Whitney’s eyes stayed glued to the crowd at the top of the aisle, as she leaned over and whispered to Fox, “What is Alistair doing here?”
“I have no idea, but it can’t be anything good.” Fox took her hand. “Come on, let’s go find out,” he said, leading her toward the fracas.
Julian stepped out of Simone’s embrace and came to stand in front of Eve. “You’re too late, Father, we’re already married.”
“Yes, I see you’ve finally succeeded in your dogged attempts to bring this woman into our family. It’s by no small chance I arrived after that fate was accomplished. In fact, I came bearing gifts.”
Eve stepped around the protective stance Julian had over her and stepped toward the old man. Taking her hand, Julian followed. “Alistair, there’s nothing you have that we want.”
“I wouldn’t speak too soon if I were you, dear daughter-in-law,” he said, his endearment to Eve dripping with sarcasm. “Unless, the presentation of your son is something you and Julian don’t want.”
The sickening feeling Whitney encountered prior to the ceremony returned with a vengeance. Watching Julian become her stepfather wasn’t nearly as bad as she thought it would be. She even felt a bit intrusive as she watched them exchange vows. Her mother and Julian were totally in love, and as much as she hated it, she couldn’t help being happy for them. And happy she was--until Alistair showed up. The unsettling feeling in her stomach convinced her something horrific loomed over the horizon. Her mother said her son and his family got killed in a car accident. What could Alistair be talking about?
Julian’s eyes blazed with anger and disgust. “Our son is dead! I’m sure that’s no surprise to you, Father. My God, man, can you at least pretend to have some decency?”
“What I’d like to pretend is you didn’t produce a half-black bastard, but I can’t do that. No, your mongrel seed is still very much alive. I know you believe your son is dead, but that would be the pretense.”
“You’re lying!” Eve screamed.
“This fact is nothing I’m proud of. Why would I lie about it? ”
“For the same reasons you do everything else,” Julian answered, “because you’re a heartless son of a bitch!”
“You’re lucky I’m in a charitable mood, Julian. Your hostility won’t deter me from sharing my news. As I said before, your son is not dead. He is very much alive, and very close.”
Dread joined the legion of butterflies in Whitney’s stomach. She tugged on Fox’s hand. “Can we go? I don’t want to stay here.”
“Whitney, we can’t go now. If what Grandfather is saying is true, we could have a half brother.”
“It’s not true, Fox. Mom told Simone and me her son and his family died in a car accident. She told us this just before the ceremony. Alistair is just making trouble. We don’t need to stay for this.”
“Just a few more minutes, okay?”
Whitney stifled her groan of protest. “Fine,” she said against her better judgment.<>Alistair’s boisterous laughter reverberated in Whitney’s ears. The taunting sound made worse her already frazzled nerves. She wanted to bolt, but her feet seemed rooted to the ground. As if sensing she needed support, Fox draped his arm around her shoulders. She found some comfort in his nearness, but not nearly enough. Nothing could shake the feeling that whatever Alistair had to say, she didn’t want to hear.
Alistair continued. “I gave you so many clues, so many, and you didn’t pick up a single one.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a silver cigar tube. Moments later, a thick cloud of white smoke loomed above his head. Removing the cigar from his mouth, he flecked the ashes at Julian’s feet. “You ever think about the name David Alan Dobbs?”
“Ever think about it?” Eve repeated. “What are you getting at?”
“Amazing! You still have no idea. Very well, I’ll tell you.” Alistair took another deep drag from his cigar and after blowing a giant smoke ring, flashed a self-satisfied grin. “David Alan Dobbs is my creation. His whole story was my brilliant plan to bring us to this special day. I’ll give you both some credit, I didn’t expect the wedding to happen this soon, but you surprised me.” He dropped the cigar to the ground and stomped out the burning tip. “Luckily, Alistair Crane is always prepared.”
A sea of red invaded Julian’s face. He stormed forward and grabbed Alistair by the collar of his suit. “Damn it, old man. You stop this stonewalling and tell us what the hell you mean!” he spat, his voice shaking with unbridled fury. “What are you talking about?”“It would be in your best interest to unhand me and lower your voice. I’m sharing one of the many secrets from your past with Eve, but if you push me, I will gladly share more. I don’t think either of you want that.
Alistair smoothed away the wrinkles and adjusted
coat. He cleared his throat. “David
Alan Dobbs. D-A-D. Dad. I
gave you and your beloved Eve a bit of happiness. You
dreamed of the perfect son, and I gave
you that. David Alan Dobbs had a great
life in sunny
“What was the point of that?” Eve asked, brushing away the tears that trailed down her cheeks. “Why make up a son for us and have us believe he died when our son, our real son, is still alive.”
“That’s the wonderful part. It’s to bring us to this day, Eve. You’re going to love this.” Alistair pulled out his cell phone and punched in some numbers. “Bring him in,” he said, before returning to phone to his pocket.
“Him?” Eve pressed her hands to her chest. “Our son is here?”
Alistair smirked. “Would I come without him?”
Julian shook his head. “I don’t know what you have planned, Father, but I’m not falling for it.” He squeezed Eve’s shoulders and turned her to face him. “My love, don’t get too excited. Something’s not right here.”
“Julian, he knows everything about David and his life. Alistair is twisted enough to make up that story, but in the end one thing is true. Our son, our real son, is still alive.”
“Yes, I believe he is, too, but, Eve… Come with me.” Julian took her hand and walked away from the pairs of curious eyes that stayed on them.
Whitney so wanted to rush over to hear what they were saying, but her feet stayed frozen where she stood. Sweat poured from her icy hands. Her anxiety rose to record levels. If her mother’s son was still alive, that meant… She didn’t want to think about the possibility, and she definitely couldn’t wait around to see if her worst fears were about to be confirmed. “Fox, please, can we leave now? Please?” Her voice trembled with desperation.
Fox turned to her. Concerned clouded his eyes. “My God, I can hear your heart pounding from here.” He brushed his knuckles against her cheek. “Are you okay?
“No, I’m not. I really want to go. Please, can we go?”
He nodded and placed his hand at the small of her back. “Sure, okay. We can go. Just calm down. We’ll find out everything later.”
“Thank you. Thank you.” Relief washed over her as they made their way back down the aisle. Consciously, she knew running away from this wouldn’t help. If what she thought proved true, she’d have to know. But she didn’t want to know. She couldn’t know this.
“Whitney, where are you going?”
She stopped in her tracks and looked up. This was not happening. “
“This is a surprise. What are you doing here?” Fox asked.
“You guys won’t believe this, but my parents are guests at this wedding. I guess they know Julian and Rebecca,” he shared. His eyes danced with anticipation. “I’m finally going to meet my folks. And get this, Alistair Crane located them. See, the guy can’t be all bad.”
Every trace of color drained from Fox’s face. “Wait a minute.” He glanced at Whitney and then shook his head. “You’re saying my grandfather found your parents?”“Yeah, he sure did."
Julian and Eve turned around at Alistair’s words. Even with the distance between them, Whitney heard her mother’s gasp of surprise.
Hot tears rolled down Whitney’s cheeks. “Oh, my God,” she mumbled.
The fading sound of Fox and