I had eschewed viewing the available security video footage in favor of listening to the audio of their meeting, but it was enough. I knew my wife, her voice and inflections. Knew her temper. And I knew that nothing roused it as swiftly or ferociously as when she was leaping to my defense.
Over the short time we’d been together, Eva had managed direct confrontations with Corinne at her home, my mother on multiple occasions, Terrence Lucas at his office, and now his wife at hers. I knew my wife felt she had to, which was why I’d forced myself to step back and let her do it.
I didn’t need defending. Could take care of myself just fine on my own, as I always had. But it felt good to know I wasn’t on my own any longer. Better still to know she could look crazy in the face and frighten it.
“She’s a tigress.” I faced him. “I’ve got a few badges of honor from her scratches myself.”
The hard, tense line of Angus’s shoulders relaxed slightly. “She’ll stand by you.”
“If my past goes public? Yes, she will.”
As I said the words, I realized how true they were. There had been times in our relationship when I hadn’t been certain I could hold on to Eva. I loved my wife and had no doubts she loved me as deeply, but as perfect as she was for me, she had her flaws. She doubted herself too often. She believed, at times, that she wasn’t strong enough to face certain situations. And when she felt her independence and equanimity threatened, she ran away to protect herself.
My gaze went to the picture of her on my desk. Things had changed and only recently. She’d pushed me to the edge, cutting me off from the one thing I could not live without—her. I’d tumbled off that edge reluctantly, forced to do so to get her back. The result: She no longer looked at our marriage as her and me but us. My initial resentment was gone. No matter what, I would do it again to keep her, but now, I would do it without the push.
“She loves that I can take care of her, keep her safe,” I said, mostly to myself. “But if I lost everything, she’d still be here. It’s me she wants, as fucked up as I am.”
The money … the public image … They weren’t important to her.
“You’re not fucked up, lad. Too pretty for your own good, to be certain.” Angus’s mouth twisted wryly. “And ye’ve made some dubious choices when it comes to the lasses, but who hasn’t? Hard to say nay when you’re randy and they’re lifting their skirts.”
Amused by his blunt comments, I pushed thoughts of Anne Lucas aside. Worrying would get me nowhere. Angus would do what he was so very good at. I would focus on my wife and our life as it now was.
“Where is Eva now?” I asked him.
“Raúl is driving her to Parker Smith’s studio in Brooklyn.”
I nodded, understanding that Eva needed to work off some steam. “Thank you, Angus.”
He left and I returned to my desk to get my day back on track. I’d shuffled a dozen things to fit in the Crossroads lunch with Eva and now I had to catch up.
My smartphone buzzed, rattling atop the smoked glass of my desktop. I glanced at it, hoping to see Eva’s face on the screen and seeing my sister, Ireland’s, instead. I felt a familiar momentary twinge of discomfort, something mildly akin to panic, just before I answered the call.
I couldn’t see how being in my teenage sister’s life benefited her at all, but Eva felt it was important for some reason and so I made the effort for her.
“Ireland. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Gideon.” She hiccupped violently, her voice clogged with tears.
I immediately tensed, the first surge of fury bristling along my spine. “What’s wrong?”
“I c-came home from school and Dad was waiting for me. They’re getting a divorce.”
I circled my desk and sank into my chair. The anger drained away.
Before I could say anything, she rushed on.
“I don’t understand!” She wept. “A couple weeks ago everything was fine. Then they started arguing all the time and Dad moved into a hotel. Something happened but neither of them will tell me what it is! Mom won’t stop crying. Dad doesn’t, but his eyes are always red when I see him.”
My stomach knotted up all over again. My breath came fast and quick.
Chris knew. About Hugh and me. About Terrence Lucas’s lies, covering up his brother-in-law’s crime. About my mother’s refusal to believe me, to fight for me, to save me.
“Do you think he’s having an affair? He’s the one instigating all of this. Mom says he’s confused. She says he’ll come around, but I don’t think so. He acts like his mind is totally made up. Can you talk to him?”
I gripped the phone too tightly. “And say what?”
Hello, Chris. Sorry I was raped and your wife can’t handle it. Bummer about the divorce. No chance you could forgive her and live happily ever after?
Just thinking about Chris going on with his life, with his wife, as if nothing had happened filled me with rage. Someone knew. Someone cared. Someone couldn’t live with it any more than I. I wouldn’t change that even if I could.
Something small and cold inside me enjoyed the reckoning. Finally.