My gaze went to the picture of her on my desk. Things had changed and only recently. She’d pushed me to the edge, cutting me off from the one thing I could not live without—her. I’d tumbled off that edge reluctantly, forced to do so to get her back. The result: She no longer looked at our marriage as her and me but us. My initial resentment was gone. No matter what, I would do it again to keep her, but now, I would do it without the push.
“She loves that I can take care of her, keep her safe,” I said, mostly to myself. “But if I lost everything, she’d still be here. It’s me she wants, as fucked up as I am.”
The money … the public image … They weren’t important to her.
“You’re not fucked up, lad. Too pretty for your own good, to be certain.” Angus’s mouth twisted wryly. “And ye’ve made some dubious choices when it comes to the lasses, but who hasn’t? Hard to say nay when you’re randy and they’re lifting their skirts.”
Amused by his blunt comments, I pushed thoughts of Anne Lucas aside. Worrying would get me nowhere. Angus would do what he was so very good at. I would focus on my wife and our life as it now was.
“Where is Eva now?” I asked him.
“Raúl is driving her to Parker Smith’s studio in Brooklyn.”
I nodded, understanding that Eva needed to work off some steam. “Thank you, Angus.”
He left and I returned to my desk to get my day back on track. I’d shuffled a dozen things to fit in the Crossroads lunch with Eva and now I had to catch up.
My smartphone buzzed, rattling atop the smoked glass of my desktop. I glanced at it, hoping to see Eva’s face on the screen and seeing my sister, Ireland’s, instead. I felt a familiar momentary twinge of discomfort, something mildly akin to panic, just before I answered the call.
I couldn’t see how being in my teenage sister’s life benefited her at all, but Eva felt it was important for some reason and so I made the effort for her.
“Ireland. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Gideon.” She hiccupped violently, her voice clogged with tears.
I immediately tensed, the first surge of fury bristling along my spine. “What’s wrong?”
“I c-came home from school and Dad was waiting for me. They’re getting a divorce.”
I circled my desk and sank into my chair. The anger drained away.
Before I could say anything, she rushed on.
“I don’t understand!” She wept. “A couple weeks ago everything was fine. Then they started arguing all the time and Dad moved into a hotel. Something happened but neither of them will tell me what it is! Mom won’t stop crying. Dad doesn’t, but his eyes are always red when I see him.”
My stomach knotted up all over again. My breath came fast and quick.
Chris knew. About Hugh and me. About Terrence Lucas’s lies, covering up his brother-in-law’s crime. About my mother’s refusal to believe me, to fight for me, to save me.
“Do you think he’s having an affair? He’s the one instigating all of this. Mom says he’s confused. She says he’ll come around, but I don’t think so. He acts like his mind is totally made up. Can you talk to him?”
I gripped the phone too tightly. “And say what?”
Hello, Chris. Sorry I was raped and your wife can’t handle it. Bummer about the divorce. No chance you could forgive her and live happily ever after?
Just thinking about Chris going on with his life, with his wife, as if nothing had happened filled me with rage. Someone knew. Someone cared. Someone couldn’t live with it any more than I. I wouldn’t change that even if I could.
Something small and cold inside me enjoyed the reckoning. Finally.
“There has to be something, Gideon! People don’t go from being madly in love to filing for divorce in less than a month!”
God. I rubbed at the back of my neck, where a vicious headache clawed at me. “Maybe counseling.”
A harsh, humorless laugh burned in my throat, silenced. A therapist had started all of this. How fucking ironic for me to suggest seeing another one to figure it out.
Ireland sniffled. “Mom said Dad suggested it, but she won’t go.”
The mirthless snicker escaped me then. What would Dr. Petersen say if he could see into that mind of hers? Would he pity her? Feel disgust? Anger? Maybe he wouldn’t feel anything at all. I was no different from any other molested child and she was no different from any other weak, self-absorbed woman.
“I’m sorry, Ireland.” Sorrier than I could ever tell her. How would she feel about me if she knew this was all my fault? Maybe she would hate me, too, like our brother Christopher.
The thought tightened my chest like a vise.
Christopher couldn’t stand me, but he loved Ireland and was invested in the relationship between their parents. I was the outsider. Always had been. “Have you talked to Christopher?”
“He’s as torn up as Mom is. I mean, I’m a mess, but the two of them … I’ve never seen them so upset.”
I pushed to my feet again, too restless to sit. What should I do, Eva? What could I say? Why aren’t you here when I need you?
“Your father isn’t having an affair,” I said, offering her what comfort I could. “He’s not the type.”
“Then why did he file for divorce?”
I exhaled roughly. “Why does anyone quit a marriage? It’s not working.”
“After all these years, he decides he’s not happy and that’s it? He quits?”
“He suggested therapy and she said no.”
“So it’s her fault he’s suddenly got a problem with her?”
The voice was Ireland’s, but the words were my mother’s. “If you’re trying to find someone to blame, I won’t help with that.”
“You don’t care if they stay together. You probably think it’s stupid I’m so upset at my age.”
“That’s not true. You have every right to be upset.”
I glanced at the door to my office when Scott appeared on the other side of it, nodding to acknowledge him when he tapped the face of his watch. He went back to his desk.
“Then help them fix it, Gideon!”
“Jesus. I don’t know why you think I can do anything.”
She started crying again.
I cursed silently, hating to hear her in so much pain, knowing I’d caused some of it. “Sweetheart …”
“Can you at least try to talk some sense into them?”
My eyes closed. I was the goddamned problem, which made it impossible for me to be part of the solution. But I couldn’t say that. “I’ll call them.”
“Thank you.” She sniffled again. “I love you.”
A small sound escaped me, the blow of her words sending me reeling. She hung up before I could find my voice, leaving me with the sense of an opportunity lost.
I set my phone back down on my desk and fought the urge to throw it across the room.
Scott opened the door and poked his head in. “Everyone’s ready for you in the conference room.”
“Also, Mr. Vidal would like you to call him when you can.”
I gave a curt nod but growled inwardly at the sound of my stepfather’s name. “I’ll get back to him.”
It was nearing nine in the evening when Raúl texted me to let me know Eva was on her way up to the penthouse. I left my home office and went to meet her in the foyer, my brows arching in surprise when she stepped out holding a big box in both hands. Raúl stood behind her carrying a duffel bag.
She grinned at me as I took the box from her. “Brought some stuff to invade your space.”
“Invade away,” I told her, captivated by the bright, mischievous light in her gray eyes.
Raúl deposited the duffel on the living room floor, then slipped away quietly, leaving us alone. I followed Eva with my gaze, taking in the dark jeans that hugged every curve and the loose silk blouse she’d tucked into them. She was wearing flats, which left her nearly a foot shorter than I was in my bare feet. Her hair fell around her shoulders, framing her face, which was scrubbed free of makeup.
She tossed her purse onto the wingback chair nearest the front door. As she kicked off her shoes by the coffee table, she looked at me, her gaze sliding over my bare chest and black silk pajama bottoms. “You said you were going to behave, ace.”
“Well, considering I haven’t even kissed you yet, I think I’m being very well behaved.” I walked to the dining room table and set the box down, looking inside it to see a collection of framed photos swathed in bubble wrap. “How was dinner?”
“Tasty. I wish Tatiana weren’t pregnant, but I think it’s making Cary reevaluate and grow up a little bit. That’s a good thing.”
I knew better than to offer my opinion on that, so I just gave a nod. “Should I open a bottle of wine?”
Her smile lit up the room. “That would be great.”
When I returned to the living room a few moments later, I found the fireplace mantel decorated with a collection of photographs. The montage I’d given her to keep at work was there, showcasing images of us together. There were also pictures of Cary, Monica, Stanton, Victor, and Ireland.
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