(AKA the part where I realize I don't know who the bad guy is anymore. Therefore it must be me.)
He reached out for my hand and I crossed to take it with my left, for my right is still clutched around this big anesthetizing glass of red wine.
He then proceeds to squeeze my fingers gently as he starts a story for Lochlan (and Ben by default, so far the silent witness who prefers not to wade into our history wars) about how over the years he has noticed that the peripatetic nature of my upbringing under Lochlan's charge has led to a a desire to attach unreasonable meanings and importance to select possessions, in addition to an over-attachment to people, coupled with that debilitating fear of abandonment that carries a whole other name for it straight out of the DSM-VI but we don't like labels, oh no, we do not. So that a beautiful custom made wardrobe of underclothes wasn't just a few little pieces of velvet, they were my moment of elevation, a fantasy-come-true moment in which for the first time the most luxurious and fine fabrics became my everyday. That it hasn't been so long since Lochlan won a hundred wars with the simple gesture of giving back my music box snowglobe with my initials on it that I had to abandon once before. That Lochlan has absolutely no right whatsoever at any point to take things that belong to me and destroy them, that he would be wise to understand that it's his easy dismissal of things that are important to me that make me unsure, untrusting, almost uncaring because all of this is fleeting and can be taken away in a heartbeat.
Loch is almost speechless at what he's being blamed for.
This is my fault? Death is the only permanent? I didn't teach her that! Cole taught her that. Jake taught her that.
No, But death just drove it home and now look at the mess she is and why do you want to perpetuate this? Let her have nice things. Allow nice things to be provided for her. Respect her and her things and those who care for her and remember you are one of her things and you are only here because I have very great respect for Bridget.
And Lochlan snorts. You respect her every time you tie her down, is that it?
Our arrangements are none of your business and you've missed the point. Want to stay here with your friends and your daughter? Don't fuck up again.
If I go, Bridget goes with me. Lochlan looks at me. I see the fear. Top left. Just a glint of it.
I nod and raise my chin up.
Caleb pulls me right down into his lap, grinding my wrist bones, wrapping his arm around me tightly. No, see. You can't go. Sorry, Doll. Your son stays here and so you stay here with him. This isn't negotiable and I would love to know what sort of brain damage keeps it coming up as an option in his little burning mind. Caleb is talking about Loch but he hasn't taken his eyes off me. He starts talking to him again before I can process any of this. Oh, I don't need to. It doesn't change. Do we have an understanding, then? You don't touch her things, I don't touch you. You've got such a good life here. Don't fuck it up, Pyro.
And then he let go and pushed me up off his lap. He said he'll have a raincheck, that she's already drunk and defensive and that's never a good combination, that when the new things are delivered we will reschedule so he can see how they fit. How they look. He didn't say how they feel but that is what he meant. The pretty fabrics aren't for me, they're for them.
This morning the new box arrived and was delivered to the main house. Inside, not two new sets but three, including one in butterscotch velvet with pearl buttons that I wasn't expecting. The new dark rose is beautiful, the mint green striking and when I tried one of them on I thought they had goofed so I tried on all three. They're too big and sag off me. I didn't eat much this week. Too sick. I wonder if he'll blame Lochlan for that too.