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“How old were you when you found out you were adopted?”
“Almost eighteen.” She inhaled. “Mom said they were going to tell me when I was thirteen but when my adoptive dad died, she just thought it’d make me feel worse.” Natasha grew silent and just breathed for several seconds. “I think part of me always knew. My adoptive dad was half Chinese. Even as child I would stare at his face and wonder why I didn’t look more like him.”
“Didn’t you say your real mom was dead, too?”
“Yeah,” Natasha said. “Someone killed her. But they never found out who did it.”
He ran his hand alongside her hip. Not sexily, just tenderly, but there was something totally intimate about being na**d against another person. “That must have been tough, looking for your real parents and then finding out they were both dead.”
“It was for a while. But I did find an aunt. She was nice. And she had a son about my age.”
They lapsed into silence and then Liam asked, “How did your adoptive dad die?”
“A work accident. One day he was there, and the next he was gone. But Mom remarried a few years ago.”
“Do you get along with your stepdad?”
“Yeah, he’s all right. Well, a lot better than all right … compared to your real father. He loves my mom, but I always got the feeling he was just waiting for me leave so he could have her all to himself.”
“Well, that’s okay,” Liam said. “Because when we get out of here, we’ll get our own place. I’ve only got two more years before I graduate. We’ll find a cheap apartment. Both of us will go to school and work part-time. We’ll make it. Since we don’t need food that much anymore, we won’t have to worry about who’s going to cook. We’ll share the housework. I’ll take out the garbage. And I promise not to leave my dirty underwear around.”
She laughed. “I’m not the best housekeeper.”
“Good, we can live kind of messy, then.”
She lifted her chin and rested it on his chest. “Will you put the toilet seat down?”
“I’ll try.” He laughed.
Della felt Natasha’s sinuses sting. “I want that,” she said, her voice cracking. “I want that apartment. I want to give you a hard time about leaving your dirty underwear out and leaving the toilet seat up. But I’m so scared it’s not going to happen. I’m so afraid this is all we’ll have.”
*   *   *
Saturday, at ten fifteen, Della sat in the dining hall watching everyone visit on parents’ day. The voices of all the campers and their parents bounced around the huge room and echoed down from the rafters. Della tried not to let her emotions leak out into the crowd—too many faes around—but honestly, she really wanted to go find someplace quiet and cry.
Damian Bond had nothing. They were back to square one.
She’d come home last night and stared at the ceiling for half the night, feeling useless and angry. Feeling alone. She missed Chase. She wanted to help Natasha and Liam. Save them. Give them a chance at life.
She wanted her mom to call her.
No, she wanted her parents to show up. Where were they?
The doors to the dining hall swished open. Della looked up, expecting it to be them. Wrong. It was Derek’s mom. Della watched as she smiled at Derek who sat at a table toward the back of the dining hall with Jenny.
Della looked around. Kylie and Lucas and her mom sat chatting about selling her house. Lucas must be getting used to Kylie’s mom, because he actually looked comfortable instead of miserable, like he usually did when Kylie forced him to spend time with her mom.
Miranda was playing the part of the good witch, sitting and listening to her mom talk about the upcoming competitions.
Della pulled out her phone to check the time. Her parents were fifteen minutes late. Strange. Her dad didn’t do late.
Then again, maybe he wasn’t coming today. He’d missed one out of three parent visits lately. But her mom and her sister, Marla, were usually on time, too. The sooner they got here, the quicker they could leave. Or at least it felt that way.
Glancing at her phone, she debated calling her mom then decided against it. Looking back up, she saw Holiday and Burnett studying her with empathy.
Oh, friggin’ hell, the last thing she wanted was for everyone to start feeling sorry for her. She was fine. Her family would show up. Her mom never missed parents’ day.
All of a sudden, Burnett’s phone rang. This far away, Della couldn’t hear the person on the line, but Burnett didn’t look happy.
Probably FRU business. Was it about Natasha and Liam? She tilted her head to the side and heard him whisper to Holiday, “I need to take this in the office.”
Della watched him walk out. Her need to know bit deep, but she accepted there wasn’t a dang thing she could do. If it was news on Natasha and Liam, he would tell her. And if it was about them, it was probably bad news.
Ten minutes later, Della’s phone rang. Glancing at the number, Della’s breath caught. Her sister, Marla, never called her.
“What’s up?” She shot up, and dodged tables in the dining hall to move away to have a private conversation.
“Hey.” Marla’s voice sounded small. “Uh, Mom asked me to call you and tell you we weren’t going to make it today.”
“Okay,” Della said, fighting the pinch in her heart and walking outside. “Is something wrong?” Or have you guys just decided to give up on me?