The car ride is unbearably silent.
I twist my fingers together, contemplating what would be the right thing to say in this moment but nothing arises... Simply because there is no right thing to say.
Tristan's eyes are locked on the passing buildings as Ryan drives us back towards the apartment. In a brave attempt to comfort him, I reach out, touching his thigh.
He looks over at me, shaking his head in a resigned way that should scare me. "Please, just don't right now."
I nod and look down, feeling my face go red in embarrassment. I don't know how to help him.
The limo stops at the apartment and I step out when Ryan opens the door. There are reporters lining the entrance way, already snapping pictures of me. I turn, waiting for Tristan but he doesn't move.
"I have some things to deal with at work... I'll send Ryan back. Please do not go out without him."
I try to talk quietly although the shouts around me make it hard. "Please, Tristan- Just come up for a little-"
"I'll see you tonight."
He looks away and I exhale, turning, knowing there is no way to change his mind. I hurry into the lobby, desperate to be out of the public eye. My heart feels torn in half and I'm afraid it shows.
The clock reads 8pm.
I'm pacing nervously by the phone, having called Tristan over twenty times within the last hour. He won't get back to me. I'm dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, needing to feel comforted in some small, miniscule way.
A part of me wants to scream and cry and the other just wants to forget this ever happened... Go back to yesterday. Back to a day where Tristan had hope his father would be out in five years.
Because even if his father gets out in thirty years, he'll be eighty. Tristan will be almost sixty. He'll have missed Tristan's entire life. The only way they will be able to know each other is in a prison. That's it.
And I can't imagine how Tristan feels. I don't know how the deal fell through but it has to be tearing him apart. The edges of my nails are becoming jagged from my relentless biting- I can't help it.
As the phone finally rings, I reach down, picking it up as if I were the flash. "Hello?"
"Gen, it's me."
My eyes close in regret. "Hi, Andre."
"I just heard on the news... Thirty to life..."
My voice shakes. "Y-yeah."
"How are you guys taking it?"
I shake my head, trying to push back my emotions. "Uh, not- not good. Tristan hasn't been home. He was- was really distraught."
"I can only imagine... He- didn't expect this though? I mean, his dad was an accomplice to murder."
I shake my head, unable to contain the tears any longer. "I-I don't know what to do right now."
The other side of the line is quiet for a moment. "Do you have any idea where he could be?"
"No. I need to go out and find him... He said he's at work but no one has gotten back to me. I've called his receptionist- his assistant- nothing."
"Tristan wouldn't want you out during all this mess. Just- just get some sleep, honey. He'll come back when he's ready."
I hear another call coming through and practically choke. "I'm getting a call. I-I have to call you back."
I hang up and switch the calls, swallowing. "Hello?"
"Genevieve, this is Tanya."
Tristan's assistant. I close my eyes in relief. "Have you heard from him? I've called like twenty times but he hasn't gotten back to me."
"He's here... He's- uh, broken a few things, I think. Maybe you should come get him..."
I'm already running to the bedroom. "I'm coming now."
I rush past Tanya, not bothering to say hello and open the door to Tristan's office, completely out of breath. My eyes flicker to the glass shattered on the floor next to the bar area before they finally land on his rigid body by the window.
I shut the door, waiting for the click before I turn back around. He hasn't moved to check who it is. He probably knows I'm the only one who would dare just walk in.
I approach him slowly, still out of breath from the run up here.
"T-Tristan?" His head turns slightly at the noise but he doesn't completely look at me. Hesitantly, I reach out, touching his back. "I've been so worried."
"You shouldn't have been."
"Well... you haven't returned my phone calls. It's night time."
"I am well aware of that."
I close my eyes, sighing at the icy coldness in his tone. Well, he's not doing well.
"Talk to me, Tristan."
After a moment of complete silence, he shakes his head, his gaze intent on whatever's outside that window. "He'll never meet anyone ever again. He'll never love anyone ever again."
"Thirty years- Tristan, he'll only be-"
"Eighty." He turns finally and my hand falls off his back. He stares at me, his eyes narrowed. "Genevieve, he'll be eighty. He may not even fucking make it then."
"Don't say that... Many people live full lives after eighty."
He chuckles darkly but doesn't reply, obviously disagreeing with me.
"Your dad is content with what happened today, Tristan. He knew this could happen."
I watch his teeth grind. "I had the goddamn deal settled."
"Then why did the judge change his mind?"
"The exact words were, I must have a clear conscience. That and the check were the only contents of that fucking envelope."
I close my eyes, running my hand through my hair. "Do you think he'll tell anyone that you tried to get that deal?"
He shakes his head, sitting down in his chair. "No. I talked to him an hour ago- well, talked is the wrong word. I shouted, he listened. I told him that coming out with the deal would destroy his life even more so than mine. His career would be fucked."
"Are you sure he wouldn't be stupid enough to do it?"
"No, Genevieve. I blackmailed him. Threw him into a corner... It seems I'm doing that a lot lately. Christ, I'm practically right up there with Casey."
"You are nothing like her. You did this to try and help people, Tristan. Your dad knows that the judge screwed you over. He knows you tried!"
He looks up from his hands, looking resigned. "I know he does. Still doesn't make me feel any better."
"I know," I murmur, bending down next to him. I notice he has a bandage around his hand and sigh heavily, flipping over his palm, lifting the fabric. The cut is long but thankfully not deep. "Your staff is worried about you."
He looks up. "They're still here?"
"Yes, Tanya was the one who called me. I only saw a few out there though."
I touch his cheek softly, rubbing the flushed part of his face. His gaze is cautious but I see no anger anymore. He's calming down.
"Have you eaten?" I whisper, resting my forehead against his stubbled jaw. I feel the bone tense above my skin.
"No, I'm not very hungry."
"... I am."
He chuckles suddenly- tiredly. "Alright, fine. You win."
I smile, closing my eyes as his arms come around my shoulders and his fingers tangle into my hair. He exhales deeply and I feel the weight that was dragging my heart down alleviate.
YOU ARE READING
What do you do when disaster strikes? You survive. On the night before her entire life changes, Genevieve Harding was walking along the shoreline with a man she'd only just met. Tristan Maddox. A man who grazed the pages of the magazines and newspa...