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         "Deanna, please honey, just stop doing this to yourself. It won't do anyone any good for you to make yourself sick like this."

 

         Deanna's terrified dark eyes met the comforting sea of concern in his blue ones. "Please....I know you have to be angry with me, so just please don't...." No matter how worried about her was Deanna couldn't shake the fact that at any moment Will was going to realize what she had done.

 

         Whatever had happened to the little girl named Alexandra, horrible as it must have been, would sooner or later take a back seat to the fact that she had kept their child from him for at least half a decade. Sooner or later, the hurt of betrayal would over take them both. She was sure of it.

 

         Instinctively, Will knew what was bothering her. He reached out, turning her to face him. "Deanna, listen to me. Whatever happened back then is over. God, you weren't even much older then Mandy back then. I'm not angry....if anything, I know now more than ever that I am partly responsible for everything that happened after the jungle. Anything you did, you had more than a little right to do. Forget that. What matters now is what happened next.

 

         Deanna nodded slowly. "Maybe somewhere in the rest of her things...." she let the sentence trail as she approached the chest again. She picked up that last picture, staring straight through it. "She didn't come back that day." How she knew this, Deanna had no clue. Without even hearing Will's questioning response she reached back into the trunk, feeling for all the world like she was taking the lid off Pandora's box.

 

         The necklace. Somehow, her hand had come up with the necklace. Memories of what had happened in the lot earlier that day suddenly returned. Memories of memories....the thought was so strange, she might have laughed, but for the darkness and grief that had suddenly enveloped her soul. ~ NO!~ The word lanced through her mind, and for the second time that day, she collapsed under the pressure of that darkness.

 

         Will barely had time to catch her.

 

*  *  *

 

         Alexis started, blinked, and then finally just stared. "I'm sorry, what are you talking about?"

 

         Amanda immediately cursed herself for asking the question so directly. ~ I've either scared the life out of her or she thinks I'm completely nuts! ~  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to blurt it out like that....It's just, well....I overheard my mom telling my dad about what happened at the house the other night....about you hearing a little girl."

 

         Alexis felt as if her face was on fire. "Oh, that was just a little stress playing with my overactive imagination is all, nothing to be taken seriously. Why would that make you think that I was some sort of telepath?"

 

         Mandy sat up in the chair and looked the older woman straight in the eye. "That was my sister's room. No one knew that, not even my mom, but somehow YOU knew she had been there. How else could you explain that?"

 

         "So that is how you would describe it then? I was never really sure, but for some reason I never wanted to take the explanation that far." Alexis left her seat and moved to the window. Somehow, the empty darkness of the night was already closing in.         ~ How appropriate. ~

 

         Amanda watched her with fascination. "Then there is something, isn't there?" She suddenly felt sorry for this woman. Here she was, some kid she barely even knew, and digging up what was clearly a painful subject for her. "Listen," she whispered, "you don't have to tell me anything, I'll just go."

 

         "No.....please stay. If what you say is true, then there are things you have a right to know. Things you need to know."

 

         The desperation in her plea stopped Amanda cold. For the first time she realized that her revelation hadn't even fazed her companion. That was strange....she should have at least questioned why Deanna had never mentioned having another child, but she hadn't. Instead, she had been completely absorbed in the idea that whatever her secrets were, they might be explained through the blanket terms of telepathy. "You know something, don't you?" she asked.