Note: Roughly set somewhere between Battle of the Labyrinth and The Titan's Curse.

Chapter 2

Reeses and Secrets

Before you get on me about that liking Rachel thing again, I'd like to say in my defense that I did call Annabeth first. She didn't answer, and the ADHD made waiting next to impossible.

And I didn't have any other friends around here that I could confide in about something like this. So you see, Rachel really was the only person to call.

After hearing the whole story, Rachel had one conclusion.

"Your mom is hiding something."

My mom was...hiding something? It sounded so ridiculous that I couldn't help but laugh. So maybe she hadn't been honest about the fact that I was the son of a Greek god for the first 12 years of my life, but that was it. I'd made her swear that she wasn't keeping any other big secrets from me after that whole experience.

"I'm serious! That's how a girl acts whens she's hiding something. And even you had to notice the way she abruptly left," Rachel insisted.

She did have a point. "So you think my mom was adopted?"

"Not quite." There was awkward silence for a few seconds. "I think we need to investigate. You know, go through all your mom's papers and stuff."

"How fast can you get here?"

"Ten minutes."

I was probably acting rashly. Mom would kill me if she knew that I went through the stuff in her office. But what was I supposed to do? If Mom was hiding something, she wasn't going to tell me. I'd just have to find it for myself.

"There has to be some kind of paperwork," Rachel said, grabbing a giant stack of files.

I followed her lead, flipping through papers. I found bills, report cards, insurance papers, and a million other papers, but nothing to do with adoption. And of course none of it was organized. That would have been way too easy.

"I don't think we're going to find anything," I muttered after going through another stack of miscellaneous papers.

"That's because we've been looking for five minutes," Rachel insisted. "We'll find something." A few minutes later she added, "Do you know when your mom's gonna be home?"

I shook my head. "I still can't believe that my mom could be adopted. I mean, why wouldn't she tell me?"

"Umm...Percy?" Rachel said tentatively. "Ever think that maybe it could be the other way around?"

"You think I'm adopted?"

"Okay, there's no delicate way to put this, so I'm just going to say it. I think your mom had a kid before you and gave it away."

Impossible. That was just impossible. What made me so sure Mom had acted weird, anyway? Maybe I was just imagining it. This was ridiculous. What were we expecting to find? If Mom kept this big secret, why would she keep the paperwork?

We looked for another half hour and didn't find anything. "I still don't get why your mom acted so defensive," Rachel said, clearly confused.

"Yeah, well maybe I was wrong. Some people get all worked up over gay rights or abortion. Maybe Mom just gets worked up over adoption," I tried explaining, but it sounded dumb even to me.

"Maybe." Rachel was also unconvinced.

At least I'd thought of a topic for my essay.

Let's fast forward to about a month in the future, just for the sake of keeping things moving.

The essay was just another school project. I don't even remember how I did on it. Maybe I didn't even look at it before tossing it in the recycling bin. The temporary moment of suspicion I'd had about my mom was all but gone.

It was near 11 at night. I was still up because of some movie that was on. Well, that and I was wondering why Mom wasn't home yet. Parent\teacher conferences didn't go this late. At least, I thought they didn't.

Ten minutes went by. Fifteen. A half hour. Mom had to have been hit by a bus, kidnapped by African slave traders, or maybe she just decided to spontaneously run off to Vegas and get married to Paul.

Regardless of what happened, she couldn't still be at conferences.

I turned off the TV. It was time to go to sleep, and if Mom wasn't home by morning...well, I'd cross that bridge when I got to it.

The door opened as I got off the couch. Of course it was Mom. Who else would be coming home around midnight?

Mom didn't look at me as she hung her coat up and kicked her shoes off. "Your English teacher really liked your essay," she said quietly. "And the subject of the children a mother has post-adoption."

I had a gut feeling that this wasn't good. "Yeah, well it was just a paper." I tried to blow it off. "Mom, it's really late, and I have school tomorrow."

"Wait," she called out. "I..." I turned to face her. She held out a thin file. "You should have seen this a long time ago, but...Percy, I was ashamed." Mom's voice broke. "Please, just take this."

Mom thrust the envelope at me, and I took it gingerly. She looked away. "I'll...let you look over it by yourself. We can talk about it...when you're ready."

And with that, Mom left me alone.

I flipped the lights back on in the living room and sat on the couch. The envelope was stamped with an address and the name of a courthouse. I remembered reading in American government about how courthouses most often had copies of important documents.

That gut feeling just kept getting worse and worse.

For a second, I wondered if I really wanted to see this. Maybe it would be better not to know whatever was inside of it. I could just pretend that nothing had ever happened, that I'd never suspected anything.

But the seeds of doubt were planted, and I had proof that there was something to be suspicious about right in my hands. As much as I wished I could get rid of the file, I had to see what was inside.

The first thing I pulled out was a birth certificate. Call me crazy, but I didn't look at the name at first. My eyes immediately went to the spot that was reserved for the parents' names.

Sally Jackson and an unidentified father. Born on May 13, 1989 at a New York hospital.

The other piece of paper was a waiver, signed by my mom on May 14, 1989. Being tired and dyslexic, it wasn't easy to read. But from what I got out of it, Mom had signed off on all parental rights to her newborn child.

And that child's name...

Luke Reese Jackson.