“And then?” I urge because I know there’s an and then moment. Something awful must have happened for the man to take his own life.
“And then he got too greedy. Started using his clients’ money for personal expenses, figuring he could gain it all back with his investments. But that didn’t work. He got caught in a vicious cycle and once it was discovered … he was ruined. He lost his job. There were threats of lawsuits and criminal prosecution. My mom said she would stand by him no matter what, that we could get through this together because we were a family, but he … went to work to finish cleaning out his office and then threw open the window and jumped out.”
“Oh, God.” I sit up to look at him, our gazes meeting, his full of pain and irritation and … yes. Anger. “That’s awful.”
“Yeah. I was mad for a long time. I still am. He hurt my mom almost irrevocably. After he died, she wouldn’t date, had no interest in men at all. She still won’t consider letting anyone into her life for fear they’ll leave her,” he explains, sounding sad. He reaches out and grabs my hand, playing with my fingers.
That explains so much. So, so much. I’m having a total aha moment here and it’s at his expense, making him have to tell this painful story. But it needs to be said. This sort of reveal will only bring us closer and I want that so badly.
“How old were you when it happened?” I squeeze his hand in mine.
My heart hurts for him. And for me, too.
Swallowing hard, I decide to share my own secret. “My mom committed suicide, too.”
His eyes widen the slightest bit. “She did?”
I nod, dropping my head so I don’t have to look at him. You’d think it would be easy to share this, but the topic of my mother is hardly ever discussed. I find it difficult to talk about her and I didn’t even know her. “I was practically a baby. She overdosed on prescription pills. My father woke up one morning and she was lying next to him, cold and still. She took the pills during the night and he had no idea.”
“Ah, Ro.” He pulls my hand so I’m falling on top of him and he gathers me close, my head tucked under his and my cheek pressed against his shoulder, our arms around each other. “That’s terrible.”
“I know.” I bite my lip, ready to reveal the secret that has been weighing on me since I read her diaries right before Cannes. “What’s worse is I think I know why she did it. Why she killed herself.”
“What do you think?” He runs his fingers up and down my arm lightly, making me shiver.
“I read her diaries. Our father gave us each a box of her personal items and I found her last diary inside.” I take a deep breath. “She met someone else. Another man. She was having … an affair and when the man broke up with her, she was completely devastated. She wanted to leave my father. She’d been making plans.”
Caden says nothing, just keeps stroking my arm, holding me close. I close my eyes and breathe in his scent, not sure if I should say anything else or let it go. It feels so good to confess what I found. I’ve kept this as my personal burden to bear and it’s been so hard. No one else knows about my mother’s indiscretions. At least, I don’t think anyone knows.
My father might know, but I’m sure he didn’t want to shatter my mother’s image. And I appreciate that, but I also feel like it’s such a lie. We’re a family full of lies and secrets.
But maybe every family is that way.
I decide to continue on despite how hard it is to say everything. “In her diary, her last few entries were so … sad. They were so full of hopelessness. I can feel her pain come across the pages, in her handwriting, and it hurt me to read it, but those entries also made me mad. That she gave up so easily on her life. That she gave up on us, on my sisters. On me.” I’m crying. The tears are flowing down my cheeks and the sob that comes from me sounds like it was wrenched from deep inside my soul.
“Baby. Sshh. Come here.” Caden pulls me even closer and I sob all over his shoulder, his neck. My tears won’t stop, my entire body is shaking, and I cling to him as if he can save me from all the horrible truths in the world. He’s stroking my hair and kissing my forehead, whispering sweet words to console me, and I’ve never felt more cherished.
“I’m sorry,” I murmur against his neck long minutes later. “I haven’t told anyone about the diaries yet, not even my sisters. I’ve never even given myself a chance to cry over it, you know?”
“I know. I do.” He squeezes me. “You okay?” Slipping his hand beneath my chin, he tilts my face up so our eyes meet. With his other hand he swipes away the tears from my cheeks. “You need a drink of water or something?”
“I’m fine,” I whisper, my gaze roving over his face, taking in his handsome features. A face that has become dear to me, a man that has begun to mean something to me these last couple of weeks. “I just … thank you.”
He frowns, his beautiful mouth curving downward. “For what?”
I touch his lips, streaking my fingertip across his full lower lip. I love his mouth. I love everything about him. Everything that I know, that is. I wish I knew more. I wish he would be honest with me. Open. Slowly but surely I can make this happen. I know it. “For being there for me. For letting me talk and for listening.”
“I should say the same to you.” He parts his lips, drawing my finger into his mouth, and I feel his teeth graze the tip of my finger.