Adele quickly followed behind Alexander and jumped in her sporty white convertible, pulling up alongside Alexander. “See you at noon, Alex.” She smirked. “Oh, and Happy Birthday, darling.” She tore down the small dirt path in the cemetery and turned onto the street.
“Stupid bitch,” Alexander murmured.
“Mr. Burnham, welcome back,” Mrs. Carlson said when Alexander walked into his house. “Your sister is here, along with your brother. They’re in the study.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Carlson. I’ll be going out in a bit and won’t be around for lunch or dinner, so you’ll only have to worry about Carol or Tyler, if they’ll be around.”
Alexander made his way into the study.
“Happy Birthday, bro,” Tyler said, walking over to Alexander as he entered the room, giving him a hug.
“Thanks, Ty,” Alexander replied, staring at a younger version of himself. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d be hung-over from the big twenty-one celebration last night.”
Tyler shrugged. “It’s your birthday today. I needed to be here for you. I know how hard this day is for you.” He leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Plus, that fake ID you got for me when I started college has been great. I feel like I’ve been twenty-one for years now.”
“Hey! I heard that!” Carol interjected.
Alexander looked fondly at his sister. “Hey Carol. How’s it going?”
“Good. Good.” She looked hesitant.
“What’s going on? Why are you both here?” While it wasn’t out of the ordinary for Tyler to show up in Mystic that weekend for Alexander’s birthday, Carol normally stayed in Boston in case she was needed for work. Her being in town struck Alexander as odd.
“Umm, well, we need to talk, Alex,” Carol said, looking nervously at Tyler. “I’ve been thinking that with all the new information that has come to light, it might be time to open that letter.”
Alexander stared at his siblings with a wide-eyed look on his face.
“Alex, what are you so worried about? I know Dad sent the letter to you and it’s your decision about whether to open it or not, but come on already!”
“You know what, sis?” he said, raising his voice, his face becoming flushed. “I love you. But I don’t want to sit here and listen to this anymore.” He turned to leave.
“Come on, Alex,” Tyler interrupted, causing Alexander to spin back around to face his brother. “You’ve been sitting on that letter for over five years. Now you know that Dad covered up Olivia’s death. He had her name changed. I guarantee that’s what he was doing all those years when he was gone. He was with her. Protecting her. Don’t you want to know why?”
Alexander looked at his sister, ready to kill her for telling Tyler about everything. “Of course I do!” he shouted, slamming his fist down on a nearby table. “But how the fuck do I tell her? I love her!” He couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth. “Oh my God. I love that woman, guys,” he said quietly, his lower lip trembling.
“I know you do,” Carol said, laying her hand on his shoulder. “You loved her all those years ago when you were just kids. And you never stopped looking for her.”
“It’s like my heart knew she was still out there,” he said quietly. “I just had to find her. Even though you all told me time and time again that she was dead. I have her fucking death certificate for crying out loud. How do I tell her that everything she has been told her entire life was a bunch of lies? How will she react? I just don’t know if she needs to go through any more pain.”
“I know, Alex. And when I read through the report you had Simpson prepare, I hoped that I could prove that it wasn’t her. But too many pieces fell into place. The hospital records from the accident. The birth certificate that was dated the same date of Olivia’s supposed death. School records. Signatures that were strikingly close to dad’s signature. It was all too much. And then the photo enhancement of what she would look like now. We all still have questions. Questions that could probably be answered if you open that letter.”
“I know guys. And thanks for coming to see me and all, but I need more time to think about all of this.” Alexander looked at his watch. “I have to get ready. I promised Adele I’d take her to her parents’ thing at the club.”
“Oh, you’re still talking to that bitch?” Tyler asked, surprised.
“She’s not that bad.”
Carol laughed and Tyler joined in.
“Okay, okay. Maybe she’s a little cold.”
“And calculated. She wants your money, Alex,” Carol retorted.
“She’s got money of her own. So she’s not after mine.”
“You haven’t heard?” Tyler asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Well, word is, her family took a bit of a hit a few years back with the downturn of the housing market. They’re still trying to keep up appearances that they have money as a way of attracting money to them, but, let’s just say, they’re practically broke.”
“Gold digging whore,” Carol muttered under her breath.
“Come on. I grew up with her. You guys didn’t know her that well. And she liked me when they still had money. I’m not saying I ever saw myself with her long term, but she was always good for a distraction, and maybe that’s what I need today. A distraction. So if you don’t mind, I need to get ready to pick her up.”
“Okay,” Tyler said. “But you better hope she didn’t pull some move like she did last time and call the photographers just to get her name and photo in the paper for a quick buck and a few minutes of celebrity.”
“That was New York. We’re in Mystic, for crying out loud. Not a hot bed of celebrity sightings, so I think we’ll be fine. But thanks for your concern.” Alexander turned to leave.
“Wait, I’m sorry guys,” he said, spinning around, hating to leave his siblings on a sour note. “I’m just on edge lately. Stay the weekend. We’ll go out for some drinks later. I haven’t spent time with you all in a while with work being busy and all that. It’ll be good for us.”
“Yeah okay, bro,” Tyler replied, giving Alexander a brief hug. “I know things have been rough lately.”