“I see,” she says at last, picking up her fork again. “Perhaps you have a problem with me yourself?” She doesn’t look at Lyle, but concentrates on her food.
“I’m just having a hard time believing it’s a coincidence that Paris gets hurt immediately after you show up in his life.” Lyle has his arms folded across his chest and is glowering at Ursula. I cannot reconcile this sullen, angry man with the easygoing, laidback Lyle that I have come to know.
“Are you accusing me of hurting my own son?” Ursula sets down her fork again, the better to glare at Lyle. I barely restrain a sigh of impatience. There is enough tension between Mrs. Jenson and Lyle without adding this complication to the situation.
“I’m not accusing you of anything.” Despite the soothing words, Lyle’s countenance becomes even more grave. “I’d just like to know why you chose yesterday to contact Paris.” Although I would have phrased it differently, I’d like to know the answer to that question as well. Ursula sits up straight in her chair, losing her insouciance. She places her napkin carefully by the side of her plate.
“Giving up the t—Paris was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. My parents told me in no uncertain terms that I would be out of their house if I kept a child out of wedlock. I cried for the last month of my pregnancy. Jersey? Horrid. The trip to Tijuana? I don’t even remember it.” She pauses to take a sip of water. “Paris was the sweetest, most perfect baby ever. Oh sure, I know all mothers think that but in this case, it’s true. He didn’t cry and when he smiled, I just melted. When the lawyer took him from my arms for the last time, I felt as if my soul was ripped from my body. I had to bite my tongue until it bled so I wouldn’t beg for him back.” Ursula laughs a shade bitterly, bemused by her own stupidity. “I saw him everywhere I went. Of course, I didn’t know his name was Paris. I only knew he was adopted by a healthy Caucasian couple. Back in those days, they didn’t tell you anything! I got on with my life as best I could, but still thought of—him every day. Five years ago, I had a little cancer scare and realized life is short. It was time to reconnect with my past. I hired a private investigator.”
“It took the P.I. five years to find Paris?” Lyle interrupts, his forehead furrowed. “He must not have been very good.”
“She was fine,” Ursula says pointedly before relaxing again. She waves off the server who is hovering behind her. “It’s just, my second husband served me with divorce papers around that time, leaving me for his secretary. What a cliché! That’s when Lois started acting out. One day, she’s a sweet, tiny thing—the next, she’s this big, blond monster. She shot up over night! We moved to San Francisco for the proverbial new start.” She reflects for a minute, her eyes hooded. They clear as she continues. “If it weren’t for the support of a very dear friend, I never would have made it through. Those were some desperate days before my breakout book. ” She made twenty-five million in three years? That’s simply amazing—unless she had money to begin with.
“Still, five years?” Lyle protests. “I’m surprised it took that long.”
I don’t say anything as I digest what I’ve heard. I want to believe her not only because I like her, but because she’s Paris’s birthmother. However, there is so much about her that has been left unsaid. She is glibly explaining why it took five years to find Paris. She didn’t know his name at all, which was a big stumbling block. By the time she started her search, Mr. Frantz was dead and Paris’s mother had remarried which made the trail doubly hard to follow. There were other things she had to deal with in the meantime. I am eager to hear what exactly those other things are, but Ursula declines to talk about them. She also declines to talk more about Paris’s father, saying she doesn’t even know his full name. Seeing the skeptical look on our faces, she hastens to explain that he just told her to call him Benny. She hasn’t seen either him or his sister since high school, and that was almost thirty years ago. I can’t really fault her for that as I have a porous memory myself.