He paused, seeming hesitant to talk about her. “At church. She’s a widow. So, we have that in common.”
“Are things serious?”
“I can’t get serious with anyone at this point in my life. I’m too fucked up in the head.”
“So, you’re not…”
His eyes widened. “Are you asking if I’m fucking her?”
“I don’t really want to know that.”
“Because you run from things that hurt…”
“Yes. Knowing that would hurt.”
“In that case, you should know that I am fucking Nancy. She gives good head, too.”
The abrupt admission had shocked me into silence. Then, it was like something erupted inside of him as he continued, “Did it hurt to hear that? You want to talk about hurt? Hurt is finding out that all of this time, you’ve given yourself to someone you don’t even love. Hurt is knowing that you’ve been fucking him with my heart still inside of you. Hurt was trying to convince Elle that you didn’t leave because of her, when I couldn’t tell her that you left because of me. Hurt was trying to be a good husband to your sister, making her feel like a woman, kissing her, sucking her tits, going down on her when she couldn’t even feel my fucking mouth. All just to make her feel beautiful so she wouldn’t wish she were dead—something she often admitted feeling. Hurt was making her believe that I loved her when I only ever loved you. Hurt was feeling so much guilt that I was betraying you, even though you abandoned me. How fucked up is that? The truth hurts. But you know what hurts the most? After everything, I still fucking love you more than life itself.”
Sevin stood up and walked a few feet away to grab his composure. Each sentence that had come out of his mouth suffocated me more than the last.
After a few minutes, he returned to the spot next to me.
“I’m sorry. I just needed to get it all out.”
Yearning to comfort him, I grabbed his hand. I was expecting him to push me away, but he opened his fingers and intertwined them with mine.
“Did Elle really say she wished she were dead?”
“Your sister had her days, but in the end, she died feeling loved. When it came to me, she never knew that she wasn’t the one. I couldn’t have played the husband role if you were around, couldn’t have pretended. So, in that sense, you did her a favor in leaving. That’s the one consolation you can take from all this. Your sister died as happy as she could have been under the circumstances.”
Hearing that was truly a gift. It meant the hell I’d been living wasn’t totally in vain. “Thank you for your honesty.”
We sat in silence for a while until he turned to me. “I’ve been struggling with my feelings, doing a lot of thinking, especially since seeing you at the club. Even though I was so angry at you—still am—ultimately, a part of me does understand why you did what you did. Luke and I have become really close in the past few years. In retrospect, if I were in your shoes—if it were my brother—I might have done the same thing. That’s a perspective I have now that I didn’t have then.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying…I’m trying. I want to forgive you, but I’m not there yet.”
His words cut deep. He wanted to forgive me. He could only forgive what he knew about, though. There was so much more about me that he didn’t.
I asked Sevin to tell me more about his life with Elle. We sat for over an hour. Even though it was all hard to hear, it was something I needed to endure if I was ever going to move on.
We eventually jogged in silence back to the property.
Soon after, I left to return to Wichita to ensure I got there well before Dean returned from his trip.
Guilt consumed me in the days that followed.
Sevin was trying to forgive me.
For the first time, I seriously doubted whether I was capable of hiding the truth from him about what really happened anymore.
A couple of weeks after Evangeline and I had our talk, Nancy was washing the dishes while I wiped them after dinner. She’d been acting strange all day.
Out of nowhere, she said, “Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I found something in your room. I was looking for my shoe under your bed, and there was a book of drawings. I opened it. They were of naked women. They all looked like your sister-in-law, Evangeline.”
That was the first time I’d ever been careless and left the sketchpad out. I normally hid it in the closet but had slipped it under the bed when Nancy rang the doorbell earlier that day. I must have forgotten to put it back.
“Did something happen between you and her?”
Caught off guard, I stopped drying the plate in my hand but said nothing.
Nancy went on, “The couple of times she was here, there was this weird vibe between the two of you. Not to mention that dream you had. Now, the drawings…”
I was sick of living a lie. If Nancy and I were going to continue to be together, she needed to know everything. From her perspective, it would probably explain a lot about how I acted in general.
Leading her over to the couch, I said, “Forget the dishes and come sit down for a minute.”
Over the next hour, I proceeded to tell her the full story about Evangeline and Elle from start to finish, leaving nothing out. Even though a part of her was mortified, she seemed relieved to not have to wonder about my strange behavior toward Evangeline anymore.