But shock was the word that best describes how I felt in that car.
I had a million questions and couldn’t find my voice to ask a single one.
And I certainly couldn’t bring myself to make nice with the two men who called themselves family. They were just strangers, who, when I wouldn’t go with them willingly, brought out the big gun.
A little boy with blonde curls and icy blue eyes that matched mine.
A little boy who’d called me Mommy.
My life since waking up without my memory has been a cluster-fuck of unbelievable events strung together in one monstrous knot. Every time I was stupid enough to think I could untangle it, the knot just wound tighter, until it consumed every ounce of available space around me, wrapping itself around the potential for anything good to result from my being alive.
Strangling it to death.
It was shitty of them to bring the boy. It was only because of him that I sat in stunned silence, unable to ask my usual million questions. Too afraid to scare him or say the wrong thing and traumatize him for life.
The silence in that Town Car was deafening; so quiet that I’m sure if you listened close enough, you could actually hear my state of shock. The sound of the tires spinning against the asphalt as we accelerated onto the highway was a welcome reprieve.
The man who claimed to be my father sat in the front passenger seat. Everything about him was stiff and hard as stone. His suit hadn’t a single wrinkle or sweat stain, and despite the heat and humidity, he’d kept his suit jacket on. I was beginning to think that the suit was its own living, breathing entity. It was too damn perfect. I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a small wrinkled alien living in the sleeves, controlling the senator/ suit being.
A phone vibrated in the front seat. “PRICE.” The senator barked into the receiver. After a few seconds of mumbling into the phone, he reached overhead and pressed a button, closing the blacked out partition, separating the front seat from the back.
I sat in the back on one side of the bench seat, a small child’s body length away from the boy who’d introduced himself as Tanner.
No HER boyfriend.
“You know…,” Tanner said to me in a whisper, a mischievous look in his chestnut eyes. “…he’s the very reason they stopped calling the thing you say when you answer the phone a ‘greeting.’” I forced a small smile and Tanner went back to staring out the window.
For most of the hour-long ride, when I knew he wasn’t looking, I stared at Tanner’s profile and willed my broken brain to scroll through its lost Rolodex, hoping to locate the card that listed Tanner and what my feelings were for him.
Tanner was good-looking in that fresh-faced toothpaste commercial kind of way. But all I kept thinking when I looked at him was that he seemed…nice. And even though he was my age, he was still just a boy.
Which was one word I could never use to describe…him.
I couldn’t bring myself to think about him just yet. I didn’t want to. It was all too much to process. King’s betrayal, his arrest. I couldn’t process it. But when I looked over at Tanner again, I couldn’t help but make a comparison. Where Tanner was clean skin and sunshine, tall and lean like his body was built by swimming laps in a pool, King was tanned and tattooed with a constant thunderstorm in his eyes. His muscular body looked as if it were built by wrestling with the devil himself.
When I wasn’t staring at Tanner, I knew he was looking at me because I felt his stare burning a hole in my cheek. But every time I turned my head his way he averted his eyes and pretended to be interested in something out the window.
And then there was the little boy.
The fact that I could be a mother was completely ridiculous.
Unbelievable at best.
But oddly enough, he was the only thing in that car I felt sure about.
My father, my boyfriend, my son. The Town Car was filled with my supposed family, and yet, with the exception of the little one, every fiber of my being was telling me my family was getting further and further away with every mile we drove.
Maybe it was all a lie. Every single bit of it. King had told me he loved me. Maybe that was a lie too. I didn’t know what I could believe anymore.
Don’t be just be alive. Live. He’d told me.
So I lived.
And I loved.
The anger I’d been feeling toward King for lying to me had temporarily fallen away the second I saw the look of disappointment cross over his face when he realized Max wasn’t in that car.
And then when the detective put him in cuffs, all I felt was blinding rage.