Present- Rome WI
Oh, what am I doing here, I thought as she walked slowly down the street, how do I even know that I'm in the right spot? Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to focus. They told me that these people can help me, but there is so much . . . I don't know what to believe anymore. I want them back! Why . . .
"Focus, Julia," I whispered, "Just find the house and everything will be okay. Mom and Dad wouldn't panic, and neither are you. You made it this far, just one more stop. There!"
What if they moved? Or died? This was all 15 years ago! What if they don't remember?
"Or even care," I said aloud, as I approached the house. Raising my fist, I knocked quickly before I could lose my nerve. Sucking in my breath, I heard the chain being fumbled with and then the door opened.
"Can I help you?" the man asked, as he studied me standing on the front stoop.
"Uh, maybe," I said hesitantly, "Um, are you Jimmy Brock?"
"Yes, and you are?"
"Julia Cooke. You knew my parents along time ago."
"Cooke? I don't remember and Cookes," he said, as he studied me carefully, "You look familiar though . . . Cooke."
I shook my head, "It wasn't their name then."
Jimmy took a step backward, as he looked at my bright blue eyes and long dark hair, "My god. You can't be, they didn't . . . Where are your parents?"
I gulped back a sob and shook my head wildly, "They're . . . they said . . . if anything ever happened to them . . . to come to you."
"Jimmy? Who is at the door?" Jill called, as she joined her husband, "Hello."
"Hi," I said quietly, as she promised myself that I wouldn't cry.
"Jill, this is Julia Cooke," Jimmy said, "Come in, Julia."
"Do we know you?" Jill asked.
"No, my parents though . . . You knew them," I offered, as Jimmy led her inside.
"Kenny and Max," Jimmy said quietly, as Jill gasped behind him.
"They didn't have any children," Jill choked, "They died 15 years ago, Jimmy! This girl, she isn't, she can't be."
"They didn't die in Mexico, Jill."
"It was the only way . . . The mob and the FBI was going to hunt them forever. All they wanted was a chance to live."
"You lied to me for 15 years!"
"They're dead now," I practically whispered, as I choked back a sob.
They fell silent at that, and looked at the girl shaking in their foyer.
"I'm so sorry," Jimmy finally said.
"They said to come to you. They trusted you."
Jimmy nodded, "Were they happy? Did they give you a good life?"
I nodded, "They were the best . . . Mom and me, when I was little she would take me to the beach almost every day, and when I got older . . . she always listened. Dad used to take me out on the boat . . . After they put me to bed, I liked to sneak back downstairs . . . they were always so happy together."
"Where did you live?" Jill finally asked.
"Tahiti, since I was little. I was born in Ireland though," I trailed off, "My parents liked to laugh about it, but I guess it wasn't funny then."
"What happened?" Jimmy asked, "How old are you, Julia?"
"Mom went into labor while they were still traveling, and they were staying at this bed and breakfast. The owners were out for the night, and I was almost two months early. Dad delivered me in the middle of the kitchen, just as the owners came home. They made my parents pay double for messing up the kitchen floor. And I'm almost 15."
"That means," Jill started, as she did the math, "Max was pregnant last time we saw them, or soon after. I can't believe that they would bring a child into the mess that they made. How stupid were they?"
"I'm not a child," I retorted, "My parents were wonderful people! I don't know why they would send me to someone like you though."
"How do we even know that you are who you say you are?" Jill countered.
"Just look at her, Jill," Jimmy countered, "Remember how Max looked with all that dark hair? It's like looking in a mirror."
"I have pictures," I added, as she rummaged through her backpack, "Here."
"My god," Jimmy said under his breath, as he looked at the images of the happy family staring back at him, "Julia, how did you get here? What exactly did your parents tell you? What happened to them?"
"It's a long story."
15 Years Ago -Paris
"This seems like a good as spot as any," Max commented, as they strolled hand in hand down the Left Bank.
"You just want to stay here to shop," Kenny commented.
"Well that is one reason," she said, "What about for our other project? We need to get rid of the diamonds, or at least start hiding them. Why not here?"
"Ah, Bella," he started, "Sorry. New names, right?"
"I liked being Isabella Kapali," Max sighed, "But I'm sure that Tamara Cooke is going to be full of surprises, Michael."
He kissed the top of her head, "I also really like the fact that Tamara is a red head. You look beautiful, Sweetheart."
Max pushed her dark auburn hair off of her face, "And I like that Michael trimmed his beard."
"What? You don't like the scruffy look any more?"
"I think that you're wonderfully sexy and handsome, but the beard was taking on a life of it's own lately. Oh, no."
"Tamara?" Kenny asked, as she wrenched free and stumbled toward a bush, "You okay?"
"Umph," she groaned, as all of breakfast came up, "No. Stupid French food. Sorry."
"It's been the French food the last few days . . . you sure that is all that is?"
"What else could it be? Besides the fact that my nerves are shot to hell."
"Here," he said, handing her a tissue, "I don't know. When uh . . . you know. Your last, uh . . ."
"My period?" Max asked, at his reluctance to use the word.
She paused, "I'm not sure. Everything has been so crazy lately. Come on, I'm on the pill, but . . . I didn't take it in Zihuatanejo, or since then. Oh no."
"It doesn't have to be a bad thing. The timing sucks, but . . . Well, we were talking about it lately, Sweetheart."
"A baby," Max said aloud, "How do we bring a baby into this?"
"They think that we're dead. No one will ever look for us again. We're in the clear, and all we have to do is pick a place and settle down."
"It can't be that easy."
"It just can't be!"
"Well you're emotional enough to be pregnant," Kenny commented dryly, "Why don't we go get a pregnancy test before panicking?"
Present - Rome, WI
"So they didn't know while they were here," Jill said.
"I doubt they would have put their baby in danger that way," Jimmy commented, "They wouldn't have come."
"They would have," I said.
15 Years Ago - Paris
"I can't look. I'm too nervous," Max said, as she sunk down onto the bed.
"Whatever it says, everything will be okay. I promise you that," Kenny said, "You want me to look?"
"No. Yes. Go."
He kissed her on her forehead before getting the test out of the bathroom, "You ready?"
"Look at me, Tamara," Kenny said, as he rejoined her on the bed and tilted her face up, "We're having a baby."
Max looked down at the positive test in his hands, "I'm pregnant?"
"That's how it generally works."
"You think that this is funny?"
"Ah, Sweetheart," Kenny sighed, "Do you think it's a boy or a girl?"
"What?" Max asked, "I've known that I'm pregnant for two minutes and you ask me that? I don't know."
"Hey, it changes things. I know that."
"At least no one will be looking for a pregnant woman. At least when I start showing."
Present - Rome, WI
"Max didn't take the news so well?" Jimmy asked.
"It took them both by surprise," I said, "I think having me was the farthest thing from their minds at the moment."
15 Years Ago - Ireland
"Ow," Max whined, as Kenny helped her up the steps to the Celtic Cross Bed and Breakfast, "My feet hurt."
He laid his hand on her seven-month pregnant stomach, "You didn't have to come."
"We're a team, right?"
"I'll happily give you a bye right now. You're seven months pregnant, and shouldn't be traipsing around everywhere burying diamonds. You should be resting."
"I would, but someone is kicking the crap out of me lately. I think they want out."
"We still need a place to live first. I think we've killed any trail if anyone happened to be looking for us."
Max nodded in agreement, "Yeah. Hmm."
She nodded, "Fine, no. Ow. What was that?"
Kenny looked down at the puddle on the floor, "I think your water just broke."
Present - Rome, WI
"How did you go from Ireland to Tahiti?" Jimmy asked.
"I was only a baby. My parents liked the beach. I know they lived on an island in Greece at one point, and Dad mentioned something about falling for Mom on another one."
"Tom's island," Jill interjected, "And when they were in Santorini."
12 Years Ago - Tahiti
"Mommy!" I cried, as she toddled across the yard, "Look!"
"It's beautiful," Max said, as she examined her daughter's picture.
"And what did the little artist draw today?" Kenny asked, as he pushed the gate open to their yard, "Hi, Sweetheart."
"Daddy!" I called, as he plopped down on the grass next to them, "Picture!"
"So I see," he said, as he wrapped one arm around Max and Julia climbed into his lap, "You're getting so big. And prettier every day. How are my girls?"
"Hmm, good now," Max said, as he kissed her, "What is that smell?"
"Me. I was working on the beach all day, and . . . well I wanted to kiss you more than shower."
"I can deal with that," Max said.
"Daddy up!" I said.
Present - Rome, WI
"Max was a stay at home Mom?" Jill asked, "I can't see that."
"She was a great Mom," I said, "Dad worked so hard to support us, but he always came home happy to see us. It's how I remember my parents best. Dad never left in the morning without kissing Mom and hugging me."
"What did he do for work?" Jimmy asked.
"He did maintenance for one of the hotels. I know he didn't love it, but it let Mom stay home with me. And when he didn't have to work, he'd take me fishing and then after they thought I went to bed, they'd turn on some music and dance in the kitchen."
"When did they tell you about everything?" Jimmy asked.
"It wasn't until much later."
5 Years Ago - Tahiti
"Mom?" I asked hesitantly, "Are we going on vacation?"
"What? No," Max said, as she joined her 10-year-old daughter in the kitchen, "Why?"
"The suitcases in the closet. Me and Maya were playing, and I thought they were empty. They're full of our stuff."
"We just keep stuff in there," Max replied, "We don't exactly live in a mansion here, kiddo."
"Mom, I'm not a kid," I complained, "But I looked more after Maya left . . . I found our passports, but they have different names on them. There were a lot of them. Why?"
"It's nothing for you to worry about," Max said quietly.
"Julia, I mean it."
"Fine. I'll ask Dad then."
"Ask Dad what?" Kenny asked, as he came through the back door, "Tamara? Julia?"
"If those are our real names, '" Julia said under her breath.
"What?" Kenny said, as he looked over at Max, "Sweetheart?"
"She found the suitcases and passports, Michael."
"Did you kidnap me or something?" I blurted out, "Is that why we have fake passports? Are you criminals? Why? What is going on?"
"Kidnap you? Julia you look exactly like your mother," Kenny countered, "I was there when you were born. You were not kidnaped."
"Then what is it? I want to know. I need to know!"
"What do you think?" Kenny asked.
"Well we have to tell her something," Max offered, "It might as well be the truth."
"What truth!" I cried.
"It's okay," Max said, as the threesome sat down at the kitchen table, "Julia, honey, calm down and just listen to us."
"It's a long story, kiddo," Kenny said, "So just bear with us."