An excerpt from my novel coming 7/15!
Finch knows she must be in shock, because something scrapes at the back of her mind, something has been screaming at her since JFK, something about fear, something about discovery… But the only thought echoing is: She’s beautiful.
The woman in the photo can’t be older than twenty-five, twenty-six. The picture has to be nearly a decade old. But she doesn’t have any of the foolish haircuts of that era, nor does she have on one of those broad-shoulder suits or the horrible bangles they wore for jewelry back then. In fact, you might even call her plain, except that looking out from her pale oval face are lovely, dark, haunted eyes that call to you, that seem the very embodiment of Mozart’s darkest dirges.
She looks sad and scared. Her shoulders thrown back, the way her right foot is poised to step from the curb, speak of unimaginable bravery. Just to face the day. Just to allow all these strangers on the street close enough to touch her.
Finch has never seen a photograph of her mother. Nothing except that grainy old clipping from the newspaper.
She’d expected something different.
She thinks, if she’d ever really thought about it at all, she would have pictured a homely woman. She would have pictured someone who showed on the outside the kind of cruelty and mean spirit it must have taken to throw a babe quite literally to the wolves.
This is the woman who gave her to Elana?
Finch shakes her head. Shouldn’t she, of all people, know how the most horrible things can lurk behind the kindest façade? She makes a living off looking not at all like the killer she is.
And yet… Katya Miloslav really does just look like a scared little girl. Like a scared little girl trying to navigate a New York City street, rushing off late to a law class at Columbia, probably, huddled down inside her grown woman’s body, just hoping no one will notice the little mouse masquerading. She’s got on a brown trench coat in this photograph, the collar popped up, cradling her jaw. A navy blue skirt. Her hair is a shining chestnut, wrangled back into a sleek French braid. Her eyes are walnut. She’s long and lithe. Her hands are delicate, clenched around the strap of a saddle bag slung over her left shoulder. Loafers.
She really is doing a good job of pretending. But it’s in her eyes…
It’s what Elana always calls her. Sneers it. Comes damn near spitting it, no matter how she likes to think of herself as refined.
Sophie has to stop. When Finch realized the task force would go digging she’d painted for them a nice picture of her past, enough bread crumbs to follow, close enough to the truth that many of the documents would be authentic. This really is her mother. But now they’re poised on a precipice, aren’t they? If Sophie ever has a reason to go digging further back in Finch’s past, eventually she’s going to find another picture, a picture of Niko’s bastard daughter who had the bastard daughter who became the bastard assassin… Sophie will find a picture of Finch’s mother.
Sophie will see that Amanda’s mother is Finch’s mother.
Sophie will see, does see, entirely too much.
Yet for all she has railed against it, for even her most vociferous denials, Finch can’t tear her eyes from this print before her, can’t seem to pry her fingers from the edges.
She’s not even all that shocked when a salty droplet rolls down the glossy finish.
She wonders about her mother. Sophie’s words from the dark months of winter echo now. Finch wonders:
Where her mother is now.
What she’s doing.
…If she ever regrets leaving Finch behind.
…If she has ever gotten over it.
And, probably fourteen years late, she cries.
Damn it all to hell.