“Her empty household,” Angie added. “She should know that when Sera needs a character witness, I’ll give it to her. I’ll get on that stand and explain why I think Luc is better off not setting foot in this house.”
“How can you say that? After everything I’ve done for you?” It defied imagination.
Angie’s eyes rolled but there were tears in them. “What have you done, Mom? You were far too busy worrying about Wes to give a damn about the rest of us.”
“Wes needed more than the rest of you. He was sick.” Why couldn’t anyone seem to remember how close they’d come to losing him? Yes, she’d paid more attention to Wesley, but he’d needed her in a way the others didn’t. He’d been so frail. She’d sat by his bedside and prayed to anyone who could hear to save her little boy. Then she’d spent years waiting for it to come back like a shadow she couldn’t outrun. That fear had attached itself to her and darkened everything else.
“And he got better but you never did. You never once forgot that you could lose him. I understand that. I just wished you’d given a damn about the fact that I was alive,” Angie argued.
“So you kept Wes’s son from me because you wanted attention?”
Angie took a long breath before she replied. “No, I kept him from Dad. When Sera first came to me, she was planning on telling you that she was pregnant and Wes was the father. I told her not to. I did it because I knew Wes wouldn’t have wanted his son raised anywhere close to our dad.”
“I know Ralph was hard on you.” She wasn’t a complete fool. She’d known how ruthlessly belligerent her husband could be. “I tried to intercede where I could, but I didn’t have much sway with him. If I’d divorced him, we would have had nothing. My mother-in-law would have made sure I didn’t get custody. I would never have seen you.”
“I think I heard you threaten Sera with the very same thing.” Harry looked at her like he couldn’t stand to be in the same room. “Guess you learned a lot from your mother-in-law.”
She felt her hands clench, her whole body tensing at the accusation. “I am not her. She was a monster.”
“From where I’m standing, you’ve got the claws and fangs for it. Good-bye, Aunt Celeste.” Harry turned and walked out.
Angela stared at her for a moment. “If you’re wondering why I didn’t tell you after Dad died, it was a combination of fear and longing. Fear that you would behave exactly like this. Longing because for once in my life, you saw me. For once I had a real mom, and I loved it. Even when you hated my clothes and my shoes and my posture, I thought you still loved me. I was wrong. Good-bye, Mother. I’ll get a ride with Harry since technically you own my car. You can have all the clothes, too. I think it’s time I started dressing to please myself.”
Maybe Celeste had been hasty. Her daughter’s words sliced through her. She’d never meant to make Angie feel unloved. It was just that Wes needed so much. Angie had always seemed strong. Cal had been handsome and on the right path. Wes had a brilliant mind, but his body had almost failed him once. She had to be vigilant because he was supposed to be the one to lead the company—therefore the family—into the future.
But that didn’t mean she hadn’t loved her other children.
They were wrong and she was right. They would come to see it her way. They had to.
She heard the door close and was left alone in the magnificent house she’d given up everything to have.chapter fifteenHarry looked around the sad motel room and sighed. It had only been a week or so since he’d stayed in a room much like this one with Sera. Even at the time he’d known how pathetic and run-down the place was, but somehow she’d made it seem cozy. He’d held her all night in that motel and he’d been at home.
But without her, this place was completely different. Without her, everything seemed dull.
Still, at least the desk clerk hadn’t blinked when he’d asked about his dog staying with him. The man had asked for a pet deposit, gave him the key to Room 4, and sent him on his way.
Shep stared up at him with accusatory doggie eyes, like he knew something had gone wrong with his world and exactly where to put the blame.
“I’m sorry.” He was even apologizing to the dog now. Those words didn’t seem to mean much. He might be saying them for the rest of his life. He hoped he had someone to say them to.
He checked his phone for the four hundredth time in the last couple of hours. Nothing. She hadn’t answered his texts or voice mails. If he didn’t give her some space, she might put a restraining order on him.