Sam sat up straight in her bed, flattening her back against her headboard to give herself some space from Jake. She opened her mouth to give him a piece of her mind but Jake interrupted.
"Sam, stop. Please, just listen." Jake begged, "I needed some time to think about it. I know I should have told you but, I didn't want you to overreact, or cry or something."
"Yeah?" She said coldly.
"Sam, Please. I'm sorry."
Sam just glared at him.
"So I know about the key. Actually, I have it."
Sam's jaw dropped.
"Jake?" She was whispering again.
He got up from her bed and walked over to his. He pushed the top mattress over to reveal an envelope. He then handed it to her wordlessly.
Sam slid her finger under the sealed edge.
"Have you opened this before?" She asked him.
"No. I just know it's a key because of the shape."
Sam nodded and continued to open the envelope. A small, silver key fell onto the bed. Sam reached down and grabbed it. She traced her finger over the jagged edge and up around the smooth head of the key. She toke a deep breath and dropped it back inside the envelope, noticing a folded note inside.
"Jake, who gave you this?"
"Grace did. She made me promise to keep it safe, until it was time. I didn't know then what that meant. Now I do."
With that Sam pulled the note out of the envelope and unfolded it. In Grace's scrolling cursive she read:
I know you will be led to this at some time. I can't tell you where it is because I fear your father will somehow find out. But I know God will show you that. I love you so much and I know my time here is drawing to a close. God bless you sweetheart,
Sam closed her eyes as Jake read over the letter. She fought the tears that lay just behind her lids.
When she opened them Jake was gazing at her with concern in his eyes.
"Do you have any idea what this key is to Jake?" She squeaked out.
"Sam, I have no idea. She just made me promise to keep it safe. That's all she said."
Sam's eyes flashed with anger at him and she stabbed a finger towards his chest.
"And why should I believe you? You better not be hiding anything else from me Jacob. If you are and I find out there is NO way I am going to be able to trust you."
Jake winced at her words, but grabbed Sam's hands and looked directly into her eyes.
"That's all I know Sam. I promise."
Sam nodded, believing him. A wave of emotional exhaustion hit her and she glanced at the clock. It was only two in the afternoon and she was ready for bed. She pulled her hands out of Jake's and laid down facing away from him.
"I need some time to myself, okay? To think." She told him.
"Okay," Jake said and then silently left the room.
Several hours later Jake opened Sam's door to tell her it was dinnertime. She was fast asleep, curled up on top of her covers. He noticed that in place of her jeans she was wearing a pair of over-sized sweatpants with 'Darton High Track Team' scrolled down the leg. Those were his, he realized with a smile. She looked so peaceful there, so much so that he hesitated to wake her. He sat down and brushed a few strands of her auburn hair out of her face.
"Sam," he said gently. "It's dinner-time."
Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at him. For a moment neither of them thought about Sam's past, or her mystery, or the stupid key. But then Sam's face fell in remembrance. She sat up and searched the room until her eyes landed on the envelope she had placed on her bedside table. She let out a sigh of relief.
"I have an idea," Jake told her. He got up and began rummaging through the top drawer in his dresser. He came out with a small box. From it he pulled out a silver chain. He held it out to Sam and she toke a moment to register it before pulling out the key, lacing it on the chain, and clasping it around her neck.
"Thanks Jake…and do I have to come to dinner?"
"Mom might wonder what's up if you don't."
"Oh," Sam replied, already swinging her legs of the bed.
When Sam entered the kitchen Maxine smiled at her.
"Are you feeling any better Sam? Jake said you were really tired." Sam thought a moment, reminding herself to tell Jake thanks for covering her later.
"Yes. Thank you Maxine." Suddenly she was aware of Maxine's eyes on the key around Sam's neck. A thoughtful look crossed her face before she blanked it out. Sam was about to ask why she had looked at her like that but the rest of the Ely's broke into the kitchen and began bustling around her.
Dinner passed uneventfully besides Quinn and Bryan teasing Sam for being so tired from riding. Sam fidgeted in her seat; impatient for a minute to come when she could ask Maxine what she knew about the key. The moment came after dinner when she was drying the dishes as Maxine washed them.
"Maxine, I saw you looking at my necklace. I was wondering if you knew anything about it?"
"Well, actually I was just thinking your mom used to wear one just like it. Did you get it from her?"
That made sense. If this key had some importance, her mom would have kept it close. But was this the same one?
"Um, yeah. Well no, I got it from my Gram," Sam told Maxine. It was technically true.
Maxine smiled sadly. Sam remembered her mom and Maxine had been close; best friends.
"I'm gonna head up, okay?" Sam told her.
"Are you sure? We were going to watch a movie, all together." Maxine looked hopeful.
Sam weighed her options. She really wanted to go to sleep, maybe to dream some more of her dream. But she didn't want to let her new family down. And if she fell asleep downstairs, nobody would blame her.
"Okay," Sam said. A smile spread across Maxine's face.
Soon Sam was sandwiched between Jake and Quinn again, as she had been the first night she'd come home to Three Ponies.
And as she'd done the first night, she leaned up against Jake, and fell asleep.