se·cret (sē′krĭt)

Noun:

Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others

I have always admired my father.

He was my idol when I was a young girl and could do no wrong in my eyes. I thought he was the smartest, bravest, most handsome man alive.

Tall and proud in his police blues, with gleaming boots and service hat perched on his thick, black hair, he was my knight in shining armor, able to fight away the bad guys and protect me from the monsters under my bed.

Charlie Swan was also man's man, and while he was my knight, he was also a household name in our small town. He sat on the city council and organized neighbor watches that kept the streets of Forks safe for its residents. He and my mother were the pillars of our small community, often volunteering their time and helping the less fortunate, many times opening their own home for those in need.

As I got older I learned that despite outward appearances my father was simply a man. A man that was afraid and helpless in the face of illness. A man that felt powerless against the sickness that ravaged my body. A man that was desperate and willing to do anything he could to spare me from an untimely end, even if it meant revealing a part of his past he had kept from all of us.

I thought I knew my father. Being a daddy's girl I would have once told you I knew him better than anyone, save and except for my mother.

I should have known better.

You see, we all have secrets we hold close to our heart. Secret truths that only we know about, truths that we cannot or will not share with the people closest to us for fear that they will judge us.

And boy, was my dad holding out. Most people had a skeleton or two in their closet, but Charlie Swan could possibly have had a whole damn graveyard for all he knew.

I would never have guessed that my father was hiding something of this magnitude, a secret that even my mother was not privy to until now.

He sat at his desk, computer in front of him, his brown eyes, usually bright with mischief, looking defeated as he glanced sideways towards me, his embarrassment almost palpable. My mother, looking shattered but equally resigned, laid her hand comfortingly on his shoulder, conveying her unspoken love and support despite the fact that he had also hid this from her. Her gesture, though simple, spoke volumes about the depth of their relationship and devotion to each other.

Turning his face away from me and back to the computer in front of him, my father quickly typed in the required information, his hands visibly shaking as he completed the last field on the screen. He paused for a moment, swallowing audibly and raised his hand to smooth over the ends of his moustache, something I knew he did only when nervous or upset. Before he could change his mind, he reached down and clicked the link at the bottom of the page, indicating his entry as complete. His information had barely been sent when his computer chimed and the webpage indicated there was an instant match to his application.

My father sucked in a shaky breath as his hand scrubbed nervously through his hair, making his curls stand on end. I rubbed at my own head, feeling the stubble just starting to grow back on my scalp and wished for the thousandth time that I still had my long hair.

With tears in his eyes my father clicked to obtain the information that would change our entire lives from this day forward.

There was only one match listed.

I'm a girl, born September 13, 1986.

My mother gasped in a breath and sobbed, collapsing to her knees beside the desk, hugging my father. Her tears were not ones of sadness, but ones of hope.

I could only sit, stunned silent.

A sister.

I had a sister, albeit a half one. A possible genetic match.

The question now was, would she be willing to save me?