We sit in silence for a moment, and I finally let out a breath. “I hate fighting with you, but I feel like you’ve been lying to me, and I don’t know what to do with that. It’s hard to be mad at you, but I am.” I reach out, taking her hand, and she grips mine tightly. I remember reading once that forgiveness isn’t about the other person, it’s about self-healing. She had her reasons for doing what she did, and I can’t blame her for it. It hurts to know she deceived me, but I also know in my heart that she did it with the best intentions.
“You’re all I have, Paige.”
“I know. I feel like such an asshole. You have to know it started off as a job, but it became real. Our friendship was real. Is real,” she corrects. “You mean more to me than anyone else in the whole world. I know I was happy when I found Miles, but we aren’t even that close. Not like you and me. I can’t lose you, too. Please don’t let me lose another person I love because of my father.”
A tear slides down her face, and I pull her into a hug.
“Jesus, Paige, what did he do to you?”
Her arms come around me and we sit there for a moment, holding one another.
She shakes her head. “I’ve never told a soul,” she whispers, breaking my heart a little, because this isn’t a side I’ve ever seen of her.
Pulling back, I look into her tear-filled eyes. The blue looking so much brighter. “You can tell me anything, Paige.”
“I—” Her voice breaks. “I used to think I never told anyone because I was scared of him. Maybe I was, but I think it’s more because I was ashamed. Ashamed I didn’t save her.”
My eyebrows draw together as I wonder what she means. “Please don’t let me lose another person I love because of my father.”
“My mom isn’t missing. She’s dead.” A tear escapes down her face. “I watched him kill her and I stood there.”
“Oh, Paige. You had to have been young.”
Tears run down my face, thinking about Paige having to see something like that. I couldn’t imagine. So much of who Paige is really makes sense now.
“What happened?” I ask, wanting Paige to open up to me more.
Her bottom lip starts to tremble and I can tell she doesn’t want to talk about it. Not yet anyway but this is a start.
“You could report it now,” I try. Worried about what she might have planned. When Paige gets on something, she goes at it like a dog with a bone. Another thing that reminds me of Oz. They are a lot alike it seems.
“No!” she snaps. “You never tell anyone this.” She grabs my hand, her face pleading.
“Of course I’d never tell anyone, Paige,” I reassure her. “I just—” I’m not sure what to say. I want her to find some kind of closure on this but it’s clear it’s something she wants to handle on her own. That scares me, but I want her to know I’m here for her. I’ll always be here no matter what. Even when I was upset with her, deep down I knew we would come back together.
I look at her and let go of any anger I have. I know what’s in her heart, and I know what’s in mine. I don’t want to hold on to something that makes me so sad.
“I forgive you, Paige.” I shrug and give her a half smile. “I’m shocked I lasted this long, to be honest.”
She smiles at me, and it’s the first time in days some of the weight on my shoulders lightens.
“Just don’t tell Oz any more shit about me.”
She shakes her head, and I know she means it. “I won’t. I told him I was done with everything. Please don’t tell him what I told you.”
“He doesn’t know your dad killed your mother?” I ask, wanting to make sure I understand her clearly.
“This is my secret to keep.”
I know she doesn’t like talking about it but to have never told a soul. To have had no one to give her some kind of comfort breaks my heart even more for her. No wonder she can’t talk about it. She doesn’t know how. We’ll get there, I remind myself so I don’t push her.
“I went up there because I think he’s having me followed, and I was going to scream at him.”
“He’s having you followed,” Paige confirms. “I’m not on his side, but I know our father has gone after people close to Miles before, done things to hurt them in hopes of hurting Miles. Not to mention he’s probably trying to keep the press off you. If some people find out what you mean to him…” She pauses and looks away. “Well, I get why he’s doing it.”