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Katharina and Caleigh fell across the beds laughing. Each held their sides and rolled back and forth. When she could finally catch her breath, Caleigh looked up at Sophia.
“That’s the funniest story I’ve ever heard. And to know it’s true just makes it funnier.”
The outrageous laughter started again.
Sophia leaned against the dresser in the mountain cabin room. A smile slipped across her face as a chuckle rose from deep within.
Later, they sat in front of the fireplace. Sophia stood and walked in front of the fire, then turned and stood in front of her friends. Silently she prayed that after her confession, they would still be close. She brushed her hand across an ornament on the Christmas tree.
“I’m going to break our rule. I’ve loved our time of prayer and writing together. We’ve always said we’d respect each other’s privacy. But we write about trusting God and getting free from the grips of fear and lies. It’s time to do so.”
Katharina’s and Caleigh’s giggles quieted.
Sophia took a shaky breath and clasped her shaking hands in front of her. “I’ve been praying about this. The next chapter in our book is crying out for openness.”
Katharina stood and walked to the window. “I love how the reflection of the stars look like fireflies dancing across the water.” She turned back to her friends. “I think you’re right. I’ve been thinking of the same thing. I was just scared.”
Only Caleigh remained in her chair, her blanket-wrapped feet resting on the ottoman. “Who’s going to start this personal dive?”
Katharina turned from the window, looked past Sophia, and watched the flames licking at the side of the fireplace wall. “I will.” She drew in a deep breath, closed her eyes, and whispered, a prayer first. “I’m adopted.”
“No, you’re not. You’re my cousin.” Caleigh jumped up sending her terrier flying off her lap.
“It’s true. I found out two years ago.”
Caleigh hurried to wrap her arms around her. “Why didn’t your parents tell you?”
“I don’t know. Fear?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Maybe the same reason.”
Caleigh squeezed Katharina tighter. “I don’t care. I will always love you like my own. We’re family. Nothing changes.” She pulled back and reached out to Sophia drawing her in for a group hug.
“I hope you feel the same way after I share.” Sophia pulled away from the younger women. She paced to another window and looked out into the blackness threatening to wrap around her heart and strangle her decision. She moved back in front of the fire trying to ward off the chill that had taken over. She shuddered and pulled her woolen sweater tighter around her small frame.
With a quick turn on her heel, she faced her friends and turned her attention to Katharina. “I had to give up a baby to adoption when I was twenty.”
She heard the joint gasp of her co-writers. She took a deep breath and prayed for strength. Moving slowly toward Katharina, she breathed out a history of hidden emotions. "You were born August 1, 1998 in Sherman, Texas at Jones Medical Center. You weighed seven pounds, and you were eighteen inches long.”
“I never told you that.” Katharina stumbled backwards. Caleigh helped her sit back down on the couch and wrapped a blanket over her. “How … What … When?”
Sophia knelt in front of her daughter. “I’ve been trying to process everything. Remember the DNA test you had done recently?”
“Yes. Did you know then?”
“No, only when I got my results back. You got yours, too, right?”
Katharina’s head moved up and down. “I was going to look at it when I got home.”
Sophia moved to the bedroom and brought out a packet of information. She opened it and handed it to Katharina. Caleigh leaned in to read the papers with Katharina.
The whisper gave Sophia goosebumps. She nodded never taking her eyes off Katharina as Sophia sank into the pillowed couch.
Katharina stood almost in slow motion, took her mother’s hand, and lifted it so Sophia stood, then wrapped her arms around this woman she thought she knew.
Both women cried for several moments. Katharina moved her arm to her side and wiggled her fingers. Caleigh took the proffered hand.
“We really are family in every way.” Sophia pulled back and looked into Caleigh’s eyes, then to Katharina’s. She reached into her sweater pocket, pulled out a small envelope, and handed it to Katharina. “It was my mother’s. She wanted me to give it to my daughter when I found her. Merry Christmas.”
Katharina clutched the gift to her chest before opening it. A small ruby necklace fell into her hand.
“What an incredible Christmas gift.” Caleigh wiped her eyes.
“I’m so glad God nudged you to let the truth out.” Katharina hugged Sophia once again. “We really are family at heart.”
The three held each other in an embrace making them all off balance. Together they fell against the sofa. “See, we’re all a little nuts together.” Caleigh laughed out from under her friends. “Now someone want to help me out of here?”
And the laughter pealed out again.
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