|Having lost his son Jacob at such a young age has forced David to reevaluate is priorities in life. He decides to shift his focus more toward raising his remaining children, rather than on his career.|
|Mary and Elizabeth were born very late in the marriage. Having so many adults in the house, both girls have become independently strong-willed and amazingly self-sufficient. But they have gravitated toward Mei with surprising ease, treating her more like a mother-figure than a sister-in-law. David wonders if the arrangement is healthy so soon after losing their mother, and he fears that they are trying to make Mei into another Ciara. But Mei does very well in the role, and jokes that they are good practice for when she has her own child.|
|Then there are times, when the twins do not notice their father watching, that they laugh and cry together while remembering their mother. It is most touching when they revere the guitars Ciara had collected over the years, singing together the songs their mother had sung to them a thousand times as babies.|
|The girls have had difficulty understanding Ciara’s death, and David’s insistence upon telling them it was an accident has not made it any easier. Both girls clearly know that cars don’t just spontaneously detonate in the driveway. He can only hope that when the questions come up again when the girls are older, he will be able to force the words to surface at that time. He owns the difficult task of looking deep within himself for answers. He chuckles as he thinks about what Bebe would have told him; that he already has the answers, but needs to find the faith to believe in them.|
|David does for Mary and Elizabeth what Ciara had done for all of the other children. He teaches them the lessons of their faith; of forgiveness and love, and of charity and obedience. He has heard these lessons countless times from Ciara. But he finds that he is beginning to finally understand, now that he is the one teaching them. He had not put all the pieces together until now, and in a sense, he feels like he has cheated himself over the years.|
|While David coasts through the final years of his career, Mark ascends up the Law Enforcement ladder with alarming speed. He is in peak physical condition and is recognised as a master in the martial arts arena. But his success comes at a price, as he is often called to work on short notice. Some of his cases require him to travel, and be away from home for days at a time. What he does not divulge to Mei, is that much of his work has involved tracking down Ali, undercover, through the some of the seediest and most dangerous parts of Africa and Asia.|
|But thankfully, Mark is home when Mei goes into labor. [Author’s note: though he is of very little actual help …way to go, hero]
David, being the excitable grandfather-to-be, insists upon delivering the baby at the hospital. Mei has never felt such pain, and through clenched teeth, she curses Mark six ways to Sunday for doing this to her. But her sweet nature returns when she holds her newborn baby girl for the first time.
|Mark regards his daughter, Hope Barimen, with awe and disbelief …HIS daughter.|
|Soon after, when the kids have all gone to sleep one evening, David asks Mei and Mark to sit with him and talk. He has dug out his “big box of research” from when he was younger. Among his treasures, is an old journal he was able to acquire from the library for a hefty donation. Mark notes how David has always treated the subject of his ancestors with some odd kind of reverence.|
|David begins to speak in great detail about the history of the family’s legacy. He begins with the early settlers of Sunset Valley and continues right up to his Grandmother’s spirit talking to Bebe about the land and its mysterious importance. When Mark became a teen, David told him some rough details about his own discoveries. But he glossed over many of the facts, including the truth about his “spelunking accident”. Over the course of the evening, he tells Mark and Mei every detail, including Reid’s obsession, his engagement to Kacey, and the attack at the mine.
[Author’s note, for points of reference see Chapter 1.21 – Guardian and Chapter 2.20 – Madness.]
|David informs Mark that it is time for him to take over as caretaker of the family and the land. He packs up his box and regards it as if saying goodbye to an old friend; then hands it gently, almost reluctantly, over to his son. His frustration is clear when he states that there is more information about their ancestors somewhere in Sunset Valley. He believes it was taken by Reid, but he cannot be sure.|
|Wherever it is, he is sure that it contains answers to what lay beneath the old mine; and is key to understanding the secret their land keeps locked away.|