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The Last Thing He Told Me

Quick Recap & Summary By Chapter

The Full Book Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The one-paragraph version: Hannah finds out one day that her husband Owen has run away after the company he works for has been indicted for various white collar crimes, leaving her alone with her teenage stepdaughter Bailey who dislikes her. As Hannah and Bailey investigate, they learn that Owen had a previous life he was running from (and he was worried the new scandal will result in his current identity being compromised), where Owen's father-in-law Nicholas had been a lawyer for a crime syndicate and where he and Bailey had different names and lived in Austin. By the end, Hannah brokers a deal with Nicholas for her and Bailey to be safe from the syndicate, even if it means Owen can't be in their lives. It's what Owen would have wanted, and it brings Hannah and Bailey closer.

Part I opens with Hannah learning that Owen, her husband, has left on the same day that the company he works for, The Shop, is being raided as part of an FBI and SEC investigation into fraud and embezzlement charges. The CEO, Avett, has been arrested, and other high-level employees such as Owen are expected to be indicted as well. Bailey, Owen's 16-year-old daughter and Hannah's stepdaughter, also finds a duffle bag filled with cash that Owen left in her school locker.

In a series of flashbacks, we learn that Hannah and Owen met around two years ago through Avett who was a client of her interior design and woodturning business. She moved to the Bay Area to be with him and has tried unsuccessfully to form a relationship with Bailey.

As Hannah tries to learn what has happened, Hannah contacts her ex fiancé Jake to serve as her attorney. Soon, Grady Bradford, a U.S. Marshall shows up at her door looking for Owen. Later, two FBI agents show up as well. However, Grady seems to be working separately from the FBI, and Hannah finds it odd that Grady is based out of the U.S. Marshall's office in Austin, Texas. And as Hannah recalls her conversations with Owen, it becomes clear that he seemed to have some connection to the city of Austin and Bailey vaguely recalls being there once when she was very young.

In Part II, Hannah and Bailey head to Austin to try to understand Owen's connection to the city. Bailey remembers attending a wedding in Austin, and they remember the name of a Professor Tobias Cookman that Owen used to talk about, who turns out to be a UT Austin mathematics professor. Tobias's help leads them to a yearbook where they find a photo of the woman Bailey remembers as her mother, Olivia, except her name is listed as Katherine Smith.

They end up at Katherine Smith's family bar, The Never Dry, where they meet her brother Charlie Smith. Research reveals that Katherine was married to an Ethan Young, which is Owen's real name. Katherine was killed in a hit and run crossing the street when Bailey (real name is Kristin) was a toddler. Owen blamed the incident on his father-in-law Nicholas Bell who was the lawyer for a major crime syndicate, because Owen believed Katherine was killed in retribution for Nicholas losing an important case. Owen/Ethan then provided evidence to put Nicholas and many syndicate members behind bars, and then he took Bailey/Kristin and disappeared. (When news broke of The Shop scandal, Owen went on the run again because he feared his new identity would be compromised.)

After learning all of this, Hannah realizes she needs to get Bailey out of there, but before she has a chance to tell Bailey all of this, she sees that Bailey has run off by herself.

In Part III, Grady shows up again and admits that he was the one who helped Owen disappear a decade before. Owen was supposed to enter WITSEC, but a leak of his new identity made him distrust the program so he didn't. Grady aslo sends people looking for Bailey, and they are able to locate her. Grady tries to pressure Hannah into entering WITSEC with Bailey, but she refuses knowing that Owen didn't trust it.

Instead, Hannah goes to Charlie and asks him to arrange a meeting with Nicholas. She brokers a deal with him to keep her and Bailey safe in exchange for him being able to have a relationship with Bailey. However, Owen can't be part of the deal. Hannah hopes he will someday relent on that point, but for now she accepts. She knows that Owen would want what's best for Bailey, and Bailey would not want to live her life in hiding.

The book concludes by jumping forward many years to Hannah getting ready for an exhibition of her work. Then, Owen (who is still in hiding) briefly walks in to discreetly say hello before he leaves. Afterwards, Bailey comes in with her new boyfriend and refers to Hannah as "mom".

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Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

Part One
Part Two
Part Three


In the prologue, the narrator talks about how she manages to misplace everything and her husband Owen Michaels would make fun of her for it. On their second date, she’d lost a parking ticket and the fee was a hundred dollars, plus tax. Much later, a week after Owen disappears, she dreams of him saying that she has lost him as well.

Part One

Chapter 1. If You Answer the Door for Strangers…

Hannah Michaels (née Hall) answers the door and is informed by a 12-year-old girl that her husband, Owen, has left her a note. At first, Hannah is confused and wonders if the girl is a friend of her 16-year-old step-daughter, Bailey (Owen’s daughter). But, the girl says she was paid $20 by Owen to deliver the note.

On a note, it says “Protect her”.

Chapter 2. Greene Street Before It Was Greene Street

Hannah is a woodturner, meaning she makes wood sculptures, as was her grandfather. Her parents, Jack and Carole, were disinterested in being parents. When Hannah was six, they left her with her grandfather, who raised her diligently.

Hannah’s client are higher-income people living in coastal and resort towns who purchase her rustic wood pieces for interior decor. Avett Thompson, Owen’s boss, and his wife Belle had been loyal clients of Hannah’s. Two years ago, Avett had brought Owen to her workshop while they were in New York for a business trip, which is how she met Owen.

Owen was living in Sausalito, a Northern California town, but he’d asked Hannah out for dinner and a play while he was in NY.

In present day, Owen is supposed to be taking Bailey to play practice. Bailey is not a bad kid, but dislikes that her father is remarried and therefore dislikes Hannah. Meanwhile, Hannah wants to have a relationship with Bailey and tries probably too hard with her.

As Hannah attempts unsuccessfully to contact Owen, Bailey decides to get a ride from her friend Suze instead. Hannah offers to pick her up afterwards if he’s not back yet. She also says that Bailey can drive them back so Bailey can practice driving.

Chapter 3. Don’t Ask a Question You Don’t Want the Answer To

By 8 P.M., Owen hasn’t called, so Hannah goes to pick Bailey up. As she waits, on the radio, there’s news that Avett Thompson is in police custody for embezzlement and fraud. It’s the result of a 14-month SEC and FBI investigation into Avett’s tech firm, The Shop, where he serves as CEO. They say that there’s evidence that Avett had planned to flee, and that indictments for other senior staff are expected as well.

When Bailey comes out, she is carrying a duffel bag. Baily doesn’t know what’s going on, but she says Owen left it in her locker and it’s filled with cash. He also left a note telling her her loves her and to listen to Hannah.

Upset, Bailey invites her boyfriend Bobby over, who Owen dislikes. Hannah’s best friend Julia Alexandra Nichols (“Jules”) also shows up.

Chapter 4. Think What You Want

Jules and Hannah became friends when they were 14, having both recently moved to Peekskill, New York. They met when they both took after-school jobs with a local dog-walking service. Jules is a photo editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.

In present day, Jules admits that she’d gotten wind from Max, an investigative journalist at the Chronicle, that there was going to be a police raid of The Shop, earlier that day. He’d told her that it seems The Shop’s software wasn’t ready for market when they went public, and they ended up falsifying their financial statements to keep their stock price from tanking. In their financial statements, they were accounting for a bunch of “future sales” that hadn’t materialized yet, hoping that they’d eventually catch up in actual sales to keep them from being found out.

Hannah wonders to what extent Owen is implicated or involved in any of this, since Owen was their chief coder. Max had agreed not to publish his story until after the raid, but Jules had gone ahead and called Owen to warn him about it earlier in the day. Jules also says that when she called him, Owen hadn’t seem surprised to hear about the FBI and SEC interest in the company. Instead, he’d only wanted to know how long he had to get out.

Chapter 5. Twenty-Four Hours Earlier

In a flashback, Hannah recalls herself and Owen happily eating takeout 24 hours prior. Hannah suggests recreating a meal that Bailey had loved, and they talk about the best parts of their day which is something they like to do.

Chapter 6. Follow the Money

In present day, Jules asks if Hannah has a separate bank account, since the authorities are likely to freeze Owen’s accounts. Hannah says yes. It was at Owen’s insistence, and she wonders why he told her to do that.

Despite how guilty Owen seems to be, Hannah still doesn’t think that Owen is the type of person to do something like this, make a run for it and leave his daughter. She is certain he’d only leave to protect or save Bailey for some reason.

The next morning, Bailey seems certain that her father’s note to her had some type of other meaning. (“Bailey, I can’t help this make sense. I’m so sorry. You know what matters about me. And you know what matters about yourself. Please hold on to it. Help Hannah. Do what she tells you. She loves you. We both do. You are my whole life, Dad”)

Bailey wonders what he meant by “you know what matters about me”. Hannah tries to comfort Bailey about her father’s disappearance, but Bailey is cold and sarcastic towards her.

Chapter 7. Help Is on the Way

Hannah recalls how she had decided to move to Owen’s home in Sausalito to avoid uprooting Bailey’s life. To be less disruptive, Hannah had also made minimal changes to the house, one exception being adding a rocking bench to the porch which she and Owen enjoyed sitting on.

In present day, Hannah is alarmed to find a man sitting there, who introduces himself as Deputy Grady Bradford, a U.S. Marshall. Grady is looking to talk to Owen, but Hannah talks with him instead, leaving out what she knows about the notes and the duffle bag of money.

Grady seems friendly and recommends that she get a lawyer. He also outlines the steps she needs to take to get temporary custody of Bailey, saying that he’s contacted a lawyer friend of his named Thomas Shelton who can help her arrange it. Finally, Grady says that he can help Owen, and he says to tell Owen to contact him if she hears from him.

Chapter 8. These Are Not Your Friends

Hannah is not sure what to make of Grady. To try to get a handle on things, Hannah reaches out to Carl Conrad, Owen’s closest friend in the area. Hannah has never really liked Carl since he habitually cheats on his wife Patricia (“Patty”), but Carl is a lawyer and Owen’s friend.

At the Conrad home, Carl is unwelcoming, and Hannah sees that she’s interrupting their daughter Sarah’s birthday party. The Conrads seems angry with Hannah, and Patty finally tells her that Owen had convinced them to put all their money into The Shop’s IPO so now they’re screwed. Patty tells Hannah to leave.

Next, Hannah heads to her workshop. Owen’s laptop is there, and she logs onto his computer. She finds a copy of his will, which she’d seen before, but now Hannah notices a difference. Owen has added a conservator named L. Paul, a name Hannah doesn’t recognize.

As she’s there, Hannah is interrupted by the appearance of Special Agents Jeremy O’Mackey and Naomi Wu from the FBI. They ask her about Owen and her connection to Avett and Belle. Belle hasn’t been arrested, but they suspect she knew about Avett’s activities.

When Hannah mentions talking to a U.S. Marshal earlier, the agents say that this matter isn’t within the U.S. Marshal’s jurisdiction and want to know who she spoke to, but Hannah pretends not to remember.

Chapter 9. Don’t Hold This Against Me

Next, Hannah calls up Jake Bradley Anderson, her former fiancé, and asks him to be her lawyer. He readily agrees and tells her to refer all law enforcement that contacts her to talk to him instead. Jake also says that he’ll have a private investigator look into Owen’s activities.

Chapter 10. Six Weeks Ago

In a flashback from six weeks ago, Hannah remembers talking to Owen about joining her on a woodturners’ symposium in Austin, but he was reluctant to go to Austin. Afterwards, he’s distracted as they talk about possible vacations. He absentmindedly says something about being stuck in the mountains at some point.

Chapter 11. Bailey’s No Good Very Bad Day

Bailey is upset the next day about kids at school talking about her. Hannah tells her it’s okay if she skips school tomorrow.

Hannah also suggests that Bailey think harder about what Owen might have been trying to imply by saying that “you know what matters”, suggesting it could indicate that there’s something Bailey knows about him that’s relevant here.

Meanwhile, Hannah learns that Grady Bradford is based out of the Western Texas U.S. Marshall’s office and wonders why they’d send someone from Texas. Hannah asks Bailey if Owen had ever been to Austin, but Bailey’s not sure. She thinks they maybe went there for a wedding when she was very young. She remembers being in an orange stadium.

Bailey says that talking about the past bothers Owen because it reminds him of how little Bailey remembers about her mother, Olivia Michaels (née Nelson). A therapist had said it’s common for kids to block out memories to ease the trauma of losing a parent at a young age, like Bailey had. Still, it upsets Owen. After this topic comes up, Bailey wants to be alone.

Chapter 12. What Don’t You Want to Remember?

Hannah then remembers that she was supposed to go to Austin for a job that would have delayed her move to Sausalito. She’d invited Owen, but he had still had been unhappy about delaying the move, so she’d turned down the job. Even then, she’d thought that being so clingy and needy was unlike him. Hannah also calls Jake who confirms that the Longhorns (UT Austin football team) have a burnt orange stadium.

Hannah then tells Bailey that they’re going to Austin tomorrow.

Part Two

Chapter 13. Keep Austin Weird

Early the next morning, 46 hours since Owen disappeared, Hannah and Bailey are on a flight to Austin. Their hotel is in Jules’s name as a safety precaution. After checking in, they decide to take a long walk around downtown Austin and the football stadium to see if it jogs any memories for Bailey.

As they pass by Antoine’s Nightclub, Bailey recognizes the logo which she’s seen on one of her dad’s records. At the stadium, they take a tour led by their guide, Elliot. Bailey vaguely remembers that as a toddler, they’d gone to a wedding ceremony at a nearby church and then had walked over to the stadium. Bailey also seems to recall Owen saying that he loved football, but then says she must be misremembering it since Owen had never seemed to be interested in football.

Chapter 14. Who Needs a Tour Guide?

Hannah notes the location of various churches nearby on the map. As they leave, Hannah gets a call from Belle who vents about what has happened. She insists that their husbands are innocent and that it’s all just an accounting mishap.

Then, Belle starts asking about what Owen is saying to the police, suggesting that Avett’s lawyers “debrief” Owen so their stories are consistent. Hannah hangs up without responding.

Afterwards, Bailey asks what’s going on, and Hannah is finally straight with Bailey about what she’s thinking — that Avett is guilty, but that Owen is running from something that goes further back than all this and has to do with Bailey. Bailey is surprised at Hannah’s honesty and thanks her for it.

Chapter 15. Three Months Ago

In a flashback, Hannah recalls a night from three months ago when they’d had to evacuate their home during a storm and stay at a hotel. She’d found Owen drinking at the hotel bar at 3:00 AM in the morning, seeming stressed with Bailey’s piggy bank sitting there with him. He talks about how Bailey is going to grow up an leave him someday.

Chapter 16. Little White Churches

In present day, Hannah and Bailey ask an administrator, Elenor H. McGovern, about weddings performed at that church in 2008. Bailey recognizes part of the church, and they’ve narrowed it down to eight possible dates, corresponding to Longhorns’ game days. They ask for a list of weddings on those dates. The woman balks at the request, but reluctantly agrees to take a look.

Meanwhile, Hannah gets a call from Carl. He apologizes for his previous behavior. He also tells Hannah that Owen had been under a lot of pressure with Avett to get the software working. Owen also said he couldn’t leave the company, but declined to say why to Carl.

Then, Carl admits that he and Patty’s money wasn’t invested in The Shop. Carl used it for something else involving Cara (the co-worker Carl had been cheating on Patty with) which Patty doesn’t know about. Hannah is angry that Carl would let Patty believe that Owen is a crook, and tells him to tell Patty the truth or else she’ll do it for him.

Back in Elenor’s office, her records show that they were closed in fall of 2008 for construction, so there were no weddings. Instead, she offers to take their number and ask around to see if any parishioners remember anything.

Chapter 17. Not Everyone Is a Good Helper

Back at the hotel, Jake calls. He has looked into Grady Bradford and says that he’s legit and has a reputation for being good at his job tracking suspects down. Then, even more worryingly, Jake says that Owen’s records are “inconsistent”. He and Bailey have birth certificates and social security numbers, but the rest of their information is weird. There’s no records of them from before 2009, the year they moved to Sausalito.

In other words, Owen likely went by a different name before that time, so he’s been lying about who he really is. Jake says that people usually change their identity either because they have a second family somewhere or because they’re involved in criminal activity and want to start a new life. Jake thinks it’s the latter case here, and he has also confirmed that Owen isn’t in witness protection.

Jake invites Hannah and Bailey to come stay with him in New York until things blow over, but Hannah declines.

Chapter 18. Eight Months Ago

In a flashback from eight months ago, Hannah recalls going to a flea market with Owen and Bailey. They run into a man, Waylon, who thinks he recognizes Owen from high school, but Owen insists he has the wrong guy. Waylon says the guy he knew was prom king from Roosevelt High in Texas, Class of 1994.

Chapter 19. Sorry, We’re Open

As Hannah’s mind reels realizing that Owen may not be who he said he was, Hannah thinks about what she thought she knew about him. According to Owen, he had grown up in Newton, Massachusetts and then attended Princeton. He had then lived in Seattle with his college sweetheart, who died in a car accident, and later moved to Sausalito with Bailey.

Late that night, Hannah asks Bailey if she ever went to Owen’s hometown or met his parents, but Bailey says no and that her grandparents died before she was born. Hannah then takes Bailey to a late-night diner and fills her in on what she has learned.

After learning all of this, Bailey is angry with her father for lying to her, and Hannah can tell how disoriented and vulnerable Bailey feels not knowing the truth about who she really is either. Hannah is determined to be there for Bailey and reassures her that they will fix things.

Chapter 20. Two Can Play at That Game

The next morning, Hannah calls Grady, demanding to know why a U.S. Marshall from Austin would come to California to track him down. Grady tells her that he thinks Owen expunged his own records in the past. He reminds Hannah that one of The Shop’s software’s primary functions is to help alter your online history. Grady also warns her that Naomi Wu is planning on making Owen an official person of interest, which means a search warrant of her house is probably forthcoming.

While Hannah doesn’t trust Grady, she does believe that he’s trying to keep Owen from getting arrested for reasons she doesn’t understand yet. Hannah decides to tell Grady about the bag of money, and he offers to come pick it up so that the FBI doesn’t find it. As she talks, she accidentally reveals to Grady that she’s not at home right now.

Chapter 21. One Year Ago

In a flashback, Hannah remembers Owen dropping by her workshop randomly a year ago. As he’s there, Owen gets a few calls from Avett, but rejects them. Owen expresses some annoyance with Avett regarding the IPO, saying that Avett is refusing to hear what he’s been trying to tell him. He implies that Avett wants to do what’s easier, not what needs to be done.

Chapter 22. Delete All History

At the hotel bar, Hannah thinks through her memories of Owen. Then she strikes up a name and wakes Bailey up to help her remember it. Owen had repeated mentioned a Professor Tobias (“Cook”) Cookman. A little research reveals that Tobias wasn’t on the Princeton faculty, but instead works at the University of Texas at Austin.

Chapter 23. It’s Science, Isn’t It?

Hannah and Bailey take a cab over to the UT Austin campus and head to Professor Cookman’s office in the Department of Mathematics. They sit in on part of his class and afterwards show him a photo of Owen to see if he recognizes him. Owen would have taken his class 26 years ago, and there’s a flicker of recognition, but Cookman says he doesn’t remember his name.

Then, Hannah elaborates on the story, saying that Owen believed he was the worst student he ever had and that Cookman framed one of his exams to berate him into being better, and it worked. The memory seems to click in Cookman’s mind.

Chapter 24. Some Students Are Better Than Others

Cookman takes them back to his office and gets his graduate student assistants to help him go through the filing cabinets and contact the registrar for old records. They’re able to narrow it down to the 73 students that Cookman taught in Spring ’95, minus the ten kids who dropped the class.

Chapter 25. Fourteen Months Ago

In a flashback from 14 months ago, Hannah recalls being newly married that day at city hall to Owen. Afterwards, she had thought about how she felt like she’d been waiting for him her entire life.

Chapter 26. If You Marry the Prom King…

In present day, the list of 73 names is whittled down to the 50 men in the class. From there, they head toward the library which would have yearbooks so they can look up the names.

As they start sifting through the names, Jules calls. Jules is in Bailey’s room and has fetched Bailey’s piggy bank, as instructed by Hannah. However, she’s unable to open it because it’s made of steel, so she needs to find a safecracker. Jules says the piggy bank has the words Lady Paul printed on the side. Hannah thinks about how the conservator of the will was listed as L. Paul.

Jules also notes that the news has reported that Jordan Maverick, COO of The Shop, has been indicted. And Jules’s source Max says that The Shop’s software had just become functional right before the raid happened.

Then, Elenor McGovern calls Hannah with an update about the wedding that Bailey once went to. She says that one of the parishioners, Sophie, says that the Longhorns have intrasquad scrimmages during the summer held in the stadium. There’s one that in 2008 that lines up with a wedding they had there — the “Reyes and Smith” wedding.

On the class manifest, there’s a Katherine Smith listed, and they look her up in the yearbook. Bailey is shocked to see that Katherine Smith is the woman Bailey was told was her mother Olivia.

Meanwhile, Eleanor clarifies that the wedding was between an Andrea Reyes and Charlie Smith, but Bailey is focused on a photo of Katherine and the debate team at her family’s bar called Never Dry, which Bailey thinks she remembers.

Hannah wants to finish going through the yearbook to identify Owen, but Bailey is determined to go to the bar immediately, driven by the possibility of meeting her mother.

Chapter 27. The Never Dry

On the way over to Never Dry, Hannah finds a photo of Charlie Smith online, but isn’t able to find out more about Katherine Smither.

When they arrive, Hannah insists that she goes in first. She tells Bailey that they don’t know the circumstances under which Bailey’s father left Austin, and it’s possible they’ll want Bailey back. So, Hannah heads in alone. On the walls are labeled photos, including ones of Katherine and Charlie.

Hannah is greeted by Charlie. She gets him talking about the bar, which he says was originally started by his grandfather. Charlie mentions that he’d divorced with kids, and he reluctantly tells Hannah that “Kate” is his sister but that she’s “not with us anymore”.

Before she’s about to head out, the mentions that she used to know a guy in the area and asks if Charlie knows him. When she shows him the photo of Owen, Charlie gets angry instantly and yells at her, asking “who sent you here?”

Then, both Hannah and Charlie see Bailey standing in the doorway and Charlie’s emotion turns to shock, who clearly recognizes that she looks like Katherine. He calls her “Kristin“, apologizes and asks them to please sit down, but Hannah is still reeling from how angry he’d become. Hannah instructs Bailey to run and they both charge out the door.

Chapter 28. Careful What You Wish For

In the streets, things are crowded, and it’s hard to get away, but they manage to make it to the hotel. Bailey tells Hannah that she thinks she remembers Charlie from when she was little. And she remembers being referred to as “Kristin”.

Bailey and Hannah both suspect that Katherine Smith is Bailey’s real mother, but they don’t know why Owen would lie about it.

Chapter 29. Eighteen Months Ago

In a flashback from 18 months ago, Hannah remembers being on a one-way flight from NY to SF. Hannah had asked Owen about Olivia, she mostly only knew that Olivia was from Georgia and had died in a car accident. Owen had told her a story about Olivia, but hadn’t included any other details.

Chapter 30. The Good Lawyer

Back in the hotel room, Hannah decides it’s time to leave Austin. Bailey wants to stay and find out more, but Hannah is worried that Charlie will start looking for Bailey. Still, Hannah manages to convince Bailey to start packing. Hannah also texts Jake what she’s learned and asks him to do some research on Katherine Smith.

Something gnaws at Hannah’s memory and then she realizes that there was another name she recognized on the wall at Never Dry. Nicholas Bell, the husband of Meredith Smith, had been in photos, too. So, she searches for him as well.

Nicholas was originally from El Paso and became a public defender working in Austin. He started off handling cases no one else wanted, but somehow ended up becoming the “most trusted adviser to one of the largest crime syndicates in North America”. The syndicate’s main businesses were in extortion, loan-sharking and narcotics while also dabbling in online gaming and brokerage fraud.

Nicholas became wealthy helping to keep these people out of jail, and the authorities started getting interested in him. Then, one day, Nicholas’s daughter, who was a new mother and working as a clerk for the Texas Supreme Court, gets his by a car while walking home. It happened right after Nicholas had lost a major case on behalf of the syndicate, though they denied responsibility.

The son-in-law blamed Nicholas and became the lead witness in a case that not only put Nicholas in jail, but implicated 18 other members of the organization. The son-in-law, Ethan Young, and his young daughter, Kristin, disappeared soon after.

After researching all this, Hannah destroys her phone (to prevent anyone from tracking her), and then she goes to tell Bailey that they need to leave immediately, but Hannah sees that Bailey has gone. When the door opens, Hannah hopes that it’ll be Bailey, but instead Grady Bradford is standing there looking angry.

Part Three

Chapter 31. When We Were Young

At the U.S. Marshall’s office in Austin, Grady says he was contacted by Jake, who was worried when he was unable to contact her, and Grady says that there are eight deputies out looking for Bailey.

Grady also says that he was the one who originally helped Owen leave his previous life as Ethan. Originally, Owen was supposed to be in WITSEC, but after his new identity was compromised, Owen was distrustful of the program. Instead, he disappeared and no one other than Grady knew the truth about Owen’s new identity.

In his former life, as Ethan, Owen had helped Nicholas set up an encrypted communication system where Nicholas sent messages from imprisoned syndicate leadership to the outside, things that could only be passed through a lawyer and things like orders to kill someone. After Kate’s death, Owen got into the messages and turned them over to the authorities.

Grady also admits that he was the one who advised Owen not to tell Hannah the truth about his past. He suspects that Owen didn’t bring Hannah with him (to disappear) because she would have had to give up her whole life, including her woodturning. He thinks that Owen decided to run because he knew his photo would be everywhere and that the crime syndicate could find him again.

Grady also thinks that Avett somehow found out some part of the truth about Owen, which is why Owen felt he couldn’t leave The Shop. Grady thinks that the FBI doesn’t suspect that Owen was guilty, rather that “he has answers they need”.

Now, Grady recommends that Hannah and Bailey now officially enter WITSEC, but that means they both will give up a large chunk of their lives including jobs and hobbies. However, Hannah is worried since she knows Owen distrusts WITSEC.

Afterwards, Hannah calls Jules and tells her what she’s learned about Owen and his connection to Nicholas Bell, a name Jules remembers from the news.

Jules also reports that she managed to get the piggy bank open. Inside, is Owen/Ethan’s final will. It names Hannah as Bailey’s guardian. In the case that Hannah isn’t able to do so, there’s other contingencies. Hannah listens intently, trying to understand who Owen did and did not trust. One of the possible guardians is “Charlie Smith”.

Right afterwards, Grady reports that they found Bailey on the UT campus and that she’s safe. Grady finally admits that he was sent (presumably by Owen) a drive with Owen’s work e-mails, which will help to establish Avett’s guilt and Owen’s innocence in the matter. It also establishes that the money Owen left is “clean”.

Grady says if they enter WITSEC, then they will be given the money to start over and he’ll help Owen join them. However, if Hannah and Bailey decline, all of that goes away. Grady wants to sit down with Hannah and make sure they are on the same page before reuniting with Bailey.

Hannah senses that Grady is trying to pressure her into WITSEC despite Owen’s distrust of it. So, she pretends to need the restroom but sneaks out of the office instead.

Chapter 32. Everyone Should Take Inventory

Hannah thinks about the things she knows about Owen and what she’s learned about him. She knows she needs to get Bailey away from Owen’s past life.

Chapter 33. The Never Dry, Part Two

Hannah returns to The Never Dry to talk to Charlie. Charlie is clearly conflicted about his allegiances, but Hannah tells Charlie that she was listed in the will as a potential guardian for Bailey so she knows Owen trusted him. Hannah says she wants to talk to his father, Nicholas.

Charlie says that the rift is too deep and that there’s no way for her to “broker” some type of peace or agreement between Nicholas and Ethan/Owen. He also says that Ethan is not entirely innocent either.

Chapter 34. On the Lake

Despite his reservations, Charlie drives Hannah to Nicholas’s estate, an elaborate gated lakeside retreat called The Sanctuary. It was purchased the year Nicholas got out of prison, and Charlie’s mother died a year later, so now Nicholas lives there alone.

Nicholas arrives flanked by his two large dogs, Casper and Leon, and he seems gentle and grandfatherly. A bodyguard, Ned, checks Hannah for a wire. Then, Nicholas tells Charlie to leave.

Chapter 35. Two Years Ago

In a flashback from two years ago, Hannah recalls being in Los Angeles with Owen and Bailey. Owen had given Hannah a heads up that he was planning on proposing soon.

Hannah had planned on taking them to a play the next day, but Bailey had balked at the idea of spending two days in a row with Hannah. So, Hannah had suggested that just Bailey and her father go. Hannah wanted to be understanding of Bailey’s reluctance to share her father, and in recognition of that, Bailey had smiled at Hannah.

Chapter 36. You Have to Do Some Things on Your Own

In Nicholas’s office, Hannah sees a variety of photos of Kate and baby Bailey together. Nicholas suggests that perhaps Hannah is hoping that “I’m not who everyone is telling you I am”. However, he merely says that he’s someone who did his job and took care of his family.

There, Nicholas tells Hannah about how he got involved with the crime syndicate. Nicholas was asked to defend Harris Gray, a low-level associate of theirs, after Harris was caught selling OxyContin. Nicholas managed to get him off by getting the case dismissed due to the prosecution’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence. They were impressed and wanted him to represent other people as well.

Then, Hannah argues with him about the morals of working for immoral people, but Nicholas responds by pointing out how Owen has harmed Bailey by taking her away from her mother’s family. Nicholas also points out Owen’s hypocrisy in helping him with the encryption of messages and then turning around and causing trouble with the authorities.

Nicholas also reasserts that the crime syndicate had nothing to do with Kate’s death. Instead, he thinks it had to do with a case that Kate was working on for the Texas Supreme Court involving an energy company that was at risk of being forced to pay billions in conservation improvement costs.

Nicholas says that the judge in Kate’s case received a bullet in his mailbox the day after Kate’s death, but Owen/Ethan refused to listen to any of this and blamed Nicholas instead. Meanwhile, Nicholas went to jail for six years to continue protecting his former employers’ secrets. Nicholas also says he lives his life for his family and admits that he never thought Ethan was good enough for Kate.

Hannah finally says that if he wants a relationship with Bailey, then Nicholas needs to make arrangements to ensure that they’ll be left alone. Otherwise, they’ll enter WITSEC and he’ll never see her again.

However, even though Nicholas says he might be able to work out an arrangement for Hannah and Bailey, there’s no way Ethan/Owen would be let off the hook, even if he were inclined to make it happen (which he’s not).

To Nicholas’s surprise, Hannah agrees to this. She understands that it means an Owen-less life, but it’s what’s best for Bailey, which is what Owen wanted. It’s better than Bailey having to live out her life in WITSEC, spending her life in hiding. Nicholas warns Hannah that the Ethan/Owen situation will never change, but Hannah honestly responds that she disagrees.

Afterwards, Charlie (who didn’t leave) says that there’s a bunch of U.S. Marshalls outside. Before Hannah leaves with them, Nicholas asks if he can see Bailey. Hannah says yes, but that it’ll be up to Bailey to decide for herself what relationship they will have.

Chapter 37. The Devil Is in the Details

Grady takes Hannah back to the office where Bailey is waiting.

After Hannah explains her plan, Grady is strongly against it. He warns Hannah that she’s “being played” and that they’re “going to get their revenge against Owen, one way or another”. But Hannah disagrees, saying that Nicholas wants to get to know Bailey more than he wants to punish Owen. Still, Grady reminds her again that even if she’s right, Owen will still no longer be in her life.

Chapter 38. Finding My Way Back to Her

Reunited with Bailey, Bailey cries and apologies for leaving. She says that she went back to the library and that Owen called her while she was there via an app called Signal.

As she says this, Hannah recalls Owen telling Bailey once that this was the app to use if she wanted to make a call or text that would fully disappear afterwards. Bailey then says that Owen said he only had a few seconds, so he mostly told her that he wouldn’t be able to come home and that he was sorry.

Afterwards, Grady continues trying to convince them to enter WITSEC, but like Hannah, Bailey also sees that it’s not what Owen wanted for them.

Chapter 39. Two Years and Four Months Ago

In a flashback from two years and four months ago, Hannah recalls showing Owen how to do some woodturning. As they talk about what defines wood, Hannah asks Owen what defines him as a person. Owen says that “there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my daughter”.

Chapter 40. Sometimes You Can Go Home Again

As they wait for their plane to take off, Hannah talks to Bailey about Nicholas and Charlie visiting them soon. She reassures Hannah that it’ll be up to her to decide how to proceed from there. As the plane takes off, Hannah feels closer to Bailey.

Chapter 41. Five Years Later. Or Eight. Or Ten.

Sometime years later, Hannah at work, with plans to meet Bailey for dinner. Bailey is now in her twenties, living in Los Angeles and dating a hedge fund guy named Shep.

Hannah is getting ready for an exhibition of her work at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles when Owen walks in, just for a second to discreetly say hello, before leaving for another booth at the exhibition.

Then, Bailey comes in with Shep, referring to Hannah as “Mom”.

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Bookshelf -- A literary set collection game