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“Do you really not care for your own safety?” Nathan asked Natasha. She had gone back to see him at the station after her talk with Macmillan and naturally he was upset.
“I’m fine, okay. And if you would stop yelling at me for a second, I have something important to tell you.”
“One Bandieer almost killed you. Twice! The other threatened you into submission. This is serious Natasha. You trust people way too easily.”
“Okay! I get it.”
“Promise me you won’t be reckless again.”
“Nathan,” Natasha groaned.
“Promise me,” Nathan urged.
“I promise. Can we move on now please?”
Nathan shook his head resignedly and went back to his chair. Natasha leaned over the desk between them and whispered conspiratorially despite the fact that they were alone in the office. “I think I found Max’s motive.”
Nathan looked surprised. “After one conversation with the man?”
“Mac was easy to break,” Natasha shrugged. “Anyway, apparently Max isn’t a Bandieer and they found that out the night he came to my house and hurt me.”
“Really? So you’re thinking Henry probably wanted to disown him or something and Max had him killed before he could do that?” Nathan asked twirling a pen as he considered her words.
“Maybe.” She paused and trailed her finger across his desk, wiping off dust. “I found the connection between my mum and Henry too.”
“All this in one day? Keep this up and you’ll have your own badge,” Nathan said, impressed.
She raised an inquiring eyebrow at this. “I thought you were happy sharing yours with me.”
His answering smile seemed to lighten his eyes. “What did you find out?”
“Henry ran for Governor about twenty years ago and my mum worked on his campaign.” Nathan listened attentively as she repeated what Macmillan had told her.
“One thing that’s bugging me though is how easily Macmillan told you about Max’s paternity.” Nathan rubbed his chin pensively.
Natasha stared at him blankly but he waved it off. “Have you told your lawyer about Macmillan?”
“I sent my mum a message…” Natasha trailed off as she checked her phone. Her mother had not responded yet but there was a message from Kelsey asking her to call as soon as she could. She dialed Kelsey’s number while Nathan tapped away on his keyboard.
“Did Detective McCutiePants replace me as your best friend or something?” Kelsey said upon answering the call.
“Of course not. Why would you think that?” Natasha said, trying to stifle a laugh.
“I never see you anymore!” Kelsey complained. “I bet you’re with him right now.”
“You’ve got it bad,” Kelsey teased in a sing-song voice.
“Is there an actual reason you wanted me to call you or should I hang up?”
“Touchy. You’ve got it really bad.”
“Wait! Okay I’ll stop, don’t hang up. I need your help!”
“Liam’s family will be in town soon and I need help figuring out what I should wear, what color my hair should be…”
“Your hair is beautiful as it is Kelse,” Natasha interrupted. “When are they coming?”
“Next week Friday.”
“That’s like 5 days away. If we pick something today I know you’ll change your mind a million times before the actual day and then start panicking minutes before the event.”
“Yes you will!”
“No I won’t!”
“Yes you will.” Nathan gave Natasha an amused look and she smiled apologetically. “I’ll come see you later tonight to talk you off that ledge.” She hung up before Kelsey could argue.
“Don’t,” she warned Nathan as he tried to rub the involuntary smile from his lips.
“I was just going to say while you were on your riveting phone call-” he snickered and she rolled her eyes, “I looked up newspaper articles from 20 years ago to see if any had news about the Bandieer campaign.”
“Did you find anything?” Natasha perked up in interest.
“Not much except that Henry’s campaign was the shortest campaign in history. It only ran from January 1990 to April 1991. He dropped out before the elections. And one small problem; Pinehive has one media company and they own the city’s newspaper company,” Nathan replied.
“H.B media,” Natasha groaned and Nathan nodded.
“The campaign was done in the 90’s so there weren’t any online newspapers then. Our best bet would be physical material which means we’ll have to go to the H.B media center and see if they have any records of their articles from that far back.”
Natasha jumped up immediately. “I can ask Mac for help. Let’s go. Maybe we’ll find out more about my mum and Henry.”
Nathan looked like he wanted to argue but decided against it and he put his badge in his pocket and his gun in the holster on his belt. He took his keys and led the way out of his office.
They made it out of the station without incidence and drove to H.B media headquarters. Natasha called Macmillan on the way asking to see him and he arranged for her to be shown up to his office as soon as she arrived. Nathan insisted on going up with her and Natasha didn’t bother arguing.
“Hello again Natasha,” he said standing when they entered his office. “Detective Henderson,” he added surprised.
“He’s helping me with something,” Natasha explained quickly.
Macmillan didn’t question her explanation and instead asked, “You said you needed something on the phone. Is it about Max?”
“No, actually. I was wondering if your company still has articles from the 90’s,” Natasha replied.
Macmillan frowned. “That far back? I’m not so sure. We do keep copies of our newspapers online now since 2010 but I’m not too sure what the system was in the 90’s. May I ask why?”
Natasha hesitated. “It’s about my mum.”
Macmillan eyed her curiously trying to figure out if she was lying or not but deciding that he owed her whatever help he could give her after what she had suffered at the hands of his family, he made up his mind. He picked up the phone and called his secretary.
“Andrea, get anyone from the newspaper section to help Miss Evans and her friend with whatever they need.”
Andrea led Natasha and Nathan to one of the young men who worked in the newspaper section of the company.
“Hi, I’m Thomas Woodley. How can I help you folks today?”
“We’re doing some research and we need some information from newspapers dating back to the 90’s. Do you think you could help us find those?” Natasha said giving him a friendly smile.
“Of course, anything for a beautiful lady,” he winked at her leading them down a corridor.
Natasha couldn’t help noticing similarities between Thomas and Benny. Both dark haired, skinny and very friendly. She took a liking to him immediately.
“Looks like you have an admirer,” Nathan whispered as they followed behind Thomas.
“He is rather cute,” Natasha mused. “He even his dimples!”
Nathan only rolled his eyes at her in response before returning to looking around at all the offices they walked past. Most of the walls were glass so they could see their occupants busy typing away at their computers or talking on the phone. They passed the newsroom where people were bustling around, yelling instructions. They finally reached an elevator which they took down to the basement which, according to Thomas was the archive room.
“Nowadays, everything is backed up online and we are still in the process of uploading everything dating back from 2010 so most of that stuff is only available as hard copies that were never sold and were just shoved into storage boxes,” Thomas explained as he entered the code on the door’s lock pad. The door slid open and Natasha and Nathan followed him in, impressed by the size of the room. Almost every inch of floor space was covered in marked boxes.
“As you can see we still have a lot of work to do,” Thomas said. “Which year do you want to look at specifically?”
“1990,” Natasha answered.
“You’re in luck then. From the time the paper was established in 1987 to 1995, only one newspaper was printed per week at the end of the week. So you have less boxes to look through.” He gestured to the boxes, “These are all arranged according to years and each box in the section has a week number written on it according to what week in the year it was when the paper was published.”
He led them to a corner of the room, close to the back. “This is for the year 1990 and then for 1991 going onward that’s these sections,” he pointed the sections out to them and they were relieved to see that they weren’t too many boxes.
“Do you need me to help you look through the boxes?”
“No, thank you Thomas. We’ll manage,” Nathan rushed to say before Natasha could get a word out.
Thomas nodded and left the room, leaving the door opened.
“We’ll split the January to April boxes in half. I’ll take January to February and you check the rest, “Natasha said already checking for the appropriate boxes. “Look at anything that has the campaign in it. Maybe we’ll find a picture of the campaign staff to prove that my mum was really part of it.”
“If we’re lucky maybe we’ll find out what Henry meant about your mum being a gold digger too,” Nathan added pulling out a box marked Year 1990 – March
“You think it was big enough to have landed in the newspapers? Like she stole money or something?” Natasha asked as she opened the Week 1 box. Nathan shrugged in response and Natasha frowned, returning to her task. So far she had accused her mother of murder, now Nathan was suggesting theft as well.
The only sound in the room came from the flipping of pages as they scanned through the newspapers. This continued until Nathan announced that he was done with his pile and there was nothing in them that they did not already know. Natasha was left with a couple of boxes for the month of February so Nathan took over one box while Natasha looked at the other.
“These newspapers make him sound almost human,” Natasha said bitterly as she tossed aside the newspaper she had just finished reading through. It had an article about Henry’s plans to build an orphanage in Pinehive.
“He owned the reporters writing them. What did you expect?” Nathan remarked flipping through the copy he was carrying. “The Sports section has definitely improved over the years though.”
When Natasha didn’t comment, Nathan looked up from the newspaper and found her deeply engrossed in the article she was reading.
“Hey,” he called to her but again she didn’t respond. He scooted over to her and looked over her shoulder. “Found something interesting?”
His breath tickling her ear as he looked over her shoulder startled her back into reality. She pointed to the headline and he tilted his head to read it better.
“One killed, two injured in expressway accident,” he read. Nathan quickly scanned through the first lines wondering why the article had caught Natasha’s eye. The reason became clear to him when he came across the names of the victims.
“Elijah Evans,” he read. “Is that…”
“My mother told me my dad’s name was Elijah Evans,” Natasha interrupted him, speaking in a taut voice as she continued to stare unblinkingly at the article. “She said they eloped because she got pregnant out of wedlock and his parents didn’t like her.”
“Okay…” Nathan trailed off, thinking Natasha was saying all this out of grief.
“I was born in January 1991. This article says Elijah Evans died on February 20 1990,” Natasha continued.
Nathan searched his memory for the information Natasha had shared with him earlier about her dad. “I thought you said he died when you were a couple of months old.”
“That’s what my mother told me.”
“Maybe she made a mistake. Or this is an article about a different Elijah Evans,” Nathan suggested but Natasha shook her head.
“There’s a picture of him. It’s the right Elijah Evans,” she said. Her chilly tone of voice was worrying Nathan and he gently tried to pry the newspaper from her hands. She wrenched it away angrily and clutched it to her chest, moving away from him.
“I’m sorry. I don’t think you should keep looking at that, it’s obviously upsetting you. I’m sure either your mum made mistake or you don’t remember what she told you clearly,” Nathan apologized.
“Elijah Evans died 11 months before I was born,” Natasha said through gritted teeth. Her grip on the newspaper tightened until her knuckles turned white and the rage radiating from her was almost palpable.
“What?” Nathan asked confused.
“He died 11 months before I was born,” Natasha repeated slowly. “Elijah Evans is not my father.”
Lily’s got some explaining to do.
See you next week 🙂