered his voice. ‘I’d check this out, Hugh. Mix-ups happen.’ Dorothy added, ‘The newspaper just ran a story about a woman who gave birth to twins from someone else’s vial, and you can almost understand it – how can they possibly keep all those microscopic things apart?’ ‘Dorothy, that was in vitro.’ ‘Maybe. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t mix-ups. Besides, how one becomes pregnant isn’t something sons would necessarily share with their mothers.’ She shot Hugh a sheepish look. ‘No, Mom,’ Hugh said. ‘This wasn’t in vitro. Forget mix-ups. I was in the delivery room. This was the child I saw born. I cut the cord.’ Eaton remained doubtful. ‘And you’re sure it was this child?’ ‘Positive.’ ‘Well,’ Dorothy said quietly, ‘what we see here doesn’t resemble you or anyone else in our family. This baby has to look like Dana’s family. Her grandmother rarely talks about relatives – what, were there three Josephs all told at the wedding, counting the bride? – but the grandmother must have family, and then there’s Dana’s father, who is a bigger mystery. Does Dana even know his name?’ ‘She knows his name,’ Hugh said and met his father’s eyes. He knew what Eaton was thinking. His parents were nothing if not consistent. Pedigree mattered. ‘We discussed this three years ago, Hugh,’ the older man reminded him, low but edgy. ‘I told you to have him investigated.’ ‘And I said I wouldn’t. There was no point.’ ‘You would have known what you were marrying.’ ‘I didn’t marry a “what”.’ Hugh argued, ‘I married a “who”. I thought we beat this issue to death back then. I married Dana. I didn’t marry her father.’ ‘You can’t always separate the two,’ Eaton countered. ‘I’d say this is a case in point.’ Hugh was saved a reply by the nurse, who waved at him and wheeled the crib toward the door. This baby was his child. He had helped conceive her, had helped bring her into the world. He had cut the cord tying her to her mother. There was symbolism in that. Dana wasn’t her sole caretaker anymore. He had a part to play now and for years to come. It was an awesome thought under even the most ordinary of circumstances, and these didn’t feel ordinary in the least. ‘Are either of you pleased?’ he asked. ‘At the very least, happy for me? This is my baby.’ ‘Is it?’ Eaton asked. Hugh was a minute following – initially thinking that it was simply a stupid remark – then he was furious. But the nurse was wheeling the crib toward him. He held out his wrist for her to match the baby’s band with his. ‘Are these the grandparents?’ she asked with a smile. ‘Sure are,’ Hugh said. ‘Congratulations, then. She’s precious.’ She turned to him. ‘Is your wife planning to breast-feed?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I’ll send someone down to help her start.’ The door to the nursery closed, ending Hugh’s show of brightness. He turned on his father. ‘Are you saying Dana had an affair?’ ‘Stranger things have happened,’ said his mother. ‘Not to me,’ Hugh declared. When she shot him a warning look, he lowered his voice. ‘And not to my marriage. Why do you think I waited so long? Why do you think I refused to marry those girls you two loved? Because then there would have been affairs, and on my side. They were boring women with boring lifestyles. Dana is different.’ ‘Obviously,’ remarked one of his parents. It didn’t matter which. Both faces bore the accusation. ‘Does that mean you won’t be calling all Clarkes to tell them about my baby?’ ‘Hugh,’ said Eaton. ‘What about the country club?’ Hugh asked. ‘Think she’ll be welcomed there? Will you take her from table to table on Grill Night to show her off to your friends, like you do with Robert’s kids?’ ‘If I were you,’ Eaton advised, ‘I wouldn’t worry about the country club. I’d worry about the town where you live, and the schools she’ll attend, and her future.’ Hugh held up a hand. ‘Hey, you’re talking to someone whose law partners are Cuban and Jewish, whose clients are largely minorities, and whose neighbor is African American.’ ‘Like your child,’ Eaton said. Hugh took a tempering breath, to no avail. ‘I don’t see any black skin in this nursery. I see brown, white, yellow, and everything in between. So my baby’s skin is tawny. She also happens to be beautiful. Until you can say that to me – until you can say it to Dana – please—’ He didn’t finish, simply stared at them for a minute before wheeling the crib down the hall. ‘Please what?’ Eaton called, catching up in a pair of strides. He had Hugh’s long legs. Or, more correctly, Hugh had Eaton’s. Please go home. Please keep your ugly thoughts to yourselves and leave me and my wife and our child alone. Hugh said none of those things. But his parents heard. By the time he reached Dana’s door, he and the baby were alone. 3 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) One look at Hugh’s face and Dana knew what had happened. Hadn’t her excitement been shadowed by worry? Hugh’s parents were good people. They gave generously to their favorite charities, not the least of which was the church, and they paid their fair share of taxes. But they liked their life as it was. Change of any kind was a threat. Dana had had to bite her tongue over the uproar wreaked when the senior Clarkes’ South Shore town voted to allow in a fast-food franchise, over the objections of Eaton, Dorothy, and other high-enders who wouldn’t eat a Big Mac if their lives depended on it. Dana loved Big Macs. She had long ago accepted that her in-laws didn’t. No. She didn’t care what Hugh’s parents thought. But she did care what Hugh thought. Much as he was his own man, his parents could ruin his mood. That had clearly happened. He was distracted, seeming angry at a time when he should have been laughing, hugging her, telling her he loved her, like he had done at the instant of the baby’s birth. Dana needed that. But if her mind registered dismay, she was too emotionally numb to feel it. He had the baby with him, and Dana wanted to hold her. She felt an instinctive need to protect her, even from her own father, if need be. She started to sit up, but Hugh gestured her back. His hands appeared absurdly large under the baby. She cradled the infant, savoring her warmth. Other than remnants of ointment in her eyes, her face was clean and smooth. Dana was enthralled. ‘Look at her cheeks,’ she whispered. ‘And her mouth. Every thing is so small. So delicate.’ Even the color. Light brown? Fawn? Carefully fishing out a little hand, she watched the baby’s fingers explore the air before curling around one of hers. ‘Did your parents hold her?’ ‘Not this time.’ ‘They’re upset.’ ‘You could say.’ Dana shot him a glance. His eyes stayed on the baby. ‘Where are they now?’ she asked. ‘Gone home, I assume.’ ‘They’re blaming me, aren’t they?’ ‘That’s a lousy word, Dee.’ ‘But it fits. I know your parents. Our baby has dark skin, and they know it isn’t from your family, so it’s from mine.’ He raised his eyes. ‘Is it?’ ‘It could be,’ Dana said easily. She had grown up on questions without answers. ‘I have one picture of my father. You’ve seen it. He’s as white-skinned as you. But do any of us really know what happened two or three generations ago?’ ‘I do.’ Yes, Dana acknowledged silently. Clarkes did know these things. Unfortunately, Josephs did not. ‘So your parents blame me. They expected one thing and got another. They’re not happy with our daughter, and they blame me for it. Do you?’ ‘“Blame” is the wrong word. It implies something bad.’ Dana looked down at the baby, who was looking right back at her. She was peaceful and content. Elizabeth Ames Clarke had something special, and if that came from genes they hadn’t expected, so be it. There was nothing bad about her. She was absolutely perfect. ‘This is our baby,’ Dana pleaded softly. ‘Is skin color any different from eye color or intelligence or temperament?’ ‘In this country, in this world, yes.’ ‘I won’t accept that.’ ‘Then you’re being naïve.’ He let out a breath. Looking exhausted, he pushed a hand through his hair, but the few short spikes that habitually shadowed his brow fell right back down. When his eyes met hers, they were bleak. ‘My clients come from every minority group, and, consistently, the African Americans say it’s tougher. It’s gotten better – and it’ll continue to get better, but it isn’t going away completely – at least, not in our lifetime.’ Dana let it go. Hugh was one of the most accepting people she knew. His would be a statement of fact, not bias. So maybe she was being naïve. This baby was already familiar, though Dana would have been hard-pressed to single out any one feature that was Hugh’s or her own. She was mulling that when the door opened, and Dana’s grandmother peered in. Seeing her face, Dana forgot everything but the exhilaration of the moment. ‘Come see her, Gram!’ she cried. Her eyes filled with tears as the one woman she trusted more than any other came to her side. Handsome at seventy-four, Ellie Jo had thick gray hair, secured at the top of her head with a pair of bamboo needles, soft skin, and a spine still strong enough to hold her tall. She looked as if she had lived a stress-free life, but her appearance was deceptive. She had become a master at survival, largely by crafting for herself – and for Dana – a meaningful, productive, reverent life. She was all smiles as she approached. Her hand shook against the pale pink blanket. She caught in a breath and exhaled with awe. ‘Oh my, Dana Jo. She is just the most precious thing I’ve ever seen.’ Dana burst into tears. She wrapped an arm around her grand mother’s neck and held on, sobbing for reasons she didn’t understand. Ellie Jo held Dana with one arm and the baby with the other until the tears slowed. Sniffling, Dana took a tissue. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong.’ ‘Hormones,’ Ellie Jo stated, wiping under Dana’s eyes with a knowing thumb. ‘How do you feel?’ ‘Sore.’ ‘Ice, Hugh,’ Ellie Jo ordered. ‘Dana needs to sit on something cold. See what you can get?’ Dana watched Hugh leave. The door had barely shut when her eyes flew to her grandmother’s. ‘What do you think?’ ‘Your daughter is exquisite.’ ‘What do you think of her color?’ Ellie Jo didn’t try to deny what they could both so clearly see. ‘I think her color is part of her beauty, but if you’re asking where it came from, I can’t tell you. When your mother was pregnant with you, she used to joke that she had no idea what would come out.’ ‘Was there a question on your side of the family?’ ‘Question?’ ‘Unknown roots, like an adoption?’ ‘No. I knew where I was from. Same with my Earl. But your mother knew so little about your father.’ As she spoke, she peeked under the edge of the tiny pink cap and whispered a delighted ‘Look at those curls.’ ‘My father didn’t have curls,’ Dana said. ‘He didn’t look African American.’ ‘Neither did Adam Clayton Powell,’ her grandmother replied. ‘Many black groups shunned him because he looked so white.’ ‘And did whites accept him as an equal?’ ‘In most instances.’ But not all, Dana concluded. ‘Hugh’s upset.’ ‘Hugh? Or his parents?’ ‘His parents, but it spread to him.’ Dana’s eyes filled with tears again. ‘I want him to be excited. This is our baby.’ Ellie Jo soothed her for a minute before saying, ‘He is excited. But he’s trying to deal with what he sees. We might have known to expect the unexpected. He’s been primed to see the newest Ames Clarke.’ ‘He’ll want answers,’ Dana predicted. ‘Hugh is dogged that way. He won’t rest until he finds the source of Lizzie’s looks, and that means going over every inch of our family tree. Do I want him to do that? Do I want to find my father after all this time?’ ‘Hey!’ came a delighted cry from the door. Tara Saxe had been Dana’s best friend since they were three. Together they had suffered through their mothers’ deaths, what seemed like endless years of school, the scourge of teen age boys, and not knowing what they wanted to be. Married straight from college to a pianist who was content to live in her childhood home, Tara had three children under eight, an accounting degree she had earned at night, and a part-time job she hated but without whose pay she and her husband couldn’t live. The only thing ever ruffled about her was her light brown hair, which was chin length, wavy, and rarely combed. Otherwise, she was a perfectionist, juggling the minutiae of her life with aplomb. She was also a knitter and, in that, Dana’s partner in copying other designers’ new styles. At the start of each season, they scoped out the most exclusive women’s clothing stores in Boston, taking notes. Then, though both of them had other jobs and no time for this, Dana designed patterns, which, between them, they knitted – occasionally the same sweater multiple times, each with variations of color or proportion. Tara’s reaction to the process told Dana – and more important, Ellie Jo – whether the pattern would work in the shop. Now Tara hugged her and oohed over the baby much as Ellie Jo had done. Only Dana didn’t have to ask Tara what she thought. Tara was forthright as only a best friend could be. ‘Whoa,’ she said, ‘look at that skin. Where did you say you got this baby, Dana Jo?’ ‘I assume she’s a relic of my unknown past,’ Dana replied, relieved to joke. ‘Hugh’s upset.’ ‘Why? Because he can’t say she’s the spitting image of his great-grandfather or his great-great-grandfather? Where is he, anyway?’ ‘Gram sent him for ice.’ ‘Ah. I’ll bet you’re starting to need it. Oh, and look at this baby, rooting around. She’s hungry.’ Dana’s breasts were larger than they had been pre-pregnancy, though no larger now than last week or the week before. ‘Do I do it this early?’ ‘Oh yeah. She isn’t starving for milk yet, and you have colostrum.’ Dana opened her gown. Tara showed her how to hold the baby so that she could latch on, but it took several minutes of manipulating Dana’s nipple before they finally managed, and then, Dana was stunned by the strength of the sucking. ‘How does she know what to do?’ Tara didn’t answer, because Hugh had returned, and what with her hugging him and Ellie Jo trying to position the ice, the question was forgotten. All too soon, though, Dana’s two favorite women left to go to work, and she was alone again with Hugh. ‘Is she drinking?’ he asked, looking on with interest, and for a minute, Dana imagined that he had moved past his parents’ ill will. ‘She’s going through the motions. I don’t know how much she’s getting.’ ‘She’s getting what she needs,’ came a voice behind Hugh. It was the lactation specialist, introducing herself and looking on, then pulling and pushing at Dana’s breast. She asked a few questions, made a few suggestions, and left. Dana put the baby to her shoulder and rubbed her back. When she didn’t hear a burp, she tried patting. She peered down at her daughter’s face, saw nothing to signal distress, and returned to rubbing. ‘So,’ Hugh asked with undue nonchalance, ‘what did Ellie Jo say?’ It was an innocent question, but there were other things he might have said. Discouraged and suddenly excruciatingly tired, Dana said, ‘She’s as startled as we are.’ ‘Does she have any idea where the color is from?’ ‘She isn’t a geneticist.’ ‘No suspicions?’ ‘None.’ ‘Suggestions?’ Dana wanted to cry. ‘About what? How to lighten the baby’s skin?’ Hugh looked away and sighed wearily. ‘It’d be easier if we had a few answers.’ ‘Easier to explain to your parents?’ Dana asked, knowing she sounded bitter. There was a … not a wall, exactly, but something separating them. Before, they had always been in sync. His eyes were dark and, yes, distant. ‘Easier to explain to your friends?’ Dana asked. ‘Easier for your parents to explain to their friends?’ ‘All of the above,’ he admitted. ‘Listen. Here are the facts. White couple has black baby. It isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill event. People will ask questions.’ ‘Do we have to give them answers? Let them think what they want.’ ‘Oh, they will. Their first thought will be my mother’s – that there was a mix-up in the lab.’ ‘What lab?’ ‘Right. I told her that, even though it was none of her business. But she won’t be the last to wonder.’ ‘Would it matter if we’d had help conceiving?’ ‘That’s not the point. I just don’t like people speculating about my personal life, and they will as long as there’s reason to speculate. So.’ He raised three fingers. ‘First guess is in vitro.’ He folded a finger. ‘Second is a relative with African roots.’ Another finger lowered. ‘Know what the third is?’ He dropped his hand. ‘She isn’t mine.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘She isn’t mine.’ Dana nearly laughed. ‘That’s ridiculous. No one will think that.’ ‘My parents did.’ Her jaw dropped. ‘Are you kidding?’ ‘No. And don’t knock that one, either. It’s a logical possibility.’ ‘Logical? Your parents thought I had an affair?’ She was appalled. ‘For God’s sake, Hugh.’ ‘If my parents thought it, other people will.’ Dana was livid. ‘Only people who don’t know us. People who do, know that we’re happily married. They know we’re together every free minute.’ ‘They also know I was in Philly for a month nine months ago trying a case.’ Dana was stunned. ‘Whoa!’ The baby whimpered in response. ‘Not me, Dee,’ Hugh said, but his eyes remained dark. ‘Not me. I’m only playing devil’s advocate. They’ll wonder, particularly since the baby came two weeks early.’ ‘And you’ll tell them there isn’t a chance,’ Dana stated. ‘Do I know what happened while I was away in Philly?’ ‘You sure know what happened the weekends in between.’ ‘You could have done both.’ Dana was beside herself. ‘I can’t believe you’re saying this.’ ‘I’m only saying what other people will.’ Dana peered at the baby’s face. It was scrunched up, ready to cry. Lifting her off her shoulder, she tried rocking her, but all the while she was growing more dismayed. ‘Would I be so dumb as to have an affair with an African American and try to pass his baby off as yours?’ ‘Maybe you weren’t sure whose baby it was.’ ‘Wait. That’s assuming I cheated on you.’ The baby’s cries grew louder. ‘Why’s she crying?’ Hugh asked. ‘I don’t know.’ Dana tried holding her closer, but it didn’t help. ‘Maybe she senses that I’m upset.’ ‘Maybe she’s hungry.’ ‘I just fed her.’ ‘Your milk isn’t in yet. Maybe she needs formula.’ ‘Hugh, I’ll have milk. I’ll have plenty of milk.’ ‘Okay. Maybe she’s wet.’ That was a possibility. Dana looked around. ‘I don’t have anything. There must be something here.’ ‘Where?’ ‘I don’t know. Call the nurse.’ ‘I’ll get the nurse,’ Hugh said. ‘She should be here, anyway. Hell, if we wanted to do this alone, we would have checked into the Ritz.’ He went out the door. Given the speed with which he returned, Dana suspected the nurse had been on her way. Soft-spoken and reassuring, she took the baby and set her in the crib. Opening one drawer after another underneath, she pointed out Pampers, ointment, baby wipes, burp pads, and other goodies. The baby cried louder when her bottom was bared, but the nurse calmly showed them how to clean, apply ointment, and rediaper her. She showed them how to support the baby’s head and talked about care of the umbilical cord. When the nurse left, Hugh stood at the crib, his back straight in a way that had CLARKE written all over it. Unfortunately, Dana was a Joseph. And this tiny, helpless baby, who was she? 4 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) Hugh stared at the baby for the longest time. He had always loved the fact that Dana bore no resemblance to his family, yet he was desperately searching for a familiar feature in his child. So was this his comeuppance for devaluing familial traits – fathering a baby who didn’t have any one of those traits? Feeling a helpless tug, he leaned down over the infant. ‘Hey,’ he whispered. ‘Hey,’ he said again, this time with a smile. Lizzie didn’t blink. She had remarkable eyes, Hugh decided – deep brown irises, delicate lids, long dark lashes. Her nose was small and perfectly formed. And, yes, she had the softest, smoothest skin. She really was a breathtakingly beautiful child. Reaching for his camera, he took a picture. Then he glanced at Dana. Hugh loved his wife. He truly did. He loved her for many things, not the least being that she was genuinely laid-back. She didn’t get mired down in details the way he did. She didn’t have his compulsive need for order or logic or precedent. She went with the flow, could adapt to change with a smile and move on. He admired her for that. At least, he always had. Now, as he looked at the baby again, Dana’s nonchalance suddenly seemed irresponsible. She should have made it her business to know who her father was. It would have made things a whole lot easier. He started to say something to her, but saw that her eyes were closed. Choosing to believe she had fallen asleep, he left the room and took the elevator to the ground floor. He was looking around for a quiet place to use his phone when someone called his name. David Johnson strode toward him, lab coat open over deep blue scrubs, shaved head gleaming. David wasn’t only a neigh bor; he was a close friend. They had first met five years ago, when the acre of waterfront land Hugh bought was nothing but clumps of beach grass and heather. David’s house had become Hugh’s emergency outpost during a long year of building, with access to beer in the fridge and a list of resources that had saved Hugh inestimable effort and time. One of those resources was Dana. If Hugh owed David for any one thing, it was that. ‘Hey, man,’ David exclaimed now, grinning broadly as he clapped Hugh on the back. ‘How’s the new dad?’ Hugh shook his hand. ‘Shell-shocked.’ ‘Quick delivery, Hugh. Can’t complain about that. Is the little one adorable?’ ‘Absolutely. Hey,’ Hugh said, needing David’s help again, ‘are you coming or going?’ ‘Coming from OR, going to office. I have three minutes to run up and take a peek. How about you?’ David asked with a glance at the opening elevator. ‘I have to get messages and make some calls. Will you be around later?’ ‘I’m done at six, but I have meetings at Harvard after that, so it’s either see your girls now or tomorrow.’ ‘See them now,’ said Hugh. ‘Dana’ll appreciate it.’ David moved into the elevator seconds before the door closed. He turned and shot Hugh a smile. Bright white, it lit his handsome dark face. Oh, yeah, they had to talk. David would understand the problem. Not only had he grown up black, but after marrying a white woman, he had fathered a daughter whose skin was the same shade as Lizzie’s. David’s daughter was well adjusted. She was happy. Holding tight to that thought, Hugh found a quiet corner near the hospital’s front entrance and accessed his phone messages. From his law partner Jim Calli came an exuberant ‘Great news about the baby, Hugh. Rita and I want to stop over as soon as they get home. And don’t worry about things here. Julian and I will cover.’ From Melissa Dubin, one of the associates who worked for him, came a victorious ‘Congratulations, Hugh! One baby and one legal coup! The prosecutor of the Hassler case just called to say he’s dropping the worst three charges against our man. He made it clear that the misdemeanor charge still stands, but we all know Hassler won’t do time for that. This is good.’ The next message wasn’t as happy. ‘Hey, man,’ said Henderson Walker in a low, urgent tone, ‘we gotta talk. There’s guys here lookin’ to hurt me. I already got two threats. And don’t tell me to tell it to a guard, because the guards are in on it. I need to be transferred. You gotta tell them that.’ Hugh had known trouble was brewing with Henderson, and while he wasn’t sure that the danger was as great as Henderson feared, he had been planning to stop at the jail that afternoon. Using his BlackBerry, he e-mailed the associate who worked with him. ‘HW feels threatened. Call him.’ The next message was from his brother. Three years Hugh’s junior, Robert was an executive vice-president in the company begun with a single hotel six generations earlier. One hotel had become six, then a dozen. Succeeding generations of Clarkes had expanded the business into banking, venture capitalism, and entertainment. The conglomerate was successful enough to regularly replenish the family wealth. It was currently headed by Hugh’s uncle, the eighth Bradley Clarke. Never eager to branch out as Hugh and his father had done, Robert was a blunt-talking businessman. ‘Dad’s incoherent,’ was his message. ‘Gimme a call.’ With a feeling of dread, Hugh tapped in his brother’s private line. ‘Incoherent how?’ he asked without preamble. ‘Hold on.’ Robert’s voice faded. ‘Can we finish up later? Great. Close the door on your way out, will you?’ There was a pause, a distant click. Hugh pictured Robert swiveling in his high-back chair to look out floor-to-ceiling windows at the Boston skyline. When he spoke again, his voice was clear. ‘Dad says the baby is black. What’s he talking about?’ ‘Her skin isn’t exactly white.’ ‘What color is it?’ ‘Light brown.’ ‘That’s impossible,’ Robert argued. ‘She has two white parents.’ ‘One of us must have an African ancestor.’ ‘Well, it isn’t you, so it has to be Dana. Does she have a clue who it is?’ ‘I wish she did. It’d shut Dad up.’ ‘He’s saying she may have kept it a secret from you.’ ‘She doesn’t know.’ ‘Dad says that if she doesn’t have an African-American relative, she had an affair.’ Hugh felt a headache starting. Closing his eyes, he pinched the bridge of his nose. ‘Did she?’ Robert asked. ‘Hell, no.’ ‘Are you sure?’ Hugh opened his eyes. ‘Dana is my wife. I know her. Come on, Rob, support me in this. Dana did not have an affair. Tell Dad that. I don’t want him starting rumors.’ ‘Then you’d better find Dana’s relative. See, as far as Dad’s concerned, of the two possibilities – a black relative or infidelity – infidelity is the more palatable to him.’ Hugh could guess why. ‘Does he dislike Dana that much?’ ‘He always felt you married beneath you, but there’s another reason he’d prefer infidelity. If the baby isn’t yours, Dad can say it isn’t his grandchild.’ Hugh was sick. ‘That’s pathetic.’ ‘He is who he is.’ ‘Yeah? So who is he? To read his books, you’d take him for a man who thinks minorities have been wrongly victimized for years. But now he doesn’t want to be related to one? What does that say about him?’ ‘It says he’s a closet bigot,’ Robert replied calmly. ‘Want to know what else he says?’ Hugh didn’t have to reply. He knew nothing would keep Robert from telling him. Robert had competed with him from the time they were kids. He still loved one-upping Hugh, know ing something Hugh didn’t. What was amazing, Hugh realized, was that even though his brother was now more important than Hugh, if power and money were the measure, Robert still felt that competitive childhood need. ‘He believes that you either truly didn’t know she had an affair, or that you did know but refuse to admit how wrong you were in marrying her. He says that there certainly won’t be any big baptism, not with so many questions about the parentage of this child.’ ‘The baptism isn’t his affair. It’s Dana’s and mine.’ ‘One word from him, and half the guests will stay away.’ ‘Let them,’ Hugh declared, but he had heard enough. ‘Hey, Robert, I have to go. Do me a favor, though? Call Dad and tell him he’s wrong about Dana. She didn’t have an affair, and if he raises the subject with his buddies at the club, he’ll end up with egg on his face. Dana and I will sort things out, but we’ll do it in our own good time.’ ‘He thinks it was your neighbor, by the way.’ ‘David?’ ‘He’s African American.’ ‘He’s one of my closest friends! You’re nuts.’ ‘Not me. Dad. But you may want to check it out. I know a good detective—’ ‘Got my own, thanks,’ Hugh said and quickly ended the call. He did have his own detective and would be calling him to try to track down Dana’s father. First, though, he wanted to contact the geneticist who did most of his DNA work. He tried to call her, but she wasn’t there, so he bought a cup of coffee and walked outside to the patio. He was just sitting down on a bench when his phone rang. His partner’s cell phone number appeared. ‘Hey, Julian.’ ‘I have to be at the courthouse on the Ryan case, but it shouldn’t take more than an hour. I thought I’d drive by the house afterward and get Deb. She wants to see the baby. Is Dana up for a visit?’ Julian was one of Hugh’s closest friends. They had met in law school, drawn to each other by a shared vision of the kind of lawyer each wanted to be. Julian was as open-minded and caring as anyone Hugh knew, but he still hesitated. ‘I don’t know, Julian. She’s pretty wiped. Neither of us got much sleep, and she’s starting to hurt. It might be better to wait until we’re home.’ ‘But she’s okay, isn’t she?’ ‘She’s fine. Just exhausted.’ ‘Then we’ll take a quick peek at the baby and leave.’ ‘If you drive all the way down here, Dana will want to visit. Really, Julian. Give her a day to recoup.’ ‘Deb’ll be disappointed. But I hear you. Will you let me know if I can do anything at the office?’ Hugh ended the call feeling like a fool. He couldn’t hide the baby. Today, tomorrow, the day after – it wouldn’t make any difference when Julian saw her – Lizzie’s skin would still have a copper tint. Julian wouldn’t care. Nor would Deb. But they would ask questions. As he sat there with cooling coffee, staring blindly at a bird that had perched on the end of his bench, his thoughts were interrupted by a high-pitched voice on the far side of the hedge bordering the patio. He ignored it. He had problems of his own. He didn’t need to hear someone else’s. But when that distressed voice rose again, he couldn’t help but listen. ‘I tried!’ she cried. ‘I can’t get through.’ There was a pause, then a desperate ‘How am I supposed to do that? He won’t take my calls!’ When she continued, her voice was lower, though still easily heard. ‘There’s this first surgery and he’s stuck in a body cast for six weeks. And they keep talking about growth plates, which’ll mean more operations. I don’t have the money for that.’ She paused. ‘Do you have insurance? It isn’t just me.’ She added with a sob, ‘I didn’t ask for that car to hit him, Mama. I was right there in the yard. The car came out of nowhere and swerved onto the sidewalk.’ Hugh was intrigued despite himself. ‘I just told you,’ she argued. ‘He won’t take my calls, and I know he’s in Washington. He was on the news the other night talking about some big Senate vote. He just doesn’t want to admit Jay is his.’ Hugh smiled. He knew congressmen. He knew power brokers of other ilks as well. As a group, they were arrogant SOBs. ‘I didn’t plan on getting pregnant either,’ the girl continued, ‘but I didn’t do it alone. Doesn’t he have a responsibility to help?’ Yes, he did, Hugh thought silently. If a man sired a child, he did have a responsibility. There were a few diminishing sobs, then, ‘Mama? Please don’t hang up. Mama?’ Not his business, Hugh told himself. Especially not now. Tossing the last of his coffee into the bushes, he rose from the bench. Rather than heading back into the hospital, though, he rounded the hedge and entered the garden. The woman was doubled over on a bench similar to the one he had been sitting on. He could see denim legs, the back of a slim-fitting tee shirt, and an unruly mass of auburn hair. A pair of stubbed cigarette butts lay in front of her sneakers. ‘Excuse me?’ he said. Startled, she lifted her head. Her left eye strayed, but her right held his. Both were red. Gently, he said, ‘I was sitting on the other side of the bushes and overheard your call. I may be able to help.’ She wiped her eyes with fingers that shook. ‘By hitting on me?’ He smiled. ‘No. I’m married. My wife just had a baby. But I’m a lawyer. It sounds to me like you have a father who is denying paternity of his child.’ ‘You had no right to listen in on my call.’ ‘You weren’t exactly whispering. That father does have a legal responsibility. I know. I’ve handled paternity cases.’ She gave him a dismissive once-over. ‘You don’t look like a lawyer.’ ‘Like I said, my wife just had a baby. Literally. We’ve been up all night. I don’t look like this when I’m going to court.’ She choked out a humorless laugh. ‘If I can’t pay my boy’s medical bills, how can I pay a lawyer?’ ‘When I find a worthy case, I don’t charge.’ ‘Oh, yeah.’ She stood. She was tall – five nine, he guessed – and that one direct eye leveled him a cynical look. ‘Right.’ She stuffed her phone in the small pocket at the front of her jeans and turned to retrieve a worn canvas pouch. Taking his wallet from his own jeans, he pulled out a business card. She didn’t take it. Undaunted, he said, ‘I know Washington. I have a large network of contacts there.’ ‘Not for this. You can’t help.’ ‘He’s that high?’ She didn’t confirm or deny. Nor did she turn and run. ‘How old is your son?’ he asked. She raised her chin. ‘Four.’ ‘Hit by a car?’ ‘Yes. Two days ago. His spine is messed up. And his leg.’ ‘Is the father a senator?’ Staring at him, she put the strap of her bag on her shoulder. ‘And he won’t take your calls?’ Hugh persisted. ‘I can get through to him.’ ‘Yeah. Right. If he won’t talk to me, why would he talk to a lawyer?’ She said the word like lawyers were scum. ‘He’ll be frightened of the publicity if he doesn’t,’ he said. ‘Bring a lawyer into the picture, and he’ll want things settled quickly and quietly. Trust me. I know these guys. They think they can do anything they want while they’re out there on the campaign trail.’ ‘He wasn’t campaigning. He was hunting.’ ‘Around here?’ ‘In New Hampshire. He had dinner at the restaurant where I work. I waited on him.’ Hugh could picture it. Neither the mess of her hair, nor her pallor, nor that wandering eye could hide the fact that she was very attractive. ‘Is that where he’s from – New Hampshire?’ ‘No. He was someone’s guest.’ ‘Are you from New Hampshire?’ If so, the case would be out of his jurisdiction. ‘Massachusetts,’ she said. ‘Just over the line.’ It was a go. ‘Can you prove you were together?’ ‘No.’ ‘Did anyone see you?’ When she didn’t reply, he added a goading ‘And you’re sure it happened the way you say?’ ‘I took the motel room,’ she snapped. ‘The clerk saw me. But I don’t know if he saw the man I was with.’ She looked down to rummage in her bag. ‘Did you talk with him after that night?’ ‘I called to tell him Jay was born.’ She took out a cigarette. ‘And you got through?’ ‘No. I said it was personal. They put me through to someone who said it was always personal with women like me.’ ‘I take it he said the boy wasn’t his boss’s.’ ‘Oh, yeah.’ She tossed the cigarette back in her bag. ‘Are you sure he is?’ ‘Jay looks just like him.’ ‘Looks can deceive,’ Hugh said. ‘Did he pay you?’ ‘I don’t need this,’ she muttered, starting to walk away. ‘Wait. I’m sorry, but these are lawyer questions. If I don’t ask them, someone else will.’ ‘Not if I don’t do anything,’ she replied sweetly. ‘You have to do something. There’s your boy to consider. He needs care, and you have no insurance. What about the driver of the car?’ ‘He died.’ ‘The accident was that bad?’ ‘No. He had a heart attack,’ she offered in a measured way. ‘That’s what caused the accident. He was, like, eighty. He didn’t even have a license.’ ‘Which means he was uninsured.’ ‘Correct.’ ‘And your mother can’t help. Father? Boyfriend?’ She gave a slow headshake. ‘Which leaves our man in Washington,’ Hugh concluded. ‘He owes you.’ There was a case here – and he was glad for the distraction. ‘Look, your son needs help. I’m offering it to you free of charge. Most mothers would jump at that.’ He held out the card again. ‘Take it. If you call, you call. If you don’t, you don’t.’ She looked at the card, finally took it. Her hand still shook. Hugh wondered when she had last had a meal and might have offered her money for that, if he hadn’t suspected she would refuse it. She read the printing. ‘How do I know you’re not from him, trying to get me a lousy deal?’ ‘I don’t even know who he is.’ ‘How do I know you’re not lying?’ ‘Check me out. You have the name there. Call another law yer in town. Or Google me. You’ll see the kind of cases I handle. I’d like to handle this one.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because it resonates. Because I don’t think men should father children and then deny responsibility for them. I told you that at the start.’ Her eyes narrowed. ‘Do you have a personal gripe – like, your father did that to your mother?’ ‘No. But I’ve known men who’ve done it. I know how their minds work. They’ll try to get away with as much as they can, until they’re cornered. Then they back down fast. I’m telling you – you have a case.’ And he wanted it. He liked helping powerless people. There were laws on the books to protect them – laws that, like his family, went back hundreds of years. She remained torn, but that was okay. He had had clients who blabbed their stories to strangers – worse, to the press– at the first provocation. They were trouble. Cautious clients were good clients. And cautious, she was. ‘How do I know you won’t come up with hidden charges for me to pay? How do I know you won’t sue me for that money?’ ‘We sign a contract, and I waive my right to a fee.’ ‘Yeah. Right. And I’m supposed to believe you’ll really fight for me when you’re not being paid?’ He had to hand it to her. She wasn’t dumb. ‘Yes, you’re supposed to believe that,’ he said. ‘It’s called pro bono work. Any lawyer with an ounce of humanity does it. In my case, I also have a reputation to protect.’ ‘So how do I know you don’t just want the publicity?’ ‘If I wanted publicity, I’d go somewhere else. A case like this will settle quietly. Sometimes, all it takes is letting the guy know he’ll be taken to court. Right now, he thinks you’ll do nothing. That’s his arrogance. One call from your lawyer, and he’ll see you differently.’ Her defiance crumbled. ‘All I want is to be able to take care of my son.’ ‘What, exactly, do the doctors say?’ ‘He has a fractured spine. A chunk of bone got into the spinal canal, so they did emergency surgery, but they’re worried about the growth plate, which means that Jay could grow crooked, and if that happens, he’ll need more surgery. Only these doctors won’t do it – they say I’ll need a specialist, and the best one, they say, is in St. Louis. I’d need a place to live, and I’ll lose my job. Even aside from the medical costs, how’m I going to pay for all that?’ He touched her shoulder. ‘I can get you money for treatment.’ She shrugged off his hand. ‘What if you can’t? What if he refuses? Where’ll that leave me?’ ‘Same place you are now. Think about it. What do you have to lose?’ ‘Is it a power trip for you?’ ‘A personal one,’ he admitted. He did want to handle a case he thought he could win, especially now, when he was feeling powerless to do anything about his daughter. A case like this would make up for the qualms he had about Lizzie. ‘But, hey,’ he said, backing off, ‘I don’t badger. You have my card. You have my name. I don’t know yours and suspect you’re not ready to tell me. If you do decide to give it a shot, I’ll know you as the garden mom.’ That said, he headed back into the hospital. 5 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) Tired as Dana was, she had only to look at Lizzie and her spirits soared. She called friends to share the news – Elizabeth Ames Clarke, seven pounds, nineteen inches, born at 7:23 a.m. She knitted between calls, nursed the baby again, had toast and tea, then stood over the crib until her legs wobbled, before crawling back into bed. Sleep when the baby sleeps, Ellie Jo had advised more than once in the last few weeks, and Dana had read the same thing in books. More than sleep, though, she needed Hugh. That need kept her awake, worrying. She put a hand on her stomach, which was almost flat again. It was striking, the difference a few hours made. Her insides tightened. Her uterus contracting? Possibly. More likely it was fear and, with Hugh absent, a whisper of loss. Dana knew loss. It was a paramount theme of her early life. She had been five when her mother was ‘lost,’ but it was another three years before she could say the word ‘dead’ and several more after that before she could grasp what it meant. ‘Lost’ was a gentler word. Her grandmother used it repeatedly in the days after the sea had swept Elizabeth away. Dana had never seen her mother lifeless. They had been wading, and while Dana continued to play in the shallows, her mother swam out beyond the surf. Dana hadn’t seen her pulled away by the undertow. Nor did she see the wave that hit her own body and knocked her senseless. By the time she woke up in the hospital, ten days had passed, and the funeral was done. She never even saw her mother’s casket. ‘Lost’ meant that her mother could still be found. To that end, Dana spent hours in the yarn store with her eyes on the door, waiting, fearing that her world would positively fall apart if her mother didn’t come home. The fear eased with time. The yarn shop was her port and Ellie Jo her anchor. But part of her always felt that little hole inside. Then she met Hugh, and the hole shrank. Her eyes opened at the sound of the door. Trying to gauge Hugh’s mood, she watched him approach the bed. His focus was on Lizzie, sleeping now in the crook of her arm. His expression softened. He did love this child. Dana knew he did. He had to. He was that kind of man. ‘Did you see David?’ he asked after a bit. ‘Sure did,’ Dana said lightly. ‘He was very sweet.’ ‘What did he say?’ She didn’t go into David’s praise of the baby. That wasn’t what Hugh wanted to hear. ‘He said that one of us has African roots. He says it explains why he’s always felt connected to us.’ Hugh snorted. When Dana sent him a questioning look, he said, ‘I’m glad we’re connected. He’ll be able to tell us what we can expect down the road, his Ali being biracial and all.’ ‘She’s arriving this week. She’ll be here until school starts.’ Hugh nodded. After a minute, he said, ‘Ali’s a sweetie. I love seeing her.’ After another silence, he looked down at the baby. ‘Can I hold her?’ Heartened, Dana carefully transferred her to Hugh’s arms. Lizzie didn’t wake. He studied her. ‘She seems like an easy baby. Will this last?’ ‘I just asked the nurse the same question. She said maybe yes, maybe no. Did you get something to eat?’ He nodded and glanced at the tray on the bedstand. ‘You?’ ‘Some. Did you make more calls?’ ‘Accessed messages, mostly. I talked with Robert. Dad’s in a stew.’ ‘Then it’s good that this isn’t Dad’s baby,’ Dana remarked, mimicking Hugh. When he didn’t reply, she added, ‘Did you talk with him directly?’ ‘No.’ ‘Maybe you should. Get it out in the open.’ ‘I’m not ready. My parents are … my parents.’ ‘They’re elitist,’ Dana said. ‘That’s unfair.’ ‘Does it fit?’ ‘No,’ he replied, but not quickly enough. ‘Then it’s only the surprise that’s the problem,’ said Dana. ‘They’ll get over this, Hugh. It isn’t a tragedy.’ Shifting the baby in his arms, he turned and sat on the edge of the bed. ‘It isn’t,’ Dana insisted. ‘Tragedy is when a baby is born with a heart defect or a degenerative disease. Our baby is healthy. She’s responsive. She’s beautiful.’ ‘She just isn’t us,’ Hugh said, sounding bewildered. ‘Isn’t us? Or just isn’t the us we know?’ ‘Is there a difference?’ ‘Yes. Babies are born all the time with features from earlier generations. It just takes a little digging to learn the source.’ When Hugh didn’t answer, Dana added, ‘Look at it this way. Having a baby of color will boost your image as the rebel lawyer.’ When Hugh snorted again, she teased, ‘You did want to be different, didn’t you?’ He didn’t reply. ‘Come on, Hugh,’ she pleaded. ‘Smile?’ The smile came only when he looked at the baby again. ‘She is special, that’s for sure.’ ‘Have you taken any good pictures?’ He glanced toward his camera, which lay in the folds of her bag by the wall, and said with a brief burst of enthusiasm, even wonder, ‘Y’know, I have.’ Securing the baby in his left arm, he retrieved the camera and turned it on. With the ease of intimacy, he sat close beside Dana and scrolled through the shots with her. In that split-second of closeness, everything was right. ‘Omigod, look,’ she cried. ‘She’s what there – seconds old?’ ‘And this one of you holding her for the first time.’ ‘I look awful!’ He chuckled. ‘It wasn’t like you’d just been to a picnic.’ He pulled up another shot. ‘Look at those eyes. She’s remarkable. So aware from the start. And wait.’ He scrolled farther. ‘Here.’ Dana caught her breath. ‘Amazing you got that. She’s looking at me with total intelligence. Can you crop me out?’ ‘Why would I want to? This is an incredible mother-daughter shot.’ ‘For the announcement. We want one just of her.’ Hugh scrolled through several more pictures. ‘Here’s a nice one. I’ll print these up tonight and put them in the album you got at the shower.’ ‘How about the announcement?’ Dana said again. ‘We need a picture for that. The stationery store promised they’d have them ready to go in a week once we give them everything.’ Hugh was focused on the monitor, scrolling forward and back. ‘I’m not sure any of these is perfect.’ ‘Even that first one? I love it because she isn’t all swaddled. Her hands are so delicate.’ ‘She’s still messed up from the birth in that one.’ ‘Which gives it an immediacy,’ Dana coaxed. ‘But you can take more now.’ ‘She’s sleeping now.’ Dana thought Lizzie’s features were as striking in sleep as when she was awake. ‘Oh, Hugh. I don’t want to wait. The envelopes are all addressed and stamped. There are so many people we want to tell.’ ‘Most of them will know anyway,’ he said with sudden sharpness. ‘In fact, I’m not sure why we’re even sending announcements.’ Startled, Dana said, ‘But you were after me for weeks to make an appointment with the stationer. You insisted on coming. You chose the photo announcement and insisted you could get a good shot to use.’ He didn’t move, stayed close, yet she felt a chill seeping in. A moment later, he rose, put his camera away, and gently set the baby in the crib. ‘Hugh?’ When his eyes finally met hers, they were troubled. ‘I’m not sure we should include a picture with the announcement.’ Dana sank into her pillow. ‘You don’t want people to see her. But they will eventually. We can’t keep her in the house under wraps.’ ‘I know. But sending a picture out now is only going to provoke questions.’ He took a quick breath. ‘Do we need to put ourselves on display? Word’ll spread about the baby anyway. People love to talk.’ ‘So?’ ‘So do we have to fuel the gossip? It’d be one thing if I could say that my wife’s grandfather was black.’ ‘Why does it matter?’ Dana cried. She didn’t care if her grandfather was black. She didn’t care if her father was black. It wouldn’t change who she was. Unfortunately, Hugh cared. ‘We need to locate your father.’ Dana was immediately defensive. ‘I suggested doing it before I was ever pregnant, and you said it didn’t matter. I said what if there was a medical problem, and you said you didn’t want to know and that if something arose we’d deal with it.’ ‘That’s exactly what we’re doing. Dealing with it means tracking down your dad now. My man can do that.’ His man was Lakey McElroy. A computer nerd from a family of Irish cops, Lakey was socially inept, but very smart. Where his brothers knew the streets, he knew the hidden alleys. He also knew his way around the Web. On more than one occasion, he had found information that Hugh had given up on. If anyone could find Dana’s father, Lakey could. Dana felt the old ambivalence – wanting to know, not wanting to know. Perhaps Hugh was right to insist. This wasn’t only about her anymore. It was about Lizzie, too. ‘We don’t have much to go on,’ she reminded him. ‘We have a name, and a picture. We have a place, a month, and a year.’ ‘Roughly,’ she cautioned, because she had thought about this far more than he had. ‘My mother never said exactly when they were together, so it’s fine to count backward from the day I was born, but if she delivered me early or late, we could be wrong.’ ‘You never asked?’ ‘I was five when she died.’ ‘Ellie Jo must know.’ ‘She says no.’ ‘What about your mom’s friends? Wouldn’t she have confided in them?’ ‘I’ve asked before. I could ask again.’ ‘Sooner rather than later, please.’ It was the please that bothered her – like this was a business matter, and she had let him down. She told herself it was only the Clarke seeping out through a crack in his otherwise human veneer, but tears filled her eyes. ‘I can’t do it now,’ she said. ‘I just had a baby.’ ‘I’m not saying now.’ His cell phone vibrated. He looked at the ID panel. ‘Let me take this. It may help.’ Genevieve Falk was a geneticist whom Hugh had found years before when he needed a DNA expert for a case. She was intelligent and down-to-earth. Now, standing at the window with the phone to his ear, he said a grateful, ‘Genevieve. Thanks for calling back.’ ‘We’re on Nantucket, but you said it was urgent.’ ‘I need your help. Here’s the scenario. A very white couple gives birth to a baby that has the skin and hair of an African American. Neither parents nor grandparents have remotely brown skin or curly hair. The assumption is that there’s an African-American connection further back – mabe a great-grandparent. Is this possible?’ ‘Great-grandparent, singular? On only one side of the baby’s family? That’s not as probable as if there were such a relative on both sides.’ ‘There isn’t. The baby’s father’s family is thoroughly documented.’ ‘Was the mother adopted?’ ‘No, but her father is an unknown quantity. In the one picture we have, he looks very blond.’ ‘Looks don’t count, Hugh. Miscegenation has created generations of people with mixed blood. Some say that only ten percent of all African Americans today are genetically pure. If the other ninety percent have genetic material that is even partly white, and that material is further diluted with each level of procreation, not only would their features be white, but suddenly producing a child with African traits would be improbable.’ ‘I don’t need to know what’s probable, only what’s possible,’ he said. ‘Is it possible for racial traits to lie dormant for several generations before reappearing? Can a light-skinned, blond-haired woman produce a child with non-Caucasian features?’ Genevieve sounded doubtful. ‘She can, but the odds are slim, especially if those several generations before were filled with blond-haired ancestors.’ Hugh tried again. ‘If, say, the baby’s grandfather was one-quarter black but passing for white, and the baby’s mother had no African-American features at all, could the baby inherit dark skin and tight curly hair?’ ‘It would be rare.’ ‘What are the odds?’ ‘I can’t tell you, any more than we know the odds of a redhead appearing after several generations without.’ ‘Okay. Then at what point would it become impossible?’ ‘“Impossible” is not a word I like to use. Genetic flukes happen. Suffice it to say that the further back you have to look, the less probable your scenario becomes. Does the mom know of no black relatives?’ ‘None.’ ‘Then I’d suspect hanky-panky,’ Genevieve concluded bluntly. ‘Someone had an affair, and clearly it wasn’t the dad. Have your client do a DNA test to prove paternity. That would be the first and easiest line of attack. By the way, how’s your wife? Isn’t she due soon?’ * Dana listened to Hugh’s half of the conversation with her eyes closed. She opened them the instant he ended the call. He looked so grim that her stomach began knotting. ‘Is it not possible?’ ‘It is if your father has a healthy dose of African-American blood. The smaller that dose is, the more remote the chances.’ ‘But it is possible,’ Dana repeated. ‘It has to be. I refuse to believe that if my father was first-or second-generation racially mixed, my mother wouldn’t have known. According to Gram Ellie, she truly didn’t know. Unless she was hiding it from everyone.’ Hugh stretched his neck, first to one side, then the other. ‘What Genevieve suggested,’ he said, ‘and this is a quote, is hanky-panky.’ ‘Like the wife had an affair? Well, of course she suggested that. She’s used to working with you when you’re representing a client, and your clients aren’t saints. She would never have suggested it if she’d known you were talking about us. Why didn’t you tell her?’ ‘Because it’s none of her business,’ he said. ‘And because I wanted an objective opinion.’ ‘If you’d told her it was us, she might have been able to give an informed opinion.’ He made a sputtering sound. ‘They just don’t know the odds.’ Turning back to the window, he muttered, ‘I half wish you’d had an affair. At least, then, there’d be an explanation.’ ‘So do I,’ Dana lashed back. ‘I’d like an explanation for why my mother died when I was five, or why my father never wanted to know about me, or why Gram Ellie’s Earl, who was the kindest, most loving person on earth, didn’t live to see me get married, but some of us don’t get explanations. Most of us aren’t privileged like you, Hugh.’ ‘It’s just that this is all so bizarre. It’d be nice to have something concrete.’ ‘Well, we don’t.’ He shot her a glance. ‘We will. If you talk to anyone who might have information on your father, even the slightest idea of where he was from, I’ll get Lakey on it. Will you ask? This is important, Dana. It isn’t idle curiosity. Promise me you will?’ Dana felt a stab of resentment. ‘I’m not blind. I see how important this is to you.’ ‘It should be just as important to you,’ he shot back. ‘We wouldn’t be in this situation if you’d tracked your father down when you were young.’ ‘And if I had found him and learned he was even the slightest bit black, would you have married me? Is there a racial limit to your love?’ ‘No. There is not. I love this child.’ ‘Love is a word, Hugh. But do you feel it? I need to know, both for Lizzie and for me.’ ‘I can’t believe you’re asking me this.’ ‘I can’t believe it either,’ Dana said. She could see him closing up before her eyes. Suddenly, he was a Clarke to the core. ‘You’re tired,’ he said coolly and headed for the door. ‘So am I.’ She might have called him back, might have apologized, might have begged. Her sense of loss was larger than ever. Desperate to blunt it, she took her knitting from the bedside table and sank her fingers into the wool – a blend of alpaca and silk, actually. It was a deep teal color with a thread of turquoise, just enough to lend movement without muting the cables, popcorns, and vines she would incorporate into the piece. She began working stitches from one needle to the next, doing row after row, cables and all, with the kind of steadiness that had kept her afloat for longer than she could recall. She couldn’t have said what size needle she was using, whether it was time for a popcorn, or if she was achieving the desired drape. She simply inserted the needle into a stitch, wrapped yarn around it, and pulled it through, again and again and again. She needed to sleep, but she needed this more. Knitting restored her balance. She wished she was home, but not in the house overlooking the ocean. She wanted to take her baby to the one overlooking the orchard. It was at the end of a tree-lined lane, a stone path away from the yarn shop. Cradling Lizzie, she would sit with her feet up on the wicker lounger on Ellie Jo’s back porch, drinking fresh-squeezed limeade, eating warm-from-the-oven brownies, patting Veronica, Ellie Jo’s cat. Then she would take the baby down that short stone path – and, oh, the need was intense. Dana was desperate to sit at the long wood table with its bowl of apples in the middle. She longed to hear the whirr of the ceiling fan, the rhythmic tap-tap of needles, the soft conversation of friends. If she had any history at all – any place where she was loved unconditionally – that was it. 6 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) The arrival of new yarn at The Stitchery was always an event. New colors from Manos, textures from Filatura di Crosa, blends from Debbie Bliss and Berroco – once a box was open, word spread through the knitting community with astonishing speed, bringing the mildly curious, the seriously interested, the addicted. In the days following shipments, particularly as a new season approached, Ellie Jo knew to expect an increase in visitors. She also knew who would like what, who would buy what, and who would admire a new arrival but buy an older favorite. Ellie Jo was as eager for new yarn as any of her customers. Rarely did she put skeins in a bin without holding one out. Her excuse, a perfectly legitimate one, was the need to swatch a sample to tack to the bin, so that customers could see how the yarn would look knit up. What that did, of course, was to let Ellie Jo sample the yarn, herself. If she liked the feel of it as she knit and the way it came out, she ordered skeins for herself. Today, as she returned from visiting Dana and the baby, she wanted to stop at her house first. But the UPS truck was parking in front of The Stitchery, and, with the store still ten minutes shy of opening, someone had to let the man in. So she stopped beside him in the small pebbled lot, unlocked the door, and showed him where to put the boxes. He had barely left when her manager, Olivia McGinn, arrived wanting to know all about Dana, again distracting Ellie Jo from her chores at the house. Other customers arrived, and the shop was abuzz. There was excited talk about the baby, excited talk about Dana, excited talk about the boxes. Ellie Jo wasn’t sure she would have been able to concentrate enough to actually sell yarn. Fortunately, Olivia could do that. Indeed, at that very moment, she was waiting on a mother and her twenty-something daughter who were just learning to knit and wanted novelty yarns for fall scarves. Customers like these were good for sales; novelty yarn was expensive and quickly worked, which meant that if the customer enjoyed herself, she would soon be back for more. One scarf could lead to a hat, then a throw, then a sweater. If that sweater was cashmere at upwards of forty dollars a skein, with eight or more skeins needed, depending on size and style, the sale could be hefty. Moreover, a year from now, this mother or her daughter might be one of those to rush to the shop when there was word new yarns had arrived. That was how business worked. Ellie Jo had learned through trial and error, after her initial resistance to selling these same pricey items. Natural fibers remained her favorites, but if novelty yarns brought in trend-seekers who subsidized the shop’s more organic tastes, who was she to complain? In recent years, she had developed the utmost respect for innovation. That was why, putting off her return to the house a bit longer, she took a box-cutter and opened the first of the new boxes. This was no novelty yarn. A blend of cashmere and wool, the skeins included the golds, oranges, deep rusts, and dark browns that would be big for fall. The line was a new one for The Stitchery, but from Ellie Jo’s first view of it at the knitting show in April, she had known it would sell. The front door dinged yet again, and Gillian Kline excitedly called her name. Gillian taught English at the nearby community college, an occupation whose hours were flexible enough to allow for frequent visits to the shop. She was fifty-six, of modest height and a weight that had her forever dieting, but her most marked feature was a head of red waves that had neither faded in color nor thinned with age. Now, with that hair caught up in a fuchsia clasp that only Gillian would dare wear, and a bouquet of pink roses in her hand, she went straight to Ellie Jo and gave her a long hug. Gillian had been one of Elizabeth’s closest friends, and in the years since her death had been a surrogate daughter. Neither gave voice to the fact that Elizabeth should have been here to welcome her granddaughter. ‘For you, Great-Gram Ellie,’ said Gillian. ‘Your Lizzie is perfect.’ Ellie Jo lit up. ‘You’ve seen her?’ She took the flowers, which were taken from her seconds later and put in water. ‘Just now,’ Gillian said and rummaged in the satchel that hung from her shoulder. ‘Hours old, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.’ In no time, she had a picture of Dana and the baby on the monitor of her digital camera, for the other women to admire. Ellie Jo was relieved. Dana looked tired but happy and totally comfortable holding the baby. It was hard to see if Lizzie looked any different from expected; Dana was so washed out that, by comparison, any child would look dark – not that the coloring bothered Ellie Jo one whit. She just wasn’t up for questions. ‘She’s so sweet!’ cried one. ‘She has Hugh’s mouth,’ decided another. ‘Zoom it in,’ ordered a third, and Gillian complied. Juliette Irving, a friend of Dana’s and herself a young mother, with year-old twins asleep in a stroller by the door, remarked, ‘Look at her! Is that Dana’s nose? When will they be home?’ ‘Tomorrow,’ Gillian said. ‘Elizabeth Ames Clarke,’ announced Nancy Russell, clearly touched by the name. A florist whose latest passion was knitting flowers, felting them, and sewing them on shawls, sweaters, and purses, she was a contemporary of Gillian’s, another child hood friend of the first Elizabeth. ‘It’s a long one,’ Gillian warned. ‘Can we do it over night?’ ‘It’ was a hand-knit quilt, with the baby’s full name and date of birth worked into designated squares. The women had already made squares in yellow, white, and pale green. Now, with the sex of the child known, the remaining squares would incorporate pink. Each piece would be eight inches square, in a fiber and shade of the knitter’s choosing, with those closest to Dana and Ellie Jo doing the lettered squares. ‘We’ll need them by noon tomorrow, so that we can stitch them together,’ Nancy advised. ‘Juliette, can you call Jamie and Tara? I’ll call Trudy. Gillian, want to call Joan, Saundra, and Lydia?’ One of the women, Corinne James, had taken the camera from Gillian and was viewing the picture close up. Corinne James was Dana’s age. Tall and slim, she had stylish shoulder-length hair, wore fine linen pants, an equally fine camisole top, and a diamond-studded wedding band. Although her friendship with the knitters hadn’t spread beyond the shop, she was there often. ‘What an interesting-looking baby,’ she observed. ‘Her skin is dark.’ ‘Not dark,’ argued another, ‘tan.’ ‘Who in the family has that coloring, Ellie Jo?’ Corinne asked. Ellie Jo was suddenly warm. ‘We’re trying to figure that out,’ Gillian answered for her and caught Nancy’s eye. ‘What do we know of Jack Jones?’ ‘Not much,’ replied Nancy. ‘Jack Jones?’ Corinne echoed. ‘Dana’s father.’ ‘Does he live around here?’ ‘Lord, no. He was never here. Elizabeth knew him in Wisconsin. She went to college there.’ ‘Were they married?’ ‘No.’ ‘Was he South American?’ ‘No.’ ‘Is “Jack Jones” his real name?’ Ellie Jo fanned herself with the invoice from the yarn box. ‘Why wouldn’t it be?’ she asked Corinne, not that she was surprised by the question. Corinne James had a curious mind and, surprising for a woman her age, something to say on most every topic. The younger woman smiled calmly. ‘“Jones” is a good alias.’ ‘Like “James”?’ Gillian asked pointedly. ‘No, Corinne. “Jack Jones” is his real name. Or was. We have no idea if he’s still alive.’ ‘Doesn’t Dana know?’ ‘No. They’re not in touch.’ ‘So where is the dark skin from?’ Corinne persisted, as though involved in a great intellectual dilemma. ‘Hugh’s side?’ Gillian chuckled. ‘Hardly. Hugh’s family is your basic white-bread America.’ ‘Then your husband, Ellie Jo?’ Ellie gave a quick headshake. ‘Earl Joseph was ruddy-cheeked,’ Gillian told Corinne, ‘and the kindest man you’d ever want to meet. He was a legend around here. Everyone knew him.’ ‘He was soft-spoken and considerate,’ added Nancy, ‘and he adored Ellie Jo. And Dana. He would have been beside himself with excitement about the baby.’ ‘How long has he been gone?’ Corinne asked. Gillian turned to Ellie Jo. ‘How long has it been?’ ‘Twenty-five years,’ Ellie Jo answered, fingering the new wool. Yarn was warmth and homespun goodness. It was color when days were bleak and softness when times were hard. It was always there, a cushion in the finest sense. Kindly, Corinne asked, ‘How did he die?’ Ellie Jo felt Gillian’s look, but the accident was no secret. ‘He was away on business when he fell in his hotel room and hit his head. He suffered severe brain trauma. By the time help arrived, he was dead.’ ‘Oh my. I’m so sorry. That must have been difficult for you. Something like that happened to my dad – a freak accident.’ ‘Your dad?’ Ellie Jo asked. ‘Yes. He was the head of an investment company that he started with a group of friends from business school. He was on the corporate jet with two of his partners when it went down. My brother and I were in our twenties. We still think it was sabotage.’ ‘Sabotage?’ Juliette asked. ‘We were skeptical, too,’ Corinne confessed intelligently, ‘until things got weird. The company didn’t want an investigation. They said it would hurt business, and sure enough, the FAA investigated, blamed the accident on faulty maintenance, and the business tanked. My dad was made out to be responsible. And then—’ Ellie Jo had heard enough. She raised a hand. ‘While Corinne tells her story, I have to run to the house. I’ll be right back, Olivia,’ she called, heading for the door just as the bell dinged. Jaclyn Chace, who worked part-time at the shop, came in, eyes alight. ‘Congratulations on the baby, Ellie Jo! Have you seen her?’ ‘I have,’ Ellie Jo said as she passed. ‘There’s another new box on the table. Open it for me, like a good girl?’ With the door closing behind her, she went down the stone path to the house. Over one hundred years old, it had dove gray shutters and a veranda front to back. Now, climbing two wood steps, she crossed the back porch and entered the kitchen. Her tabby, Veronica, was sprawled on a sill in the sun. Ellie Jo went on into the front hall and up the stairs, through the rising heat, to her bedroom. The windows were open here, too, sheer curtains letting in only the slightest movement of air. Ellie Jo ignored the heat. Taking a scrapbook from a shelf in the rolltop desk, she opened it and looked at the faded black-and-white snap-shots. There was Earl, in a shot taken soon after they met. He had been a Fuller Brush salesman, shown up at her door intent on charming her into a sale, and, yes, she did buy several brushes. She smiled at the memory of those happy days. Her smile faded when she turned to the loose papers tucked behind the photos. She took out several. Closing the scrapbook, she put it back on the shelf. Holding to her heart what she had removed, she went down the hall to Elizabeth’s old room. It still held the bed, dresser, and nightstand Elizabeth had used. The closet was another story. The clothes were long gone. The closet now held yarn. Sliding the center stack of boxes out of the way, Ellie Jo pulled on the cord to unfold the attic ladder. Grasping its frame, she climbed up. The air was still, the heat intense. Little here was worth noting – a carton filled with chipped china from the earliest days of her marriage to Earl, a hatbox holding her short wedding veil, the old steamer chair that Earl had loved. Of Elizabeth’s things, there was a single box of books from her last semester of college. Should Dana come looking up here, she wouldn’t stay long. Given the heat in summer, the chill in winter, and the absense of anything useful, she wouldn’t think to bend over and go to the very edge of the eave, as Ellie Jo did now, or to remove a section of the pink insulation that had been added only a handful of years before in a futile effort to modulate heat and cold. Fitting the papers between two joists, Ellie Jo replaced the insulation, went slowly back down the ladder, refolded it, and closed the hatch. She had read these papers often, and she still could, but no one else would see them. They would remain under the eaves until either fire, a wrecker’s ball, or sheer age consumed the house, at which point there would be no one left who had known Earl, no one to think less of him for what he had done. He would forever be a good man in the eyes of the town, which was how it should be. The Eaton Clarkes lived in a seaside community forty minutes south of Boston. Their elegant Georgian Colonial stood amid other similarly elegant brick homes, on a tree-lined street that was the envy of the town. Sightseers were few, inevitably choosing to drive along the water, and that suited the residents of Old Burgess Way perfectly. They liked their privacy. They liked the fact that their groundskeepers could easily spot a car that didn’t belong. Spread in a graceful arc on a ridge, Old Burgess stood higher than even the seaside homes on the bluff. Indeed, had it not been for dense maples, oaks, and pines, and lavish clusters of ornamental shrubs, its residents might have had a view of the ocean, not a bad thing in and of itself. Unfortunately, though, that would have meant also seeing the overly large houses that new money had built at the expense of the more quaint summer cottages, now mostly gone. The residents of Old Burgess had no use for the nouveaux riches, hence the cultivation of their leafy shield. They were dignified people. Most had either lived long enough in their homes to have raised a generation of children, or were that second generation themselves, raising the third. When they held parties, loud music ended at eleven. Eaton and Dorothy had lived on Old Burgess Way for thirty-five years. Their brick home had white columns and shutters, black doors and wrought-iron detail, five bedrooms, six bathrooms, and a saltwater pool. Though there were times in recent years when the place echoed, they wouldn’t have dreamed of selling. Eaton liked being with those who shared his values. He wasn’t the richest or most prominent on the street, but he didn’t have to be. A historian and best-selling author, he much preferred to blend in. Book signings were difficult for him in that regard, comprised as they were of total strangers. The class he taught at the university was another matter. Here were serious, talented students, mostly seniors as intent on gaining behind-the-scene tips on writing about history as they were into history itself. Blessed with a love of the past and a faultless memory, Eaton could talk spontaneously about most any time period in American life. As for the behind-the-scene tips, this was easy, too. It was his life. Granted, connections opened doors, and he had them, as most of these students did not. His forebears had played a role at every stage of American history. Indeed, each of his books included the cameo appearance of at least one of them. That was the single common element in his body of work, eight books to date. And the ninth, due out in five short weeks? In it, Clarkes played the lead. One Man’s Line traced the history of the family as it wove among luminaries, gaining in prominence and wealth with each successive generation. The focus was history. This was, after all, what Eaton was known for. But the time span was greater than that, say, of his book on the demise of the League of Nations. And the personal element was strong, offering intimate details of the lives of his early ancestors. ‘The printer just delivered a sample of the book-party invitation,’ Dorothy reported, coming toward him from the library door. ‘I don’t think it’s right, Eaton. It doesn’t have the dignified feel I want.’ She put it down on the desk. Sitting forward, Eaton immediately saw the problem. ‘The ink color is wrong. This is blue-gray. We want green-gray.’ Dorothy frowned at the sample. ‘Well, if that’s all, it isn’t as bad as it could be. Still, they’ll have to send this back and have it redone, and if the envelope liners match this blue-gray, they’ll have to be reordered, too. By the time they get it right and print them up, we’ll be at the deadline for mailing. There’s no more room for error.’ Eaton didn’t want to hear that. ‘We should have let my publisher do it.’ ‘But they did an awful job last time. These invitations go to people whose opinions we value. Would you show up at the University Club wearing a bargain-basement suit? Absolutely not. You like presenting yourself a certain way, and the invitation to your event is no different. This is the start of your tour, it’s on your home turf, and it’s important. Did you call Hugh?’ In a measured way, Eaton asked, ‘Did Hugh call me?’ It was a rhetorical question. The phone had been ringing since they walked in the door. If any of the callers had been Hugh, Dorothy wouldn’t have asked. No, the calls would have been from people hearing of the birth of Hugh’s child. Thinking about that put Eaton on edge. He had two sons. While Robert was traditional, agreeable, and, Lord knew, successful, Hugh was the one most like Eaton, and not only in looks. Both were athletic. Both were intellectually creative. Both had chosen fields outside the family field and excelled. If Eaton had a soft spot, Hugh occupied it. ‘Where is Mark?’ he barked. ‘You sent him home,’ Dorothy answered quickly, defensively. ‘You left him a note before we went to the hospital, don’t you recall? You said we were celebrating a new baby, so there wouldn’t be work today, and I’m not sure what work there is now, anyway, Eaton. He’s your researcher, and the book is done.’ ‘He’s my assistant,’ Eaton corrected, ‘and, yes, there is work still to do – interviews to complete, speeches to outline. It used to be that all you had to do when you toured was sign your name to books. Now they want a speech. They want entertainment. Did I give Mark a paid day off?’ ‘I don’t know, but if you did, it’s done, and it was not my doing, so please don’t yell at me.’ Eaton quieted. He couldn’t be angry at Dorothy. Hugh’s folly wasn’t her fault. ‘Did you call him?’ she repeated, albeit with deference. Eaton didn’t reply. Rather, he sat back in his tall leather chair and looked at the books that surrounded him, floor to ceiling, shelf upon shelf. Like his neighbors, these books were his friends. The books he had authored himself sat together on a side shelf, clearly visible, though in no way singled out. While Eaton was proud of each one, they wouldn’t have existed without those that had come before. One generation led to the next. Wasn’t that the theme of One Man’s Line? Early reviews were calling it ‘eminently readable,’ ‘engrossing,’ ‘an American saga,’ and while Eaton wouldn’t have used the word ‘saga’ – too commercial – he agreed with the gist. Ancestral charts appeared at various points in the book, growing more elaborate with the years. They were impressive and exact. ‘Eaton?’ ‘No. I haven’t called.’ ‘Don’t you think you should? He’s your son. Your approval means the world to him.’ ‘If that were true,’ Eaton remarked, ‘he wouldn’t have married the woman he did.’ ‘But did you see how pale and tired he looked? Yes, I know he was up all night, but he didn’t plan for this to happen. They had no indication that her father was African American, and maybe he isn’t. Maybe it came through the grandmother’s side. Call him, Eaton.’ ‘I’ll see,’ Eaton said dismissively. But she was dogged, stronger now. ‘I know what that means, it means you won’t, but this is about a child, Eaton. She’s a living, breathing human being, and she has at least some of our genes.’ ‘Does she?’ ‘Yes, she does.’ ‘You’re too soft.’ ‘Maybe, but I love my son. I don’t wish him hurt, not by her and not by you.’ ‘Dorothy, he basically told me to jump off a cliff.’ ‘He did not.’ ‘He did. It was right there in his eyes. You weren’t close enough. You couldn’t see.’ ‘He was upset. Goodness, if we were upset seeing that child, after all the months looking forward to it and now fearing that something’s amiss and not knowing what to think, imagine what he’s feeling.’ ‘What about us? We were looking forward to this baby. Every single one of our friends knew how much. So. Tell me who called.’ Dorothy brightened. ‘Alfred called. And Sylvia. And Porter and Dusty – they were on two extensions, talking at the same time, so I could hardly hear. ‘How much do they know?’ Her brightness faded. ‘Only that it’s a girl. And Bradley. Bradley called.’ Eaton’s head buzzed. ‘And how did Brad know? Robert.’ He let out a breath. ‘Does that boy know the meaning of discretion?’ ‘Oh, Eaton,’ Dorothy said with resignation. ‘If not from Robert, Brad would have heard it from someone else. This won’t remain a secret for long.’ Eaton knew that and was annoyed. ‘What did Hugh expect marrying her? I said this back then, and I say it again now – she may well have married him for his money.’ ‘Oh, I don’t think—’ ‘Of course you don’t. You don’t want to admit Hugh made a mistake and, besides, she knit you the afghan you wanted, which you interpret as a sign of affection, though it may not be at all. The thing about marrying someone so different is that you never know what drives them.’ ‘If it’s only about money, why does she work? She could be lunching with friends, or spending the day at the spa, for God’s sake. If it’s only about money, why does she make the effort she does?’ Eaton snorted. ‘Effort? Please. What she does isn’t work. She drives from house to house visiting people who are either lazy or lack taste, and then she trots off to the Design Center, likely as an excuse to buy things for her own house. She certainly doesn’t work like Hugh does.’ ‘But she earns money. And she isn’t the only wife who works. Look at Rebecca Boyd. Look at Amanda Parker.’ ‘Look at Andrew Smith’s daughter and the Harding girls,’ Eaton countered. ‘They don’t work. Dana could be doing things to help Hugh in his career. She could be doing charity work. She could make important contacts for him through that.’ ‘But he represents criminals.’ Eaton sighed. ‘No, Dorothy,’ he explained with the patience of one accustomed to dealing with ill-informed students, ‘he represents people who are accused of being criminals. Jack Hoffmeister is the president of a bank. He was accused of fraud by one of his vice-presidents, after he fired the man for incompetence, but the accusation was entirely false, as Hugh proved. He earned a good fee and several referrals from that one, and whose contact was Jack? Yours. You met him through the Friends Committee at the hospital. Hugh’s wife should be involved with groups like that. I’ve told him that dozens of times, but he doesn’t seem to hear.’ ‘What has happened now is different. You need to talk with him.’ But Eaton wasn’t groveling. ‘If he wants me to talk to him, an apology is in order. I have my pride.’ ‘I know that, dear. It explains his.’ Eaton was unsettled. ‘Are you taking his side?’ ‘There are no sides. This is our son.’ He pointed a finger at her. ‘You’ll stand behind me in this, Dorothy. You’ll stand behind me in this.’ 7 (#uad2b32f3-6984-5341-89c3-bb016513ec44) Hugh headed home to shower and change, but his cell phone kept ringing as he drove, friends calling to congratulate him, promising to be over soon to visit, and if it wasn’t the phone, it was his BlackBerry. Can’t wait to see the baby! Looking forward to seeing the baby. When can we see the baby? Everyone wanted to see her, and that should have been a tribute to Dana and him, proof that their friends cared. Hugh should have been ecstatic. He didn’t know why he wasn’t – why there was a rock in his gut when he thought about the baby. He kept hearing Dana’s disappointment in his reaction, and he didn’t know what to do. Their love had come so easily. They had married within eight months of first meeting, and had never looked back. And he wasn’t doing it now. It sounded, though, like she was. Is there a racial limit to your love? There was not, and he resented her asking. He had no prejudice. She had only to look at his work for proof of that. Is there a racial limit to your love? The question came again, louder now and sounding like a dare. Had he been playing devil’s advocate, he might have said she was creating a diversion or, worse, a cover-up. Hugh didn’t want to believe that. He didn’t believe she had been unfaithful. She loved him too much to cause him that kind of pain – and it would be excruciatingly painful, if it were true. But there was the baby, with her beautiful brown skin, and no explanation for its source. Didn’t he have a right to ask questions? Didn’t it make perfectly good sense to choose one of a dozen other birth announcements that didn’t have a picture on the front? He walked in the kitchen door and picked up the phone. The pulsing tone told him that there were messages, but he didn’t access them. Rather, he called the office. His secretary was not happy to hear from him. ‘You aren’t supposed to be working,’ she scolded. ‘You’re supposed to be with Dana and the baby. I’ve been given orders not to talk shop.’ Hugh humored her. ‘Then just a yes or a no, please. Did Alex get in touch with Henderson Walker?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Is he going over to the jail?’ ‘No.’ ‘The situation is defused?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Did we get a continuance on the Paquette case?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Did I get a call from someone calling herself “the garden mom”?’ ‘No.’ ‘Okay. That’s it. And, Sheila, if the latter does call, I want the message ASAP. Don’t give it to anyone else. There’s a personal connection here.’ He hung up the phone feeling marginally better, but picked it up again seconds later and punched in another number. ‘Hammond Security,’ came a familiar voice, deep and mildly accented. ‘Hey, Yunus. It’s Hugh. How are you?’ ‘I’m fine, my friend. We haven’t talked in a very long time.’ ‘My fault. Life is too busy. But I think about you often. How is the job going?’ Yunus El-Sabwi, born and raised in Iraq, had fled his homeland in his early twenties, taking his young wife and two daughters to America to ensure them a better life. After becoming an American citizen, he enrolled in the police academy, graduated at the head of his class, and, at a time when community policing encouraged the hiring of minorities, won a spot in the Boston Police Department. In the course of eight years, he was cited numerous times for his work. Then came September 11, and everything changed. He was marginalized within the department, widely distrusted for the links he kept to relatives in Iraq. One rumor held that the money he sent monthly to his parents was earmarked for terrorists, another that he was transmitting sensitive security information in code. When the federal government refused to bring charges, deciding that it feared the ACLU more than it feared Yunus, the local authorities charged him with drug possession. Hugh defended him on that charge, agreeing with Yunus’s contention that he had been framed. A jury agreed with it, too, and so the case ended. No one was ever charged for planting drugs in Yunus’s locker, and though Yunus was reinstated to the force, his life was made so unpleasant that he finally resigned. He now worked in the private security force of a company owned by Hugh’s family. ‘It’s going well,’ Yunus replied. ‘I got a fine one-year review.’ ‘And a raise, I hope.’ ‘And a raise. They knew if I didn’t they would have to answer to you. Thank you, my friend.’ ‘Don’t thank me. You’re the one who’s doing the work. How are Azhar and the girls?’ ‘Hamdel lah, they are well. Siba will be a senior this year. And she has decided to be a doctor. She wants to go to Harvard.’ ‘That’s a fine choice, Yunus.’ ‘Well, she has to get in. But she was given an interview, and her grades are good.’ And her connections, Hugh thought, making a mental note to call the head of admissions, a Clarke family friend. ‘And tell me,’ said Yunus, ‘how is your wife? Did she have her baby?’ ‘She did. A little girl.’ ‘Hamdel lah ala al salama! Such good news! Azhar will be happy to hear it. Perhaps we can visit them soon?’ ‘I’d like that.’ Hugh was smiling when he hung up the phone. He had been appointed by the court to represent Yunus after three separate lawyers opted out, and in taking the case he had had to buck the will of the police department, the local district attorney, and the FBI. He hadn’t received money other than reimbursement for court costs, but the emotional reward had been huge. Yunus El-Sabwi was hardworking and focused. Not only would he give his life for his family, but his loyalty to friends was absolute. Hugh had become a beneficiary of that. Feeling better, Hugh went upstairs to shower and shave. Revived, he pulled on clean jeans and a fresh tee shirt, put the dirty sheets in the washer and fresh sheets on the bed, then set off for the hospital again. Along the way, he stopped at the flower shop for a balloon bouquet, at a local boutique for an absurdly expensive tie-dyed pink onesie, and at Rosie’s, Dana’s favorite café, for a grilled chicken salad. Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/barbara-delinsky/the-family-tree/?lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. 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