Go to the far, left corner. It's the only place where you'll live! And somewhere in my barely lucid mind, those words had come back to me. And because of it, I had survived.
"Yes," she said, a disbelieving note in her voice, "and look at this."
I squinted at the screen again, to another article where they had taken a statement from Willa Greer. She was standing in front of her business, a Fortune-telling shop in downtown French Lick right next to another small tourist store. "Madam Willa, Past, Present, Future Told. Come Inside." I swallowed hard, not completely understanding what it meant. Another sign on her shop window declared, "Holistic medicine sold here - treat ailments of all varieties."
There is room for me here. Here I'm useful.
I snapped back to the present as Eden pressed print with shaking hands, stood up quietly, and grabbed the article copies as they came out of the printer. She folded them and shoved them in her purse and then shut everything down and grabbed my hand. She pulled me out of the library.
When we stepped outside into the crisp fall air, we stopped and I took a big breath. I leaned back against a column in front of the building and wrapped my arms around her and hugged her close. "Hey," I whispered. "You have to stay calm. You've got a little life inside of you."
Eden nodded her head. "I know," she whispered against my chest. "It's just a shock. Seeing him . . . hearing about his past. I don't even know what to feel. Oh my God, Calder, we found him."
"I know," I said quietly. "And I don't know how to feel either."
She tilted her head and looked up at me. "None of that . . . none of that makes it okay what he did."
I shook my head, staring unseeing at the parking lot in front of me. "No, it doesn't. In fact, it might make it worse—making victims out of others, taking you from your parents when he knew what it felt like to lose a little girl, causing your miscarriage." My hand automatically went down to her still-flat belly.
Eden was quiet for a minute. "Did he," she bit her lip, "just go crazy after what happened to his family, or . . .?"
"I don't know. Maybe the police can look into it when we give them his name."
She shivered against me and I pulled her tighter. "Yeah, maybe." When she looked up at me again, she asked, "Should we call them from here and tell them what we found?"
I furrowed my brow. "We're heading back tomorrow. Let's let them know when we get back. The very last thing I want is for a bunch of media to show up while we're still here. It's the very thing we needed to get away from."
"True," Eden said. "Hector . . . Thomas is dead anyway. I guess it's nothing that can't wait another day. We need to call Xander, though. He needs to know about this."
"Let's bring all this to him tomorrow, too. That way we'll be able to show him all the articles. Plus, we should be there in person to drop this bomb on him."
Eden nodded. "Yeah, you're right." We stood there for a few more minutes holding each other. I glanced down at Eden's purse, half of Willa Greer's face showing on a small corner of one of the articles sticking out of the top. Thank you, I said in my mind, pulling Eden closer.
We headed back to our room and we took a bubble bath together in the large tub, soaking in the warm water, just enjoying the intimacy, but mostly lost in our own thoughts. "Danae," Eden whispered. "It's unusual. I bet it's a Greek Princess or something like that."
I kissed her shoulder. "Probably. You were right. All the Greek stuff . . . he was a Greek History teacher. God, my girl is smart." I smiled against her skin and rubbed my nose over it, trying to make her smile, to make a little bit of the melancholy that had been surrounding us since we'd left the library dissipate.
Eden laughed softly. "Think the police have a position open for me?"
I laughed. "If they're smart, they do."
Eden rolled over in the water and brought her hands to my face and kissed me softly. After a few minutes, the water began to cool, and my blood began to heat. We got out of the bath and dried off and I made love to her in the spacious hotel room bed.
We ordered room service after that, content to spend our last night there wrapped up in each other. Personally, I felt like I needed that after what we'd found out earlier in the day. I needed to reset my emotions and find my equilibrium again and there was no better way to do that than to block out the world and focus solely on Eden.
The next morning as I was drying off from the shower and throwing my stuff back in my bag, Eden sat at the small desk scrolling through the Internet on her laptop. She turned to me. "What would you think about driving through the town Indiana University Southeast is in? The college Thomas Greer worked at?"
I paused. "Why?"
She tilted her head. "I don't know. I thought I might recognize something there . . . maybe the house where he kept me? I went out into the yard every now and again . . . What do you think?"
I went over to her and squatted down next to her chair. She turned toward me and took my hands in hers. "Eden, if you need that, I'll do it. But I don't want this to upset you. I don't want to risk your health in some way—"
"I'm stronger than that, Calder," she said. "And besides, knowledge, information, it has always made me feel more powerful, more in control. Plus, we're so close. I don't know if we'll be back this way, you know? Once life gets underway," she put her hand on her stomach in an unconscious gesture, "we won't want to focus on any of this. We'll want it behind us in every sense."
I breathed out and smiled gently at her. "Yeah." I paused. "Sure, we'll drive through the town a little bit and then we'll head home."
She nodded. "Okay." She tilted her head, obviously thinking. "Do you think . . . well, Hector tried to recruit my father as the first council member and he was basically local. You were among the first people who lived in Acadia. Do you think maybe you were local, too? I mean, obviously he came back and forth between here and Acadia, and then he brought me here."
I shrugged. "Yeah, but he gathered the other people who lived at Acadia from all over. I could be from anywhere. I'll probably never know." A feeling of loss squeezed my chest, even though I had no idea who I was grieving for, if anyone at all. Perhaps it was mostly because I knew no one was grieving for me.
We drove in silence for a while, headed toward New Albany, Indiana. The radio played softly as we watched the beautiful fall scenery go by. I marveled at the vibrant colors of the trees. This was the first year since I'd lived in the Midwest that I had the heart to appreciate the beauty of nature, and all the ways this part of the country was so different than the desert landscape I'd known all my life. There was beauty there, too, but it was such a different kind. Looking through the windshield now at the reds, yellows, and golds of the trees passing by, something about it felt intensely familiar. My mind had been in a completely relaxed state when the feeling came to me and I furrowed my brow, not understanding what it meant exactly, if anything. Maybe I was just finally at the point where the Midwest felt like home. And I was sure that was directly related to the woman sitting next to me. I grabbed her hand and smiled as I brought it to my lips.
"What names do you like?" I asked.
Eden looked over at me and worried her brow.
"For the baby," I prompted.
She still didn't answer for a minute and then, "I think we should wait until we know everything is okay before we plan anything." She looked over at me.
I squeezed her hand. "Everything's gonna be okay," I said.
She nodded. "Hopefully. I just—"
"You don't want to get attached yet," I said quietly. I understood because deep inside, I felt the same way, even despite the fact that I had only found out about Eden's first pregnancy after it was already gone. My heart squeezed at the memory of that moment in Hector's jail. A flash of anger lanced down my spine, making me sit up a little straighter in my seat.
"I'm already attached," Eden said. "I just think maybe I shouldn't get any more attached."
"I understand," I said, kissing her hand again.
She smiled softly. "I know you do."
When we pulled in to the town of New Albany, we plugged the address of the university into the GPS on my phone and then headed in that direction. We cruised slowly through the residential neighborhoods close to the college. We didn't have what had been Thomas Greer's address and so we didn't exactly have a location, so we just drove aimlessly. After about an hour, Eden huffed out a breath and said, "Nothing even looks vaguely familiar about this town. And all these houses are starting to look the same to me. I mean," she lifted her arms and let them drop, "even if he did bring me here, to this place, even if we drove right past the house I lived in, the yard might be completely different now. It's been fourteen years." She took a deep breath. "Oh well, at least we tried. I'm sure the police will be able to get his address and they can show me a picture. Maybe I'll recognize it. Maybe it doesn't even matter." She smiled over at me, but it seemed forced.
"Why don't we stop by the university?" I suggested. "It's lunch time. We could get some college cafeteria food and pretend like we're just two kids from suburbia who spotted each other across the bleachers at a football game and fell in love at first sight." I grinned over at her and she laughed, leaning over and kissing my cheek.
"Okay. I like that plan."
As I thought about it, I realized that it would have been true. No matter where Eden and I had been placed together in this world, we would have fallen in love. Whether we'd been two college freshman, two farm hands, two gypsies—two anything—the falling in love part of our story would have been the same. She would have pulled my heart from across a gymnasium, or a cornfield, or a traveling caravan.
We parked in the visitors lot and held hands as we strolled through the campus. It was a strange feeling. On one hand, I loved just being with Eden, and blending in among the other people close to our age, all walking around. It made it feel like we really were just two average college students, and that we fit in here just like anyone else. For that moment, we didn't have a past that was much different than any other average American kid's. For that moment, we hadn't lived through heartbreak and struggle and trauma. But on the other hand, this was the place where Hector had worked . . . where he had taught students and perhaps where the idea of Acadia was hatched. A small chill went down my spine when I thought about the fact that right here, this was the place where the idea that would change my and Eden's life forever was born.
This was also the place where the idea that would bring Eden and I together came to be. It was hard to know how to feel about that. Sometimes it seemed so much of the beauty in life resulted from the ugly. And how did you make sense of such things? How could you be thankful for something when so much suffering was necessary to bring it to you? Or was that the very thing that defined real beauty–light after darkness? And maybe that was the whole point. If you constantly sought beauty in the most obvious places, in only the brightest of circumstances, perhaps you weren't really looking for it at all.
We stopped and asked someone for directions to the cafeteria and then made our way there. After waiting in line to purchase sandwiches, we sat at one of the tables and chatted and ate. I couldn't help but notice all the guys who kept stealing glances at Eden. I could hardly blame them. She was the prettiest girl in the cafeteria. She was the prettiest girl in Indiana, hell, the world as far as I was concerned. And she had my baby in her belly. A fierce feeling of pride swept through me and I sat up a little straighter, grinning across at her. Eden raised one delicate eyebrow.
"What's that look for?"
I took a bite of my turkey sandwich and tried not to smile as I chewed. When I'd swallowed, I said, "I just feel good, proud. I'm happy. Even here, even knowing why we came here."
Eden's eyes got soft and she reached across the table for my hand. "Me too," she said.
An older maintenance man was bringing some boxes in and when he caught my eye, his own narrowed and he looked momentarily stunned. He kept looking at me until he turned the corner out of sight. Well, that was odd. I looked back at Eden and smiled. "Ready to get going?" I asked, gathering up all our garbage.
"Should we see if we can ask someone about Thomas Greer?" Eden asked. "I mean, maybe someone knows why he left . . . or can give us some information about him?"
"It's been so long, Eden," I said as we turned out of the cafeteria. "But yeah, let's give it a shot."
She nodded. "It's a long shot, but there are probably still some professors who worked with him, you know? He wasn't that old."
"Come on. We'll walk through the building once. We'll find out where the history department is."
Eden grinned. "Okay." I couldn't help chuckle. Who would have thought she could turn an information dig on Hector into some kind of adventure? I shook my head, but pulled her toward me and kissed the top of her head. Maybe it wasn't the most pleasant of topics, but we were in charge here, not him–never him, never again. And I guessed Eden was right to pursue it, because that part of it felt powerful.
We asked directions from a guy with curly red hair, an oversized backpack and a large coffee in his hand, and then followed them to the part of the building that housed the history department. The hallways were mostly deserted. Either the history classes were scheduled for earlier in the day on Fridays or they had been cancelled for some reason. Either way, it wouldn't help our cause.