Chapter Thirty

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May had imagined this meeting going dozens of different ways.

However, none of those imagined scenarios considered a Dawn who didn't realize who she was supposed to be meeting.

With a nod, May got to her feet.

"My name is May Alana," she said, loudly though her voice shook. "I've been told you're my birth mother."

Dawn Gardener pressed her cuffed hands to her mouth and burst into tears.

"They kept your name!" she exclaimed. She looked skyward. "Oh, Tiio. Kaleo. Thank you!"

To May, there was something disarming in hearing Dawn uttering her parents' names. It seemed to make everything come into focus; made it real.

"Would you like to sit?" May asked, not knowing what else to say. Dawn hesitated for a moment, staring back with an expression that looked mildly disappointed. Then she gave a shaky smile, nodded, and shuffled to take her seat on the opposite side of the table.

For a moment, neither said anything. They sat and took each other in with wonder and disbelief. Necar hadn't been kidding when she said May was the spitting image of her birth mother. That they were related was unquestionable.

"I can't believe you're here," Dawn whispered.
May offered a small, brief smile. "Neither can I, to be honest."

"How did you find me?"

"It wasn't easy but I know a guy who knows a guy."

Dawn grinned. "Have you seen your father yet?"

"No. We haven't tracked Oliver down yet. Do you know where he is?"

The grin faded a bit. "I haven't seen or spoken to him in..." she looked into May's eyes and thought for a second. "Twenty-five years?"

"I guess that makes sense." May shifted, realizing that meant the pair had been separated as soon as they were captured after her birth. "I'm sorry about that."

"Don't apologize, it's not your fault." Dawn placed her hands in the table, palms down. She seemed to be reaching, cautiously, toward May. The chains of her cuffs clattered against the worn wood. "None of this is your fault, May."
There was a moment of silence that yawned between them like an ocean.

"So," Dawn ventured, dipping a toe in. "Tell me everything, won't you?"

May considered how to sum up a lifetime. "Everyone's doing well. Ora's married. She has a son, a little boy named Omi, and she's pregnant with number two."

Dawn shook her head. "That's nice, hon, but I want to hear about you."

"Oh." May squirmed. Her mind went blank, like she forgot who she was in an instant. "I, well... I like to dance. I'm pretty good at it, actually. And, uh, I have a girlfriend."

She stopped. Just let that dangle between them and watched for Dawn's reaction. Her birth mother waited a beat, and then beamed.

"Are you in love?"

A wave of giddiness rushed up from May's stomach and broke across her cheeks in a blush. Even now, the truth of her feelings for Em still excited her "Yeah."

"Oh, May. That's wonderful. I'm so happy for you."

She looked like she meant it.

And then she started to cry again.

May clutched her knees and waited. She watched Dawn weep and then considered her own heart. Nothing had changed; there was an absence where one would expect affection or longing to be. And then she felt bad again.

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