“Did he force you? Hurt you?”
She looked at me. “He was persistent, but when I realized what was happening, I stopped him. He got mad…said some things…” She started bawling again.
I stroked Megan’s hair, giving her time to catch her breath. Thank God Tim hadn’t pushed too far. I still had the urge to rake my fingernails across his face, though.
“It gets worse.” Megan’s pretty face was smudged with mascara, her blue eyes red-rimmed and watery. “I caught Brian and Grace having sex.”
My brows shot up. “What? My aunt Grace?”
Megan nodded. “I walked in on them. Apparently it’s been going on since before we even got together.”
“Oh, Meg.” My head was spinning. I didn’t even know where to start in terms of unwinding this mess.
Her hands tightened into fists and rested on her thighs. “I always felt like I had to prove I was good enough for Brian. And apparently, I never was.”
“Don’t you say that. You’re amazing—”
“No.” She shook her head. “I’m not. And Tim was happy to point that out to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“The burglar…” Megan whispered.
I felt my whole face lose its structure. It was like my cheekbones had melted. I knew before she said more where she was going with this, and it was everything I could do to keep from retching.
“It wasn’t a burglar. It was Tim. He came over because he said he wanted to talk about what had happened between us, but he went off on me. First he said he wanted to leave Grace to be with me. I told him that the kiss was a mistake, that I didn’t want him to leave his wife and I didn’t have feelings for him. His whole attitude changed. He started yelling at me. Said that if I had kept my boyfriend satisfied in the first place, he wouldn’t have to f**k another man’s wife.” Megan was shaking. “Then when Tim heard you come through the door, he freaked and ran.”
“Oh, God, Meg. I’m so sorry he said that. He’s an ass**le.” I knew how it felt to be manipulated by Tim. He was a vicious, miserable man who wanted to drag everyone down with him. I hugged Megan closer. Just the thought of Tim disgusted me. Knowing he had touched my best friend, one of the nicest, sweetest people in the world, sickened me. He had taken advantage of her, drunk and upset. Then he had shown up to make her suffer more and drive the knife home.
Truthfully, I didn’t even know how to process all of this. I hated Tim. But I loved Megan. All I could do was support her and be there for Simon when it all eventually erupted. Megan was a good person and this was an awful situation. On top of everything else, Simon was a child caught between two cheating parents. I hoped he wouldn’t be the one hurt in the end.
“I’m here for you, Meg. We’ll figure this out.”
“Th-thanks. I’m so sorry, Kate.”
“Shhh, you don’t have anything to be sorry about.” Her whimpers made my heart sink.
“D-do you ever wish you could just escape…leave all the badness behind you…and start fresh?”
I nodded. “All the damn time.”
Adam pulled my chair out, then seated himself. The restaurant was elegant, with soft lighting and a warm atmosphere. I had offered to cancel my plans and stay home with Megan tonight, but she insisted I go, swearing that she wanted to be alone.
I tried to focus on the incredible evening and the even more incredible man I was sitting across from. The dress Emma had picked out for me really was amazing.
Adam and I were halfway through our hors d’oeuvres when the light conversation about our day and plans for the weekend turned more serious. With all the commotion of the afternoon, anxiety was buzzing just below the surface of my skin.
“Did you like your apartment?” Adam asked, eyeing me from over the wine glass.
“Have you given any more thought to my offer?”
I was learning that when Adam was entering a conversation where he was unsure about the outcome, he approached it from a business standpoint.
“What? Me moving in with you full-time? The only thing you’ve been demanding over and over this past month? That offer?” I smiled.
He didn’t. Because Adam was dead serious. I had thought about it. A lot. And tonight I wanted to tell him that yes, I wanted to move in.
I sat up straight and looked him in the eye. “Adam, I love you. I want to be with you…all the time.”
He smiled and damn if it wasn’t contagious.
“Katelyn, there’s one more thing I want to ask you.” My heart stopped when he went to stand, but before he could even push his chair out all the way, his eyes locked on something behind me. The normally pale blue of his eyes turned dark. He sat back down in his chair. Adam’s brow broke out into a sweat and the hand on the table curled into a fist and began shaking slightly.
“Adam?” I whispered and reached for him, but he jerked his hand away.
I looked over my shoulder. The only thing I saw was a tall, elegant older man. Gray hair, lean frame, and a sinister face. He wore an expression a politician might, like he was constantly looking for a different angle to argue. When the man’s eyes locked on us, he looked briefly stunned, then smiled and walked over.
Adam’s nostrils flared and his jaw clenched.
“Son, it’s been a long time.” The man reached out to shake Adam’s hand.
Son? I stared at Adam. His face was locked into ice. He didn’t move. Didn’t speak. It was as though he’d been hit by a taser gun.
“He never did have good manners,” the older man chided when Adam didn’t accept his handshake. The man’s attention turned to me. “I am Roger Stevenson, Adam’s father.”
“Step,” Adam snarled.
He nodded at Adam. “Yes. Stepfather.”
I glanced between Roger and Adam. Adam looked tense and pale. I stood, putting both hands on the table, and faced Roger fully.
“You need to leave.”
“Excuse me, young lady?”
“I said, leave.” I stepped close enough so that I was face to face with him. Fury boiled over and I looked Roger in the face with all the hatred and rage I felt. “Get the hell away from him. Now.”
He had the grace to look shocked and unnerved. He leaned in, crowding into my personal space. I didn’t flinch or back away. I wasn’t about to let this man threaten me or Adam.
“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to, young lady?” His voice was low and dark.