Scott rolled his eyes. “Cassie deserved a lot of things.”
My mouth dropped open. “Scott! That’s not cool.”
He returned the look I gave him earlier. “You don’t remember her. You have no clue how messed up she was. And you were fine until you started hanging out with her. Sorry if I’m not all torn up.” He paused, exhaling roughly. “Okay, that wasn’t right.” He lifted his eyes to the ceiling. “Sorry, Cassie, wherever you are.”
I slid off the stool. “I need to know the truth. It’s, like, closure. I can’t move on until then.”
His eyes met mine for a few seconds, and then he raised his brows, not in a mocking way but more out of concern. “What if the truth isn’t to your liking, Sam? What if it only makes everything worse?”
That was the million-dollar question. The feeling of having done something wrong resurfaced, wrapping itself around my insides, tightening until I was sure I was going to have some epic ulcers soon.
“Then I’ll have to deal with it,” I said finally, sitting back down. “But I need to know. Good or bad.”
Scott looked away, his teeth sinking into his bottom lip. I could tell this conversation upset him, and I knew he was worried that all my poking around would eventually stir up something that I wouldn’t be able to deal with. I sought to change the subject.
“So Dad’s not home?” I asked, and he shook his head. “He’s never really home, is he?”
“He’s probably at the office. He stays there a lot.” He dropped into the seat next to me and rested his chin on his good hand. “Comes home late.”
“And Mom is always in bed?” I twisted toward him.
“She’s pretty much hiding in her bedroom, but yes.”
“Has it always been like this?”
Scott’s brows rose as he seemed to think the question over. “For the last five or so years it has been. They barely even speak to each other or stay in the same room longer than a few minutes.”
I lowered my gaze. “Why are they still together?”
“You want a serious answer to that?” When I nodded, he laughed under his breath. “Before this happened to you, you knew why.”
He nodded. “Mom’s not going to divorce Dad because of what people would say, unless staying married to him was worse somehow. Dad knows that, and he’ll never leave Mom, because, well, she owns him.”
I frowned. “Owns him?”
“He has nothing without Mom.” He laughed, but it was dry. “All our money is on her side, and I’m sure there was a nasty little prenup that means she gets everything if they divorce and he keeps what he had when he entered the marriage, which wasn’t much.”
“But Dad works.” I shook my head. “Even if they divorced, he’d have all the money from that.”
Scott smirked. “You’re forgetting one important little factoid about that. Dad works for Mom’s side of the family. If they get a divorce he’ll be out, and our grandfather has enough pull to make it very difficult for him to get another job at that kind of level in a funding firm.”
“Damn,” I whispered.
“Yep. I’d rather be homeless and living in a box if I were him, but Dad likes his lifestyle. He didn’t give a shit about what other people thought when we were younger, but now…he knows Mom does, so he’ll put up with anything to keep her.”
I sat back. “Oh.”
After that, Scott and I parted ways. I went back upstairs and closed the door behind me. Exhausted from everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours, I just wanted to sleep. My brain was still slowly turning over all that I’d learned, and even with the memory of the pictures resurfacing, I knew there was still more to my relationship with Del. That there had to be a good reason why I’d stayed with him after something like that. I could think of a few people who could give me brutal insight on our relationship, but outside of them, those who’d actually talk to me about it was limited.
Had Del and I been on the same path as our parents? Marrying because it was expected and for money? That didn’t make sense, because both of us would have access to our own funds.
I headed into the bathroom and picked up my toothbrush, catching sight of my reflection in the mirror. Dark smudges had blossomed under my eyes. As I spurted a dab of toothpaste on the toothbrush, I looked away for a second, maybe two.
Cassie stared back at me, with mirroring shadows under her eyes.
Gasping, I jerked back. The darkness under her eyes spread across otherwise flawless cheeks, following the path of her veins, as if someone had injected her with ink. I couldn’t look away as she opened her mouth in a silent scream that raised the tiny hairs all over my body.
Not real. This can’t be real. I squeezed my eyes shut, counted to ten, and then reopened them. The image in the mirror was my own.
Breathing heavily, I planted my hands on the sink and dipped my head, dizzy and nauseated. Several moments passed before I felt sure I wasn’t going to vomit.
I tossed the toothbrush into the basin and left the bathroom, shaken to the core. Pulling back the covers, I started to climb in when I saw the edge of something yellow sticking out from underneath the music box on the nightstand.
Heart tumbling over itself, I sat down and reached over, picking up the box. A yellow piece of paper folded into a triangle stared back at me. A huge part of me wanted to put the box back down and cover it completely.
Instead, with my breath caught in my chest, I picked up the note and then set the music box down. My fingers were numb as I unfolded it, revealing the childish scribble.
Don’t let him know you remember anything.
Don’t let him know you remember anything?
Let who know? The question kept me up most of the night even though I was exhausted. And there was still a bigger question—who was leaving the notes and why?
When morning came, I could barely pull myself out of bed and take a shower. The ride to school with Carson and Scott was quiet, but I figured that wouldn’t last long.
And I was right.
Whispers and long looks greeted me the moment I stepped through the double doors. News of my accident and subsequent barn-party fail had reached those who hadn’t been at the party. Everyone seemed to know about the guy in the backseat who couldn’t have possibly been there.
When I headed to my locker, I spotted Del at the end of the hall. He looked as if he’d gone toe-to-toe with a professional boxer and lost.