CHAPTER 16 | it's never too late

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The dining room had ceased all movement. Sydney could only hear the sound of her heart thumping against her ribcage as blood rushed throughout her body. Surely she had misheard her mother? They all must have. Even with her addled mind and self-centeredness she wouldn't. Would she?

"Mother, exactly how do you know what father thinks," Sydney repeated.

Penelope's eyes darted around the table. From her sudden loss in colour, it was clear she had not meant to divulge as much as she had. Sydney could detect a slight battle warring within her parent. From the manner in which Penelope stiffened her back and lifted her chin, she knew she wasn't going to like the next words.

"Well, if you must know," Penelope said in her best haughty tone, "it's because you father told me."

The sound of Victor choking on whatever he had just put in his mouth stopped Sydney's anger from boiling over. After making sure that he wasn't about to keel over with a heart attack, she turned her focus back on to her mother, who had continued eating as if nothing was amiss.

Jackson was rooted to the spot and had not moved since their mother's declaration. His shocked expression was tinged with confusion and hurt.

"You've been speaking with him?" Sydney said between gritted teeth.

"What of it?" snapped her mother.

From the corner of her eye, Sydney could see her Aunt bring up a hand to cover her mouth. Her eyes were wide with shock at her sister's confession. Her uncle began speaking in his native Greek, which could only mean he was cursing like a sailor.

Sydney's throat tightened and she felt bile rise. Holding back the nausea she turned back to face her mother. "How long?" she said, her voice coming out in a cracked whisper.

"He's my husband. I have a right to be in contact with him after he was so cruelly thrown out of his own country."

Penelope visibly jumped when Sydney shouted out, "How long!"

"A few years now."

"How?"

"Telephone. How else do you think?"

Sydney closed her eyes to quell a headache that had materialised and pinched the bridge of her nose. I knew I should have stayed home. "The FBI would have been monitoring your calls. If you were speaking to him, we would not be having this conversation."

Penelope rolled her eyes. "Do you think me so stupid? Your father sent me a cell phone to use."

"Penny you've put us all in a precarious position," Ivy broke in. She was clutching onto a napkin for dear life with one hand and clutching onto her husband's hand with the other.

"So let me get this right," growled Sydney, "He steals a fortune. Takes off for god knows where with it. Leaves us in the lurch and destroys not only our lives but countless others. He leaves you with nothing, and he's off somewhere living it up large. And you quite happily are having secret conversations with the selfish bastard, rather than letting the authorities know where he is."

"Don't speak of your father in that way!" exclaimed Penelope.

Sydney was now beyond angry, she could feel the heat rise in her face, and was sure it was getting close to boiling point. "And exactly what way did you want me to speak of him? You have done nothing but defend a man that you know was guilty. He was a thieving coward who abandoned his family and left us holding the bag. And all this time you've been in contact with him?"

Sydney threw her napkin on the table. "Well next time you speak to dear dad," she spat out bitterly. "You can tell him that I hope they catch him. And if I knew where he was, I would be the first to let them know."

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