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.”