Title: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Length: 368 pages
They called themselves “the lucky ones”
They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.
Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?
But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.
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“I’m telling you what my aunt told me when I started asking her why I was with her and not with the Capellos anymore. Apparently Dr. Capello was the one who found me at the foot of the steps bleeding from the ear. He said he was too panicked to do anything but scream for someone to call 911. If it had been an accident I’d like to think whoever it was would have admitted to it. But nobody ’fessed up. Not even when my aunt flew out to pick me up and take me home with her. When I went to live with her, she wouldn’t let me contact the Capellos. She thought… She didn’t know what to think. And the Capellos never contacted me, either, after that. Probably because my aunt told them not to. Thirteen years of radio silence. Until today.” She glanced over at the table where the package from Roland still sat, unopened.
“So you never called? Never visited?” McQueen asked.
“I wanted to when I was a kid and then a few years passed and the whole thing kind of felt like a good dream with a nightmare ending. When I was old enough to go back on my own, I just…didn’t. If they’d sent me even one birthday card, I might have. But they didn’t.”
“I can’t believe you never told me any of this,” he said, shaking his head.
“You never asked. You never wanted to know, did you? Then you’d have to think of me as a real person,” she said. McQueen had the decency to look ashamed of himself.
“You still could have told me.”
“You still could have asked,” she said. “Anyway, doesn’t matter. Ancient history. I’m over it all.”
“Except you aren’t,” he said. “Except you see the name Roland Capello on that envelope and you turn white as a ghost. You take a book off the shelf and hold it so tight for some reason your hands shake.” He took the book from her hands. “Except you…” He flipped through the book and found a page marked by a photograph, which he pulled out. “Except you keep a picture of your old family pressed in the pages of that book.”
Allison swallowed. “Except all that,” she said.
McQueen was staring at the photograph he’d taken out of her book. Allison didn’t look at it. She didn’t have to. She saw it in her mind’s eye. There were three kids in the picture—all three in red hoodies. One boy with dark blond hair that fell past his ears, one girl with hair so red it was almost orange and one boy with black hair straight as an arrow. They all held sparklers in their hands and in the background of the photo was the ocean, vast and gray.
“Roland?” McQueen asked, pointing to the one with black hair.
“That’s Deacon. Roland’s the dirty blond,” Allison said. “The girl’s Thora. Dr. Capello gave us those red sweatshirts. He said it made it easier for him to find us on the beach when there were big crowds.”
“Sweatshirts on the beach?”
“It was Oregon,” she said.
“And where are you in this picture?” McQueen asked.
Allison pointed to the left side of the photograph that had been torn away.
“There,” she said. “I don’t know who has the other section. I found this in my suitcase when I unpacked at my aunt’s.”
“So there were four of you?”
“No, there were others,” she said. “But they were fosters, like me. There was an older girl named Kendra. And a boy about my age or a little older named Oliver. A few others but they didn’t stay long. Roland, Thora and Deacon were the three kids Dr. Capello adopted.”
“Did he want to adopt you?”
“I think so,” Allison said. “But he didn’t.”
Allison took the photograph out of McQueen’s hand, slipped it back in the pages of the book, walked over and put the book back on the shelf.
“There, I told you everything. Now you can go.”
“Not until you open the package.”
“Why do you care?”
“What if this Roland guy is writing to confess to the crime?”
“Roland was sixteen by then, almost seventeen. He had a summer job in another town. He wouldn’t have been home at the time. Trust me, I thought about this a lot after I left them.”
“So you aren’t over it.”
“I was twelve living with an elderly woman in a retirement community. Not like I had much else to do.”
“Then maybe Roland knows something and is finally coming clean.” McQueen stood up and followed her to the kitchen.
“Maybe he is,” Allison said.
“I will.” Allison turned to face him. “Soon as you’re gone.”
“Cricket…” He put his hands on her hips.
Allison touched his face, his five-o’clock shadow that always came in about an hour early every day.
“Goodbye, McQueen,” she said, taking his hands by the wrists and removing them from her body.
His shoulders slumped in defeat before he straightened up again and picked up his keys off the table and shoved them in his pocket.
“All right,” he said. “You win. But do me a favor, okay?” He went to the door. “Keep in touch.”
Allison opened the door for him and he started to walk out. Then stopped. Then turned back. She knew it was coming and she knew she could stop it. She didn’t.
He took her face in his hands and kissed her lips, a long lingering kiss, a kiss she returned. The kiss was a bad idea, a terrible idea, but at least it gave her the chance to pull away first.
“I always knew I’d regret getting involved with you,” Allison said.
“Then why did you do it?” he asked.
“Because I knew I’d regret not getting involved with you even more.”
He laughed and that was a shame because McQueen had a good laugh. Too good. He kissed her again.
“One more time,” he said against her lips. “Maybe that’ll make you feel better.”
Allison let him take her into the bedroom.
She didn’t want it, but she needed it.
Anything was better than being alone.
Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.
I am giving away one PRINT copy of The Lucky Ones (contest open to US Addresses ONLY). To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form below by 5 PM Mountain Time Friday February 2nd:
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