Chapter 31

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The rain came down as if the heavens had opened, and a dam had burst, sending gallons of rainwater down so fast, the wipers could barely handle the downpour. Pulling over onto the side of the road, I called Sydney. There was still no answer, so instead, I rambled on, about my visit to the mall and my phone call to my kids. It was the longest voicemail i'd ever left, and after a while I was just talking to myself. The rain was so loud I knew she'd get only the gist of what I was saying, but it didn't matter. I wanted to feel close to her, I wanted to know she was connected to me as she listened to the message later. As I hung up, my phone bleeped.

'Will call you in an hour or so. I love you. Syd. Xx'

I don't really know how many times I read the message. I opened it and closed it and opened and closed it until the message seemed imprinted inside my eyelids. As I placed my phone down on the passenger seat, I accidentally scrolled down through my numbers. Darcy's number was illuminated. It seemed the perfect moment to call her. I'd been avoiding it, mainly because I knew she was having such a hard time, and if she didn't know about Caroline and Colton I'd be withholding information from her. She deserved to know, just as I did, but not if she was still sinking under the loss of her husband.

I was decisive. I made the call, heart pounding out of my chest as the dial tone sounded. Once, twice, three times, then;

'Hello?'

I swallowed, clearly my throat. 'Darc. Hi, it's Daniel. I've been meaning to call you.'

'Me too.' Her voice sounded normal, the way she'd always sounded. Warm and gentle. The way she always was. 'I heard you got custody of your daughters. That's the way it's supposed to be Big D. I'm so proud of you.'

She was the only person I'd ever let call me Big D. It had been a running joke after a particularly big thanksgiving feast, where I'd eaten enough for ten men. I thought of her as a sister in the past, and as we talked I was reminded of how close we had once been, the Bishops and the Delaneys. Over time we'd drifted further apart, having kids and more responsibility at the office forged a wedge we couldn't avoid, but if I ever needed a woman's perspective, I'd always gone straight to Darcy.

'Thanks Darc, I'm making it work, I'll make it work. It's not gonna be easy but it is what I want.'

'If you need anything, just call me. I know I've been AWOL but, you know....' She trailed off, and I heard the slightest note of tension in her voice.

'You don't have to explain. You had every right to do whatever you had to do to deal with it.'

'It was pretty hard finding out about Caroline.'

I swallowed hard. I hadn't realized she knew.

'I found out a month ago....' I was glad that she carried on speaking, because I suddenly lost all logical thougt. 'I hired a private investigator. My head was everywhere but the suspicion just piled up on me. I had to do it. I was going to go insane.' She paused to take a breath and no doubt, steady herself. ' The police said the night he died, he'd made a few calls before.....before it happened....They presumed those calls were to me. I didn't have Caroline's current number, but I found out he'd been calling her from the investigator. Then I forced myself to look through.....all his stuff, his clothes, his books, all the stuff in his office....I found things.' She stopped, and I heard the hitch in her breathing as she steeled herself, ready to carry on the conversation.

'I didn't know until a couple of weeks ago....it was pretty hard. It is pretty hard.' I told her, swallowing the lump in my throat.

'Dual agony.' She laughed, humorlessly. 'Because you mourn the person you lost but then you realize you probably didn't know them at all, and that hurts too. And the nail in the coffin was you not having contact with your daughters. My Mom told me about that....Trey really worried about you.'

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