To Thine Own Self (Prologue, page 1 of 7)

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Alex paid for his ticket and tucked the wallet inside his suit jacket.

Mrs. Kenan smiled. "Thanks, Mr. Barnett. I'm sure Carmen will be glad you're home."

Alex nodded as he turned toward the auditorium door. Everyone he met tonight was aware he had been gone for two weeks. Carmen was incredibly naïve about people. After the stabbing, she should realize that living in the country didn't exempt them from crime. She had been raised to believe people were basically good. Maybe most were, but there was that percentage - no matter where you went - who were looking for easy victims. In seven years of marriage, he had not been able to teach her how to avoid being one of them.

He opened the door to the school auditorium. The school was sponsoring a play with reversed roles - students playing the part of parents and vice versa. Carmen and Jonathan were both in the play, as well as Katie's twins. His decision to stay at the hacienda last night had nearly caused him to miss it, but that was another story altogether.

He shut the door and straightened his suit while his eyes adjusted to the dim light. Somewhere in that sea of people was his family - including his sister and her husband. Katie and Bill would be watching Natalie, Matthew and Destiny.

As his eyes adjusted to the light, he started down the side isle. He spotted Katie & Bill on the second row and waited for an opportunity to catch Katie's attention.

The audience laughed and he glanced up at the stage. Carmen was dressed in a short pink dress and white tights. She had an oversized lollipop in her hand and her two front teeth had been colored out. Her long curly blond hair had been pulled up in pig tails and tied with huge bows. Jonathan was dressed in a dark suit and had a mustache and goatee. Evidently remembering his lines wasn't near as difficult as keeping his face straight.

As Alex made his way down to Katie, Carmen left the stage. The curtains closed and the lights came on. He walked around the front row and squeezed down the shortest route. Destiny spotted him first and stood on her chair, bouncing up and down with excitement.

"Look! Daddy's here!"

The echo of little voices inspired several snickers from around them.

He plucked Natalie from her chair and sat down between Katie and Destiny. Matthew leaned out from between Katie and Bill.

"Daee," he cooed, reaching for him. His brown eyes were intent as he tried to navigate Katie's lap.

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