After Lex left Nana’s, he went home to his flat and began devising a plan. How would he explain Daina’s disappearance to their friends and her family? A twinge of guilt tickled at the back of his mind, but he suppressed it anew with the knowledge that the secret must never again be exposed.
How could he continue his life as before? Could Nana expect him to continue as though nothing had happened? People would ask him about her. Her family would want to know what he knew. The law would doubtlessly consider him a suspect. What was he going to do? Oh, how he hated the truth of this whole mess. Why did this all have to happen to him?
Suppressing the questions he couldn’t answer, Lex forced himself to honestly review the entire circumstance. It all went back to the secret.
Lex’s father, Myron Walton, was a scientist—a nuclear physicist. He worked in some advanced form of radiation research that could redefine atomic warfare. As a legal front, his father’s company published groundbreaking cancer treatment research.
Before Lex had turned eighteen, he had known next to nothing about what had kept his father away from home throughout Lex’s abandoned childhood. On his eighteenth birthday, Lex had been given a special gift by Nana. The gift was a book that had now been passed down in his family for four generations.
According to Nana, the book contained information about the work that Lex’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had compiled through covert research so advanced and classified, most of the world had yet to even know it could exist. At first, Lex thought his grandmother was joking when she explained to him the importance of the book. The look in her eyes and the explanation that followed sufficiently convinced him otherwise.
“Lex, the information in this book would change the world as we know it for the grave worse. You must make certain, as the next generation of Waltons, that this information is never revealed to anyone. It may seem like a joke now, but this responsibility is a great one.”
In the years following, Lex had taken his responsibilities seriously—until he met Daina. She had one of the most infectious personalities he had ever encountered. When she looked into his eyes and asked him a question, he felt he could do nothing but tell her the truth. Despite his resentment for the truth, this grip Daina had on him was intoxicating.
One night, they were out together on a quiet walk. With his pretenses all lowered, he’d been careless enough to bring up the secret book with her. It hadn’t taken her long to pull out of him the information his grandmother had told him to keep hidden.
As Lex had done, Daina initially thought he was joking. To prove himself to her, he had taken her to the book and showed her its contents. Together they were able to work out some of the mathematical algorithms contained within.
Lex and Daina were both chemistry majors in college. It was how they had met—Lex following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and so on. Grasping even a small amount of the information held within that book, both of them realized quickly the depth of information it contained. It truly would change the world for the worse if the wrong people discovered what it said.
That’s when Daina had ruined everything. She had decided that she wanted to discover how to use the secret for good. Ever the idealist, Daina was convinced that if the right people were allowed access to this information, it could change the world for the better. Lex had to threaten her to convince her otherwise. He’d told her that not only could no one be trusted with his family’s secret, but the secret was not to be shared—regardless of the outcome. He’d told her that if anyone found out that she knew, they could both be killed. When he’d said it, he thought he was exaggerating to make his point. Now, he was unsure of that.
That day, Lex and Daina had promised to never reveal Daina’s knowledge of the book to anyone. Aside from a few off-handed mentions to him of the good she thought the secret could do, Daina had kept her side of the promise. She hadn’t pushed the issue.
In the end, he was the traitor. He might have found her idealistic notions annoying, but she didn’t deserve this. The full truth of what he’d done—knowing what could become of Daina—filled him with rage. How could he have been so stupid as to tell her the secret? This really was his fault!
Lex had never asked to be born into a corrupt family. He’d never asked for the burden of the secret to be laid upon him. Nonetheless, he’d been imprisoned by the dark secrecy that had been harbored for generations. He was still paying the price it required.
Now, so was Daina. Even though he could say she was partly to blame by not leaving it alone, Lex would always blame himself. He had to. If he hadn’t given in to trusting her, if he hadn’t allowed himself to believe that the burden of the truth wasn’t as heavy as he knew it was, Daina would still just be annoying, idealistic, beautiful, smart, lovable Daina. What would happen to her? He couldn’t allow himself to imagine.
Lex left his flat for Daina’s. Marching into the cloudy afternoon, he went to find her. He couldn’t just let them have her. Even if she had been a complete pest as of late, he knew she was worth it. He had to try to save her. Maybe they could escape the prison in which his family had so mercilessly bound them. Why hadn’t he thought of this years ago?
When he got to Daina’s apartment, Lex found the door open. Regret hit him like a blast—another burning truth he would hate forever. He was too late.