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Local Woman Missing

Recap & Book Summary



The Quick Recap and Section-by-Section Summary for Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica are below. Spoiler warning: these summaries contains spoilers.

For a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis, see The Bibliofile's review of Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The one-paragraph version: 11 years ago, Shelby Tebow went missing and ten days later a neighbor (Meredith Dickey) and her child (Delilah Dickey) disappeared as well. In present day, Delilah has returned, unrecognizable with acid burns, after escaping the couple that abducted her. We also learn that Shelby's body was eventually found, and her husband Jason was arrested for her murder. Meredith later committed suicide. Kate and Bea, two of their neighbors, helped with the search for Meredith. In the end, we find out that "Delilah" is not actually Delilah. She's another abducted girl who was brainwashed into thinking she is Delilah (whose disappearance was well-publicized). Meanwhile, it turns out that Bea had been driving home drunk (with Meredith in the car) and ended hitting Shelby. They got rid of the body, and Bea framed Jason. However, Meredith couldn't live with the lie and insisted on going to the police. As a result, Bea killed her and made it look like a suicide. Delilah saw Bea attack Meredith, so Bea locked Delilah away. In present day, the police find the real Delilah locked up in the attic above Bea's soundproofed music studio.

Local Woman Missing jumps back and forth between multiple timelines. It opens 11 years prior with Shelby Tebow leaving the house at night to cheat on her husband, which she has done many times before. On the road, she spots a car coming towards her. The book soon reveals that 10 days later, another woman from that neighborhood (Meredith Dickey) and her child (Delilah Dickey) went missing as well.

In present day, Delilah manages to escape the dark basement that she's been captive in along with another boy, Gus. However, Gus is recaptured in the process. She rejoins her family which consists of her father Josh and her brother Leo, though they can barely recognize her because she's emaciated and scarred with acid burns. She doesn't have much of a memory of her capture since she was only six at the time. So, it's unknown that exactly happened to them all those years ago, but Meredith ended up committing suicide.

Through flashbacks, we learn that Shelby's (unclothed) body eventually was found, with her husband Jason as the primary suspect. Meanwhile, Jason thinks Shelby's obstetrician, Dr. Feingold, might be responsible. Two neighbors, Kate and Bea, who were friends with Meredith and Josh end up helping to investigate. They learn that Jason and Shelby were in the process for suing Dr. Feingold for malpractice after his birthing procedures led to a brain injury for their baby, Grace.

In present day, Delilah struggles with assimilating with her family. There's also a lot of media attention surrounding her return. She soon tells her father about the other captive boy, Gus. Quickly, the police track down the place Delilah was held captive (and physically and sexually abused) by a couple who turn out to be, Eddie and Martha Cutter of Michael, Illinois. However, Gus isn't there, and the couple has clearly fled.

Flashing back to 11 years ago, Kate and Bea also learn that Meredith had been Shelby's doula (helps with the birthing process) and had offered to testify in the malpractice suit against Dr. Feingold. Still, when Shelby's bloody clothes are found in a dumpster at Jason's workplace, Jason is arrested.

Meanwhile, Meredith had been getting threatening messages prior to her disappearance. She'd also noticed that Leo, 4 at the time, had been reluctant to go to the babysitter's house and came back with a bruise one day. Meredith eventually finds out that her friend Cassandra was responsible for the threatening messages she was getting (because Cassandra had learned that Meredith had a romantic history with her husband, Marty). And the Leo situation turns out to be a bully at the babysitter's place.

In present day, Josh takes Delilah to a hypnotist to try to jog any memories that might help them locate Gus. This leads to the revelation that Gus is only a figment of her imagination. Stuck in the dark for years, her mind created him to keep her sane.

Flashing back to 11 years ago, soon after Meredith disappeared, her body was found in a motel and it's determined to be a suicide. There's also a note saying Delilah is fine and not to go looking for her.

In present day, a childhood playmate of Delilah's, Piper Hanaka, points out to Leo that Delilah used to have a cleft chin but she no longer has one now, and it's not the type of thing that disappears over time. They soon establish that "Delilah" is not really Delilah. Instead, the police officer, Carmen (who has been working with the family on this case for many years), lied about the DNA results because she couldn't stand to see Josh disappointed once again. "Delilah" turns out to be another missing girl, Carly Byrd, who was convinced by the couple that she was Delilah Dickey (because they liked idea of the notoriety associated with Delilah's highly publicized disappearance).

Another flashback shows Meredith planning a night out with Josh where they run into Bea and Kate. They party together, but Josh and Kate eventually leave. Later, Bea and Meredith head home, drunk. Bea is driving and she hits Shelby. Meredith wants to turn herself in, but Bea reminds her that this will ruin her relationship with Josh. They end up getting rid of the body. Bea undresses the body, hoping it will prompt the police to focus on male suspects if they find it,

In present day, Carly is packing her things to leave when she runs off. The police search the neighborhood to see if she's hiding somewhere. When they try to search Bea and Kate's garage (which Bea uses as a music studio), Bea runs off as well. They end up discovering the real Delilah there, where Bea has been keeping her captive.

It turns out that when Meredith learned that Bea had framed Jason for the murders (by planting the bloody clothes), she had insisted on going to the police with the truth. As a result, Bea attacked her, took her to a motel, demanded she write a suicide note and killed her, making it look like a suicide. Delilah had seen Bea attack Meredith, so Bea has been hiding her in the attic space above the garage/studio, which is soundproofed, for the last eleven years.

In the end, the police track down Carly, and Eddie and Martha Cutter eventually return to their home and are arrested. A few days later, Bea is arrested trying to buy a fake ID. Jason Tebow is released from prison.

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Section-by-Section Summary


Prologue
Part I
Part II

Prologue

11 Years Before

The prologue is set 11 years before. It introduces a dissatisfied housewife (who we later learn is Shelby Tebow) with a baby who knows her husband is cheating on her.

She leaves the house at night to hook up with someone named “Sam”, or at least he says it is. Shelby thinks about how her husband would beat her up if he knew what she was up to. Like her, Sam is married. They’ve hooked up a few times now, though she’s hooking up with other guys as well.

As she walks over to meet up with Sam, she hears someone behind her. When she speeds up, she sees a car coming towards her.

Part I

Present Day (Delilah)

In present day, Delilah Dickey and Gus are being kept in a dark, windowless, underground room by a couple that kidnapped them. Delilah has been there a long time, long enough to grow out of the clothes and shoes she arrived in. A while later, they brought Gus down. He was 12 at the time. They had used their dog to lure Gus into their car, though now the dog is gone.

There’s a toilet down there and occasionally the couple leaves a bucket of soapy water for them to clean themselves. The woman mostly only comes down when she’s in a bad mood and wants to take it out on one of them. Delilah’s earliest memories are of the couple doing “wicked” things to her. She also recalls how the lady gloated about kidnapping her and how easy it was to steal kids.

One day, Delilah hides the spoon they’ve been given to eat in hopes of shaping it into something sharp. Delilah starts using a rough edge of the toilet tank to shape her spoon. Eventually, the spoon is sharp enough. When the man, Eddie, brings down a chocolate bar for them to eat, Delilah takes the chance to stab him with her sharpened spoon. Delilah then beckons Gus, and they rush upstairs. The lady comes down to find out what happened, and Delilah escapes.

When she gets outside, she runs. She keeps going until she realizes she left Gus behind at some point. Delilah ends up hiding in a shed while the couple circle around looking for her. She overhears what seems to be them confirming that they managed to get Gus back. Eventually, the couple leaves.

When Delilah finally goes outside, a woman with her daughter and dog are walking by. The dog, Cody, goes up to Delilah. The woman looks at her strangely, asking her if she’s okay and where she lives. Finally, Delilah identifies herself as “Delilah Dickey” and the woman gasps.

Part II

11 Years Before (May), Kate

The city has been under a flash flood warning for days, and it’s a rainy night in late May at 9 o’clock P.M. when a knock comes at the door. Kate, a veterinarian, is in the kitchen while Bea is in her music studio in the detached garage.

Kate answers the door to see it’s her neighbor, Josh, with his four-year-old son Leo. Josh lives next door with his wife, Meredith, and their two kids. Josh works in wealth management, while Meredith is a yoga instructor who also works as a doula (assists in births).

Josh reports that he’s looking for Meredith and their kindergarten-aged daughter Delilah. He can’t seem to find either of them. As Josh talks, Kate thinks about how Shelby Tebow went missing ten nights ago.

Josh explains that the sitter says Meredith had kept Delilah home that day because she was running a fever. Bea soon shows up and adds that Meredith had dropped by that morning to borrow some milk. Josh says that they both have tracking apps on their phone, but Meredith’s location is unavailable, which means her phone is either off or out-of-battery.

Josh also says that Meredith had been stressed out the past two weeks or so, but she wouldn’t say why. Josh wonders if Meredith was cheating on him, mentioning that Meredith came from a broken home herself. However, Kate thinks about how Josh and Meredith always seemed to have an enviable marriage. Eventually, Kate and Bea invite Josh inside, and he calls the police to report Meredith and Delilah missing.

Over an hour later, the police arrive. By now, Josh and Leo are at home. Kate thinks about how Shelby’s husband, Jason Tebow, still remains a suspect in her disappearance. But now, with another disappearance, Kate wonders if there’s a serial kidnapper on the loose.

The next morning, Kate is disappointed to hear that Meredith and Delilah still have not been found. Meanwhile, Bea is in the studio writing music. Kate and Bea met six years ago at a bar, just before Kate had left for vet school. Right now, they are in the midst of renovating their home. The presence of the workers hasn’t bothered Kate thus far, but with women going missing in their area, she feels less sure.

11 Years Before (March), Meredith

In a flashback to March (11 years prior) before the kidnapping, Meredith is bathing Leo when she gets a text from a number she doesn’t recognize. It says “I know what you did. I hope you die.” with a picture of a skull. Meredith responds, saying the person has the wrong number. But she soon gets a response: “I hope you rot in hell, Meredith”.

Meanwhile, Meredith has also been texting with a client whose water has broken. She heads to the hospital and ends up there for nearly seven hours. It’s 3:30 A.M. by the time she leaves. She’s relieved that she hasn’t received any more creepy messages in the interim, but as she pulls out of the parking lot, she gets another one that reads “get home safe”.

At home, Meredith is exhausted after her long night and the creepy texts. She thinks about how Josh had her install a location tracking app on her phone and carry peppy spray to be safe. That morning, Meredith is running late to teach a yoga class. She spots her neighbor, Cassandra Hanaka, with her two kids. She asks if Delilah can walk with them to work, and Cassandra readily agrees. As they walk off, Meredith heads for her class. On the way, she gets another text, reading “I know what you did. You’ll never get away with it, bitch.”

Present Day (Leo)

In present day, Leo thinks about how he never knew his sister, but now she’s back. He thinks about how his childhood was filled with his dad mourning his mom and missing his sister. On the internet, there’s plenty of details about Delilah going missing, conspiracy theorists and unsubstantiated reports of sightings. The woman who found Delilah cashed in on a $10,000 reward. Leo thinks about how different his sister is now that she’s back.

Leo, now 15, is at school when his father comes to tell him about Delilah. Leo is unpopular at school, partially because of being considered “weird” after the disappearance of his sister. Leo thinks about how the female cop that’s been working with them seems to be interested in his father romantically. When Leo sees his sister, he thinks about how he doesn’t know her.

Leo stands by as everyone fusses over Delilah, and she is administered a rape kit. Despite being 17, Delilah is only 4′ 10” and 80 lbs. At their home, reporters are gathered. His father notes that someone must’ve leaked to the press that Delilah had been found, and he worries whether someone out there is still after her.

As he sees how Delilah is scared of everyone and everything, Leo starts to feel bad for her. She seems to be constantly afraid of being hit. She also has bald spots, likely from stress.

11 Years Before, Kate (May)

By 8:00 A.M. in the morning, Bea and Kate are gathered in Josh’s yard with about a dozen other people to begin the search for Meredith and Delilah. One of the women there owns the yoga studio where Meredith works. She mentions that Meredith has called in sick for the past few weeks, which Josh was not aware of. Then, a midwife that Meredith often works with, Jeanette, also adds that Meredith recently cut back on her doula clients as well, roughly a week or so ago. Josh also did not know about this.

As the group splits up to search, Bea and Kate are in charge of canvassing the neighborhood since they’re familiar with it. They go around talking to their neighbors, reminded of how well-liked Meredith is in their neighborhood.

They soon come to the house of Cassandra, a close friend of Meredith’s. Cassandra remembers that she’d seen some people outside Meredith’s house in their yard a few weeks back in the middle of the night. It looked like two people and she assumed they were drunk college kids or something at the time. Bea notes that perhaps they’ll check to see if anyone has video surveillance that caught something.

When they reach Shelby Tebow’s house, Jason Tebow answers the door. They’re both aware of Jason’s temper, and Jason seems unhappy to be bothered. They tell Jason what has happened, and he reveals that he knows Meredith. She was Shelby’s doula. They also ask if he has any idea what happened to Shelby, and Jason mentions that he considers Dr. Feingold, her obstetrician, to be her “enemy”, though he declines to specify why.

Later, Jeanette explains to them that Dr. Feingold is not well-liked in general. Shelby’s birth ended up going poorly, with the baby suffering irreparable brain damage during the delivery. Jeanette says he should have used a C-section, which Meredith had suggested. The Tebows are now suing Dr. Feingold for malpractice, and Meredith was supposed to testify.

At noon, Bea and Kate learn that a body has been found. It turns out to be Shelby Tebow. The body is found by a dog walker near the river’s edge, unclothed and half buried — likely unearthed by the heavy rains.

11 Years Before (March), Meredith

After her yoga class, Meredith meets with a new potential client, Shelby Tebow, at a coffee shop. Shelby is 36 weeks pregnant. She explains that she had an obstetrician, but she and her husband recently moved here and now she has no support system. After their discussion, they meet again. Meredith notices that Shelby is wearing sunglasses even though they are indoors. Shelby tells Meredith that her husband is skeptical of her having a doula and the expense, but she got him on board with it.

In the middle of the night, Shelby texts Meredith, saying she’s scared. Meredith sends her a short text
back, comforting her about her birth, but asking to talk tomorrow instead. However, Shelby then texts saying she’s scared of her husband, not her birth. Meredith responds, asking if everything is okay, but doesn’t get a reply. Meredith eventually goes back to sleep. The next day, Meredith goes to check on Shelby, but Shelby insists that nothing is wrong, but doesn’t answer whether her husband hurt her or not.

That morning, Meredith notices that Cassandra is being rather cold towards her. Meredith knows that she’s had to cancel a lot on Cassandra due to her job, but Cassandra has always been understanding. She wonders if Cassandra had found out about her (Meredith’s) history with Cassandra’s husband, Marty Hanaka, which they had agreed to keep secret. Cassandra knew they’d gone to college together, but didn’t know they had dated and certainly not that Meredith had lost her virginity to him.

When the babysitter comes, Meredith thinks about how Leo has had stranger anxiety lately. That night, when Meredith bathes Leo, she also notices that he has a bruise. She calls Charlotte, but Charlotte says she didn’t notice anything happen to Leo that day. Meredith isn’t entirely satisfied by her response, but thinks about how highly recommended Charlotte is by the other parents.

Delilah is upset, that night saying that Lily Morris doesn’t like her and is trying to steal her friend Piper Hanaka(Cassandra’s daughter) from her. Meredith offers to plan a playdate for the three of them to see if they can all be friends, and Delilah likes the idea.

The next day, Meredith stops by at Cassandra and Marty’s place to talk to Cassandra about planning a playdate for Delilah, Lily and Piper. Cassandra readily agrees, but Meredith still senses something is off. Next, Meredith drops her kids off at Kate and Bea’s place, because one of her client is in labor, though the client ends up delivering before she makes it there. As she heads home, Meredith sees she’s gotten another creepy text: “I hope you haven’t forgotten about me. Because I haven’t forgotten about you.” along with a screaming face emoji.

Present Day (Leo)

In present day, Delilah doesn’t remember Leo’s name, and he thinks it’s weird when she refers to him as “sir”, telling her that’s for “old people”. That night they all go to sleep, but Leo is awakened by the sound of his father searching for Delilah, who is not in her room. As they search for her, Leo is reminded of when his mother killed herself. She had tried to slash her wrists, and when that failed, she stabbed herself in the abdomen.

Leo calls the cop, Carmen, but they end up finding Delilah sleeping in the basement on the concrete floor. Their dad sends Delilah back to her room. Carmen shows up anyway, and Leo is grossed out by his father and Carmen holding each other and making eyes at one another. Leo goes to talk to Delilah instead, and he gives her his security blanket from when he was little to try to help her sleep.

The next day, they take Delilah to see a psychiatrist. As Leo waits, he thinks about what they know about Delilah’s disappearance. The people who took Delilah are named Eddie and Martha, but who exactly they are or how they ended up with Delilah is unknown. Their mom, Meredith, took Delilah and then killed herself (though their dad still insists she wouldn’t do that). Meredith’s suicide note read: “you’ll never find her, don’t even try”, there’s wasn’t much of an investigation into Meredith’s death once it was determined to be a suicide. The assumption had been that Meredith had handed Delilah over to someone she trusted, but now it appears that wasn’t the case.

11 Years Before, Kate (May)

The police want to question Josh, so Bea and Kate offer to pick up Leo from the babysitter’s and take him back to their home.

When Josh comes to pick him up, he tells them that he’d given the police permission to search his house, and they’d found Meredith’s anti-depressants (from her post-partum depression). He says the police had a lot of questions about her mental health, which Kate thinks to herself is a result of the media sensationalizing post-partum depression. Josh worries that the police think Meredith has done something to Delilah, which Josh is certain is not what happened.

Josh also mentions that the police found a small amount of blood in the garage, though they don’t know whose it is yet. Josh adds that he has an alibi for that day, since he had been playing tennis at the club.

Bea and Kate also tell Josh what they learned about Meredith being involved in the Tebow’s malpractice suit. Josh hadn’t been aware of her involvement. Soon, Kate makes an appointment with Dr. Feingold to investigate, intending to pretend to be a pregnant woman. Bea insists on going with her.

At Dr. Feingold’s office, Bea instructs Kate to fill out the paperwork with fake information. Very quickly, Dr. Feingold tells her that her test came back negative (which she knew it would, since she’s not pregnant). Kate feigns surprise. However, when he instructs her to lie back for a pelvic exam, Kate gets uncomfortable.

Instead, Kate changes the topic to ask him what he thinks of doulas. Dr. Feingold responds that with the right doctor, a doula is unnecessary. She then gives him a list of doulas (including Meredith), and asks him if he’s able to recommend any of them. He recommends the other two, but lies and says he doesn’t know Meredith. He then proceeds with the pelvic exam, which Kate complies with in order to avoid raising his suspicions.

The drive home is rainy. Kate points out that she managed to catch Dr. Feingold in a lie (about not knowing Meredith), but Bea is worried and thinks they should leave the investigating to the police. As Kate drives, she notices a car tailing her closely. The rain prevents her from seeing the driver of the other car. Kate starts to panic about possibly leading Dr. Feingold to their home. Luckily, Kate spots a police station, and she pulls into the lot while the other car finally speeds away.

11 Years Before (March), Meredith

Shelby Tebow goes into labor two weeks early, and Meredith meets Jason at the hospital. Meredith is surprised to see a man that’s different from the one that had been there when Meredith went to see Shelby. Soon, Dr. Feingold arrives. He deals with Shelby apathetically and rather roughly. He comments to Meredith that Shelby is an “attention whore”, which Meredith does not like.

When Meredith gets a chance to talk to Jason, Jason talks about wanting to be a good father. He also tells Meredith that he is afraid Meredith is cheating on him and will take the baby away. Thinking about the other man at their place, Meredith suspects he’s right about the cheating. Then, Meredith starts to wonder if Shelby has merely been pretending about Jason hurting her to lay the groundwork for divorce. Jason does seem to have a temper, but he also seems to love Shelby and is tender towards her.

When the labor starts, Shelby keeps pushing until she’s exhausted. When Dr. Feingold arrives and tells her to keep pushing, Shelby can’t do it, and Meredith suggests a cesarean given that the labor has been going on for a while now, when Dr. Feingold rejects.

Shelby is not given informed consent when Dr. Feingold cuts an episiotomy, which can result in complications. Dr. Feingold also decides to use forceps, which is a more “old-school” approach that involves some risks. Meredith tries to tell Shelby about the risks, but Dr. Feingold interrupts, talking down to Meredith. In pain, Shelby tells him to “get this baby out of me”, and he uses the forceps.

The baby, Grace, has bruises and marks from the forceps when she’s delivered. She’s soon seizing, and it’s shown that she has an intracranial hemorrhage (brain bleed) from forceps misuse. The Tebows sue Dr. Feingold. As soon as he receives the complaint, Dr. Feingold blames Meredith and threatens to “ruin” her. Meredith is tempted to confide in Josh about all of this, but she doesn’t want to worry him.

Present Day (Leo)

Delilah has been home three days when she starts talking about Gus. When Delilah tells her dad about him, Josh takes Delilah to the police station to tell Carmen about it. But Delilah doesn’t even know what he looks like because it was so dark down there. Delilah has already been driven around the town she was found in — called Michael, with a population of 45, and located around five hours away — but couldn’t recognize anything.

Leo thinks about the other disappearance (of Shelby) around the same time as Delilah. Now, the husband of the woman that was found dead (Jason) is in prison after they found her bloody clothes in a Dumpster at his workplace.

In present day, it’s soon discovered that there is an Eddie and Martha Cutter living in Michael, Illinois, but by the time the cops arrive the dilapidated house appears to be abandoned and there’s no sign of Gus. Josh suggests hypnosis to help jog Delilah’s memories. Carmen thinks Delilah is too fragile for it, but Josh can’t take the idea of someone’s kid still being there.

One night, Delilah tells Leo about a game she and Gus used to play, going from one side of the room to the other in the dark and trying to get as close to the wall as possible without touching it. Leo thinks it’s a dumb game and he’s no good at it, but he can tell Delilah enjoys it so he plays with her.

11 Years Before (March), Meredith

With the Cassandra situation unresolved, Meredith drops by Cassandra’s place and suggests that they talk. Cassandra seems put out, but she lets her in. She then pulls out an old photo album. She points out a picture of Meredith and Marty together, and she accuses Meredith of trying to hide something from her.

Meredith admits to their past relationship, which Josh doesn’t know about, but swears that nothing has happened between them in since college. Cassandra has also found a note from Meredith to Marty from a long time ago about her being pregnant. Meredith says that she miscarried at 12 weeks. Cassandra is certain that something is still going on because Marty has been out late a lot, but Meredith says that if Marty is seeing someone, it’s not her.

Before Meredith leaves, Cassandra screams at her “I hope you rot in hell” and she realizes Cassandra has been sending her the creepy texts. The next day, Cassandra sends Piper and Lily out to play in her front yard as Delilah cries seeing her friend playing without her. Meanwhile, Leo continues to be upset about having to be left with Charlotte.

Meredith starts to consider cutting back from doula-ing and teaching yoga. Talking it over with Jeanette, she agrees Meredith needs to do what’s best for her family.

Present Day (Leo)

At school, Leo continues to be bullied by kids and he’s sick of the reporters in their faces. There’s photos everywhere of Delilah looking dirty with her bleach burns and ill-fitting clothes. When some kid makes fun of Delilah’s face, Leo wants to hit him, but Piper stops him. Piper is a senior now and is too cool to hang with Leo, but she leaves him alone and doesn’t bully him like the other kids.

The Hanakas moved soon after Meredith’s death, but to another house in the same town. Leo wanted them to move at the time too, but his father had been worried Delilah would return and be unable to find them.

11 Years Before, Kate (May)

At home, they see how strung out and upset Josh is over the situation. Bea and Kate talk over what they know. Bea agrees that Dr. Feingold is a creep, but doesn’t think his lie makes him a murderer. Instead, Bea thinks Jason probably mentioned him to provide an alternate suspect. Either way, they know they need to tell the police what they’ve unearthed so far. They call the police station, telling them about Cassandra seeing people in Meredith’s yard one night. They also tell them about the malpractice suit against Dr. Feingold and that Meredith was Shelby’s doula.

Later that night, with a story there’s a power outage. They initially think it’s the storm, but Kate notices that across the street they seem to have power. From the light from Cassandra’s house, they can see that Cassandra and Marty are having an argument.

Kate fears that someone must have purposely turned their power off. With the rain pouring down, Bea and Kate go outside to flip the circuit breaker. They find Josh there, and Kate accuses him of cutting their power. Josh calms her down, noting that their side of the street all has no power. He says that a tree fell on a power line. Kate is filled with relief. As they head back inside, Josh mentions that the police have determined that the blood in his garage didn’t belong to either Meredith or Delilah. They don’t know whose it is.

11 Years Before (March), Meredith

Meredith decides she and Josh need a night out to talk and reconnect. They end up going out that Thursday night. At dinner, she thinks about how they met when she was 25. Another car had hit hers and kept going, but Josh had been on the road, too, and called 911.

Meredith plans to tell Josh about her history with Marty Hanaka that night, but they’re having such a good time that she doesn’t want to ruin the mood. Then, they run into Kate and Bea, celebrating Bea’s birthday. Eventually, Josh gets a call from the babysitter because Delilah had a nightmare. He ends up heading home, giving Kate a ride too because she needs to get up early. Later, Bea drives her and Meredith back, both drunk.

Then, Bea hits what Meredith assumes is an animal. Meredith is blasé about it, but Bea is freaking out and demands that Meredith promise to keep the accident a secret. Finally, Meredith goes to check and sees that it’s a woman. They’ve hit Shelby Tebow.

Meredith wants to do the right thing, but Bea insists that she’d dead and they need to get rid of her body. Bea reminds Meredith that Josh would judge her for this even if she hadn’t been the one driving. They eventually get Shelby into the trunk. Meredith thinks she hears Shelby moan. When she checks, Shelby has no pulse, but she’s thinks Shelby’s position changed, and Meredith wonders if she could have been saved. Before they bury her. Bea insists on undressing Shelby since it’ll be more likely that they’ll assume it was a man that killed her.

The next day, word spreads that Shelby is missing. The police don’t end up coming to her house and questioning her. Josh notices something is wrong with Meredith, but she tells him she’s fine. Tormented by guilt, one morning Meredith buys a blanket, finds Shelby’s body, lays a blanket over her and leaves.

Bea goes over to Meredith’s house nearly every day. Meredith is feeling unwell and starts skipping her classes, and Bea chides her for not acting normal. Meredith understands that Bea is not uncompassionate, merely scared. When Meredith pleads for them to tell the police the truth, Bea gets angry with her, reminding her that she’ll go to jail, too.

11 Years Before, Kate (May)

In the next few days after Meredith and Delilah’s appearance, three things happen. 1) A paternity test reveals that Jason is not the father of baby Grace. 2) Dr. Feingold confirms what Kate already knew, that she’s not pregnant. And then, 3) Meredith’s car is found in the parking lot of a motel two towns over.

Bea and Kate drive Josh to the motel. The police find some blood and dirt in the car. At the very shoddy motel, it turns out Meredith checked in the day of her disappearance and paid for one month. After a long wait, an officer pulls Josh aside to tell him that Meredith is in the room, dead.

Present Day (Leo)

When Leo gets home after Delilah’s hypnosis, both Josh and Delilah are upset. It turns out Gus wasn’t real. Delilah made him up. Leo is instantly upset, saying that Delilah is a liar who craves attention. Josh gets very angry with Leo and tells him to shut up, which he’s never done before. As Josh comforts Delilah, Leo thinks bitterly of how strict his father is with him while Delilah gets babied.

That night, Josh goes to talk to Leo. He explains that the psychiatrist said that being isolated as Delilah was can drive people nearly insane, especially when there’s no “stimuli” to interact with. He says that her brain conjured Gus to help keep her sane.

Later, Leo apologizes to Delilah. He also suggests that they watch old home videos together so they remember what it was like when Delilah as okay and their mom was there.

At school, Piper talks to Leo, noting that she’s seen recent photos of Delilah in the newspapers. Then, she shows him an old photo of her and Delilah together. She notes how Delilah in the photo has a cleft chin, but in recent photos she does not. According to the internet, it’s not the type of thing that just goes away. (In other words, “Delilah” is not Delilah Dickey.)

At home, Leo wonders what to do with this information. Finally, he tells his dad. Josh is confused, recalling how the DNA test had been conclusive. They eventually go to the police station to demand answers. After some resistance, Carmen admits that she knew how desperate Josh was to get his daughter back. She saw how happy he was and didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t a match. Josh sobs at this news, and when they tell “Delilah” she’s crestfallen and shaken as well.

The police take “Delilah” back to the house to pick up her stuff. They piece together that Eddie and Martha must have found a newspaper article about the real Delilah and convinced “Delilah” that it was about her and her family. Through a DNA match, it turns out “Delilah”‘s real name is Carly Byrd, and she is 16. As “Delilah”/Carly packs her things, Josh goes upstairs to find that she has snuck out the window and is gone.

11 Years Before (March), Meredith

On the phone, Charlotte tells Meredith that someone has been picking on Leo. Charlotte apologizes profusely for this happening under her watch. Charlotte says the bully is Brody Parker, a fifth grader, and today, he locked Leo in a toy chest for an hour. Meredith wonders why this fifth grader would pick on a four year old? Charlotte reassures her that Brody won’t be coming back.

One night, Delilah has a fever and she tells Meredith there’s “someone there”, but they left. Meredith eventually puts her back to bed and goes to sleep herself. In the morning when Leo is awake, Meredith tells him that Brody won’t be going back to Miss Charlotte’s, and Leo smiles. Later, Meredith drops Leo off while keeping Delilah at home due to her fever.

Bea soon shows up, she reassures Meredith that this will soon blow over because Jason will be arrested soon. Bea admits that she planted the bloody clothes in a dumpster behind Jason’s work. Meredith protests, saying that Jason has a baby girl who has already lost her mother. She declares that she’s going to the police. Bea and Meredith start to argue. Meredith offers to claim responsibility for all of it, but Bea says she’s clearly too weak to carry the body herself.

Suddenly, a scuffle breaks out as Meredith reaches for her phone. Bea is holding a hammer when Delilah appears in the doorway, looking scared. Just then, Bea strikes Meredith, and Meredith collapses.

When Meredith regains consciousness, she sees that she’s in a car with Bea driving. Bea drives her to a hotel and demands that she check in and pay for a month in cash. In the room and holding a knife to her throat, Bea orders Meredith to write a suicide note, saying that Delilah is fine. Bea tells Meredith that if she complies, then she’ll bring Delilah to her.

However, as soon as she’s done writing, Bea slashes Meredith’s wrists, saying it needs to look like a suicide. Then, Bea stabs Meredith in the guy. Before she leaves, Bea says she’s sorry.

Present Day, Kate

Just after 5:00 P.M., Josh and Leo show up to Bea and Kate’s place, along with some police officers.It’s now been a week since “Delilah” first reappeared. Kate and Bea have never met her, since they were waiting until the media fervor died down. Kate thinks Josh pushed them away after Meredith and Delilah went missing and their friendship grew distant over the last 11 years.

Josh reports that “Delilah”/Carly has run away. The police officers ask to check their house to see if Carly is hiding somewhere. When the officers ask to go into Bea’s studio in the garage, Bea says it’s been locked all day so no one could be in there. When the officer insists, Bea agrees reluctantly.

However, after a long wait, they realize Bea has left. When Kate tries to contact Bea, she just gets a message back from Bea saying “Forgive me. I didn’t mean for any of it to happen.”

When the officers finally get into the studio, they find a girl there. They quickly realize it is Delilah since she looks exactly like Meredith. Delilah then tells them that Bea killed Meredith (she saw Bea hit Meredith with a hammer, though Bea actually killed Meredith later). With that, Kate realizes that Bea killed Meredith and has been hiding Delilah in the garage/studio (which is soundproof), in the upstairs space above their garage, ever since.

They soon find Carly hiding out. Eddie and Martha Cutter eventually return to their home and are arrested. It turns out that they convinced Carly she was Delilah because they liked the notoriety associated with Delilah’s highly publicized disappearance.

The blood in Josh’s garage is determined to be Bea’s (from when she and Meredith scuffled before Delilah saw them). A few days later, Bea is arrested trying to buy a fake ID. Jason Tebow is released from prison.

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