This Man Confessed (Page 169)

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‘Are you okay?’ I ask, not knowing what else to say to her. I’ve shocked her with my question. She looks tearful, but she’s trying to keep up a hard persona. I quickly realise that she doesn’t know he’s awake. I’m sure John has been keeping her informed, but he doesn’t know either. ‘He’s come round.’

Her eyes snap to mine. ‘He’s okay?’

‘He will be, if the stubborn idiot listens to the Doctor.’ I hold up a miniature jar of peanut butter that I found in the restaurant. ‘And eats.’

She smiles. It’s a nervous smile. ‘I hope you’ve got more than one of those.’

‘Ten.’ I lift my arm where a paper bag is dangling. ‘But it’s not Sun-Pat, so he’ll probably reject it.’

She actually laughs, but stops quickly, and I know that it’s because she thinks it’s inappropriate. It probably is, not because the situation isn’t funny, but because she’s laughing with me.

‘I know everything, Sarah.’ I need her to appreciate that my empathy is only because of my new knowledge. ‘I’ll never forget what you tried to do to us, but I think I understand why you did it.’

Her red lips part, her mouth falling open in shock. ‘He told you?’

‘About your little girl. About Rosie. About Carmichael, the car accident and why the girls were with Carmichael in the first place.’

‘Oh.’ Her eyes fall to the blue plastic floor. ‘It’s always been ours.’

She means their story and connection. And I’ve severed it. The woman standing in front of me has always exuded confidence and cockiness, and I have striped her down to the bare truth. I do feel sorry for her. I’m feeling sorry that I have everything she wants, and I’ve got it with the man who she wants it with. She tried to take her own life, but that will never make me stand down. Nothing will ever make me stand down. Not scorned ex-lovers, high-class sex clubs, drink problems, psychotic ex-wives, the shock of a lost daughter, or the desolation of Sarah. Neither will the madness that surrounds all of those reasons. This Man has thrown everything at me, and I still don’t plan on going anywhere. Unbreakable.

‘Can I see him?’ she asks quietly. ‘I’ll understand if you refuse.’

I should refuse, but compassion refuses to let me. I need closure on this, and she does, too. ‘Sure. I’ll wait here.’ I sit myself down on a hard plastic chair and watch her disappear into his room.

I don’t need to hear what will be said. I have a good idea, anyway, so instead I finish my chocolate bar, my body thanking me for the instant sugar hit.

‘Ava?’

I look up and see Jesse’s mum and sister hurrying down the corridor. ‘Hi,’ I speak around a mouthful of chocolate and hold my hand up to signal my inability to say any more.

‘The nurse said he’s awake. Jesse’s awake.’ Beatrice looks over at the door, then back to me.

I nod and chew fast, swallowing so I can give her the information she needs. ‘He’s fine. Grumpy but fine.’

‘Oh, thank you, Jesus!’ She turns and throws her arms around Amalie. ‘He’s going to be okay.’

I watch as Amalie smiles over her mum’s shoulder at me. ‘Grumpy?’

‘Or stubborn—whichever.’ I shrug on a smile, and her green eyes glimmer in understanding.’

‘The latter, for sure.’ she confirms, holding her sobbing mother in her arms. ‘It’s good to see you eating.’

I look down at the wrapper of the chocolate bar I’ve just demolished and smile, thinking how good it feels to eat. I could easily tuck away another. ‘Where’s Henry?’ I ask.

‘Just parking the car. Would you mind if we see him?’ Amalie asks.

I’m very abruptly hit with the hard realisation that Jesse doesn’t know they’re here. And I have no idea how to handle it. After our last encounter with his parents, I should avoid subjecting him to the potentially stressful situation, but my conniving mind is jumping all over the fact that he can’t escape. And whilst I might be taking a huge risk, I know it will be my only opportunity to get them in the same room together. He will have to listen. If he doesn’t like what her hears, then so be it, but I’ve watched his family grieving. I saw it clearly, even through my own grief. Now is the time to put all wrongs right, no matter who is to blame. This is what I hope, but it’s his choice, and I’ll stick by whatever he decides.

‘I haven’t had the chance to tell him you’re here yet.’ I explain, almost apologetically. ‘As soon as he woke, the doctors were on him and now a friend is in there.’

‘Can you do that?’ Beatrice breaks away from Amalie and retrieves a tissue from under the cuff of her cardigan. ‘Can you tell him we’re here?’

‘Of course, but…’

Amalie cuts me off. ‘We don’t want him upset, so don’t push it.’

‘You’ll try, though.’ Beatrice clasps my hands pleadingly. ‘Please, try hard for me, Ava.’

‘I will.’ I feel the pressure, but I also feel the desperation that’s seeping from every pore of this lady. I’m the key to her re-connecting with her son. She knows it, Amalie knows it, and I know it.

We all turn when the door to Jesse’s room opens and Sarah steps out. She’s been crying, and as she lifts her hand to wipe her eyes, the sleeve of her jacket rides up and I see a bandage around her wrist. But I’m distracted from this when I feel the hackles on Jesse’s mother rise.

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