Twisted Roses

Page 95

“Miss ADA okay?” he asks. “She need anything else?”
“Give us a moment.”
I shut the door in his face and return to Delphine’s side. I crouch beside her, pouring water to dampen one of the towels and using that to clean her up. The blood staining her skin and the sweat that’s lining her brow. I push her hair away from her face and offer her a water bottle.
“Phi, I’m sorry.” I speak in a lower, softer tone I’d only ever use with her. “I didn’t want any of this to be true… but I have the records to prove all of it.”
“You’re saying my father knew. He knew about my… all this time he knew? He… Volchok… my father knew?!”
She covers her face with shaky hands as if physically unable to bear any more heartbreak. Her breaths turn into sharp, smaller gasps. I ease her up from where she’s dropped beside the trash bin and escort her back to the sofa.
“We’re going to confront him, Phi. Me and you. Okay? About all of it. You need to do this—you need to hear it from his own mouth.”
“I can’t… Jon…”
“I’ve been surveilling your father for weeks now. Ever since I started digging deeper into what he’s up to. He’s still involved with Lena Burtka. He’s known it was Volchok and the Society behind your attack. He’s been monitoring you more than half your life. It seems like, ultimately, he wanted you to join him and the club. But it’s time he tells you all this himself.”
“I don’t think I can… I’m serious. I can’t…” she gasps some more breaths, shaking her head side to side in a state of traumatized shock.
“You can,” I say, gripping her elbows firmly. “You have to, Phi. You have to confront this. You can’t let them get away with this another second—you can’t lethimget away with doing this to you another second. I’m going to be with you every moment. We’ll do this together. Okay?”
Her teary eyes shine looking up into mine, the pain still fresh, clenched onto her face. Hesitantly, she gives a nod, looking as if she might pass out any second.
I intertwine her fingers with mine and pull her into my side. “It ends tonight. Everything he’s done to hurt you.”
25. delphine
november 2003
“Delphi honey, how are you feeling?”Mom asks, tapping her knuckles against my bedroom door. “I’ve made you some of your favorite hot cocoa.”
I sniffle from where I lay on my bed, hugging my plush throw pillow, still in my funeral clothes from earlier. I hadn’t even gotten the chance to say goodbye…
“Honey, I’m coming in.”
The door eases open and Mom enters with a sad, sympathetic frown and my favorite mug, a colorful mosaic piece Nana Rose made me herself. She was always so creative, an artist who could often be found in the studio Papa Huxley had built for her, gliding her paintbrush against a canvas of bright colors, or tinkering away on a project like a delicate set of wind chimes.
Nana used to joke that the men in the Adams family had a thing for female creatives—Papa Huxley fell in love with her when he was strolling a promenade and caught sight of her painting in the window of an art studio. Dad sat in the audience of one performance of Mom as prima ballerina in Swan Lake and was so smitten he sent a dozen red roses to her dressing room, inviting her to dinner.
The rest was history.
Nana used to tell me the story, and I’d regret that I wasn’t an artsy creative like she and Mom. Nana being Nana, would put her arm around me, and tell me I had an even greater calling—I was going to make a difference someday for millions of people in Northam. I’d help the community and keep people safe.
Just like Dad.
“How are you holding up?” Mom asks, sitting on the side of my bed. She draws me out of my thoughts with a gentle stroke of my hair. “Is there anything on your mind, Delphi? We can talk more about Nana Rose and what’s happened.”
I push myself up into a sit, unable to hide my deep frown. “I just miss her is all. I wish I’d gotten to say goodbye.”
“I know, honey. Me too. None of us expected her to go so soon. The doctors said we had more time. But that’s how life goes sometimes—we don’t always get a perfect goodbye, or even a goodbye at all. We have to make due with the good memories we have for those loved ones.”
My nod is quick, my frown no less deep. “I’m glad I have those… and Nana’s art projects.”
“Like your mug. She made it specially for you. She loved you so much.”
There’s another knock on the door, this one sharper. The door pops open and Dad pokes his head inside.
“Mind if I interrupt, Leontine?”