Fallen Too Far (Chapter Twenty-Three)
I stood up and found my discarded shorts lying on the end of the bed. Rush must have brought them upstairs because I remembered leaving them on the stairs last night. I slipped them on and then looked around for my shirt. One of Rush's tee shirts was folded neatly beside my shorts so I slipped it on and headed downstairs. I was ready to see Rush.
The doors on the family side of the hall were open. I froze. What did that mean? They were always closed. Then I heard voices. I walked toward the second flight of stairs and listened. My father's familiar voice carried up the stairs from the living room. He was home.
I took the first step and stopped. Could I face him? Would he ask me to leave? Would he know I'd slept with Rush? Would Nan have her mother hate me too? I hadn't had time to work through all of this yet.
My father said my name and I knew I needed to go down there and face this. Whatever it might be. I forced myself down each step. I made it across the foyer and stopped once I could hear them clearly. I needed to know what I was walking into.
"I can't believe you, Rush. What were you thinking? You know who she is? What she means to this family?" It was his mother talking. I'd never met her but I knew.
"You can't hold her responsible. She wasn't even born yet. You have no idea what all she's been through. What HE has put her through." Rush was angry.
I started to walk to the door but paused. Wait. What I meant to this family? What was she talking about?
"Don't go getting all high and mighty. You were the one who went and found him for me. So whatever he put her through," she spat, "you started it all. Then you go and sleep with her? Really Rush. My God what were you thinking? You're just like your father."
I reached out to grab the doorframe for support. I didn't know what was coming but my breathing was becoming shallow. I could feel panic rising in my chest.
"Remember who owns this house, mother," Rush's warning was clear.
His mother let out a loud cackle. "Can you believe this? He is turning on me over a girl he just met. Abe you have to do something."
There was silence. Then my father cleared his throat. "It's his house, Georgie. I can't force him to do anything. I should have expected this. She's so much like her mother."
"What is that supposed to mean?" the woman roared.
My father sighed, "We've been over this before. The reason I left you for her was because she had this draw to her. I couldn't seem to let her go – "
"I KNOW that. I don't want to hear it again. You wanted her so damn badly you left me pregnant with a bunch of wedding invitations to rescind."
"Sweetheart, calm down. I love you. I was just explaining that Blaire has her mother's charisma. It's impossible not to be drawn to her. And she's just as blind to it as her mother was. She can't help it."
"ARGH! Will that woman never leave me alone? Will she always ruin my life? She's gone for crying out loud. I have the man I love back and our daughter finally has her father and now this. You go and sleep with this, this girl!"
My body was numb. I couldn't move. I couldn't take deep breaths. I was still dreaming. That was it. I hadn't woken up yet. I closed my eyes tightly forcing myself to wake up from this sick and twisted dream.
"One more word against her and I will have you leave." Rush's tone was cold and hard.
"Georgie, honey, please calm down. Blaire is a good girl. Her being here isn't the end of the world. She needs somewhere to stay. I explained this to you already. I know you hate Rebecca but she was your best friend. The two of you had been friends since you were kids. Until I came along and ruined everything the two of you were like sisters. This is her daughter. Have some compassion."
No. NO. No. No. No. I did not just hear that. This is not real. My mother would never have broken up someone's wedding. She would have never had my dad leave a woman who was pregnant with his child. My mother was a sweet compassionate woman. She would never, ever let that happen. I couldn't stand here and listen to them talk about her that way. They had it all wrong. They didn't know her. My father had been gone so long he'd forgotten what really happened.
I let go of the death grip I had on the door frame and stalked into the room where they were disgracing my mother's name. "NO! Shut up all of you," I yelled. The room went silent. I found my father and leveled my angry glare on him. No one else in here mattered right now. Not the woman who continued to spit lies about my mother or the man I thought I loved. The one I'd given my body to. The one who had been lying to me.
"Blaire," Rush's voice sounded far away. I held out my hand to stop him. I didn't want him near me.
"You," I pointed my finger at my father. "You are just letting them lie about my mother," I screamed. I didn't care if I looked crazy. I hated them all right now.
"Blaire let me explain – "
"SHUT UP!" I roared. "My sister, my other half, died. She died, Dad. In a car on her way to the store with YOU. It was like my soul had been taken from me and torn in two. Losing her was unbearable. I watched my mother wail and cry and mourn and then I watched my father walk away. Never to return. While his daughter and wife were trying to pick up the pieces of their world without Valerie in it. Then my mother gets sick. I call you but you don't answer. So, I get an extra job after school and I start making payments for mom's medical care. I do nothing but care for my mother and go to school. Except my senior year, she gets so sick that I have to drop out. Take my GED and be done with it. Because I had the only person on the planet who loved me dying as I sat and watched helplessly. I held her hand while she took her last breath. I arranged her funeral. I watched them lower her into the ground. You never once called. Not once. Then I had to sell the house Gran left us and everything of value in it just to pay off medical bills." I stopped and took a loud heaving breath and a sob escaped me.
Two arms wrapped around me and I screamed, slinging my arms and moving away. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" I didn't want him touching me. He had lied to me. He knew this and he had lied to me.
"Now I'm being forced to hear you talk about my mother who was a saint. Do you hear me? She was a saint! You are all liars. If anyone is guilty of this bullshit I hear pouring out of your mouth it is that man." I pointed at my father. I couldn't call him that anymore. Not now.
"He is the liar. He isn't worth the dirt beneath my feet. If Nan is his daughter. If you were pregnant." I swung my eyes to the woman I had yet to look at and the words froze on my lips. I remembered her. I staggered back and shook my head. No. This was not what it looked like.
"Who are you?" I asked as the memories of that face slowly came back to me.
"Careful how you answer that," Rush's tight voice came from behind me. He was still close to me.
Her eyes shifted from me to my father then back to me. "You know who I am Blaire. We've met before."
"You came to my house. You… you made my mother cry."
The woman rolled her eyes.
"Last warning, mother," Rush said.
"Nan wanted to meet her father. So I brought her to him. She got to see his nice little family with pretty, blonde twin daughters he loved and an equally perfect wife. I was tired of having to tell my daughter she didn't have a father. She knew she did. So I showed her just what he had chosen instead of her. She didn't ask about him again until much later in life."
The little girl my age that had stood holding her mother's hand tightly and studying me as I stood at the door. It had been Nan. My stomach rolled. What had my father done?
"Blaire please look at me." Rush's desperate voice came from behind me but I couldn't acknowledge him. He knew all this. This had been Nan's big secret. He had protected it for her. Did he not see this was my secret too? He was my father and I knew nothing. Woods' words rang in my head. "If he has to choose between you and Nan he will choose Nan."
He knew then that Rush had chosen Nan. Everyone in this town knew the secret but me. They all knew who I was but I didn't.
"I was engaged to Georgianna. She was pregnant with Nan. Your mother came to visit her. She was like no one I'd ever met. She was addictive. I couldn't seem to stay away from her. Georgianna was still pinning over Dean and Rush was still visiting his dad every other weekend. I expected Georgie to go to Dean the minute he decided he wanted a family. I wasn't even sure Nan was mine. Your mother was innocent and fun. She wasn't into rockers and she made me laugh. I pursued her and she ignored me. Then I lied to her. I told her Georgie was pregnant with another of Dean's kids. She felt sorry for me. I somehow convinced her to run away with me. To throw away the friendship she'd had all her life."
I pressed my hands over my ears to block out my dad's words. I couldn't listen to this. It was all lies. This sick world they lived in wasn't for me. I wanted to go home. Back to Alabama. Back to what I understood. Where money and rock stars weren't an issue.
"Stop. I don't want to hear it. I just want my things. I just want to leave." The sob that followed couldn't be helped. My world and what I'd known of it had just been blown to a million pieces. I needed to go sit by my mother's grave and talk to her. I wanted to go home.
"Baby, please talk to me. Please." Rush was behind me again. I was too tired to push him away. I moved away from him instead. I would not look at him. "I can't look at you. I don't want to talk to you. I just want my things. I want to go home."
"Blaire, honey, there is no home." My dad's voice grated on my nerves. I lifted my eyes and glared at him. All the pain and bitterness I'd kept from creeping in when he left us had consumed me.
"My mother and my sister's graves are home. I want to be near them. I've stood here and listened to y'all tell me my mother was someone who I know she wasn't. She would have never done what you're accusing her of. Stay here with your family, Abe. I'm sure they will love you as much as your last one did. Try not to kill any of them," I spat.
Georgianna's loud gasp was the last thing I heard before I left the room. I wanted to leave but I needed my purse and my keys. I ran up the stairs and threw everything I could back into my luggage and slammed it shut. I swung my purse strap over my shoulder and turned to the door to see Rush standing there watching me.
His face was pale and his eyes were blood shot. I closed my eyes. I did not care that he was upset. He should be. He'd lied to me. He'd betrayed me.
"You can't leave me," he said in a hoarse whisper.
"Watch me," I replied in a cold flat voice.
"Blaire, you didn't let me explain. I was going to tell you everything today. They came home last night and I panicked. I needed to tell you first. He slammed his fist against the door frame. "You were not supposed to find out that way. Not like that. God not like that." He sounded truly upset.
I couldn't let the tugging at my heart from the look on his face get to me. I would be an idiot if I did. Besides, his sister… Nan was his sister. No wonder he'd grown up protecting her. She'd been the child without a dad. I swallowed the bile in my throat. My dad was a horrible man.
"I can't stay here. I can't see you. You represent the pain and betrayal of not just me but my mom." I shook my head. "Whatever we had is over. It died the minute I walked downstairs and realized the world I'd always known was a lie."
Rush dropped his hands from the doorframe and his shoulders sagged as he hung his head. He didn't say anything. He just stepped back so I could get out. The little heart that I had left in tact shattered from his defeated look. There was no other way. We were tainted.