Coming Clean Chapter 38 ~Evian, Simone, Whitney~
Simone stiffened at the sound of Whitney’s voice. She sucked in a breath
and continued arranging the flowers on her father’s grave. The headstone wouldn’t
be ready for another few weeks, so until then, she wanted to keep things
nice for him. She was enjoying this alone time with him--a welcome respite
from the well meaning Kay and Dylan who insisted one or the other tag along
for all the previous visits. How she would much prefer the company of her
best friend or the young man who had become her boyfriend to her current companion.
“I’m not up for company, Whitney.”
“Good, because I’m not company.” Whitney kneeled beside her. “You have to
talk to me eventually.”
“Says who?” she returned, keeping her eyes on the flowers.
“Says Daddy. Before he died, we promised him we’d mend our relationship.
It’s been almost three weeks, Simone. We have to start somewhere.”
Simone stood, brushing the grass from her jeans. “Here’s a place we can
start. My anger. Do you think I’m entitled to it?”
“We’re both angry, Simone. I didn’t want Daddy to die. I wish God hadn’t
Simone grunted. “Wrong, Whitney. God didn’t take Daddy away, he killed himself.
No, he didn’t get a gun and blow his brains out or take an overdose of pills,
but he killed himself all the same. But I wasn’t talking about Daddy. That
anger is a whole other conversation. I’m talking about you and me. You want
to make amends, and I want to try, I do.”
“But I need to know, from you, if you think my anger toward you is justified.”
Whitney stood, shaking her head. “Honestly, no, Simone, I don’t.”
“And you wonder why I can’t make amends with you? Do you ever see things
from a perspective other than your own?”
Whitney’s draw dropped. “What?”
Simone rolled her eyes. Her sister’s outrage was insulting. “I always felt
second best, Whitney. I knew Mom and Daddy loved me, but you were special.
You were Whitney. Their crown jewel in the parenting department.”
“You know what, we shouldn’t do this here.”
“No, we should do this here. Right here, with our dead father in the ground
beneath us. It’s truth-telling time, and I need to get this off my chest.
For whatever reason, people see you as some innocent. Someone incapable of
telling a lie. A young woman without a duplicitous bone in her body. Yet,
I’ve seen the real you. The Whitney who would look me in my face day after
day and lie to me about a man she knew I had feelings for, while she screwed
him every chance she got.”
Whitney’s lip quivered. She dropped her head.
“Feeling a bit ashamed, Whitney?” Simone lifted her sister’s chin. “I want
you to look at me when I tell you this.”
Tears trailed down Whitney cheeks. Simone wanted to feel sorry for her,
but she just couldn’t do it. She gazed up at the blue sky. The tiniest hint
of a breeze blew through the leaves of the big oaks surrounding her father’s
final resting place. The Russell family farm. With Alistair incapacitated,
Julian used his controlling power to return the land to Simone and Whitney.
Certain this was where their father would want to be buried; this decision
was the last she and Whitney agreed on, and it was also their last conversation--until
Simone sighed. It was funny. So beautiful this day, yet monstrous storms
ravaged her body from the inside out. Firestorms of anger churned her stomach,
while memories of less than happy times rained down on her like a monsoon.
She brought her gaze to her sister.
“When you finally admitted your feelings for Chad, you always threw in my
face the fact he wasn’t my boyfriend, and in actuality, never was. Maybe I
was blinded by my feelings and couldn’t see what was in front of me. But you,
as my sister, the sister I looked up to and loved, you should have set me
straight, but you never did. No, you lied to me, over and over again.”
“I was trying to protect you and your feelings.”
“You failed. Were you really so foolish as to think that lie would help
me? You knew how I felt about Chad. What’s worse, you didn’t just lie to
me, you looked Mom and Dad in the eye and lied to them, too. Trust, Whitney,
it’s important, and you trashed my trust in you…for Chad. And you’re not even
with him now. Was it worth it?”
Whitney took Simone’s hand. Her eyes pleading. “Simone, sweetie, he was
just a guy. You’re seeing Dylan now, and he’s great.”
Simone couldn’t disagree with Whitney’s last sentence. Dylan was great,
and she couldn’t imagine how she would have gotten through the last couple
of weeks without him. On those days when she missed her father so much, she
thought she’d never stop crying, Dylan was there for her. He was always there
for her. Still, she couldn’t see how he figured in to what they were talking
about? “What’s your point, Whitney?”
“We’ve both moved on,” Whitney explained. “Don’t hold a grudge with me over
a guy. Over Chad. We’re sisters.”
“Yes, we are, and that didn’t mean anything to you.” Simone wrenched her
hand from Whitney’s grasp. “This, this isn’t about Chad, Whitney, this is
about you and me and what you broke.” She looked down at T.C.’s grave. “I
don’t want to make my last words to Daddy a lie, but mending our relationship
is not going to happen overnight, and I want you to know and accept that.
Daddy let anger kill him, but I plan to deal with mine, so the same thing
won’t happen to me. So, please, please, don’t push me on this.”
“I can’t wait until you see your daughter, Ethan.” Eve combed her fingers
through his hair as she gazed into his serene face. “Sarah is so beautiful.
She and Gwen went home yesterday.” Tears filled her eyes. “You have to wake
up, son. You’re missing out on so much. Please, please, wake up.”
Eve wiped her eyes and turned to Julian. “Hello, darling,” she greeted,
holding her hand out to him.
Julian took her hand. “Hello.” He brushed her lips with a kiss and sat in
the empty stool beside her. “You need to go home and get some real rest,”
he said, gazing at Ethan for a few moments before fixing determined eyes on
Eve. “The hospital will call us when there’s a change.”
“I’m not leaving.”
“Eve, so much has happened in the past few weeks. We barely got to deal
with one drama before we got hit with another. Amongst all this tragedy,
I guess it’s easy to forget we’re newlyweds.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” she said, glancing at her left hand. “Catching glimpses
of these beautiful reminders you placed on my finger has been an incredible
source of strength. And as nice as this sparkling diamond is, you have truly
been my rock, Julian.”
“And I’m always going to be here for you, no matter what.”
“That goes for me, too,” she said, giving his hand a squeeze.
“I know. I do know this, Eve. That’s why I have no problem with saying I
“You miss me?” She kissed his hand. “What are you talking about, Julian?
We live together. You see me every day.”
“I see Jim at the security gate every day, too, but I don’t want to make
love to him.”
The muscles in Eve’s neck tightened. She released her hand from his. “Now
is not the time for your hormones to run amuck,” she said, the slightest hint
of testiness in her voice.
“They’re not running amuck, they’re frozen at neutral.” He dragged his hand
over his face. “I don’t want to come off as single-minded, but we could be
offering each other comfort. Lately, all we’ve been doing is worrying about
Ethan and the girls. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve made love?”
“I’m sorry, Julian. I know it’s been a while, but now is not…” Eve cleared
her throat and lowered her tone. “Now is not the time to discuss this,” she
said, turning her attention to Ethan.
“A while, you say?” Julian remarked, either blind to her discomfort or choosing
to ignore it altogether. “It’s been seventeen days, Eve.”
“Not since the day Bennett dragged me to the jail with his warped belief
that I tried to kill Alistair,” he continued. “I haven’t said anything sooner,
because it’s been a difficult time for your girls, and between comforting
them and being here for Ethan, you’ve been a little overextended. Well, a
lot overextended. You hardly get five hours of sleep at night. Which is another
reason why I’ve been so extremely understanding. But I think we should take
some time for us. Just forget about everything that’s darkening our world,
and concentrate on what’s good.”
“What’s good?” Eve stared at Julian, wondering if he’d lost his mind. “The
son we just discovered is still unconscious after a senseless accident that
left my daughters without a father. Daughters, I might add, who haven’t spoken
to each other in weeks. What’s so good right now?”
“You and me, and our love. Eve, we’re finally together. We’re a family.
There’s nothing I can do for Whitney and Simone’s heartbreak over losing
T.C., and their other problems are ones they’ll have to deal with on their
own and in their own time. But I’m willing and able to help them in any other
way I can. As for everything else, Simone’s living with us, and I know that’s
a comfort to you. Alistair is in what looks to be a permanent vegetative state,
we have a beautiful little granddaughter, and even though Ethan’s not awake
yet, he’s improving every day. These are good things. It won’t be long before
he opens his eyes.”
Eve nodded. “I think he’s going to wake up soon. I sense that he wants to,
and is just… I don’t know.” She turned to Ethan and placed her hand on his
forehead. “He has so much to deal with when he wakes up.”
“Whatever he has to deal with, he’ll have us, his wife, and his new daughter
to help him. He’s got a family who loves him and will be there for him. Ethan
will have to face nothing alone.” Julian closed his hands over her shoulders,
gently kneading her tired muscles. He kissed the top of her head. “I don’t
think he’d mind you leaving his side for a little while. And just think of
how much better we’ll feel when we get back. I bet Ethan will feel our happy
vibes and open his eyes like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.
Eve turned to Julian and smiled. “Oh, you think so?”
“Yes, I do. Marvin Gaye even wrote a song about it,” he said with a broad
grin. “What do you say, Eve? A few hours?”
“A few hours,” she agreed, standing from the stool and giving his lips a
sweet kiss. “I’m sorry I haven’t been a very good wife to you, but I’ll get
better, I promise. I do love you, Julian.”
“And I love you.” He clasped his hands at the small of her back. “I want
you to know, I think you’re a wonderful wife, and even more the caring mother.
It’s one of the many reasons why I love you so much, Eve. Now and forever.”
Julian’s soft, warm lips reinforced the truth in his words. Eve lost herself
in the safety and love she found in his arms. His scent, his touch, the taste
of him. She pressed her body against his, as his arms tightened all the more
around her. Eve clung to him, deepening their kiss. She missed Julian even
more than she realized.
“Is this the honeymoon suite?”
Eve and Julian broke apart, turning to the sound of the low, dragging voice
emanating from the bed. Glassy eyes and a little smile greeted them. Happy
tears filled Eve’s eyes as Julian softly uttered their son’s name. Ethan was