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“Mother of God.” The words escape her. “You’re a child.”
The sound of the water running had snuck into her dreams first. She’d been sitting on a riverbank with Elisabeth, Niall walking along the cragged edge. She’d been able to make out a form coming through the leaves of the forest behind her. She’d called out a name. One she hasn’t spoken aloud in years. The name of her greatest heartbreak. The name of her - No answer. So Kate had called out again, strangely desperate. Woke herself. Still heard the water running. Followed the sound. Finch hadn’t handcuffed her last night. Part of their strange, scarring truce.
It’s a single, old shower head, rusted, spurting and spittle, slightly tinted water. Finch was standing with her face raised to the spray when Kate first walked in. She’d turned at the soft sound of Kate’s bare feet on tile. Her eyes had grown wide. And Kate had quickly realized Finch’s shock was only an echo of her own.
“You’re a child,” she repeats, dumbfounded.
The night she’d taken Kate and Lissy it had been dark; she’d been so careful to keep herself in silhouette. And even yesterday her face had been smeared in dirt after her work in the herb garden. She’d worn large sunglasses most of the day and there had been only one lamp that night, one she’d skirted. Now Kate knows why. Now Kate can’t imagine how she missed it even under dirt and the sunglasses and the dark of night.
She’d known the woman was young, twenties maybe, she’d thought, but: “You haven’t seen your second decade,” she whispers. Accuses, maybe.
Finch just shuts the water off. Turns to her with infuriating calm.
“I haven’t,” she allows.
“How old are you?”
“How old would you believe?” As she wraps a ragged towel around her torso, twines her hair, squeezes.
“Seventeen?” Kate ventures, squints. “And that’s pushing it.”
“Seventeen then.” When Kate doesn’t move aside she sighs. “Fine, I’m a few weeks away.” Finally rolls her eyes. “A few months then”
“Sixteen.” Kate feels like she’s floating down the hallway behind the girl, badly shaken, somehow more scared now than she was before. “What on earth are you doing ransoming people at sixteen?”
“I don’t usually ransom them.” Finch’s voice is tight, a match to her body, all the muscles tensed.
Kate slides down onto the ratty couch, looks back at Elisabeth lying lost in the tangle of bedclothes, feels her heart hurt.
“How long have you been Elana’s – ” Assassin? Slave? Plaything?
“My mother gave me to her. The day I was born.”
The dull pain in her chest grows sharper. She can’t look at Finch. Not now. Her eyes trace over Elisabeth’s downy head instead, down to her chubby arms, her tiny, grasping hands, her round little belly.
“Why would she – ” Do that. How could she do that?
“She knew what I would become.” Finch has been trained, has been practicing maybe all of her sixteen years at deception, but it’s just not enough to hide the pain in her voice. Not at this. “She knew I’d grow up to be my father. He was a murderer.” She stutters past it, spits, “And a rapist.”
Kate grasps the meaning well enough. Feels sick with it.
“But why Elana?”
“Why not?” When Kate finally manages to raise her eyes she’s stuck. Finch is looking at her with this inscrutable expression, her brows lowered, her mouth twisted somewhere between a frown and pursed lips. She’s slipped into a black turtleneck and black pants and her hands are a shock of white, clasped tightly between her knees, sitting in the lounge chair, curled in on herself.
“Have you paid her a visit yet?” Kate hears her own bitter voice. “I know what it’s like to grow up with Elana,” she answers the question in Finch’s gaze. “I’m going to be shocked if you haven’t killed her yet.”
Finch’s voice is low, shuttered. “I did pay my mother a visit,” she says. “I didn’t kill her.”
“For God’s sake, why not?”