“What’d she say?”
He snorts. “She didn’t take it well. Thought it was a horrible idea. Brought up the projects we had ongoing. Printed out our ten-year plan. Cursed me for wasting my talent. But she came around. Tracked down my old doctor, the man you met this morning at Jillian’s. Put him on salary for BSX.”
Some sort of a growl comes from my mouth. He laughs, holding out his arms. “Come here.” I move, from my chair to his, the chaise longue not big enough to allow anything other than my curl on his lap, his arms coming around and hugging me to his chest. “Dr. F tried me on a different medication, whatever’s in that bottle. It was supposed to be a downer with caffeine, something to calm me while keeping me alert, focused. It worked immediately. My brain processes were as strong as ever, my blackouts stopping.”
I wait for more, the moment stretching out until my curiosity can’t hold it in any longer. “And?”
“That was it. I’ve been on that medication for almost two decades. Haven’t had a blackout since.” I lean back and look up at him. His mouth is tight, eyes distracted. Working out the problem before him.
I lead his horse to water. “So… you believe that? Or do you think that she’s been lying to you? Hiding blackouts from you?”
He drops his eyes to me and I see the pain in the lines around his eyes, the tightening of his jaw when he swallows. “She’s… been like a mother to me. I’ve depended on her for so long. I can’t imagine—I don’t know why she’d do that.”
Bullshit. He knew exactly why she’d do that. But I wasn’t going to insult his intelligence by spelling it out. Knowing him he probably had half of a Venn diagram already completed in his head.
“There’s another issue.” He looks away, sighs, readjusting me on his lap. “Jillian says she’s had me declared incompetent, with herself appointed as my conservator.”
“Conservator? Meaning she’d be in control of your business, your finances?” I frown. “Can she do that?”
“The question of my competency could certainly be challenged. I can see a valid argument for the possibility that another one of my personalities was making choices that negatively affected my life, and that that decision-making ability should be removed from my person all together.”
“But… you’re brilliant. You’ve been in control of your decisions for twenty years!”
“And did I ever risk what I had? Did you ever see me take actions as Lee that might have endangered myself or our lifestyle?” He turns me in his lap so that we have direct eye contact. Eye contact that I avoid as I think through the last two years.
Lee: seeing multiple women. Endangering our relationship, his possible exposure to STDs. Lee: drunk, in fights, bloody and bruised. A liability nightmare as well as danger to himself and others. Lee: a heavy drinker, prone to tempers and driving under the influence. More liability. More risk.
“Did I?” Brant pushes the question, his hand pulling my face back to him.
“In ways,” I answer carefully. “Lee is a loose cannon. He doesn’t have your level of control, nor intelligence. Doesn’t think things through, but acts first. But he also isn’t going to walk into your bank and withdraw your money. He has no idea that he is you; he isn’t going to mess with your business or finances. The risk he posed to you was more one of liability. That he might do something that Brant Sharp is then sued for. He is not a dangerous man by intent, he is just a reckless one.”
Brant groans, dropping his head back. “That sounds disastrous.”
“When is this happening? The competency thing.”
“My days are a little confused due to the medication, but I believe it’s happening this morning.”
Behind us, the sliding door moves, Anna’s head tentatively sticking out. “Mr. Sharp? Ms. Fairmont? The doctor is here whenever you’re ready.”
“Thank you.” I smile at her, waiting for the door to close behind her, then I meet his eyes. “Let me call my family’s attorney. Have him stop Jillian. I don’t want to trust BSX legal—”
“I don’t either,” he interrupts. “I agree. Use an outside attorney. Your father’s will work until we can find permanent counsel.”
“You should call your parents.”
He frowns. “I know. It’s not a conversation I’m looking forward to having.”
“Do you think they’ll side with Jillian?”
He shakes his head slightly, his gaze fixed unseeing on the water. “I don’t know,” he says slowly. “We’ve all let her run things for so long, without question. I don’t know if I would have believed it had she not chained me to a bed.”
I watch his hands tighten, the first hint I’ve seen at anger. I curl into his chest. “I love you,” I whisper.
“I love you too, Lana. Thank you… for sticking with me through this.”
I grin. “Thanks for not giving up when I turned down your other proposals.”
He tugs at my hand, running his fingers over the bare digits. “The ring is at the office. Let’s get it today. I don’t want to go another night without seeing it on your finger.”
“Deal.” I untangle from his lap and stand. “Ready to see the doc?”
I’ve previously met Dr. Susan Renhart several times. Almost as tall as Brant, she greets us both with a tight smile, showing none of the bright grins she showers on the HYA children. I introduce the two of them, then Brant explains what he best remembers.
“I’ve been on these pills for almost twenty years,” he pushes the bottle over, her eyebrows rising at the name on the bottle, her hands opening it with a practiced efficiency and sprinkling the white pills along her brown palm.
“What were you told that they were?”
“A depressant of sorts, one that had a caffeine agent. Something to keep me productive while keeping me calm enough to avoid a blackout. Whenever I get stressed, I take one. I also take two a day, in the mornings.”
I listen with half an ear, interested in his words, but needing to call the attorney. I scroll down on my cell phone, to John Forsyth’s number, a man I haven’t spoken to in years, and press Send.
The doctor rolls the pills in her hand before keeping one and dumping the rest back. “When’s the last time you took one?”