“Annie what in God’s name are you talking about?” We weren’t on the same page at all. I was talking about love and Annie was babbling about Paul?
“The police called, Silas. He’s in the ER and they’re moving him into the ICU. It doesn’t look good and Paul’s got no one besides me.” She resumed her crying and my heart sunk even lower than I thought possible.
“Jesus Christ! I only hit him a few times. I’ve seen the guy get a worse beating from one of his friends in the club.”
“It’s not always about you, Silas. You boys are all the same. Think the world revolves around your fancy cars and fast punches. He overdosed, bozo. He hasn’t got that much to live for the poor man and he was trying to end it.” Annie sometimes gets angry at the entire male species, she lumps me, Kyle, her late husband, even Paul into a group of useless clowns who can’t do anything right.
“He was good to me once, Silas. I still remember the good times from when my mother was alive. Paul was a real dad to me at one point. It destroyed him when she died.”
“Olivia, go. By all means, go to him if you need to.” I spoke a little louder than I’d intended. I was trying not to act angry or yell that he didn’t deserve her goodbye. But I knew better than anyone the pain of loving a terrible parent, the devastating grief of constantly hanging onto the good and letting go of the bad. I grabbed the keys to my car from the shelf and practically shoved them across the island. “Go! You can make it. Just turn on the GPS and you can get on the highway at the first exit. You’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” I knew I should offer to drive her, but it was better if I didn’t go. I had very little control over my temper when it came to that man.
“But what about the debt—the money he owes you?” she asked me apprehensively.
Did she really believe I’d keep her here against her will? Prevent her from leaving even to say goodbye to someone she loved. I may have had an unruly jealous streak when it came to Olivia. I might even have enjoyed the fantasy of having her tucked away in my home under lock and key. But I couldn’t be cruel to Olivia no matter how much she rejected me. I wouldn’t keep her locked away, I’d be no better than Paul if I kept her to myself and hidden away.
I put the giant bouquet of wet but fresh roses down on the table, pulled my cell from my sweatshirt and dialed my brother Kyle.
“Silas, you’re bleeding!”
Crimson blood trickled down my thick wrist from where the thorns had scratched me. What was one more scape on the battlefield of my marked up body.
“Take these to your father,” I told Olivia quietly as the phone rang in my ear.
“Kyle, it’s Silas. How fast can you be at Hunter Memorial?”
“Paul’s in the ICU. Olivia will meet you. She’s on her way.”
Annie’s head whipped back and forth between the two of us, the tension was thick. Olivia said nothing, but spoke volumes to me with her big brown eyes. She hadn’t moved for the keys so I took them and tossed them across the kitchen island. She caught them with one hand mid-air, then gathered all the roses in her arms and lunged at me.
I pulled her into a hug. She held me tightly and her arms wrapped around me in silent gratitude. I lowered my chin and kissed the crown of her head. Figured I’d never forget the scent of tears and crushed rose petals, mingled with my sweat and the fog that had rolled in.
“Go before it’s too late.”
I gave her a little shove.
“Thank you for understanding.” Then she slipped out of my arms and was gone.
I know they talk about loving someone enough to let them go, but letting Olivia walk out that door was harder than catching any escaped criminal.
Silas’s car handled like a dream. I’d never driven a luxury car before. And thank God it did, because it had started to rain and Silas’s estate didn’t have any street lights to brighten the winding, tree-covered lane leaving the grounds- just two real lanterns flanked the front door and two more huge replicas of those on both sides of the gate. The rest was silver moonlight that barely cut through the fog, but the wheels gripped the road and the car took the curves like it was born to. The sound system blasted Stravinsky and I smiled because Silas was a man full of surprises.
It took me exactly fourteen minutes to reach the hospital by taking the highway, two minutes to park, and before I could open the door, it was being opened for me. Kyle was standing in the rain under a giant umbrella ready to escort me into the hospital. He took my arm in his and we walked-ran to the giant automatic glass doors.