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Tiffany stumbled backward. She pulled the front door open to look directly into Claudia's eyes. Of every explanation scenario she had ran through her head on why her mother left, the real answer was not something she ever imagined. She had to swallow or she would choke on the saliva she forgot to gulp. All doubts Tiffany had of Claudia's explanation evaporated when she could see the genuine hurt in her mother's eyes. It was not easy for Claudia to reveal; the lump in her throat appeared to have been suffocating her.

"You have just made it worse for yourself," Tiffany croaked. "You watched my father kill somebody and you ran away leaving him with his daughters. Thank you for the truth, but you just made it impossible for me to forgive you for leaving. I can't even look at you."

Tiffany was about to slam the door shut again when Claudia put her hand on it to stop it from slamming. "No, wait!"

Tiffany stopped. She couldn't wait to hear what her mother had to say next, to see if she could dig herself out of the hole she was in.

"I watched and I rooted for him. How dare she break up a marriage! And then I wanted to kill him myself. This may sound completely stupid, but I left you with him so I wouldn't leave you with me!" Claudia fought back the tears, and she was doing an incredible job at keeping them bottled inside.

"What you said before, about you being a monster, does that have something to do with it? Because yes, you are a monster."

"And I'm a terrible mother. I tried to be the best I could be. I really, really tried. But Temperance almost drowned in the bath when I was supposed to be watching her. I left you on the train one day when we went shopping. Sometimes I'd leave the house and forget you and your sisters don't have a babysitter. I knew Philip wouldn't hurt you or your sisters, and that he could provide for you. I couldn't! He could keep you safe."

"A killer keeping us safe? Are you the most stupid woman in Lakefield View?"

"He's your father, he loves you. It killed me to do it, but I knew he was better for you than I was. I couldn't take you girls with me, it was impossible. Not just because I couldn't take good care of you, but there are things out there that you need protecting from; your father could provide that protection."

Tiffany's mind flashed back to Justin, whose explanation of the monster in the subway began ringing several bells. Things, Claudia said. It was very ambiguous, but the point was clear. Tiffany started to wonder about her sister.

"Did you see Stacey before she died? She said she was leaving town for a week or two, but didn't explain to me why. Now here you are at the most opportune time. I think she went to look for you."

"She never found me. I have no idea where she went," Claudia revealed, hanging her head, like she was ashamed she didn't have an answer for her. The inner torment her mother was experiencing was visible for her to see. It surprised her, but it provided Tiffany with some comfort. At least she wasn't the only person who missed Stacey. "But Tiffany, believe me when I say, I did it to protect you. It might not seem apparent now, but it will. Just give me time."

Claudia turned away from Tiffany. She put her hand to her mouth to stop her from saying anything more. The tears were barricaded inside Tiffany's eyes. She had to process the information she had been given quickly.

"Leaving me when I was a child, I guess I can forgive... with time. But you let him kill someone and you didn't do anything to stop it? I'm ashamed of that. I can't forgive that. That poor woman probably loved him, and you let him do that." Tiffany took a step away from her mother when Claudia's eyes met hers. "Why are both of my parents human?"

"I don't know why he killed her," Claudia tried to explain, but her voice sounded like she was being choked, making it harder for Tiffany to understand. "But I wanted her dead. Look at what she did to our family."

Remnants of the Damned (Abyssal Sanctuary #1)Read this story for FREE!