Page 45 of Black Lies

I pushed hard against his chest and snapped my fingers at the girl. “You. Get out of here before I have you fired.” She blinked. Looked at Brant. Then back at me. I didn’t wait for a response, I turned to Brant and prepared to give a full ration of every pissed off emotion in my body.

His face tripped my tyrannical plans. It was irritated, his hand reaching out and grabbing the shoulder of the blonde, pushing her back down on the stool when she went to stand. “Stay Summer,” he said under his breath, the name combined with the action raising my level of pissed to a point I have not reached in… forever. Summer? He rose to his feet, towering above my hotel slippers’ height. “Miss, you should probably be the one to leave.”

Miss? I gawked at him. If Honey had thrown me off, Miss kicked me into next week. I avoided looking to my right, hating the feel of the blonde’s eyes as my boyfriend made a complete ass of me.

“Miss?” I sputtered. “What the f**k’s wrong with you?”

He shook his head, looked at the people next to him, strangers he had never met, as if I was the crazy one in this situation. He stepped closer to me, lowering his voice as he tilted his head down and stared directly into my furious glare. “Did I miss something? Did I do something to you without realizing it?” His eyes dropped, and I flushed for a quick moment when I realized he was staring at the sheer fabric of my top, the robe gaping open enough for him to see cle**age. I stepped back, wrapping the robe tighter, my mouth working, my hand thrusting his cell out, incoherent thought manifesting itself into speech, anger in the form of words, spilling out.

“I don’t know what kind of sick game you’re playing Brant, but we are through. Take your cell and get your own f**king room.”

“Brant?” His eyebrows met in a way that I’d never seen but was incredibly hot. The image almost distracted me from the next line of bullshit out of his mouth. “My name isn’t Brant.”

My name isn’t Brant. The most idiotic sentence that, I could guarantee, had ever come out of that man’s brilliant mouth. I laughed. “Your name isn’t Brant?”

“No.” Such absolute certainty that, for a minute, I thought I might be the crazy one in the room. “You have me mistaken for someone else.” He held out a hand as if I would have any interest in shaking it. Stared into my eyes. “Who are you?”

The night had left Crazytown behind. I blinked at him and understood nothing except that everything was broken.

“You know my name,” I whispered the sentence.

He tilted his head in a gesture of recollection, then shook his head. “No. I’m sorry. Did we already meet?”

I glanced from his innocent face to the blonde, her brows raised in an expression that indicated her impression of my sanity. Then my eyes moved, the crowd around us all carrying similar expressions, their perplexed pity fixed on one common source: me. Not Brant, who appeared to be in the middle of a nervous breakdown. One in which he appeared sane, just lost any concept of who he was. No, everyone thought I was crazy. I crossed my arms and pinched my skin, just north of my ribs, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t.

I looked at Brant’s cell, still stuck out, ignored by everyone but me. Without a word, I slipped it into my pocket, turned, and fled the bar.

Hot tears slipped down my face, tears bred from confusion, mixed with a side of loss. I veered, seeing a stairwell door and pushing on it, my butt hitting the first step it found, my composure held together until the door shut and I was fully alone. Was this the end of us? Not Jillian, not an affair or disagreement over wedding invitations? This insane middle of the night confrontation with a man who didn’t know my name?

I stopped the rocking motion my body had begun. Was that who I just met? A man who didn’t know my name? I analyzed. His face. Reactions. Words. My senses. I believed the words that came out of his mouth. Believed that he believed them. It was what had made the entire scene maddening. But if he believed the words he had spoken, if he believed that he didn’t know me, believed that he wasn’t Brant….

Was this the secret? If so, it meant it was real. That this was not a blip of abnormality but a… lifestyle. A forever. I pulled out my phone, dialed Jillian’s number, and damned the consequences.

She answered on the last ring before I lost my nerve to voicemail.

“Hello?” Her voice had aged, or maybe it was just the fact that it was two in the morning.

I cleared my throat. “It’s Layana Fairmont.”

“I have caller ID. I’m well aware of who you are.”

“I just… Brant… he was downstairs in the bar. And he didn’t recognize me.” I closed my eyes and hoped that those sentences made sense. This was the test. Where she either knew exactly what I was saying, or jumped to the conclusion that I had driven my boyfriend insane. Which, from where I was siting, was still a fairly good possibility.

Her sigh told me everything I needed to know. Not surprised. Not irritated. Resigned. Expectant.

“Who was he?”

“What do you mean? He said he wasn’t Brant.”

Another sigh. “I had hoped this wouldn’t happen.”

“Excuse me?”

She was silent for a long moment. When she finally spoke, it was the voice of an old woman. “There was a reason I didn’t want you to go away together. You think I hate you. You think I’m trying to fight your relationship. But you were wrong. I was just trying to keep this moment at bay. Trying to salvage any chance of Brant having some normality.”

“I don’t understand.” The understatement of the century.

“Brant has dissociative identity disorder, DID. He’s had about five different personalities over the last three decades. I wish you’d gotten the name of the side you met tonight. I thought he had improved…” She stopped for a moment, the line going so quiet I worried I had lost her. I glanced at the screen. Cursed the low battery icon that displayed. “I don’t know as much as I’d like. He’s very good at hiding; his personalities are even better. They are still, to this day, hiding from Brant.”

“Hiding from Brant?” I stood. Squeezed my hands into fists and tried to slow the racing of my mind. “He doesn’t know?”

“No.” Her voice had sharpened to a fine point in that one word. “And he can’t find out. His doctors have been very clear on that. His conscience walks an emotional tightrope. Finding out… it would be counterpart to pushing him off the edge of that rope and having him crash. Everything would collapse. His gifts, his personalities… the doctors don’t even know if Brant would be the one to stay in control, in the forefront. We risk, at that moment, losing the Brant that we know—the Brant that you love—possibly forever.”