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Many Bloody Returns Part 52

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They stuck around Raleigh for a while longer as the police continued to find bodies, celebrating when two of the victims were identified by personal effects kept by the killer. But the big celebration came when Norcomb announced that Jane's real name was Leah and that her family lived in nearby Cary. They'd heard about Jane Doe, but between the poor quality of the Wal-Mart security tapes and the changes in Leah's appearance during the four years she was gone, they'd never made the connection between Jane and their daughter.

The next day, the newspaper reported that an anonymous donor was paying for Leah's body to be moved closer to her family and that a tasteful granite monument would be included. Mark was among the many who attended the funeral, making sure that Leah finally got back home.

Stella was ready to head back to Boston, maybe stopping in New York to see some shows, but Mark put her off, pointing out that the state fair was still going on, and they hadn't ridden all the rides. Though he knew that she knew he was up to something, she played along.

The next night, Mark drove them back to Allenville, and parked outside the Spivey family plot.

"Okay, why are we out here?" Stella asked.



"I want you to show you something."

He led her through the gate toward where her parents were buried, and she couldn't resist looking over toward Jane's, or rather

Leah's, former grave. "Why did they leave the tombstone?"

"Let's look."

He was watching her face as she got closer and realized it was a different stone.

She turned to him. "You bought me a tombstone?"

"I was going to," he admitted, "but somebody beat me to it."

"I don't understand."

"I went to see Bob Henry. He's the man who donated Jane's tombstone, and I thought a little karmic payback was in order, so I was going to order one for you from him. When I told him where it was to be placed, he mentioned that his family had been in the

business for several generations, and that they've done all the monuments in this plot. And when I told him the name to put on the stone, he told me the story."

"What story?"

"Do you remember the tree that used to be over your grave? Lightning hit it years after you were buried and knocked it down."

"So?"

"So it fell on the tombstone your mother had put up for you and broke it."

"Then she did get me a stone?"

He nodded. "She had Bob Henry Senior take it back to repair it, but she was already ill and died before she could finish paying

for the work. It was still in the storeroom. All I did was pay the balance and a rush charge to get it out here tonight."

"Then Mama bought this?"

"It was her last gift to you."

Stella knelt down on the grave and ran her fingers over the stone's inscription. Not her name, or the dates of her birth and death,

but the two words under her name:

Beloved Daughter

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About Many Bloody Returns Part 52 novel

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