Missed - Chapter 4
The sun wakes me as it shines through a chink in the curtains, for a moment I'm not sure where I am and then I notice someone sitting beside the bed.
"Ana?" I whisper uncertainly.
"Christian it's me darling are you okay," says the distinct voice of my mother.
"Mom, where are we," I ask aloud as I try to get my bearings.
"We're in Arkansas honey, at the hotel remember," she prompts. Then everything hits me, the house where Ana was taken, the body in the woods and my mother comforting me in the car. I sweep my hand through my hair thoughtfully as I gaze at my surroundings. "How did I get here," I ask uncertainly.
"Jason and I helped you up to your room once you had calmed down. You collapsed into bed and slept the night away, I stayed with you in case you woke but you never made a peep."
"I slept for over ten hours," I think out loud. "Pretty much, maybe even longer. You were wiped out, you needed to rest. Jason called me at the hotel and told me how upset you were. He told me about the woods and then when you arrived back and I saw your face, oh sweetheart I'm so sorry."
"What were you doing at the hotel?" I question.
"Jason called me a few days ago at home and I knew something was very wrong. He's never called me before and after some gentle persuasion I got him to tell me the whole story."
"The whole story?" I hesitantly ask.
"Everything Christian, I only wish you could have been the one to tell me. I arrived here with Luke at about noon but you had already left. By the time Taylor called I was out of my mind with worry."
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you the real reason for my trip Mom. I guess I was scared about what I would find here and I wanted to protect you from it."
"I want to know Christian I need to, you weren't the only one to loose something when Ana was taken."
"What did you loose," I ask suddenly defiant.
"I lost my sweet, beautiful and caring daughter in law and I lost my precious son."
"You didn't loose me, I'm right here."
"Sweetheart you left when Ana did, don't you see that. You only emerge when you're with Teddy but you are never quite the same. Ana and Teddy were the making of you as much as I'd like to think your father and I were.
"I miss her so much," I sob as I listen to my mother.
"I know sweetheart, we all do."
"It hurts so much all the time, Mom do you think Teddy lost me," I ask suddenly.
"No, for him you're always present. You may not quite be the person you were with Ana but for Teddy you haven't changed."
I sigh at my mothers words, thankful that for Teddy at least I'm everything I should be. I gaze thoughtfully out of the window as I think about my little boy, I miss him too so much.
"You're a good father Christian, so thoughtful and patient with Teddy, Ana would be so proud of you," my Mom says softly.
"Will," I remark.
"Will, what?" she asks.
"Ana will be proud of me Mom, the will is important."
"It is and I'm sorry, or course Ana will be proud of you. I know I am."
"Thanks Mom and I'm sorry you lost a part of me but I'm here now."
"I'm glad," says my mother as she wipes away a tear.
After our talk my mother convinces me to return to Seattle, I'm reluctant to leave but once I think about Teddy I agree it's time to go.
Sawyer and Welch have agreed to stay on with Sarah and together they will search for more leads. I left contact information with the local police and the medical examiner so I can stay informed.
Honesty I don't think I could have stayed here anyway, I need to go home and find something else to do. I would have gone mad waiting here for the results of the post-mortem and formal identification of the body.
After our flight Taylor drives us back to my house where I know I will need to inform Ray about everything. I'm nervous about how he will react to the news but also I'm excited about seeing my son.
As we approach the house I see someone small dash out and run towards the car. We pull up and I leap out of the vehicle and run in the direction of my little boy. We meet half way and he jumps into my arms enthusiastically.
"I'm so glad you're home Daddy," he squeals in my ear.
"Me too," I tell him softly as I hold him tightly in my arms.
He smiles and laughs and I'm instantly reminded of his mother, it's funny that as much as our son resembles me his personality is all Ana's.
I marvel at his little mannerisms and wonder how two people can be so alike. It's bittersweet though sometimes, especially when I catch him doing something like Ana and have to stop myself from breaking down.
I hope one day soon he will know his mother like me and together they can see their similarities. I hope one day soon I will know Olivia and find my own precious creation.
The weeks that follow are hard on us all, I've sat by the phone and watched the seconds tick by, waiting for the call that will end my uncertainty.
I've tried to keep busy, dividing my time between work and home but I can't seem to hold it together for long. I haven't really slept for months and I'm so irritable sometimes that I wonder how I have any staff left. I try to be patient with Teddy but even he has seen me crack a few times and then he runs to his Poppy for comfort.
Poor Ray has been almost as much of a basket case as myself since he heard the news. He cried openly when I told him about Carla but his anger over Morton soon eclipsed his sadness. I've shown him the pictures I found in the house and it has given him some hope but it's fleeting and certainly bittersweet.
I called Bob from a phone number Welch was able to obtain and told him about the facts according to Ms Gilmore. He was devastated by my story and made me promise to call him back as soon as there was more information. I've called him everyday since then and tried to offer him some comfort but I have precious little of that to go around.
Finally on Thursday the 20th of February I got the news I had been waiting for. I was woken by my phone in the early hours and made a quick dash to answer it up before it woke anyone else in the house.
"Hello, Grey speaking,"
"Mr Grey, I'm Mr Morgan calling from Freetown medical centre in Little Rock Arkansas." I hold my breath at his words and wait for him to speak again because I'm momentarily speechless.
"I have the results of the forensic dentistry tests that were carried out," he pauses and I suddenly find my voice.
"What, what are the results," I ask softly in a voice that is not my own.
"I can say with a 100% of accuracy that the body that was recovered on the 12th of January is that of Carla May Adams. The files we obtained from her dentist was enough to establish the identification but we also performed DNA analysis to be certain."
He drones on for over a minute about the tests that were compiled but I stopped listening once he mentioned the name. I fall down to the ground and hold the phone shakily with my hand as I let it all sink in.
The words Carla May Adams play on repeat in my head and without warning I let go of my emotions and allow a single sob to escape from my lips.
It wasn't Ana, it's not my Ana, I think with unimaginable joy. But ultimately my joy is fleeting as I remember that my mother in law is dead and nothing can bring her back.
I hang up abruptly on my caller and slowly make my way to Ray's bedroom. Ray is very much awake as I knock on his door as he answers almost immediately. I tell him about the phone call and he too looks momentarily relieved and then deeply saddened by the news. Together we tell the rest of the family but not before we pause for a moment and allow everything to slowly sink in.
Over the preceding days we prepare for the funeral, I wanted to wait until Ana was found but Bob just couldn't face waiting any longer than necessary. So with a heavy heart my whole family along with Ray, Bob and a scattering of Carla's friends, laid Carla to rest.
We chose to bury her in a beautiful cemetery close to where we live, so that Ana can visit her anytime once she returns. Bob agreed with the final resting place completely, knowing that Carla would want to be close to her daughter even in death.
I bought a bouquet of white roses to lay on Carla's grave, as a tribute to her daughter Ana Rose Grey. Ray placed lilies and Bob left a single pink rose because he said pink was her favourite.
I didn't allow Teddy to come to the funeral, he's still so confused by death and he was never very close with his Grandma. Maybe if he was older I would have taken him but at five I thought he was just too young. Gail and Taylor stayed with him back at the house, along with little Ava who was equally to young to attend.
As the funeral ended I stayed by the graveside with Ray and Bob as everyone else departed. We were silent for a long time until finally I broke the peace in my attempt to offer Bob some peace.
"Carla died protecting her daughter and grandchild and for that I will always be grateful. I hope she's at peace now her family have found her."
"I'm sure she is," says Ray kindly as he patted Bob on the back.
"I don't believe she will ever truly be at peace until Ana is returned to her family," replied Bob.
I was silenced by his remark and instantly subdued, he's right of course we need Ana back before Carla can genuinely be at peace. I thought about Bob's words for weeks after the funeral, I woke up nights tormented by my need to bring her back. Unfortunately our search has hit a dead end and every possible lead has uncovered nothing new.
I'm feeling hopeless again and I'm starting to slip back into my depression.
For many nights now I have tried to see Ana's face but I can't even imagine her anymore. I've shut myself away from the world and only faced it to see my son and spend time with him. My mother tried to get me to talk to Flynn but I couldn't face it and even the pills she gave me brought me little comfort.
Then something wakes me up in the night I look around my bedroom momentarily dazed then realise it's my phone. I think about letting it keep ringing but not wanting it to wake Teddy I finally pick it up.
"Grey speaking," I say drowsily.
"Christian," someone shakily asks.
For a split second I'm rendered speechless by the voice on the other end of the phone, then filled with uncertainty I answer.