Exposed to You (One Night of Passion 2) - Page 77

“I guess not,” Seth said, stunned.

“Because I completely understand him,” she burst out. Tears skittered down her cheek. “Because if I’d been an adult and could make my own decisions, I might have chosen to leave, too. Who would want to witness all that suffering, all that pain? Who would choose to sit by and watch someone they love slowly waste away, eaten alive by a foul, meaningless disease?”

“You don’t mean that, Joy,” Seth said grimly. “You’re sick. You’re not thinking straight.”

“I know precisely what I’m thinking!”

“You were old enough to choose not to be at Alice’s side as much as you were.”

“I had no choice,” she bit out.

“If you had no choice, it was because you loved her so much,” he said sternly. “That’s not the same thing as being forced into something.”

A convulsion of emotion shuddered through her. God, had all the pain and grief associated with her mother really been just beneath the surface all along, fresh and sharp? Seth stood and grabbed a box of Kleenex. She sobbed, taking one of the tissues when he offered it.

“It doesn’t matter. None of that has to do with what’s happening right now,” she managed in a more subdued tone, wiping her cheeks.

“The hell it doesn’t.”

She looked up at Seth. He stood next to her, his expression a mixture of compassion and concern.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, wishing she could make him understand what she meant by those three words, all the love she had for him, all the regret and guilt she felt for adding to his suffering.

A muscle rippled in his cheek.

“Don’t you know how much you mean to me? You’re my family. I’d do anything for you,” he said.

Joy shut her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Thank you,” she said quietly. “Thank you so much.”

“I think Everett would want to know. I had some words with him. I was wrong to doubt his intentions in regard to you. They seem genuine. I think you should tell him. He deserves the opportunity to choose, as well.”

She wiped her eyes dry and threw the tissues into a waste can. She stood and faced her uncle.

“No,” she said. Seth opened his mouth to argue, she was sure, but she halted him. “Please respect me in this. Please don’t take away whatever control I have in this situation.”

His stony countenance crumpled for a brief second.

“Just follow my lead in whatever I tell him is my reason for leaving,” she pleaded.

“Jesus, Joy,” he muttered, sounding pained.

“It’ll all be fine. You’ll see,” she said.

After a moment, he nodded once. “But you’ll call me and tell me as soon as you get into Chicago and tell me when you plan to go to the hospital? I’ll meet you there as soon as I finish up here on Monday.”

“I’ll have to take the car.”

“Not a problem. I’ll drive into St. Louis with Rill when he goes to pick up

Amanda Garcia,” he said, referring to the costume designer arriving tomorrow. “I’ll pick up another rental car then.”

She gave him a thankful glance. “I have one other favor to ask of you while you’re in St. Louis tomorrow,” she said as she picked up a notepad and pen that were sitting on the little desk. After she’d jotted down a note, she tore the paper off the pad and handed it to a bemused-looking Seth. His bewilderment faded to a solemn expression as she told him what she wanted.

A few minutes later she led him out of the exam room, steeling herself for the task of seeing Everett and convincing him that all was well during their last night together.


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