A Different Blue Page 88

“Only two days before Melody's birthday,” I remarked, touched once more.

“October 28 was also the day you submitted a DNA sample to find out who you were,” Heidi Morgan offered. “Interesting how things come full circle.”

“I'm twenty-one,” I marveled, and, like most young people, I was pleased that I was older than I had thought.

“But your drivers license still says twenty, so we won't be pub-hopping or hitting the casinoes tonight,” Wilson teased, making everyone chuckle and relieving some of the emotional pressure that had built in the room.

“You are welcome to look at everything in the file. There are crime scene pictures, though, and things you might prefer not to see. The pictures are in the envelopes. Everything we know is in the file. We'll leave you alone for a while if you'd like. Contact information for your grandmother is there, as well as for your father. Your grandmother is still living on the reservation, but your father is in Cedar City, Utah, which isn't all that far from there.”

Wilson and I spent another hour pouring over the contents of the file, trying to get a more complete picture of the girl who had been my mother. There wasn't much to learn. The only thing that struck me was that when my mother's car had been recovered there was a blue blanket in the back seat. It was described as having big blue elephants on a paler blue background, and it was clearly designed for a young child. A picture of it had been tagged as evidence from a possible secondary crime scene.

“Blue.” The word sprang out of me as a sliver of recognition wormed its way to the surface.

“I called that blanket 'blue.'”

“What?” Wilson looked at the picture I was staring at.

“That was my blanket.”

“You called it Blue?”

“Yes. How is it that I remember that blanket but I don't remember her, Wilson?” My voice was steady, but my heart felt swollen and battered, and I didn't know how much more I could take. I pushed the file away and stood, pacing around the room until Wilson stood too and pulled me into his arms. His hands stroked my hair as he talked.

“It's not that hard to understand, luv. I had a stuffed dog that my mother eventually had to pry from my hands because it was so filthy and worn out. He had been washed a hundred times, in spite of the severe warning label on his arse that promised he would disintegrate. Chester is literally in every picture of me as a child. I was extremely attached, to put it mildly. Maybe it was like that for you with your blanket.”

“Jimmy said I kept saying blue . . .” The puzzle piece clicked into place, and I halted midsentence.

“Jimmy said I kept saying 'blue,'” I repeated. “So that's what he called me.”

“That's how you got your name?” Wilson was incredulous, understanding dawning across his handsome face.

“Yes . . . and all the time, I must have just wanted my blanket. You would think she would have left it with me, wrapped it around me when she left me on that front seat. That she would have known how scared I would be, how much I would need that damn blanket.” I pushed away, fighting out of Wilson's arms, desperate to breathe. But my chest was so tight I couldn't inhale. I felt myself cracking, the fissures spreading at lightning speed across the thin ice that I had been walking on my whole life. And then I was submerged in grief, consumed by it. I fought for breath, fought to rise to the surface. But there was lead in my feet, and I was sinking fast.

“You've had enough for today, Blue.” Wilson gathered me against him and pulled the door open, signaling to someone beyond the door.

“She's had all she can take,” I heard him say, and someone else was suddenly there beside me. My vision blurred and darkness closed in. I felt myself being lowered to a chair, and my head was forced between my legs.

“Breathe, Blue. Come on, Baby. Deep breaths,” Wilson crooned in my ear. My head cleared slightly, and the ice in my veins began to thaw the slightest degree. One breath, then several more. When my vision cleared I had only one request.

“I want to go home, Wilson. I don't want to know any more.”

We left the police station with a copy of the file. Wilson insisted I take it, as well as the contact information for people who shared my blood but had never shared my life. I wanted to throw the file out the window as we drove and let the pages spill out across the road and into the Reno night, a hundred pages of a tragic life tossed into the wind so they could be forgotten and never gathered again.

We ate a drive-thru, too weary and subdued to leave the car or even converse. But home was eight hours away and our flight wasn't until 8 the next morning, so we found a hotel and paid for one room for one night. Wilson didn't ask me if I wanted my own. I didn't. But there were two double beds in the room, and as soon as we checked in, I brushed my teeth, pulled off my jeans, and crawled into one, promptly falling asleep.

I dreamed of strings of paper-doll cutouts with my mother's face and blankets in every color but blue. I dreamed I was still in high school, walking through endless hallways, looking for Wilson but instead finding dozens of children who didn't know their names. I came awake with tears on my cheeks and terror writhing in my belly, convinced that Wilson had left Reno while I slept. But he was still there in the bed next to mine, his long arms wrapped around the spare pillow, his tousled hair a dark contrast against the white sheets. Moonlight spilled onto him, and I watched him sleep for a long time, memorizing the line of his jaw, the sweep of long lashes against his lean cheeks, watching his lips as he sighed in his sleep.

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