Read An Extract: The First To Know by Abigail Johnson

Chapter One

The swing was so smooth and effortless I barely felt it. Adrenaline slammed though my body as I hit a screamer into right center, knowing it would find the gap. It had to. I dropped my bat and bolted for first, picking up speed as I rounded to second. I had at least a triple. I made the split-second decision to ignore the stop sign from my coach, kicking up dust as I passed third and charged for home. We needed this run to go to extra innings. From the corner of my eye, I saw the second baseman pivot and rear back to throw home. My heart rate skyrocketed and I slid, taking out the catcher staked over home plate.

She fell onto me in a cloud of orange dust that choked us both. We were still in a heap on the ground when the sound of the cheering crowd shifted from one side to the other—from our team’s fans to theirs. The Hawks swooped out of their dugout in a flurry of teal and black and tackled their rising catcher in a massive hug.

Only one of my fellow Mustangs came and offered me a hand up: our shortstop and my best friend, Jessalyn. I brushed her off, despite my eagerness to get away from the celebration going on around me.

“Way to go, Dana.”

“I was safe,” I told her, yanking off my batting glove to check my nose. I’d hit the catcher’s knee pretty hard.

“Actually, you weren’t. Otherwise Coach would be screaming at the umpire right now instead of—”

“Dana!” Coach was descending on me with a look that sent Jessalyn retreating to our dugout. His eyebrows were practically touching his hairline and his face was blotchy red from the blood roiling just below the surface. “What are you doing? Huh? What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I was trying to win.”

“For us or them?” He got in my face, so close that I felt exactly what it meant when someone was spitting mad. My own anger receded under his frothing fury. “Are you wearing teal?” He jutted his chin toward my uniform. “Is that the color you’re wearing?”

“I’m wearing red,” I said, but so quietly he made me repeat it. “I’m wearing red.”

“I gave you the stop sign because you were never going to beat that throw. Damn it, Dana!” He turned away, hands on hips, and then faced me again. “You don’t get to decide what rules to follow. They—” he pointed at my teammates, who were watching me get chewed out from the dugout “—all know that.”

My temper flared again, but I held in my response.

“That’s it? You got nothing to say?”

Nothing that would make him stop yelling at me any faster. Silence was my best bet. I’d had more than a little practice getting yelled at by coaches, especially this one.

“You’re not starting on Tuesday—”

My head jerked up. “What?”

“—and I’m benching you for the first three innings.”

“You can’t—” When he walked away, I was right on his heels but skidded to a stop when he rounded on me.

“What? What can’t I do?”

It took everything in me to bite my lip. I clamped down so hard I tasted copper. I wasn’t responsible for us being down by one with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. And I sure hadn’t made a lineup that put Amanda Watson at bat after me. I’d had to take the chance. Amanda was the least consistent batter on our team. She either hit moon shots or struck out, the latter being more often the case when the pressure was on. But I couldn’t say any of that, not if I wanted to play at all the next game.

He was in my face again. “You think Selena would have pulled a stunt like that? No. Because Selena listened to her coach.”

My eyes stung at the mention of my sister, whose gaze I could feel from the stands. Every time I messed up, he compared me to her. I rotated my jaw and looked at my cleats. Selena had led her team to the state championships as a senior two years ago, something I was determined to do my junior year. And I couldn’t do that by risking wins with unreliable players. Why was I the only one who saw that?

“I was trying to win,” I repeated, half through my teeth.

“Yeah. All by yourself.” He thrust my discarded bat into my hands and went to join the rest of our pissed-off team as they lined up to congratulate the Highland Hawks on their win.

After the less-than-sincere—at least on my part—congratulations were given and I’d sat through our coach’s spiel about how well we’d played—not well enough, or I wouldn’t have had to try to save the game—and how we won and lost as a united team, I ducked out before anyone else could yell at me and headed around the bleachers.

“Hey, slugger.”

My scowl evaporated at the sound of Nick’s voice and became a smile when I turned to see the hulking Samoan guy who’d been one of my closest friends since junior high. Since then, he’d grown a lot bigger, a lot cuter and, frustratingly for me, a lot more shy too. It had gotten so much worse since we got partnered together in biology that semester. I thought he was developing more than friendly feelings for me, but with Nick it was hard to tell, which made it really hard to tell if I was developing any feelings of my own. Still, he’d come to my game, so maybe he was trying to be bolder. He even spoke to me first, though I could tell he was regretting his choice of the word slugger based on the way he lowered and shook his head.

“I should have just said Dana.”

“Nah, slugger’s a classic. So, the first game you got to see this year ended with me losing. Awesome.”

“I thought you were great.”

“Thanks,” I said, not really meaning it. “I didn’t see you.”

“I had to come late, so I only caught the last inning.”

“Even better,” I said.

He smiled, ducking his head a little. “It was only the first game, right?”

“Said like a guy who doesn’t play sports.” I stopped walking when Nick slowed. Then I mentally shook myself in an attempt to beat back my venomous mood. “Sorry. I’m the worst loser on the planet.” I also wasn’t looking forward to the car ride home with my endlessly disappointed dad and the shining sibling I’d never live up to. At least Selena would have to head back to her dorm eventually. Dad could berate me all night if he wanted.

Nick recovered from my semi-insult and kicked his foot to dislodge a cricket that had landed on his shoe. It was mid-March in Arizona, which, in addition to being the start of softball season, meant the weather was losing its cold bite. That was all the invitation the crickets needed. They weren’t at summer-level swarming yet, but the chirping was an ever-present sound outside, and it was already hard to avoid the little hopping bodies, try as Nick might.

“Aren’t you going to ask why I was late?” he asked.

I hadn’t known he was coming at all. I’d told him in class that I was playing, but that was all. “Everything okay? Did something happen with your grandmother?” Nick’s newly widowed grandmother had recently moved in and was still grieving deeply.

“She’s actually doing a little better.”

“Oh, good.” I squeezed his forearm, and he half jumped like I’d touched him with an iron.

“Yeah, so, that’s not why.” Nick slid the backpack from his shoulder and unzipped it for me to see inside.

“No way.” I grabbed the sides of the bag and stepped right up to him. “Why didn’t you text me?” I looked up when Nick didn’t answer and found him staring at me.

“I thought it’d be worth it to see your face.” He swallowed.

“And it was.”

Nick’s skin was as rich a brown as my glove, but I thought he was blushing. Still, I couldn’t dwell on the cute-but-shy thing he had going at the moment. I had eyes only for the white rectangular box he’d brought me. “I’m still pissed about losing, but a lot less now.”

“Have you figured out how you’re going to do it?”

I nodded. “Selena finally agreed to help, despite her massive reservations.” I took a deep breath as I put the box in my duffel bag. “I think this will be the best thing I’ve ever

done, and she’s convinced it’ll be the worst.”

“You know if it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to tell anyone.”

Right. But it had to work out. “I guess tonight’s the night.” I couldn’t help bouncing on my feet a little. “Okay.”

“And you can call me if you have any questions or anything.”

He reached out like he was going to pat my arm or something but pulled back before touching me.

That was fine. I’d need to get used to taking the lead with us, if we ever became us. I hugged him. “Seriously, thank you, Nick. I wouldn’t be doing this without you.”

It had been only a couple weeks since our biology teacher had started class by sticking his rolled tongue out at his students.

A few people laughed at the continued display; the rest waited for the inevitable explanation. When at last Mr. Rodriguez

raised his arms and gestured for us to imitate him, he was quick to point a finger at Nick.

“Thank you, Mr. Holloway—no, no. Keep your tongue out. You too, Miss Fields.” He shifted his finger to me. “Here we have a perfect display of a dominant phenotype for tongue rolling.” He pointed back at Nick. “And a recessive phenotype for tongue rolling. I’m assuming you cannot roll your tongue, Mr. Holloway?”

Nick shook his head while a slight flush marched up the back of his neck.

“Then my original statement stands. Now, what is a phenotype? As you all should know from last night’s reading, it’s simply the collection of observable traits, like a widow’s peak.” He pointed to his own hairline. “Or freckles or any number of characteristics that are physically demonstrable, like our tongue rollers here—feel free to close your mouths now,” he said, addressing the half of the class who still had their tongues out. “What I’d like you all to do with your partners is complete a chart listing several phenotypes, note which are dominant and recessive, then felicitaciones! You’re going to have two children and, from your original data, determine the phenotypes of each child.” He began passing out packets. “Refer to chapters eight and nine of your textbooks if you need further reminders about phenotypes, genotypes, alleles, gametes and the marvellous process of meiosis. I’ll be circulating the room to answer questions. Now learn, students, learn!”

I leaned into Nick, who still hadn’t fully recovered from being singled out. “I think our kids are screwed. Between my attached earlobes and your flat tongue, what can they possibly accomplish in life?” I got a pity smile for my lame humor, but Nick made eye contact for more than two seconds. “Though maybe there is something awesome hidden on my dad’s side that they could inherit. He was surrendered at a hospital as a baby, so we have no clue about his birth family.”

Nick nodded. “I never knew that about your dad but I guess that goes for me too.”

Nick had grown up knowing he was adopted—his family had their own mini holiday, Nick Day, celebrating the day they brought him home—and had never shown the least bit of discomfort talking about it. The opposite, really. Score me for bringing it up. I had Nick’s full, unguarded attention.

He turned to face me.

“Did I tell you I recently took one of those online DNA tests to try to figure out more of my heritage? I’m obviously Samoan, but turns out I’m 8 percent Inuit too. I even found a few fourth cousins floating around the country.”

I’d forgotten to care that he’d been holding my gaze for longer than his usual few seconds. “Wait, like actual blood relatives? A DNA test can tell you that?” My heart rate spiked as the possibilities began darting through my brain.

“Yeah. A lot of people are doing them now, so you never know who you’ll find. Cool, huh?”

I’d almost kissed him that day in biology class. Instead I’d pumped him for every speck of info on the company he’d used and started planning something I’d hopefully get to finish that night. The knowledge now made me hug Nick tighter despite the duffel bag smashed between us.

From over his shoulder, I saw my mom heading toward us. I pulled back a scant second after he’d worked up the nerve to hug me back, noticing that I’d transferred a good

amount of orange dust from my uniform to him in the process. I left him beating dust from his spotless white T-shirt and quite possibly ironed jeans with a promise to text him once I’d succeeded—which I absolutely would. I wasn’t about to lose twice in one night.

Mom didn’t care about dust and gathered me into a hug while whispering a disparaging comment about the umpire’s vision before releasing me.

“Tell that to Dad.” He was still in the dugout talking to a couple of the girls before making the final shift from Coach to Dad again, a distinction he and Selena had established back when he’d coached her softball team. Honestly, I never noticed much of a difference.

“Oh, I will.”

That made me smile, because she would. My parents often had loud, passionate disagreements that, to an outsider, might seem like fights. But they didn’t see the way Mom would goad Dad even after she’d made her point just to watch the heated color infuse his pale skin, or the way Dad would bait her until she slipped into her native Spanish because she had even less of a filter in those moments than normal.

“Who was the boy and when do I get to meet him?”

I tightened the grip on my duffel. “That was Nick, and you’ve met him a dozen times.”

“Not since you started hugging him like that.”

I so wasn’t having that conversation. “Where’s Selena?”

Mom gave me a knowing look at my obvious subject change. “Ask him to come to dinner. He’s not a vegetarian, is he?”

To my mom, being a vegetarian was slightly less offensive than being a Dodgers fan. “He’s not a vegetarian. And he’s still just a friend.”

“Hmm,” Mom said, which meant we’d be revisiting the topic later. “Selena’s waiting for us at the car.”

“Where’s her car?”

“She got in early, so we drove together.”

Great. I get both her and Dad the whole way home.

As soon as we were within earshot, Selena started. “I can’t believe you ran through a stop sign.” Her shoulder-length brown hair, a shade darker than mine, swished as she shook her head. “I get that when the adrenaline is flowing, it’s hard to stop, but, Dana, you don’t get to make that call. When I was playing…”

I tuned her out. Selena had this way of seeming to support and motivate me that undercut everything I did, and it had only gotten worse since she left for college. The University of Arizona was only a couple hours from Apache Junction, so she still tried to make most of my games—largely, I was convinced, to remind us all of her glory days as a Mustang. She was no doubt relaying one of her many victories, where she single-handedly played every position and hit so many home runs that the other team’s coach begged her to transfer schools, or my personal favorite, Dad crying when she told him she wasn’t interested in playing college ball. Those were all slight-to-gross exaggerations. Dad never cried; he’d just looked like he wanted to.

“Got it. I’ll play better next time. Hey, weren’t you telling me that you need Mom and Dad to help you with some school project tonight?” I moved my duffel bag in front of me and widened my eyes at her. Selena could be an annoying braggart when it came to softball, but she was also the only person on the planet who could read my mind with only the slightest cue.

“I was,” she said, without missing a beat, then forestalled

Mom’s inevitable question. “It’s an extra-credit thing. I’ll tell you about it when we get home. I’m sure Dad’s gonna want to talk about that last out first.”

I groaned. “Can we just not? Let’s talk about something lighter, like teen-pregnancy statistics. Besides, it was a bad call.”

“You looked out to me,” Selena said.

Blood heated my face, but Dad was there before I could respond.

“That’s because she was.” He unlocked the trunk, not looking at me. “The umpire called it.”

I came up alongside him, wishing he could be a little more my dad and a little less my coach the next time a close call cost us a game. “You know, you used to get thrown out of games all the time for arguing when you coached Selena. This would have been a perfect opportunity.”

“Not all the time,” Selena said, though I was positive she was calling a list to mind same as I was.

“More than once,” I said, before turning back to Dad and waiting with raised eyebrows for his response. “There was that game against Chandler. You almost took a swing at the umpire.”

“I was never going to hit him,” Dad said. “Back then I was more of a…” He searched for the right word.

“Calentón,” Mom said, smiling.

I thought it was more than Dad being hotheaded, but I didn’t get to protest before he went on.

“I told you to stay, you didn’t, and we lost. And even if you’d been safe—run through a stop sign again and I’ll bench you for more than a few innings.” He opened the front passenger door for Mom, a practice he’d apparently started on their first date and was still doing more than twenty years later.

“You’re not serious.” But the look he gave me said otherwise.

“Fine. Am I supposed to apologize to my dad or my coach?”

“What was that?” he asked, though we both knew he’d heard me.

“Nothing.”

He sighed, coming around to where I stood. “What is this attitude?”

“Why didn’t you fight the call?”

“Because you were out. Hey—hey.” He called my attention back when I looked away. “I’d have fought for you if you weren’t. Same as I did for your sister.” He lowered his voice so that Mom and Selena on the other side wouldn’t overhear. “You are one of the best players on the team. You could be as good as Selena if you worked harder.”

Except Selena never had to work the way I constantly had to. And she’d never cared enough to see how much better she could have been if she had. That was maybe the one bone of contention between her and Dad. So I worked twice as hard to be half as good, and it still wasn’t enough.

“Take the loss and work harder next time. We’ve got the whole season ahead of us, and you’re no good to me or anyone else on a bench. I need you.” He clapped a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. I nodded and worked my mouth into a small smile for his benefit. He needed me. I wanted more than that, but I’d settle for need just then.

I cradled my duffel in my lap during the car ride home, feeling the shape of the box within. And I smiled for real.

Chapter Two

My plan went off without a hitch. Selena was calm and cool, explaining that she needed family DNA samples for a criminology class she was supposedly taking. Selena was still technically undeclared, but she’d expressed enough middling interest in pursuing a sociology degree that neither of our parents questioned this. I think they both took it as a sign that she was finally committing to a career path. Mom happily swiped the toothbrush-like swab on the inside of her cheek. Dad was equally willing, joking about taking Mom on the lam if they connected him to any unsolved murders. They had no idea what we were really doing— what I was really doing.

After that, Selena passed me Dad’s swab and was officially done with the whole thing.

“I’m officially done with the whole thing,” she said, when we were in my room afterward.

“Fine.” I didn’t even look up from the DNA Detective website open on my laptop. “But don’t come back to me when I’m about to give Dad the birthday present to end all birthday presents.”

Selena peered over my shoulder, chewing on her thumbnail.

“You really think you’ll find someone he’s related to?”

Arizona’s Safe Baby Haven Law allowed newborns to be anonymously handed over at hospitals or fire stations without having to provide personal information, which meant Dad’s birth certificate was basically blank. But none of that would matter if we found even a single DNA match. “Yes.” I turned sideways in my chair. “Nick found a bunch of fourth cousins when he took his test, and he sent me links about other people who were orphans just like Dad finding half siblings and even parents.”

“What if it tells us something he doesn’t want to know, something we don’t want to know?”

I frowned. “What, that he’s related to some douchey celebrity? The whole point of doing it as a surprise is that if we don’t like what we find out, then we trash it and he never knows.” I couldn’t believe I still had to convince Selena about this. She knew as well as I did how much it would mean for Dad to find his own relatives. That was part of the reason he and Mom got pregnant with me. They wanted to make sure Selena had a sibling, someone she was directly connected to. Dad didn’t have that. There was such a huge contrast between Mom’s sprawling Mexican clan back in Texas and Dad’s blank unknown. We didn’t see Mom’s family all that often, but they were still there, and I always felt like I was a part of something. Dad didn’t know what that was like. This was a chance to give him a family that consisted of more than the three of us.

“I needed your money and your criminology-class excuse, both of which you gave me. If you want out now, that’s fine. Go ahead and give Dad a tie for his birthday.”

Selena dropped her arms in obvious irritation before fishing her car keys out of her bag. “Fine. I have to get back to my dorm.” She hesitated at the door. “Just don’t tell me if he’s 86 percent more likely to get colon cancer or something. Good stuff only, okay?”

I gave her an exaggerated eye roll. “But if it’s good?”

“Then, since I paid for half of this, my name better be on the birthday card too.”

Under my breath, I said, “A little more than half,” before turning back to the computer and filling out the final field on the registration form.

Selena strode back to my side and blocked the touch pad before I could click Send. “I paid more?”

Oh yeah. “I’m a poor high school junior who has to constantly put money into your old car.”

“And I’m a poorer college sophomore who gave you that old car for way less than it was worth.”

“It was my idea, and I’m doing all the work. Plus, now you’re making me go through the potentially traumatic results all on my own.” Not that I expected them to be traumatic.

When Selena still didn’t seem convinced, I glanced at her hand covering the touch pad, then up at her while simultaneously clicking Enter on the keyboard.

She dropped her hand. “Fine. Was that it? Is it done?”

“I mail the sample back in the morning and the results come in six to eight weeks.”

“Six to eight weeks. That seems fast.”

Not to me. Plus, Dad’s birthday wasn’t for another two months after that. Nick told me it could take time to hear back from any potential matches I found and contacted, and longer still if I needed information from any of them to track down closer relatives. Still, I couldn’t stop the excitement buzzing through me. Family for Dad. Family that I found— with Selena’s help, but that I made happen. That would be worth more than all the softball games she ever won him.

 

I turned out to be right: six to eight weeks did not go fast. As we approached the six-week mark, it became impossible to focus in Biology, my last class before lunch. Not even Nick working up the nerve to ask me out—something he’d started but abandoned the last three days in a row—could completely hold my attention.

He sucked in a deep breath. “Dana, I was wondering if… I mean…do you…” A sheen of sweat broke out on his forehead and he gave up yet again. “Can I borrow a pen?”

So close, I thought, passing Nick a pen. I could have asked him out, but I really needed him to find that initial bit of courage. Otherwise I’d end up running all over him in a relationship and that wouldn’t be good for either of us.

Glancing at the clock again, I didn’t have any more time to give Nick in the hopes that he’d try again before class ended. “Hey, so if I leave early, can you cover for me with Mr. Rodriguez?”

I was already packing up my stuff and eyeing our teacher, who was helping a student in the back row. “I need to be home when the mail is delivered or else my dad might get it first. Just tell him I went to the bathroom if he notices I’m gone.” And then I slipped out the door, mouthing thanks to a dumbstruck Nick as I did.

Our house was only a few miles from Superstition Springs High School on the outskirts of Apache Junction, tucked into a development of identical midsize homes that were distinguished from each other only by the cars parked out front. In our case, Mom’s red mini SUV and Dad’s silver hatchback. We had a corner lot, which meant we had twice as much backyard as our neighbors and could practice a little without having to drive to a park. That had been the number one selling point of the home, the trade-off being that it had only three smallish bedrooms, one of which we converted into Mom and Dad’s office because the large bay window afforded it the most natural light. It also gave me a perfectly unobstructed view to spy through. I slowed as I drove by, banking on the hope that they’d both be too consumed in their work to look up and recognize my car. Sure enough, Mom was fastidiously writing code on her computer, while Dad was filling his with design mock-ups for whatever website they were currently working on—I could never keep track. It was a good business, one that allowed Dad to set his own hours and still coach our high school softball team while giving Mom’s analytical mind the challenge she craved since she had to code whatever designs he came up with. A right brain and a left brain working together in near-perfect harmony.

Neither glanced up as I drove by, but they would if I pulled into the driveway, so I had to be insane and park around the block, skulk/sprint through neighbors’ yards and duck behind the bougainvillea bushes in front of our house. Then I spent the next twenty minutes crouched and pulling pink petals out of my hair while waiting to accost the mail carrier before she reached our house.

I’d never felt more excited in my life.

As soon as I heard the distinctive sound of the mail truck, I started disentangling myself from branches, emerging from my hiding spot just as Dad stepped outside. I didn’t know how he missed me diving back into the bushes, and I really didn’t know how he failed to hear my strangled breathing as I watched him share a greeting with the blueclad mail carrier and then slowly walk back into the house with a stack of envelopes. The DNA test results were addressed to me, but I hadn’t wanted to risk Dad seeing my name along with the DNA Detective logo in the corner and asking questions—and he would ask questions—so I could only hold my breath and wait while he stood in the entryway, shuffling the first letter to the back, then the second, and on and on while I tried not to have a heart attack. But then he tossed the stack on the table and closed the door behind him. I leaned my head back against the stucco-covered wall, my heart jackhammering in my chest.

After that day, I started leaving Biology earlier and earlier, as soon as attendance was taken, so that I could be home before the mail in case it came early. But the real problem was Dad. Twice more that week he beat me to the mail, which meant two more near heart attacks for me. Not good. Plus, while Nick might have had trouble expressing his feelings for me, he was a lot less reticent when it came to his thoughts on me skipping out early.

Nick had a perfect attendance record. He’d even come back to school after having his wisdom teeth removed during lunch hour. He understood why I was leaving early, but he really, really didn’t want to be a part of covering for me. So far, Mr. Rodriguez’s move around-the-room-as-you-will policy had kept my absence from being noticed, but Nick was growing increasingly unsettled by the prospect. It probably didn’t help that he abandoned several more attempts to ask me out. Each class, it was worse, the sweating, the nervous glances, the bouncing leg under our shared desk. I made a huge mistake one day when I pressed Nick’s knee still with my hand. He made the most insane noise, somewhere between a yelp and a gasp. Needless to say, the entire class—including Mr. Rodriguez—turned in our direction. Nick’s face was on fire, and I was too distracted by the need to beat the mail to play off Nick’s outburst convincingly. For the rest of class, Mr. Rodriguez watched us too closely for me to slip away. I was almost as agitated as Nick by the time the bell rang and I could race home. Thankfully, the results didn’t come that day either.

When the mail truck started down our street on Wednesday, Dad heard it as soon as I did. He looked out the window, pushed back his chair and stood up. Mom was softly head-banging to the heavy metal music pounding through her earbuds, oblivious to anything else. I started counting steps while watching the approaching truck. Five to the hall. Ten to the front door. He was going to beat me again.

I pulled my phone out and called home. Seconds later, I heard it ringing inside and, through the windows, saw Dad head back to the office to answer it.

“Dana?”

“Hi, Dad. I think I left my History homework on my desk upstairs. I can come by before lunch is over if it’s there, but could you check for me?” As soon as he moved to the stairs, I slid out of the bushes and waved at the mail carrier while directing Dad to search every random spot I could think of in my room. “It might have fallen behind my desk—can

you pull it out and check?”

He put the phone down but I heard his grunt of effort as the mail was placed into my waiting hands.

“I’m not seeing it anywhere. Are you sure you left it? Dana?”

I was only half listening as I sorted through random bills and magazines. “Did you look under the bed?”

He said something about my messy room, but I didn’t hear it, because the second letter from the bottom was from DNA Detective.

The envelope shook in my hand along with my voice.

“It’s here.”

“Look more carefully next time. And you’re cleaning your room the second you get home today, do you understand me?”

I hurried to put the rest of the mail in the mailbox. “I will. Thanks for checking. Love you, Dad.”

“You too.”

For once I didn’t care that he didn’t say it back. Mom always said he had a hard time verbally expressing love since he’d had so little growing up without a family, but just because he rarely said the word didn’t mean he didn’t feel it. I did know he loved me, and once he opened his birthday present, I’d get to feel it full force.

As soon as I was around the corner, I tore into the envelope. I skipped the geographic-ancestry and health reports as fast as I could shuffle the pages, until I had it: the possible- relative list. At first the onslaught of information was overwhelming. On the left were default symbols indicating the gender of each potential relative; next to that was the percentage of DNA Dad shared with each person, followed by the predicted relationship. Most were listed as third to fifth cousins, but I barely saw them.

The top result had a 47 percent DNA match, with the predicted relationship listed as “father or son.”


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