Forgotten Trails

By: Bonnie R. Paulson

Prologue


Dear Reader,

This is Rachiah’s story and part of it takes place during Stefanie’s story. You’re going to see Emma’s funeral again-she didn’t die twice; I want you to understand the time frame.

There’s so much going on with this amazing family. Their struggles and triumphs have me wrapped around their fingers.

Please enjoy and thanks for riding this journey with me.





Chapter 1


Rachiah

Rachiah shifted on the crease of the backseat. Sleeping in her car hadn’t gotten any easier in the months since she’d started her search. Her long legs didn’t fit well and were cramped in a familiar and uncomfortable bent position to her side.

She groaned, leaning up and cramming a folded towel under her right hip. “Come on.” Rachiah blinked blearily into the pre-dawn peachiness of the sky.

Would she ever sleep again? Find the peace of a restful night in a proper bed with sheets and blankets?

Would she ever get used to not being wanted?

Well, everyone wanted her except her own father. At least that was the story. That was what she’d been chasing after for so long.

Brushing black silky hair off her shoulder, she blew air toward the ceiling of her blue Ford Escort. Wear and tear in the gray interior hid itself well in the dim lighting.

Could she finish the lies in her postcard she was writing to her mom and step-dad? They wanted her so badly to be happy and satisfied with who she was as well as her family, her culture.

And she wanted that, too.

But she had to know why he hadn’t wanted her.

Why he’d never come back. Didn’t he know he’d left a huge hole in her life? She didn’t even remember him and her mom hadn’t kept any pictures of him.

From what her grandmother had said, Rachiah had actually never met him. Would something deep inside her recognize him as her father?

She got it though. Why would her mom keep reminders of an affair around? Rachiah was the “shame” no one wanted to address directly. She got it. Mason Two-Claw, her step-dad, treated her like he was her real dad.

No one tried to convince her she was anything else.

There were no questions about the Maverick Two-Claw, or MT, her older brother’s origins. He could be a cookie cutter of their dad. With a straight proud brow and angular jaw, he bore the Salish regal looks with nobility.

Throwing an arm across her eyes, Rachiah blinked at the tears vividly remembering the morning she’d discovered her mother’s secrets. The pain she’d uncovered...

Rachiah had run through the house, throwing open doors and calling out through the empty halls. “Mom, do you have my birth certificate? I need it for a passport to go with Sherri and Cyan to London.” Rachiah hadn’t even tried hiding her excitement.

Cyan’s parents had more money than they knew what to do with and they constantly spoiled all three of the girlfriends.

Her mom hadn’t answered and Rachiah had been too excited, too impatient, and she’d rushed into her parents’ bedroom to search the black file cabinet inside the closet.

She had rifled through the manila folders, stopping when she found one titled “Certificates”. She pulled out her birth certificate and hardly glanced at the names.

The closet didn’t stink, just had a more dusty scent and was colder than the rest of the house. In the shadows with sleeves from hanging shirts and bulky jackets butting against her, Rachiah stubbed her toe on the corner of one of her dad’s boots. She put the paper down on the still open drawer and raised her foot to squeeze the offended area.

In the slits of light, her gaze landed on the fathered by line.

Two-Claw wasn’t there.

No. Not Two-Claw. Howard. Jeffrey Howard.

His scribbled signature with its slanty Y and loopy F’s had branded itself into Rachiah’s mind.

She’d pushed out of the closet, leaving the drawer open. She studied the paper, held closely to her face.

Walking slowly into the living room, she hadn’t looked away from the official certificate aloft in her fingers as she continued staring at her parentage.

Her mom stood at the kitchen counter talking with MT. She turned, glancing at Rachiah and smiling. She held up a finger, “I’ll have to check for you. I don’t think I ha—” But she saw the paper in Rachiah’s hands and covered her mouth.

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