Conclusion to the serial. Continued from:
And finally, from Mum:
I stood on the landing, listening. I heard them go past, heard Matt follow. I wasn’t asleep. Sleep is over-rated. Well, Eva was making so much noise, it would have been impossible anyway.
I thought he dealt with it all quite well and I told him so when he finally managed to get the twins back to bed and quiet again. I was sitting on his bed when he came into the room.
‘They didn’t mean it. They wouldn’t really have done it,’ he said.
‘They might have tried, if you hadn’t stopped them. You can have very strong feelings when you’re that age and your world is being turned upside down.’
‘They couldn’t have gone through with it. They’re good kids.’
I shook my head and gave up. I was damn sure they would have. One alone, probably not, but there is courage in company. Backing down is harder.
‘You knew they would try?’ He seemed surprised.
‘It’s been building up for days. I thought it would come eventually.’
‘I’ll take Eva home. It’s obviously not going to work and …’
‘But what if they…’
‘You’ll stop them. Or do it for them, to save them.’
‘But why would you even take the risk?’ I didn’t say anything for a minute or two, just continued to look at him, watching his double-take, his mind whirring away in front of me.
‘I needed you here,’ I said. ‘I knew you wouldn’t come if I asked you. I was certain you would come for Eva. That’s why I started the custody proceedings. I had to get her here, so you would follow.’
‘You couldn’t know I would be able to come. I have a record. America doesn’t take kindly to ex-cons on their soil.’
‘You have the contacts to make it happen. Who is Michael Ferguson, anyway?’
‘You found my passport?’ I nodded. I’d searched for it, wondering how he’d managed Immigration, whether he would be able to stay.
‘He died in 1978 aged four, apparently. The death was never registered, don’t ask me why. My friend had several identities for sale; that one seemed a reasonable match to me. It cost me a fortune. Now why was it so important for me to come? What are you really up to?’
‘I needed the three of you to get to know each other, to bond. A common cause, hating me, will cement things faster than anything.’
‘Why?’ Again I didn’t answer, watched the wheels turn, saw light dawn.
‘How long have you got?’
I shrugged. ‘Not long enough. At some point, you’ll have to leave Michael Ferguson behind and go home. I’ve set everything up in your name and there’s money in trust for the children…’
‘I don’t want your money.’
‘Well, tough. Because you’re going to need it. You’re going to have to grow up. Ryan isn’t used to the sort of life you lead. It will be easier for you and Eva to adapt than for him to go from all this to what you have to offer. You can start a business, begin fresh, clean slate. There’s enough in the bank to make a very good life for the three of you. You’ll need to sell this house, but you have to do it from England. I can’t risk this identity of yours being found out.’
‘You always were a manipulative little cat.’ There was no venom there. He was staring at the floor. It took a few moments, but eventually, he nodded. I had no alternative but to make him come. He had no alternative but to accept.
And he knew the reason: the children.