My mother led her into the living room. The lady’s piercing green eyes rested on me, sending a chill down my back. My father followed her gaze. “Rylie, do you know this woman?” Dad asked.
“No.” I shook my head slowly. “I’ve never seen her before.”
“Rylie, maybe you should go to your room,” Dad suggested, his gaze demanding I do as he said.
“No. If this has something to do with me, I want to hear it.” I crossed my arms and sank against the back of the couch.
Mom and Dad exchanged a worried glance, but turned back to the lady on the couch. “Please, go on.”
Without taking her eyes from me, the lady calmly stated, “My name is Azura, and I am Rylie’s birth mother.”
My father, who was always a level-headed man, was on his feet in seconds, his face hard. “What are you talking about?”
I felt like I had fallen into some kind of parallel universe. Did this woman just say she was my birth mother? How could she be my birth mother? That would mean I was adopted, but wouldn’t my parents have told me something like that?
My mother shook her head. “Birth mother? Rylie isn’t adopted.” She reached over and took my hand. “Believe me, I’ll never forget the eleven hours of labor.”
The woman sat perfectly still in the blue armchair across from us, with her hands clasped on her lap. “I know it’s hard to accept, but it’s true. Your daughter died shortly after she was born. I switched the infants. Rylie is mine.”
The wind left me as if I had been punched in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe, and the room spun. I gripped the pillow next to me with my other hand as I clung to my mother.
Silence filled the room for a moment, and then my father exploded. “You need to leave now!” He pointed to the door. “Get out of this house and don’t come back without a court order.”
The lady smiled sincerely, her face still as calm as it had been when she walked in the door. “Please, hear me out. I realize this is a lot to take in.”
“No! This is preposterous! Nobody died. Rylie is ours.” Dad’s voice was like thunder.
I studied the lady. She seemed so honest and soft-spoken. Why would she pretend something like this? Why would she ruin our family if it weren’t true? And if was true, why was she coming clean now? Something in me believed her even though I didn’t want to. I swallowed hard and rubbed my sweaty palms on my shirt.
“Let her talk,” I said hoarsely.
“Rylie, you can’t believe her.” Dad looked stricken.
“I’m curious as to why she thinks I’m her daughter. Let’s hear her out.” I crossed my arms and scooted closer to my mother, comforted when she wrapped an arm around me.
Dad turned back to the woman called Azura, and his frown deepened. “Fine.” He sat back down in his seat and glared. “Talk.”
“Thank you. I’m going to tell you something not many humans know, and I have to trust you to keep it secret for Rylie’s sake.” She addressed the statement to my parents.
Humans? Who talks like that?