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."It's been twenty-five years.There was so much publicity at the time of the photo- people searching for the girl, wanting to adopt her- I didn't think there was anything more to come of it now than had come of it before.""What happened back then?" Julia interrupted."When people were searching for the girl, what did they find out?""There were inquiries to adoption agencies," Stan answered, "about how the child might be adopted.Someone in the government contacted the orphanage and was told it had no record of the girl.We printed that in the magazine a few weeks later.Eventually the interest died down.""Someone in the government?" Alex echoed."Let me guess: Daniel Brady?" Stan didn't have to answer.The truth was written across his face."Where is this Daniel Brady now?""I have no idea."The answer was smooth, but Alex didn't buy it."That's funny, because I would have thought that you might have called him as soon as I told you that Julia came knocking on my door last Friday."A nerve twitched in Stan's neck, and his lips tightened."What will it take to convince you to drop this search, Alex? The last thing your father would want is for you to keep digging into his personal matters.He wanted to protect you.""I'm not a child.I don't need protection." He looked at Julia.She hadn't said much during their conversation, but he was sure she had taken in every word."What do you think?""I think we should find out what happened," she replied in a firm, determined voice."I agree." Alex got to his feet."I want to talk to Daniel Brady.""I'll have him get in touch with you," Stan replied."Why don't you give me his number?" Alex countered."You can trust me, Alex.I'll let him know you want to talk to him." Stan took a breath."Is there any way I can ask you not to involve your mother?"Alex uttered a short, harsh laugh."Believe me, that's not something I'm considering.She already talked to one reporter about Julia being that girl.""She shouldn't have done that.""Well, she did.And now this reporter is intent on finding out Julia's story.Why don't you tell Mr.Brady that?""I will.""Good.Ready?" Alex asked Julia.She nodded, offering Stan a soft good-bye and a thank-you.Alex didn't feel inclined to offer either.He was almost at the door when Stan called him back."Alex, don't go there.""I have to."Julia waited until they were in the car, seat belts fastened, engine running, before she asked, "So where are we going?""You'll see," he said.***Julia should have guessed where they were headed as soon as they left the city, but it wasn't until she saw the Pacific Ocean and Alex pulled off at a vista point on Highway 1 that she realized his full intention.Without a word, he turned off the car and stepped out onto the gravel-filled parking area.She hesitated for a moment, wondering if he'd rather be alone.But as she thought about exactly what had happened here, she knew he shouldn't be on his own.She got out of the car and walked over to the waist-high wood railing at the edge of the cliff.The air was colder here, with the wind blowing spray off the ocean.Her pulse sped up as she looked over the railing.It was a clear night, and the stars and moonbeams lit up the scene below.It was at least a two-hundred-yard steep drop to a rugged beach filled with sharp rocks, boulders, and crashing waves that thundered in and roared out.The ocean took what it wanted… when it wanted.There was no escape, not if one got too close to those powerful waves.Here, at night, in the dark, Julia could imagine all sorts of terrifying monsters in that black sea, waiting to claim another victim.Instinctively, she took a step back from the railing.She'd never particularly liked heights.She always felt that odd sensation of knowing how easy it would be to slip over the edge.Shivering now as her vivid imagination made her even colder, she wrapped her arms around her waist.She wanted to go back to the car.In fact, she wanted to go home, but she couldn't leave Alex here alone to picture the most terrifying night of his life.She thought back to his earlier words, when he'd told her how he'd waited on this bluff for the search-and-rescue team to bring up the mangled car and, he'd hoped, to bring back his father, still alive, still in his life.How scared and lonely Alex must have felt.She wondered why his mother had brought him here.Why hadn't he been kept protected at home, surrounded by other loving relatives?"This is where it happened," Alex said finally, his voice deep and husky, filled with emotion.She glanced at his hard profile.His gaze was on the beach below, his thoughts obviously in the past.She remained silent, willing him to share whatever he needed to get out.Alex wasn't a man to confide his personal problems.She sensed that he carried most burdens alone, especially the heavy ones, the ones that touched his heart [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]