Would she have done this deliberately? Did she deserve all the shit I flung at her yesterday while it felt like I’d been sliced open and my guts poured all over the floor?
I glance around the kitchen and flinch.
I wanted to remodel the rest of this house with her. Give her anything she wanted. Make a life with her.
But on my own terms and in my own fucking time.
I punch the wall and curse a blue streak before grabbing my own coat and heading out to the barn.
“Gonna talk about it?” Dad asks as he shovels fresh hay into the stall next to mine.
“About what?” I ask curtly.
“About why you and Seth are both moping around here today and acting like bears with burrs stuck up their asses,” he replies and leans on the shovel, watching me closely.
“Nothin’ to say.”
“Bullshit.” He narrows his eyes and shakes his head. “Must be about Jilly.”
I shrug one shoulder with a jerk and keep my eyes trained on the hay on the floor.
“You fuck up?” he asks point-blank.
“No, she did.”
I look up to find his eyebrows raised in surprise.
“That’s great,” he replies soberly.
“No,” I say calmly. “It isn’t.” I keep my eyes on my dad, suddenly feeling confused and unsure about everything. “Is it?”
“Well, why wouldn’t it be?”
“She told me couldn’t get pregnant. I believed her. Just like I believed Kensie.”
“Stop that bullshit right now. You’re not a boy this time around, and Jill is not Kensie, son.” He tosses the shovel aside and walks over to me, claps me on the shoulder. “A baby is always a blessing. Your mother and I waited twelve long years after we married to be blessed with you boys. Six miscarriages.”
The door to the barn suddenly swings open violently and Ty, looking pissed as fuck, comes running straight for me.
“You son of a bitch.” Suddenly, I’m pinned against the barn wall, and a fist makes contact with my left cheek, sending my head reeling back.
“What the fuck?”
“You fucking asshole,” Ty growls. “I told you what I’d do if you hurt her.”
I glance over at Dad, but he just has his arms crossed over his chest, watching us with interest.
“Look,” I begin, but Ty takes another shot at my jaw this time, sending stars swirling over my head. “Let go of me.”
“No,” he snarls. “You weren’t the one holding my sister all night while she cried, you piece of shit.”
My eyes snap up to his and I swear under my breath. “No, I was up all night dealing with the fact that the woman I fucking love lied to me!”
“She didn’t fucking lie to you!”
He backs away, releasing my coat, and I rub my aching jaw. I can feel my left eye beginning to swell.
“Jesus, is pounding your fists on someone the only way you know to deal with shit?” I ask cruelly. “I can’t imagine that goes over well in a courtroom.”
“Fuck you,” he spits. “You know”—he shakes his head and paces away, then turns around and glares at me—“I thought you’d come to your senses and at least call her, try to work things out, but when I finally dropped her off at her place this afternoon and you still hadn’t tried to contact her, I decided you needed a come-to-Jesus talk. So here it is.”
“I don’t need your shit—” I begin but my dad shakes his head and points to the metal chair in the corner.
“Have a seat, son.”
“Well, get comfortable, ’cause I’m about to tell you one hell of a story,” Ty warns. “Did you know that Jill tried to get pregnant for five years?”
“She said she’s infertile.”
“Shut your mouth and listen, asshole. Jesus, you’d test the patience of a saint, and that’s one thing I certainly am not.”
Dad smirks but keeps quiet as he watches Ty pace.
“She went through hell. Meds. Surgeries. Procedures. And that’s just the physical shit, man. Five years of shooting herself in the ass every day. And her asshole of an ex-husband was just . . . worthless.”
He shakes his head in disgust and spits on the floor. “Long story short, it never worked. She didn’t even miscarry, she just never got pregnant.” He shrugs as if it’s a mystery, and I just watch him quietly. I already know this part.
“And then one day she came home from work to find her husband fucking his secretary in their bed.”
My jaw drops. Dad swears under his breath and paces away.
“Oh, she didn’t tell you that part, did she? She didn’t tell anyone for a long time. It embarrassed her.” He scrubs his hands through his hair. “Fucking embarrassed her. That’s why she tossed him out on his ass. Not for ignoring her for the better part of their marriage, or the shitty things he’d say to her, or the way he’d belittle her in front of her coworkers. Things she should have left him for before the ink was dry on their marriage license. No, it took getting caught in bed with another woman for her to kick his ass to the curb. Then,” he continues, on a roll, and all I can do is watch him, struck dumb, “the day before the Fourth of July, she finds out that the new wife—oh yeah, did I mention he married her two days after their divorce was final?—is pregnant.”
I can’t speak. I am consumed with so much anger and shame, I don’t know what to do with myself.
“So she came home because she needed us. All of us. She moved on from that shitty time in her life. She’d dealt with the fact that she couldn’t have kids, and she fell in love with you and your kid, and she was happier than I have ever seen her.
“Until Lo and I went to her house and found her in a tiny ball on the living room floor.”
“What?” I roar. “Is she okay? What the fuck? Why didn’t you call me?”
“She told me not to!” he yells back. “She was a mess because of you!”
“Ty, she told me she couldn’t get pregnant.”
“She didn’t think she could!”
I lean against the barn wall and stare at the man I consider a brother, then glance over at my dad, spotting Josh leaning against the barn door as well. I have no idea how long he’s been listening.
“Sounds like you have some apologizing to do,” Josh mutters.