I didn’t get far before I heard JJ, the tone of his voice inciting a little bit of panic in me. They barely ever fought, probably three times in all the time I’d known them so this was big. I ducked into the open room where I couldn’t be seen and I listened. I know, I shouldn’t have but I wanted to make sure they would be okay. It’s just who I am when it comes to them. Maybe it’s because I know they need each other, at least Jack needs JJ. They have been inseparable since they were thirteen and if he lost that, that brother from another mother he’d lose his connection with the outside world.
He starts in on Jack with a fierce lashing that I can hardly believe is coming from him and all the while Jack is just staying quiet. These guys are full of surprises today I think to myself as he goes on. Jack’s minuscule sounding “I’m sorry” rips at my heart, it’s the same tone he used with me just a little bit ago. JJ doesn’t let him off as easy as Lacey though, he tears open things I didn’t even know but when I hear JJ say that he helped Jack with his alleged affair I see red. I’m about to cross the threshold when I feel hands and arms wrapping around me, I struggle for a minute before I realize it’s Logan.
“Don’t,” he says softly still holding me back, “Today is not the day Luce.”
“All this time I thought he cheated on me Logan and all this time I thought JJ was there for me…” I say in a whisper.
“JJ was there for you. You heard him just now, he blamed himself for royally fucking up his best friend, his brother’s life and he did what he thought he could for him. He also was there for you,” he says loosening his grip some.
“It was all a lie. Not only did my husband lie to me, my friend did too… they did that to me, together, you heard it just now. And I was so defeated from everything after the accident and the baby that I couldn’t even see through it…” the words leave my mouth before I realize and now he’s staring at me.
“What baby?” he asks shocked and confused.
“Nevermind. Nothing…” I say trailing off and turning away from him.
“Talk about secrets Luce, look at you being the key master…” he says before going on, “Did he know?”
“I don’t want to talk about this Logan, not today…” I try to get him to drop it.
“You opened the can of worms Luce, spill…” he tries again.
“Fine, I was pregnant when he got in his accident. Was being the key word there. I lost the baby not long after. No, he didn’t know, it would have killed him to find out and then so quickly that ray of hope torn from him…” I explain briefly still trying to listen to Jack and JJ.
“You have got to be kidding me! How could you not tell him? What were you thinking… wait, I know when now…” he stops as his mind cycles through the first few weeks after the accident.
“Was it because of the accident? I mean the stress of it?” he asks.
“I don’t know…Logan, can we not do this today. Please?” I beg.
He doesn’t press me anymore but he turns me around to face him and wipes at the small tears that have come with even the mention of what happened and pulls me in for a hug. Even though he’s my little brother it feels good to be surrounded by big strong arms, it’s comforting in that moment. I break free of his embrace because I’m terrified of letting it all out right here right now with so much going on and I step closer to the doorway.
“You’re right though, I did partly do this because I wanted her back and I would do it all over again, the hard work, the pain, in a second if I even thought the chance was there. It wouldn’t matter the outcome and what she chose, it’s because I needed to know that I tried to right that wrong. I had to try…” Jack says from the hallway.
I suck in a breath and my heart clenches at his words, the honesty and heartbreak laced into every syllable as he speaks. I peer out and wonder what his face looks like, is it washed in grief? Is it angry, are his ears red, a true sign of his anger, or is it blank? I used to know all those faces, all his tells and somehow after he got hurt he added new ones that I never quite mastered before I left him. It bothers me to know that there are things about him that I don’t know anymore, small minuscule things like does he still insist on putting on his right sock first or does he still rub at the top of his ear while he watches tv? What is his expression when he succeeds now, is it a broad smile, or the smirk I’d always found incredible.
So much time has passed since we shared what we had yet in the last hour I’ve found bits and pieces of him coming back to me and my mind just can’t process it. I hear a small whoosh as he is getting closer and i duck back into the room with Logan before he can see me. When he passes the door though he slows, almost as if he knew someone was there but then continues on. I step out quietly and watch him down the long hallway, his arms bulging at each steady push until he disappears into another room.
“You should tell him, Lucy…” Logan says softly appearing at my side.
“It doesn’t change anything, if anything it will hurt him and from what I’ve seen he looks happier now than he has in years,” I reply, still watching the spot where he just disappeared.
“Doesn’t matter, he has the right to know…” he says gently.
“He already knows…” JJ’s voice startles me and his words sink my heart into my stomach.
“What?” I squeak out.
“He’s known since he was in rehab. I slipped one day when he was being particularly nasty and somehow he caught it,” JJ says looking defeated.
I have no words to express the mix of emotion I’m feeling and I aimlessly walk from them and search for Lacey. I know she won’t console me, hell, I am not even going to tell her what just happened, but if I even have a chance of making it through the next few days I have to hide this away till it’s over. As I’m closing the door to the suite the girls are in I catch a glimpse of his face in a room across the hall and it looks like he’s seen a ghost. He’s pale and his face looks weary in a way I’ve never seen before. The pain there, maybe it’s acknowledgment that finally we have no dark secret, it shatters my resolve and before I can take it another second I shut the door.
“Where have you been? Nothing is going to be on schedule…” Lacey starts.
“Brides make people wait all the time, twenty minutes isn’t going to kill anyone,” I say flatly.
“It’s been a hell of a lot longer than twenty minutes and you’ve been MIA when I needed your help,” she whines.
“I’m here now. What do you need?” I ask through gritted teeth.
“Maggie already took care of it, at least someone was here…” she continues.
It takes almost everything I have left to not dart across the room and put her in a chokehold at her remarks. She knew going into this how difficult this was going to be, she knew why I didn’t want to do it and yet she practically forced me and now here we are. I take a minute in the mirror in the room to make sure that the makeup I have on isn’t running down my face and I stop the instant he comes into focus behind me. Where did he come from I wonder as I still with my hand near my face. His ghostly pale face is watching me watching him and I can see by the look in his eyes that he wants to say something.
“Don’t Jack. Please don’t,” I force myself to say when I spin around to face him.
“I have to…” he says and then backs up a bit as I move closer.
“No, you don’t. You’ve had over two years to do this, why now? Why put me through this right now? It isn’t bad enough that I’m stuck here living in Lacey’s fantasy wedding? Isn’t it enough that you lied to me, you had JJ lying to me? Don’t think for one second that it is okay, that this is okay. You don’t get to pretend that you didn’t know anymore…” I spit at him.
“I knew, Luce… I knew a few weeks after it happened. Why couldn’t you have just told me? Why didn’t you let me be there for you? Why did we have to go through that separately?” he says practically begging.
“Because the Jack I knew might as well have died that night,” I answer honestly, “Because I knew if I told you in the state you were in it would have only made things that much worse for you…”
“You know, Luce, looking back I knew something was wrong, I thought it was my fault. I wanted it to be my fault. I wanted your grieving to be about me, about the loss that we shared with the accident. I wanted you to hurt like I was… for all the things that I lost. I didn’t want you happy that I was alive because I wasn’t. I didn’t want different back then, I wanted what we had, what I had been and I couldn’t see past that. I couldn’t have been any more wrong though. Now, here in this moment, I would give anything to go back and do it differently,” he says as some of the color returns to his face.
“The past is past Jack…” I manage to whisper at the words I’ve been longing to hear for a long time.
“Bull shit Luce, you know we could make it work. I know we could. Why wouldn’t you want to try?” he asks.
“I’ve finally come to a place where I don’t see you in everything I do, I don’t imagine what you would say or think all the time anymore, I’ve finally let you go after all this time and now here you are trying to get back in… I need to see what a life without you haunting me is like Jack,” I answer move towards the door but his hand catches my wrist.
“Luce, just give me a chance, I’m sorry…” he says before I manage to pull free.