"You'll learn that the truth will be more complicated that it already is," the caller had warned.
"What do you mean?" Shelby asked. "I don't get it."
"You might not get it now, but you will when it has arrived at your door."
Shelby sat in her Vios, face glum and arms folded, debated whether she should reveal the earlier tele-conversation to Matt as she waited for him to be off his working shift. Her mind was adamant on handling it herself to lessen the complicity and consequences but her heart reminded her that since they were bonded in love, he had every right to know and to share her burdens and worries.
To receive the call had been an unexpected surprise. Long before Stephie's death, she had kept a cordial distance from the caller - Alicia - as something Alicia had done annoyed and angered her beyond the point of forgiveness and acceptance.
Thinking about it now, she felt, would bring back the exact emotions she felt then.
Forget it, there's no point in being cheesed off again, she reminded herself and since being in a stationary car was no fun (she had deliberately killed off the engine to save gas and prevent an engine crack), she snatched her tote bag and hopped out, walked towards the entrance of the building.
The familiar voice stunned her as she froze, dropped whatever it was that she had been doing. It couldn't be; it had been eighteen long months since she had heard the cheery voice and wouldn't hear for the rest of her own life. Summoning her inner courage to face the ghostly being, she inhaled deeply and turned. She had to hold on to the glass table that she was now leaning against for support in a heart-stopping shock.
She felt her knees wobble at her sight and didn't know what to do. She saw that this person's limbs were permanently glued to its sockets, which meant that she was a humanly figure and not the ghostly being that she first presumed.
But... but... it can't be!
As if she knew what Shelby's suspicious hesitations were, she dug deep into her pocket and handed two items - a sealed envelope and a gold locket - over.
"Here," she broke the silence. "This should help to reveal the truth about me."
Without much ado, Shelby tore open the envelope and skimmed through the letter, her eyes widening at its contents.
A slight nod would lead to her flicking open the gold locket, which revealed a mini-sized photograph of the twin sisters posing for the camera after a garden party hosted by their late parents.
"No way!" She broke into tears, as she lost her composure. "You're supposed to be dead, Stephie." And ran to embrace her.
After Shelby had recovered from her shell-shocked state, Stephie sat her down and apologized for the inconvenience and sorrow that the poor sister had went through but explained that there had been no other route out as her life and Matt's had been threatened by shadowy hands.
Something drastic needed to be done to save them all, even if it meant sacrificing the perfect love that would've brought Stephie and Matt to seal their matrimony on the special day.
She broke in tears, remembering that she had unwillingly forced Matt away. She felt that for as long as she was out of the picture, the danger on him would significantly be reduced to the point where he could live in peace and safety without hovering over his shoulder.
Even after seeking the help of a mutual friend - that'd be Alicia - to fake her death with the official cause as accidental drowning, she admitted that she still loved him and he would always hold a special place in her heart.
She saw her chance when the shadowy hand died in a car accident, with the funeral and wake service as living proofs and decided that the first person she wanted to see was the sister she longed for so deeply.
"Now." Stephie broke the silence, suddenly held Shelby's hand in hers. "I know what you're thinking as Alicia has told me about it. Sure, I regretted breaking off with him but you can't undo the mistakes that have been done. He'll consider it as the biggest betrayal from me."
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Shelby apologized. "I didn't know about the past."
"Don't, it wasn't your fault or his. Neither one of you knew the real truth."
No wonder Alicia rattled the nonsensical matters. She was trying to warn me, Shelby thought. "Does Matt know?" she asked instead. "Does he know that you're back?"
"No." Stephie's color darkened. "Don't tell him either. I'm not ready to face him yet, and I'm rather afraid that my reentrance into his life would throw your relationship upside down and leave bad memories in its wake. So, no, allow time to take its course."
She felt suspicious. "Are you going to stay?"
"No. I'm returning to my recluse, where I've built myself a brand new life. "
"But ... what about the shadowy hand?"
"It was reported in the press that he died in a car accident. I even attended his funeral to confirm the truth, which is why I'm able to come out and see you."
"Why can't you stay then?"
"I can't afford the risk of being seen by friends and especially Matt until I'm ready to face them and explain my case."
"Will I see you again?"
And with that, Shelby lost her composure again and broke into uncontrollable tears. She feared it meant that she was losing her sister - only permanently, this time.