CH. 42: We Got Your Back... Way Back

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De Ja fucking Vu, Gregg thought, over and over and over again.

"She's just... siting there," Trisha said, but it might as well have been all of them saying it.

Vanessa's truck idled noisily some one hundred yards down the driveway from the farmhouse. Its high beams blared ominously, marking them, halting them.

"I don't like this," Darla said, forgetting about Uncle Ray and Uncle Brandon. Forgetting what she heard them arguing about in the farmhouse.

"What's she playing at?" Ray asked and no one answered.

"Gregg," Dash said, "Bro, Trisha has-"

"-Not now, Dash," Gregg hissed and his little cousin shrank.

Gregg left both his cousins behind him and walked up to the senior Selfridges with his kin watching absently.

"You got some kind of beef with the wife?" Ray asked Gregg.

"I wouldn't call it a beef," Gregg said.

Ray said, "What would you call this then?"

Gregg wanted to call it what it was. What he knew it was. But, it would do no good to call it that, so he didn't say, "It's a reckoning."

Ray could bridge the gap between your mind and his, but it had to be by consent. If Virgil was here, he'd know Gregg's thoughts uninvited. It was one of the reasons he didn't miss his brother all that much. Still, around Selfridges, it was better to think only happy thoughts or none at all. You never knew who'd drink from Thrun's Blood and develop that nasty bit of intrusive psychic business.

"Seems we've been here before," Ray said, but never took his eyes of the truck.

Gregg went uncharacteristically cold. "When Vanessa found out about me and Mac."

"Damn near identical situation as we have here. Different truck though."

Gregg ran a hand through his sandy brown hair. "We gave her time to cool off. Turned out it was time to stew. But, we talked."

"That conversation ended badly for you, if I recall."

"I kicked my own ass within an inch of my life. Would've burned myself down if such a thing was possible."

"What are you gonna do?" Ray asked, conveniently keeping his eyes off of Gregg.

'You,' he thought, not 'We.' He looked from the truck to his uncle to his father to the rest of his family. Not a single eye looked back to meet him. "I should go talk to her," Gregg sighed.

"Reckon you should," Ray said.

"Wait," Brandon said, finally joining the conversation. "She's out of range."

"Of what?" Ray asked.

"Of me."

"I warned you about getting too close to Vanessa," Ray said. "Sharing your secrets. Your limitations. Not with a woman like-"

Gregg's head swivel-snapped at his uncle. "A woman like what, Uncle Ray?"

Ray mumbled something non-committal, but really what difference did it make? After what he'd been up to with Rachel, defending his wife's honor was pretty far south of hypocritical. Besides, if Vanessa had found out about Rachel, he was probably fucking dead already.

Gregg searched his brain for something, anything that could make this whole sorry mess work out in his favor. A scenario where everything worked out for everyone, and no one got hurt and everyone thought he was a big hero who saved the day and he almost had it when the truck's horn began to blat in harsh, angry syncopation.

"Fuck it,"'Gregg said to no one and no one responded. So, he walked.

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