Chapter Eighteen

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"What the heck mom!?"

"What?" Ruth shrugged.

"What do you mean what? Don't you think this is something that was worth mentioning, I don't know, years ago maybe?

They'd made it up to the cabins by now and Ruth was still staring straight ahead as though she hadn't just dropped a bombshell on Rachel.

Was there even a hint of remorse on her face?


"Oh, Rachel, you are so gullible. I'm lying, ok? Jed was Nicolas's son, to his utter misfortune and yours too. But maybe now you'll think twice before pulling me out of surgery under the pretense of a false emergency! You had me worried sick, especially with everything that's been going on lately!"

Rachel's mouth dropped open into a huge 'o' of surprise. She had to physically force herself to shut it.

Her mom was joking? That was her idea of a joke? Rachel stuttered for words but nothing came out.

"Listen, speaking of Jed, I wanted to apologize to you. For not telling Nicolas. You were right. I should have told him and as a result Jed would still be alive right now. But there is nothing I can do to change that at this point." Ruth fixed her with a steady look. "Forgive me or don't, that's up to you. But I really hope that you will."

Rachel pursed her lips, carefully studying her mother. Her annoyance at her for her previous joke disappeared when she really looked at her. Though she wasn't exactly warm and contrite, there was a sincerity in her eyes that Rachel didn't doubt.

"Why didn't you tell him?" She asked.

"I was afraid. I was afraid he'd keep a closer watch on me like he did when I became pregnant with you and then I would have never been able to get away. Or worse, that he'd kill me as soon as I had Jed because he knew I would no longer be useful to him and by then he'd already have the son he always wanted." Ruth swallowed. "But now I see that not telling the truth had much worse consequences. I wish I would have chosen differently."

"I don't know what to say--"

"You don't have to say anything. Just don't do that, ok? Don't ever be like me. Tell the truth, even when it hurts, even when it might kill you inside, you tell the truth. Because lying can destroy everything."

Rachel nodded and gently touched her mother's arm. "Listen mom, it's going to take me a while. But I want to forgive you. You're my mother and I love you and the rational part of me knows that there is no way you could have ever known what would happen to Jed but the other part..."

"You don't need to justify your feelings. I understand. I've made mistakes and I'm sorry. For all the pain my choices brought you. For not knowing how to be your friend and for the tasteless joke from before. I'm sorry."

"Yeah, don't ever do that again. But for everything else, I can do my best to forgive you."

"I'm trying, okay, Rachel? It's difficult for me to even have this conversation with you but I'm trying. You see that."

Rachel pulled her mother into a tight hug. "I see that. Thank you." She pulled away and smiled at her, water beginning to prick at her eyes.

"No, stop that. Don't you start crying. I didn't raise you to be weak. I raised you to be strong, to prepare you for everything that I knew was coming."

"Nothing can prepare you for pain, not really. But you did make me stronger. If it wasn't for you, I don't know where I'd be right now."

Ruth patted her shoulder and cleared her throat. "Can we be done here? This is as much as I can take."

Rachel laughed and rolled her eyes. "Yes, mom, you can go. But please, talk to Copenhagen. Remind him that he's not my father. Or Jed's."

Her mother harrumphed and left her standing by the stairs that led onto the deck. Night had fallen while they'd been caught up at the bottom of the ship and she could see a strip of black sky, sprinkled with pinpoints of light.

She twisted back onto the hall, eyeing all the sets of doors stretching out before her.

Tell the truth, even when it hurts, even when it might kill you inside, you tell the truth. Because lying can destroy everything.

It was time to tell the truth.

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