Page 60 of For Lila, Forever

Westley also mentioned Granddad had been providing for Lila and MJ. I imagine that was part of the deal, him buying her silence with money, but they’re not his problem anymore. They’re mine. I’ll be the one taking care of them from here on out. His power, his money … it’s no good here.

Not anymore.

Not now.

Not ever.

I toss my jacket over the back of his leather chair when I hear the front door open and close. His heavy footsteps follow, growing louder with each passing second. Any moment now, he’ll see the light on in his study.

With my hands on my hips, I straighten my shoulders, hold my chin up, and wait.

“Thayer,” Granddad says a few seconds later when he steps in. “What are you doing in here? I saw the light was on, but I had no idea—”

“Sit,” I say. “I’d like to have a word with you.”

I’ve never spoken to him like this before, and the incredulous look in his eyes paired with the open-mouthed smile on his mouth tells me he isn’t sure whether to take me seriously.

“Mind telling me what this is about?” He doesn’t sit. He stays planted in the doorway, blocking me in. I realize now he’s always done this. It’s a power move, a silent way to show who’s in control.

“You lied to me, Granddad,” I say.

He scoffs. “Thayer. I don’t know what you’re talking about or why you feel the need to have this conversation at this very moment, but it’s been a long day. Hell, it’s been a long week. And I’m exhausted. If you don’t mind, I’m going to wash up for bed. We’ll have this talk tomorrow. We can go on a sail, just you and me. How’s that sound?”

“I’m afraid that won’t be an option,” I say. “I’m leaving tonight.”

He checks the Rolex on his left wrist. “It’s one in the morning. Where are you going to go?”

“We’re having this conversation now.” I ignore his question. It’s none of his business that I plan to hitch a ride back to the mainland with the wedding crew, where my rental car is parked in a public lot a few blocks from the inlet. I planned to find a hotel, but I’ll sleep in the damn car before I spend another night on this island with him. “You lied to me. You told me the Hilliards retired, that you didn’t know where they were.”

He squints. “The Hilliards? This is about the Hilliards? Thayer, that was a lifetime ago. Why are you bringing this up now?”

“Because you banished them, you made them change their names, and because of that, I’ve spent the last ten years killing myself trying to figure out what happened to them … all the while not knowing that I had a daughter.”

His brows rise before meeting in the middle, and he strokes his thick fingers along his bristled jaw. I remember Westley saying he didn’t think Granddad knew Lila’s baby was actually mine, that everything had happened so fast.

“I have a daughter,” I say it again, louder and clearer in case he didn’t hear me the first time. “And I’ve missed everything. Every birthday, every milestone. Every opportunity to be there for the two of them.”

My jaw tightens.

His eyes wince and his face turns a shade darker. “I was protecting you.”

“What do you mean, you were protecting me?” I ask. “Are you saying you knew the baby was mine from the start?”

Granddad snorts. “Of course I did. Do you think I’m a damn idiot? I saw the way you two looked at each other all summer. I saw you sneaking around. I saw the evidence in the old nurse’s cottage.”

“And you never said anything?” Not that it matters at this point, but his revelation stuns me.

“I warned you several times to stay away from her early on,” he says. “When it became clear you were going against my direct orders, I kept my mouth shut. I knew she was nothing more than a summer fling … until you had to create that … situation.”

“You had no right.”

“I had every right. You were throwing away your entire future over a girl!” His yell sends an ache to my ears, and he’s marching toward me with his finger ready to poke in my face. The number of times I’ve seen him lose his cool over the years, I can count on one hand. It’s almost comical, really. Seeing this once all-powerful, controlling puppet master reduced to a powerless parody of his old self.

“That girl was my future!”

“You’re a fool if you believe the two of you had any business being together. She’s a harlot. Her mother was a harlot. They’re trash, Thayer. Trash.” He shakes his head at me, glaring. “You know, all I ever wanted was for you to have the best of everything. The best education. The best opportunities. The best—”