All of the distractions in the world aren't going to keep you from me this week, Neamhchiontach, the Devil reminds me, and with that statement I see the ground beneath the cart as the Ferris wheel tips us over the top and comes around clockwise once more, gaining speed.
I nod into his shoulder. His arms tighten and I take a deep breath and let it out.
Caleb adores my tattoo. He traced it with his fingertips in absolute awe, as if it were in reverence to him, as he shared Cole's initials and appetites, and has appropriated his life and efforts with ease, without permission.
You're glorious, he tells me.
I shouldn't even be here, I tell him and he nods.
I know. We'll finish this midweek. He kisses my cheek, smooths down my dress and pulls me back up with him.
I don't know if I can get aw-
It's already arranged, Bridget. He tells me. I wonder what the cost was and who arranged it. Just no more near misses with your poet or your thief or any of your other keepers in the meantime. I've got big plans for you. Ten is a big number and we will mark it appropriately.
I already did. I pull my dress up again to show him my giant X over my periwinkle blue cashmere underpants.
I meant together, but I do love that. He has an X as well but his is a beautiful script and he's had it for almost as long as Cole has been gone.
He lifts my face up with one hand and plants a gentle kiss underneath my chin before letting go and looking into my eyes. I can see why we love you. What I can't see is why they let you go.
He didn't. They made him.
He should have come to me.
He should have done a lot of things, Diabhal.
If you could go back, Bridget, knowing what you know now, would you have left him?
The answer snapped my brain like a rubber band, so instantaneously that I cried out in alarm and Caleb stepped in close wondering if he had broken something else with a sensitive question. I brushed him off with some excuse about him being cruel, and that I really did have to go. I pushed him off and left rather quickly. I don't know why it didn't cross my mind before or maybe it's just that I take so ridiculously long to sort through things. Most people take a few days. I take a decade or so. Always. It's maddening.
Would I have left him knowing that it probably is what killed him? Would I have gone with Jake knowing that I would have had seventeen incredibly painful months ending in Jacob's flight too? Maybe had I never done that Jake would still be here and then I could have gotten a sane, slow divorce and eventually married Lochlan on my own time frame. Maybe things would have been vastly different, no one would be a ghost and the only thing to deal with would be the endless inevitable stockholm syndrome that only ever bothered everybody else and never really bothered me at all.