Pushing my concern aside, I focus on getting more info out of Uncle James while he seems to be in a sharing-and-caring type mood. “How old are your other sons? Will any of them be in my year?”
“Kaden and Keven are at Harvard.” He graces me with a proud smile. “They live on campus, but they’ll be at the house to welcome you. Kaden is twenty and Keven turned nineteen recently.”
“All their names start with K?” How cheesy.
He fails to hide his amusement. “Yes. That was my wife’s idea. She’s rather obsessed with her brand.”
“So, um, what about the rest of your sons?”
“Kalvin is sixteen and he’ll be a junior this year. Kyler is a senior like you. He’s seventeen, too, although you’re older by a few months.” He glances briefly out the side window.
“Oh.” I hadn’t considered that any of my cousins could be the same age as me. I hope Kyler isn’t one of those do-gooder preppy-male types. Or worse, one of those obnoxious all-American jocks.
“They are all so close in age. Do they get along?”
James snorts. “Well, that’s a loaded question if ever I heard one!” A nostalgic look crosses over his face. “They have their moments, but, yeah, they’re close. Having the triplets so soon after Kyler and Kalvin came along was a challenging time. Imagine having six kids all under the age of five? I don’t know how we survived!” He chuckles, as I shudder at the mere thought.
“And how does Alex feel about the situation with me?”
He opens the top two buttons of his shirt and leans back in his seat. “Alex is ecstatic. She can’t wait to meet you.”
I examine his pupils carefully, and they don’t dilate. I detect no hint of a lie. He’s looking at me expectantly, waiting for a response. I shoot for textbook-polite, which always goes down well with the oldies. “That’s very nice of her, and I look forward to meeting everyone.”
The rest of the plane ride passes by in uneventful silence. Every so often, I catch him sneaking sly looks at me. It’s a little unnerving, but I guess it’s as strange for him as it is for me.
I’m still finding it difficult to understand how my mother kept our relatives hidden all these years. Or why. I inwardly laugh at the irony of the situation. For years, I yearned for relations, for siblings, for anyone other than Mum, Dad, and me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my parents fiercely, and we had a super-close relationship, but there were times when it felt like I was living in a goldfish bowl.
A dusky skyline greets us when we finally land on the private airstrip attached to Boston’s Logan International Airport. James whisks me into a waiting chauffeur-driven car the minute we step off the plane.
I’ve barely time to breathe before we set out into the heavy urban traffic. The interior of the car is an ode to Kennedy Apparel—the K logo is splashed everywhere—and I’m beginning to sense a theme. I can only imagine what the house is going to be like.
My gaze barely strays from the window the entire journey, and I’m mesmerized by my first glimpse of the United States. As I soak it all up, I allow a tiny glimmer of excitement to take root inside me. I imagine Mum whispering in my ear. “You’re on the adventure of a lifetime, love. Embrace it!” A familiar stomach-clenching pang sears through me, and I squeeze my eyes shut.
I wonder if the pain will ever go away. Or if I’ll feel gutted every time I remember her.
“Faye? Are you okay?” James’ voice is soft as he leans forward in his seat. His eyes are kind.
“I’m fine,” I say, a little harshly. “Just trying to absorb everything.”
He looks shrewdly at me. “Of course. I, ah”—he scratches the back of his head—“if you need to talk to anyone about your parents, I can arrange that for you. I can’t even begin to imagine how you must feel.”
I grind my teeth down to the molars. “Thank you for the offer, but I’m grand.”
“If you change your mind, come talk to me.”
I know he’s only showing concern, but any mention of psychologists reminds me of a part of my past that I’ve buried. I also hate to be pitied, and I refuse to be treated like the walking wounded. My parents died tragically. It was—is—awful, and I will miss them every single day, but I have to stay strong. I know that’s what they would want.
And I’m more than capable of coping on my own. My parents equipped me well. Independence was something they admired greatly, and I was encouraged to make my own choices. If it were up to me, I’d have stayed at home, finished school, and applied to Trinity College as I intended to. None of this is my choice, but I’m trying to make the best of it.
Can’t he see that?
I try to keep my voice respectful but firm. “I don’t need a shrink. Not now. Not ever.”
He holds up his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “No problem.”
Gradually, we move out of the city, zipping along a vast highway with numerous lanes. Everything is bigger and bolder here. Dublin seems so minuscule and mundane in comparison. The farther we travel, the darker it gets. A smattering of twinkling stars emerges in the nighttime sky. We move off the highway onto less crowded roads bordered by statuesque trees wearing varying shades of green, yellow, and amber hues.
The car glides by a sign stating “Entering Wellesley. Norfolk County. Inc 1881.” At this hour, the streets are unnaturally quiet. We bypass the main town and head along roads thick with foliage. Houses are ginormous around here, fronted by well-maintained lawns. The farther we travel, the grander they get. There’s an eclectic mix of styles and types, but it works. It couldn’t be further removed from the typical residential estates back home.
I stiffen in my seat as the vehicle detours into a wide well-lit road. Elaborate mansions extend on either side, barely visible behind huge red-bricked walls. Some peek out behind imposing iron gates.