“Regardless, it’s a decision she has a right to come to on her own.”
I shook my head, even though he couldn’t see it. “Her safety is nonnegotiable. She worries about everyone else. It’s my job to worry about her.”
“You could tell her your concerns,” Dr. Petersen said, his voice low and soothing. “Explain them to her.”
“She wouldn’t put her safety first. She’d want to be with Stanton.”
“Being with others who share her grief can—”
“He’s standing over her mother’s corpse on a city sidewalk right now!”
The words and the image they evoked were vile. My stomach churned, revolting against the liquor I’d poured into it. But I needed someone to grasp the full extent of the horror and understand why I’d made my decision. To give me some hope that Eva would understand.
“Don’t tell me what would be best for her right now,” I said coldly. “I won’t let her go there. She would be haunted for the rest of her life if she saw … that.”
He was quiet. Then, “The longer you wait, the more difficult this will be for both of you.”
“I’m going to tell her as soon as she wakes up. You’re going to come over here and help me do that.”
“I’ve talked to her father in California. He’ll be on his way soon. And Cary’s here.” I paced. “They’ve got some time to deal with it, so when Eva sees them, they’ll be able to give her the support she needs. You’ll be able to help her, too.”
“You’re not seeing that Eva’s biggest source of strength and comfort is you, Gideon. And by failing to disclose something of this magnitude and being dishonest about it initially, you’ve put her most depended-upon foundation on shaky ground.”
“You think I don’t know that?!” I stopped in my tracks, directly in front of the photo collage of my wife. “I’m … Jesus. I’m terrified she won’t forgive me.”
Dr. Petersen’s silence allowed those words to hang in the air, mocking my helplessness.
I looked away from the images of my wife. “But I would do it again. This situation, these stakes …”
“All right. You’ll need to talk to her about all of this as soon as she wakes up. Be frank about what you’re feeling, and focus on that rather than logic or your rationale. She may not agree with you or see your point, but understanding the emotional impetus behind your actions will help.”
“Do you?” I challenged.
“I do, yes. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t have recommended a different course of action, but I understand. I’m going to give you another number where you can reach me directly.”
Grabbing a pen off my desk, I wrote it down.
“Talk to Eva. Afterward, if you still want me there, I’ll come by. I can’t promise to respond immediately,” he went on, “but I’ll come as soon as I can.”
“Thank you.” I ended the call and took a seat at my desk. There was nothing more for me to do but wait. Wait for Eva to wake up. Wait for the police. Wait for the visitors who would come and call, friends and family who would be as ineffectual as I was.
I woke my computer and sent an e-mail to Scott, telling him to clear my calendar for the rest of the week and to get in touch with the wedding planner. Informing her and others was most likely moot, considering the paparazzi were already there at the time of the shooting. There was no way to have even a single day of private grieving.
The thought of what had to have been posted online already filled me with helpless fury. Graphic crime-scene photos. Conspiracy theories and wild speculation. The world would be looking in our windows for months to come.
I pushed the thoughts aside.
I forced myself to think of the things that would alleviate Eva’s stress. I already had plans to talk to Victor, and we would discuss his family then, since they were scheduled to arrive on Friday.
My phone was in my hand before I realized it. I checked my missed calls and scrolled through my texts. There was nothing from my mother, although I had to think Chris or Ireland would have said something to her by this point. Her silence didn’t surprise me as much as the text from Christopher.
Please give my condolences to Eva.
I stared at the text for a long while, tapping the screen when it dimmed to keep it lit up and in front of me. It was the word please that struck me. Such an everyday courtesy, but not one Christopher used with me.
I thought of the people I’d called on Eva’s behalf. Cary, who was like a brother to her. Victor, her father. Who would Eva call if our situations were reversed? Chris? Certainly not my brother.