What would you do if you found out your late spouse wasn’t the biological parent of your stepchild as they had led you to believe? Would you let it go, in hopes the child wouldn’t go looking for their birth family, or would you help them in their search?
This is the dilemma Neil Falcon faces when he first discovers his late wife, Rita, wasn’t the biological mother of his teenage stepdaughter, Rikki.
His decision to look for her roots puts them on a path that leads them to a part of Neil’s past, one he thought was locked away forever.
Kelsey Wagner is shocked to see the man she once adored appear on her doorstep with claims that Rikki may be her biological child. After finding out her daughter wants her to be a part of her life, she agrees.
Amidst the confusion of raising a teenage daughter, the old feelings resurface. They know their daughter wants them to become a family, but can they make it work?
Kelsey Wagner stared at the papers she was holding in shock. Tears filled her eyes, which blurred the words, making them run together like ink under water.
DNA can show it was someone else.
“Kelsey? Are you okay?” Neil Falcon’s question brought her back to the present.
She glanced up at him, a former counsellor from her time in a house for runaway teens, then moved her gaze back to the documents in her hand.
“I’m fine, give me a minute,” Kelsey mumbled distractedly, trying to discern what had led Neil and Rikki in her direction. She was barely a high school graduate, but she knew how easily one could be led away from the truth.
Or toward it.
Take a deep breath and look at why he thinks you’re the biological mother of his adopted daughter.
She read the birth date.
That’s the same.
So was the time of birth, and the hospital in Shelburne, where her daughter was born.
There was a photocopy of the card for her bassinet in the hospital, and Kelsey’s heart skipped a beat as she recognized the handwriting. Baby Girl. The last name was scratched out.
The data showed that Rikki Falcon, Neil’s adoptive child, was her biological daughter, the one Kelsey had given up for adoption when she was only sixteen years old.
This can’t be real. Neil has his facts mixed up. Rikki isn’t mine. She belongs to someone else. My child is in another province, far away from Nova Scotia.
She whispered tearfully, “How sure are you? Everything lines up, but there’s still a chance she may not be mine.”
“C’mon, Kelsey, you know I wouldn’t have come to Montreal if I wasn’t sure.”
She nodded as she remembered how Neil wasn’t one to jump to conclusions—he’d prefer to have concrete proof before he did something that could hurt his adopted child.
It’s a thirteen-hour drive from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. No one drives that far unless they are on vacation or have pressing business to tend to.
“I know,” she whispered.
He awkwardly shifted and stared down at her with concern. “If you don’t want to know, I understand, but think of Rikki. When she found out she was adopted, she wanted to know who her real parents were. When things started pointing in your direction, she was over the moon.”
Kelsey shook her head, still unable to believe it. “I’m not the only teenager who gave birth to a girl that day,” she reminded him. There had been two others, but one girl was only fourteen, and the other was eighteen. She had been the only sixteen-year-old in the maternity ward that week.
“I double-checked in case I was wrong. You’re the same age, and you gave birth at the right time on her birthday. Everything else lines up for it to be you,” he shot back.
Kelsey’s gut was telling her that although the records could have been mixed up in his search, Neil’s findings were correct, and his stepdaughter was her biological child.
She straightened to her full height and met his deep brown-eyed gaze. “When and where do you want me to take the test?”
Neil visibly relaxed at her question. “The lab said you can drop by at any time today, and we’ll know within twenty-four to thirty-six hours. Rikki has already given them her sample. All they have to do is compare it to yours.”
“And if she is my daughter? What happens then?” she asked.
“Don’t think about it right now. We’ll deal with it after the results come back, okay?” His fingers brushed her cheek.
The soothing gesture stirred up so many memories. “One step at a time.” She shook her head in amazement and smiled sadly.
He chuckled and returned the smile. “Are you going to be okay?”
“I think so. We don’t know for sure, so there’s no point in getting excited or upset until it’s proven one way or another.”
“Right.” He glanced at his watch and sighed. “I’d better get back to the hotel before Rikki starts wondering where I am.”
At her door, Neil stared down at her for a moment. “Call me if you need me, or if you just need to talk, okay?”
She nodded, and they exchanged a sad smile before he left.
Kelsey slumped against the wall and stared at the door for a long time after his departure, the disbelief, her past, and the future colliding in a supernova.
He hasn’t changed at all. He’s still the leader, the rock for anyone who needs one. He let me lean on him more times than I can remember.
Neil had pulled Kelsey out of the darkness and showed she wasn’t white trash, just a lost soul in need of guidance. If she hadn’t met him, she would have died on the streets on her path of self-destruction, another anonymous statistic.
Neil Falcon had saved her life.
Because of that, she developed a hero-worship for him that had deepened into something else.
I fell for him, hard.