Where We Meet Again (Arrow Creek 1)

Page 74

I gather the hair in front of my head and twist my fingers at the crown. “I don’t mean me. She’s your family, Law. She’s your actual family.”
After reiterating, his brows snap together. His voice transforms to a dark rumble. “What exactly are you saying?”
I can’t look at him. My eyes drift to the row of chairs we sat in together not long ago, wishing and knowing I can never go back to having his arms around me and my ass in his lap.
“Look at me!” he barks ominously.
I return my sorrowful gaze and lay it out there once and for all. “I’m saying she’s your half-s
“Fuck!” He spits the word sharply like it tastes foul on his tongue. “How? How in all the possibilities in the world could that have ever happened?”
Life leaks out of me as he goes from looking at me with concern to looking at me with disgust. Can I blame him? I’ve worn the same expression every time I looked in the mirror for fourteen years. The shame his produces within me is a hundred times worse, but I deserve it.
“The day you told me you wanted to see other people. I rode the bus home since I didn’t want to get into your truck, and I thought the whole way there. I wanted to talk to you, so I got off at the bus stop and ran to your house. You weren’t home, and I broke down.”
“So to get back at me, you fuck my father?!” he roars.
I flinch. “No! God, no. The thought of revenge wasn’t even on my mind.”
“It wasn’t. I swear to you on my life, it wasn’t. I was so hurt and alone and vulnerable. At that point, I’d truly lost everyone I’d ever cared about. Ritchie had been sick for over two years without signs of getting better. He’d been back in the hospital for a nasty respiratory infection, and the day before, we’d gotten the news his cancer had spread again. Everyone around me was leaving or dying, Law, I just…” I grip the back of my head in both hands. My eyes well with tears, but I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to make this about me and my feelings. I look to the ceiling and blink them away. Hiding my eyes doesn’t conceal the tremor in my voice. “I don’t even know what happened! One second I was crying, and the next, he was telling me I didn’t deserve to hurt so much.”
“I don’t want to hear this.”
Those words reduce my heart to dust.
“Admit it. You seduced my father to get back at me for hurting you, and when you got pregnant, you ran away. No wonder you didn’t come to me.”
“Please, listen,” I beg. My breaths quicken. I’m nearly hyperventilating. “You have to believe me.”
He walks past, and it takes everything to restrain myself from reaching out to him.
“I don’t have to believe anything you say. Not anymore.”
He jams the button to buzz the nurses’ station with his thumb, and I follow him down the hall. The doors open, and he passes through without acknowledging my existence.
“Which room is she in?”
“Six.” The word floats out of me on a shuddering breath.
“I can’t even stand to look at you. Once she’s out of the woods here, we won’t see each other again. Not in any capacity other than me coming and going.” He jerks his finger in the general direction of Evelyn. “But she’s gonna be in my life. You will never be.”
He tears the door to her room open and leaves me outside. While every instinct inside me desperately wants to follow, I give him five minutes with her alone.
That’s all I can stand.
I’m grateful to see he put a chair on the left side of her bed for me. The one he occupies mirrors its position.
I scoot as close as I can to her head. Reaching down, I lower the guardrail, cross my arms, and create a resting place for my head next to hers. My arms serve as a pillow. The beeps and expirations of her machines fill the silence.
A train crashes in my mind, memories of the day I’ve tried so hard to suppress assail me from all sides. I’ve blocked them out and haven’t allowed myself to relive them for fourteen years.
Today, I’m not strong enough to do that. They flood forward. After all this time, the dam I erected to hold them back is finally broken.