The Forgotten Daughter - Page 72

“Forrest! That’s it!”

Karen’s shout had everyone looking at her, including Forrest, who’d just pulled the backing all the way out of the frame.

Snatching up an envelope that had been exposed, Karen opened the flap and started crying. “It’s them, Forrest. It’s them.”

Confused, Josie glanced around.

Everyone looked baffled. Twyla asked, “What are they?”

With hands shaking, Karen pulled out several pictures. “These,” she said, sifting through the pictures.

“Who are they of?” Twyla asked.

Karen glanced up at Forrest before she handed him one of the pictures.

He took it and examined it thoroughly before he showed it to Twyla. “Pictures of my real father.”

Josie took another step backward, near to where Norma Rose stood. Twyla had told all the girls that Galen Reynolds wasn’t Forrest’s real father a while ago. That his mother had been pregnant when she’d returned to Minnesota from New York. Norma Rose’s shrug said she didn’t know any more than that.

“Oh, Forrest,” Twyla said, wrapping an arm around his back and lying her head against his shoulder. “You look just like him. Except his hair is darker and you’re more handsome.”

Josie wanted to groan. Once again she felt an inkling of jealousy toward the love her sisters had found.

“What’s his name?” Twyla asked Karen.

“I don’t know,” Karen said sadly.

Josie wouldn’t have had to pass out condoms to prostitutes to know how sex worked, and she couldn’t fathom how a woman could not know a man’s name after they had completed that act. Those thoughts also brought her mind right back to Scooter. An immense sense of dread was filling her stomach. Francine’s men could be at his station this very minute. She tried to quell her growing fears by telling herself Scooter was well aware of that. He’d said as much on Sunday when he’d told her to not leave the resort, and again today.

“We never told each other our real names,” Karen said. “It was a game to us. We were young and...” She sighed longingly. “So young and so in love.”

Once again Josie felt like an outsider, a bystander, but this time she didn’t mind. While the rest of her family was engrossed in the tale of Forrest’s long lost father, perhaps she could sneak away. She wouldn’t get far without car keys, though.

Everyone had gathered closer around the table, and Josie took a step backward. She didn’t have keys, but there was a phone in Forrest’s office downstairs. She could call Gloria, or even Scooter.

Norma Rose then let out a little gasp. “I’ve seen this man.” Spinning around, she held the picture up. “You have, too, Josie.”

Josie glanced at the picture. Her throat locked up in time to cover her wheezing.

“When? Where?”

Anyone in the room could have asked that question. Josie didn’t care who had spoken, but she wanted to know when Norma Rose had seen the man in the picture. It was of a younger version, but the picture held a striking resemblance to the man from US Steel who’d delivered Dave’s Chevy.

“Years ago,” Norma Rose said. “Right after Mother passed away. He stopped at the house asking for her.”

“He did?”

The question came from several people.

“You remember, don’t you, Josie? You and I were the only two home,” Norma Rose said. “I’m sure it’s him. He was very sincere and sad when I told him she’d died.”

Karen was crying again. “I used your mother’s name to write to him. With Rose’s permission. I knew Galen would intercept any mail I received. All I knew for sure was that he worked for a carriage company, so I wrote to every one of them in New York. I gave a description of him, and asked that if he knew a girl from the school I had attended to please contact Rose Nightingale in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.” Wiping at the tears rolling down her cheeks, Karen looked up at Forrest. “And he did.”

Josie took several steps back. She didn’t remember the man from years ago like Norma Rose, but the burning sensation in her stomach made her certain this was the man from US Steel she’d met today.

“We’ll start searching for him,” her father said. “Put my men on it right away.”

“Where?” Karen asked. “Where would we start?”

“The pictures, Mother,” Forrest said. “You thought they’d give you clues as to where to look.”

“Yes, yes,” she said excitedly. “I’m just so happy that my head is not working.”

“Ty, come and take a look at these,” her father said.