Nora was summoned to the infirmary. She had expected the call, and when she left her quarters she made sure that she didn’t tell anyone where she was going. Paul was already up and working in his office, and she assumed that her daughter and son-in-law were asleep in their suite; it was just past five in the morning.
The doctor greeted her. Though his voice was warm, she saw the serious expression on his face.
“Keiko is very close to giving birth,” he told her. “We’re ready to go ahead and take the baby.”
The drugs that she was given to advance the pregnancy won’t do anything to harm the child, will it?”
Nora had asked the question before, but she couldn’t help but ask it again.
“There is always risk, but it is minimal,” the doctor replied carefully. “As of now everything that we see is normal. Once we take the infant, we’ll execute Keiko. Is there anyone that we can call for you? A family member that would sit with you?”
“No, I don’t want anyone else bothered,” Nora said.
“Do you wish to speak with Keiko?”
Keiko lay on a hospital bed, bound at the knees and ankles. She tried to lean towards the side, already feeling the first waves of labor.
“Why are you here?” she growled.
Nora stood just inside the doorway, watching.
“When the baby comes, it will be over for you,” she said softly. “Just as we discussed before. There is nothing for you to worry about.”
Tears gathered in Keiko’s eyes.
“Scott will never forgive you for letting them kill me.”
Nora shrugged. “I am not God, and I am not in the business of forgiving. So if Scott is angry, so be it. I promise you that the child will have a good home. And as far as you? You tried to kill my daughter. There’s no getting around that. How do you think Scott would feel if he knew?”
“You must feel good about yourself right now,” Keiko hissed. “I don’t care. I’m ready to die!” she spat.
But she shivered as she said it.
“It’s coming, whether you’re prepared or not,” Nora said. “You have to face your punishment.”
She turned to leave, and heard Keiko screaming obscenities as the door closed behind her.
An hour later, the doctor came into the room where Nora waited.
He placed the infant in her arms.
Despite the fact that she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t, she cried as she held her granddaughter for the first time.
Marradith was up at seven that morning.
Will had sent her a file a few weeks earlier. It was the file for Prisoner 157342.
Marradith had her suspicions about it for a while, but as she read through the text, it was clear to her who both the prisoner and the interrogator were. Scott was the one who gave her the prisoner number and told her she should look up the information months before. But she’d been afraid of what she’d find.
Pieces of information about her Father had fallen into place over time. Justin was the one that first told her that Paul Ryder was a Sojourner years before she was born, and had actually been Justin’s boss at one time.
It was the information about her Mother’s past that was shocking.
Nora Ryder—known back then as Leny Rubidoux— had been in the Circle.
It explained Scott’s feelings about the Sojourners. Their mother had been detained and tortured for a short time. But Nora gave up that life when she met their Father. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely by choice, but she’d never went back to her old ways.
Marradith shook her head. She read over the file twice more, wishing that it weren’t true.
She closed her laptop and put on a pot of coffee. A few minutes later, Justin got up.
“Were you ever planning on telling me?” she said as he stumbled into the kitchen.
Justin was still sleepy. He frowned, scratching his head. “About what, babe?”
“That my mother used to be a hired killer.”
Fiona got a text message from Nora.
When Fiona reached the waiting room, Nora was sitting in a recliner with her feet up, the baby nestled in her arms.
“She’s beautiful,” Fiona sighed.
Nora simply nodded.
“Keiko’s gone then?”
“How’d they do it?”
“Incineration,” Nora replied.
“How is Rafael?” Nora asked.
“The same,” Fiona replied.
“Maybe he’ll recover.”
“I have little hope of that,” Fiona admitted, her eyes filling with tears.
“Perhaps,” Nora said. She cleared her throat. “If Rafael doesn’t make it through this, you’ll be alone. And your son is a man now. You can’t get that time with him back.”
“What’s your point?” Fiona asked.
“Fiona. I still have a ten year old son to raise, who doesn’t get enough of my time as it is. Marradith may be married, but she doesn’t need me any less now than she did a year ago. I am not ready to go back to diapers and formula. But I remember you were trying to get pregnant, before things fell apart with Rafael. How would you feel about the chance to be a mother again?”
©2011 Lori Titus
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