Hey. Jake is leaning against the jeep in the rays of light pouring in through the high windows in the garage doors. Legs crossed, all the time in the world. His white blonde beard and pale blue eyes make my whole body hurt for what I had once before it slipped right through my fingers and fell too many stories to survive.
(I wasn't there to save him but I would have saved him if he'd let me.)
I don't answer him. My throat is dry. I feign coolness and shrug with a little wave. My brain thinks WWDD? (What would Duncan do?) and I opt to fake it until I make it. It's a pointless funny little coping mechanism they suggested when I feel weird in any situation.
And it doesn't work.
Bridget...PJ? What's going on there?
I shrug again. This time it isn't fake because I have no idea either. He gets lonely too. And he's very very good to all of us but especially me so...I don't know. It's not hurting anyone.
Since when have you ever cared how Lochlan felt about anything?
I care about you and how he reacts to the things you do.
My safety isn't in question.
He laughs harshly. It's hard to watch you someti-
Then look away. Like the rest do when they need to.
Why haven't you read the letters?
Another shrug. I've been busy. (Busy trying to learn to live without you. Busy trying to juggle a houseful of men. Busy trying to forget they're waiting for me. Busy trying to stay out of the hole I keep falling into.)
Are you going to read them?
You could just tell me what they say, if you're waiting for some moment of illumination here.
I'd like you to take your time and read them at your own pace.
Right so twelve years from now. I'm not so quick, Jakey. The tough-girl mask dissolves and behind it waits the twelve-year-old who didn't even know Jake and doesn't understand how they can hurt her and then stand there and feign innocence. It led to a huge label that she wears now as a grownup. Neamhchiontach. Innocent, in Gaelic, tattooed from shoulder to shoulder across her back, just so there's no mistake. But hurt is by degree, and that wasn't hurt. That was betrayal. This. This is hurt. This hurts so bad I can't even breathe anymore.
The tears drown me but at least I can swim now. Thanks, Sam.
I gotta go.
Back to PJ? Or Caleb? Hell, pick someone.
I DID BUT HE DIDN'T PICK ME. This is your fault. All of it. This is some sort of human safety net so I don't take the easy way out like you did. I ask for help and I get it. So don't you DARE stand there and pass judgment on me, you fucking selfish asshole!
Moments like this are the ones that tell me you're really okay, Princess.
Well you're wrong, because I'm not.
Peanut? You okay? I could hear you yelling from the driveway. Lochlan's in the doorway. I turn back around but Jacob's gone.
Just blowing off steam.
Come talk to me while I fix the fuel pump. I heard every word, Sweetheart. I don't think you're finished yet.