PART 6, SECTION 5

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Soon after my knock at the bedroom, Ian stepped out into the hallway. He closed the door softly behind him and sighed with a look of utter defeat. 

I said, "I have to get going. Right away."

"Look, Ash," he started, then he sighed again. He had something to tell me that he didn't know how to say. "Danielle knows everything. About the granary. The others. Everything. I had to tell her."

I couldn't believe I was hearing this. "But why? I left Morgan's door unlocked. It was my fault, not yours. You didn't place your family in danger. You know Danielle will report the granary to the Home Guard," I whispered. "You know she will!"

"She will." Ian nodded. "You're right. She will. And I should have let her do it a long time ago."

I realized that I could actually hear my sister through the door, faintly, speaking on the phone right now. 

I was so confused and taken by surprise at what Ian had done, I didn't know what to say.

"Look, Ash," he whispered. "I've put my family in danger. I don't know what I was thinking. Hiding refugees on your parents' property? While my kids are staying at the house? If we tried to keep this up, more and more refugees would arrive. There's nowhere to put them, not realistically, not right now anyway. Who knows what would happen next? I hope to God Tyler's okay, but what about the next time someone wandered up here? What then? What about Haley?"

Ian gave me a stern, hardened look. I hadn't realized until now how angry he was at me.

"And what were you thinking, sleeping with Bryce like that last night? What were you thinking? Am I going to have to protect my family from you next?"

I didn't think it was possible to feel any lower, but my heart sank. I didn't know what I would do if Ian wasn't on my side. But he was right. I'd let him down. How could he trust me now?

I tried to blink back my welling tears.

"You said this morning you didn't want to lose me," I whispered. "You said you couldn't lose me."

"I don't want to lose you, Ashley. But I think maybe I already have." He stared straight into my eyes. "Look, we've always had a connection." He whispered, "Honestly, there are things I can tell you that I couldn't ever tell my wife. That's a fact. But your sister's my wife. My kids are my kids. And I'm their father. I'm the only one they've got to protect them. And they come before anyone else. Get it? And, now, here you are sleeping with Bryce Tripp again last night?" He stammered, his voice cracking. "That puts all of us in danger. Don't you see? Are you going to end up like Morgan now? Can I let you around my kids? How could you do this to me, Ashley?"

 I felt tears drop down my cheeks. I turned away and covered my face. I couldn't bear to look at Ian. I was so ashamed, and at the same time I couldn't believe that he wouldn't even acknowledge that I'd just lost Morgan, that I'd had to be the one to snuff out her life, with my own hands.

I could hear my mom on the phone in the living room. Whether or not Danielle had called the Home Guard directly to the house, my mom was doing it now. I could hear her reporting that there was an infected body to pick up.

"I have to go," I whispered. 



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