“For a moment, I forgot. For a moment,” she says under her breath, shutting the medicine cabinet. She turns around before I get to her and looks me in the eyes as she takes a step forward to meet me. “I was looking for Advil. And I thought…” She trails off and swallows hard, pulling her hair into a ponytail before continuing to speak. “For a moment, I forgot and I don’t know how that’s fucking possible.”
I expect anger, but all I see in her features are disappointment and sadness. “Of course you have drugs here. You’re a drug dealer.”
Even as she stares at me, her eyes gloss over. She’s so close to the edge of breaking. Looking for anything to push her over so she doesn’t have to deal with the real cause of her pain.
Reaching around her, I open the medicine cabinet door and pull out the pills. “They’re for sleeping,” I tell her, and my voice comes out hard.
She tries to maneuver around me, but with my other hand, I grip her hip and keep her right there. “That’s all they are. I don’t do drugs and I don’t like what I do, but I have to do it.”
My finger over her lips silences her. Her eyes spark and rage, but beneath the anger there’s so much more.
“You don’t have to understand.” She pulls my hand away from her mouth just then.
“Yes, I do,” she says and shakes her head. “You don’t understand. I am not okay.” Her last word cracks. “I don’t know when I became this woman, or if I was always like this and never knew it because I was too busy solving someone else’s problem. But right now, I have nothing.” She swallows thickly, holding on to her strength. “I feel like my life is on the precipice of changing forever. And I don’t want to go back to the girl I was, but I don’t like where this is headed either. I don’t have answers, and I need answers.”
Her hand is still firmly gripping my wrist, and I stare at it until she loosens her hold.
“What answers do you need?”
My patience with her is higher than it should be. I’m softer and more willing to be gentle with her.
“I don’t like what you do.”
“That’s not a question to be answered.”
“Well I don’t like it. I don’t like that I like you.”
I let her raised voice and condescension slide. For now. Only because it’s true. She’s only being honest, and I get it.
“Someone’s going to do it, Bethany. There will always be someone in my position. You can’t stop that. I can at least have control if I’m that someone.”
“You sell drugs?” she asks, staring at the door to the bathroom before looking me in the eyes.
“You know I do. That answer isn’t going to change.”
“It’s a long story,” I say, keeping my voice firm.
“I have time.”
“I don’t want to tell it right now.”
“Why are you making me pay Jenny’s debt?” Her wide eyes beg me to give an answer that will calm her fears. I can see it clearly. “You didn’t mention it when you came to the house. It wasn’t until after you brought me here. And you don’t need the money, that’s for damn sure.” Her gaze searches mine, looking for the only words she wants to hear.
“I wanted to let it go,” I lie, hating myself for every word that comes out of me.
“How could she even owe so much? What did she use the money for?” she continues, not finding my answer satisfying enough.
Every question is another cut in the deepening gouge.
“You already got a question. Mine first.” It’s the only thing I can think of to hold her off for a moment. She quiets, watching me and waiting. Willing to give me whatever answer I need.
“How did you know about The Red Room? Why is that where you went to find answers?”
I already know the truth, so all while she speaks, I grasp for what answer I can give her in return.
“Jenny; she used to talk about it. The back room of The Red Room. All the time. I heard her on the phone.”
“Who was she talking with?”
“I don’t know.” She’s quick to add, “That’s another question.”
“Answer my question!” Bethany pushes her hands into my chest. Not to hit me, not to push me, but to get my attention, to demand it. My blood simmers simply from her touch. “Why did she owe you so much money?”
“She owed it to Carter,” I answer her, unable to deny her at this point. Blaming the debt on someone else like a coward. “He didn’t want to let the debt go and be made to look like a fool.”
“I don’t understand what she did with all that money,” she nearly whispers, looking past me as she searches through her memories for answers. Answers she’ll never find.