If possible, Mike grinned wider. “I don’t think she likes my brother very much.”
“What does he think of her?”
Mike thought a moment and remembered seeing his brother watching Sam with his kids, remembered seeing him looking at her at the picnic. “If I dropped dead tomorrow, I think my brother would ask her to marry him. No, I think he’d beg her to marry him.”
Mike stuck his hands in his pockets. “Kane has made me realize how lucky I am and how much I owe Sam. If she hadn’t come into my life, I probably would have married someone like my last girlfriend, then drifted through life, not happy, not unhappy, but feeling vaguely unsettled.”
Reaching out, Maxie took his hand in hers. “You have answered a prayer for me. If I could have one wish, it would be to leave this world knowing that my granddaughter had someone to take care of her, someone to love her.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. I love her more than I can understand. I can’t remember what my life was like before I met her. I’ve thought about it and I can’t seem to clearly remember what I used to do with my time.” He smiled. “Maybe, as I said, I was just waiting for her to come to me, waiting for fate—and David Elliot—to hand her to me.”
Looking about the room, now filled with antiques, paintings on the walls, rugs on the floor, he gestured. “All of this is her doing. You know what she does? About every ten minutes she tells me, ‘Thank you,’ and every time she says it, I feel guilty. All I’ve done is hand over some money, which I can well afford, but she gives of herself. She gives to me, to you, to my lonely brother and his barbarian children. Even when she thought she hated me, she worried about me when my head was split open.”
“So what do you plan to do with her now?”
“First on the list is to impregnate her.”
Maxie laughed so hard her machine needle started bouncing back and forth, as though it too were laughing. “You are a wicked young man.”
“Anything like Sam’s grandfather?” His voice lowered. “Anything like Michael Ransome?”
“How long have you known?”
“Since I got her clothes off of her, which, I might add, wasn’t very long ago. She has the same birthmark on her shoulder that Uncle Mike had.” He gave Maxie a hard look. “Have you told her yet?”
“Yes, I told her. I told her everything she needs to know. I wish you’d take her away. Take her to that town in Colorado of yours and keep her safe.”
“We’re in too deep now. Too many people think that we’re hot on the trail of Half Hand’s money—or whatever it is that people want from her. Sam’s mother wasn’t safe in Kentucky and Sam won’t be safe in Colorado.”
“What are you going to do?” There was fear in Maxie’s voice.
“I’m going to solve the mystery. I’m going to find out what happened that night. I’m going to find out the truth—all of it.”
For three days Mike treated Samantha as though she were made of glass. She spoke only in answer to his questions, ate practically nothing, and had no interest in anything, not books, not computers, and, to Mike’s dismay, not sex.
On the fourth day he could
n’t stand it anymore and called in the heavy artillery: Kane’s sons. At six in the morning the door to the bedroom opened and both Sam and Mike were awakened by two flying bodies screaming, “Sammy! Sammy!”
Kane stood in the doorway watching them, Sam hugging the boys, who were filthy, and receiving wet kisses, while Mike was trying to keep booted feet out of his face.
“When do rehearsals start?” Kane asked.
At that question, Mike darted out of bed and quickly ushered his brother from the room. It was after Samantha had bathed the twins, fed them, and sent them into the back garden to play that she looked at Mike and said, “What rehearsals?”
It was the first time she’d shown interest in anything in days. Mike wanted to tell her, but at the same time he was afraid to tell her what he had in mind. He very well knew that he’d already burned his bridges behind him; he couldn’t go back now.
“I’ve tried to think of what could be done to find out what happened that night in 1928,” Mike said. “I think people—myself included—want to protect you, so they do their best to keep their knowledge to themselves. But I’ve realized that you can’t be protected until it’s ended and it can’t be ended until everything that happened that night is out in the open.”
Samantha sat down at the table across from Mike and his brother and looked from one dark pair of eyes to the other. Speaking of hiding things, speaking of lying, she knew that that’s exactly what they were doing. “I want to hear all of it, every word, with nothing kept back.”
Mike and Kane began to talk over the top of each other. “Frank’s bought Jubilee’s nightclub and Jeanne’s already buying the stuff to redecorate it and Dad’s going to lead the gangsters and Vicky’s taking her vacation time to outfit everyone and Mom’s working on the food and you’re going to sing with Ornette and H.H.’s going to play his grandfather and—”
It was at the mention of her singing with Ornette that she stopped them and made them explain. Interestingly enough, it was Kane who did the explaining. She could see in Mike’s eyes that he was concerned about her reaction to his idea.
Kane, who, as far as she could tell, had been told everything there was to tell about what had happened with Doc and Maxie, told her that all the principals were lying. “Jubilee won’t tell what he knows; H.H. won’t tell what he knows; Maxie is too afraid for you to tell; Doc tells but no one can believe him.”