I just stared at him, quite impressed with his dramatic dialogue. He must be in training for all the political speeches he had in his future.
“Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials and forthcoming child,” he said as he washed his hands at the sink.
“So you’ve read the announcement already.” I tilted my head in a bow and planted myself in front of the door. This motherfucker wasn’t leaving until I was ready for him to go. “This is how it works, Senator. You listen, I talk.”
He pulled down a hand towel and methodically began to dry his hands.
“I know everything. Montrose is dead. Fielding went missing in late May. I’ll bet he’s dead too and will remain missing. I know you had your son stop-lossed by the U.S. army. I can connect the dots. Everyone is disappearing. When the autopsy report is filed on Tom, I will read it. Wonder what it’ll say?” I shrugged dramatically.
“It’s not coming from me, Blackstone.” His light-brown eyes bored into me. “Not me.”
I stepped a little closer. “That’s good to know, Oakley. Make sure it is true. I have taped depositions, documents, records . . . everything. Tom Bennett did too.” Couldn’t know for sure on that one, but it sounded good. “And if you think you can take me down to get to Brynne, you’ll unleash a political shitstorm that will make Watergate look like an episode of The People’s Court.” I took another step forward. “My people know what to do if I disappear.” I whispered. “They pop the party balloon and it all goes . . . poof.” I flicked my fingers out for emphasis.
He swallowed imperceptibly, but I caught it. “What do you want from me?”
I shook my head. “It’s not what I want, Oakley. It’s all about what you want.” I gave him a moment to absorb. “You want to run for your vice-presidential office and sleep in your comfortable bed at night as opposed to a prison cell with a roommate who wants to get to know you better.” I cracked a small grin. “You want to do everything in your power to make absolute certain that Brynne Bennett, soon to be Blackstone, leads a charmed and very peaceful life with her husband and child in England, with no threats or worries about anything that went on in the past.” I spoke my words more harshly. “A shameful event of which she was the victim. Of. A. Heinous. Crime.”
He’d started to sweat. I could see the sheen breaking out at his temples.
“You want to make sure of it, Oakley. Do you understand me?”
He didn’t move his face, but his eyes agreed. I know the look, and he said yes to me with his eyes.
“Good. I’m glad you understand because this is the only warning you’ll get. If anything happens to either one of us . . . well . . . it all explodes. I’m talking British Parliament, the Washington Post, the London Times, Scotland Yard, M6, U.S. congressional inquiries, the whole enchilada, as you might say.” I tilted my head and shook it slowly. “And with the Olympics in London, and all that goodwill between the U.S. and Britain?” I held my palms up. “There’ll be no hole deep enough for you to hide in.” I wafted one hand for emphasis. “Think . . . Saddam Hussein . . . if you will.” I moved to unlock the door. “I’m sure I don’t need to remind you about shit running downhill either.” I went to leave the men’s room and turned back one last time. “Best of luck to you in the upcoming election. I wish for you a long and successful career, Senator. Cheers.”
Oakley’s security ape pushed past me and entered the bathroom, looking a tad confused after overhearing my friendly departing comment.
I gave him a nod and went out to find Brynne. The love of my life, the mother of our unborn child, my sweet girl, had been out of my sight for too long, and I needed to get back to her side.
I was relieved when Ethan returned to me from wherever he’d been. I needed him, and everything seemed easier to bear when he was near. It made me very weak, which I despised in myself, but I couldn’t help it, and was too exhausted to care. He was the only lifeline I had here. I wanted to go back home. London—home.
He had two plates of food with him when he walked up.
“I brought you a little bit of everything,” he said.
“Oh, thanks . . . but I’m not hungry at all. I can’t eat that.” I looked at the fruit and the croissant sandwich.
He frowned and set his jaw. I knew I was in for an argument. “You have to eat something. What’ve you had today besides a little tea?” He whispered. “Think of the baby . . .”
“You can’t force someone to eat. Trust me, I know from experience.”
My mother’s disdainful voice broke into our exchange. No sentiment of “Ethan’s right, Brynne, you need to eat because your baby needs food even if you don’t feel hungry.” No “You’re eating for two now, dear” comment. Yeah . . . what did I expect?
I saw Ethan’s head turn and peg my mom. I think there was a little smoke rising from his ears too, but he didn’t lose it as I thought he could have. He just turned glacial and ignored her.
“Come sit with me and have a little something,” he said to me with a gentle voice paired with some serious intent to see it through.
How could I turn him down? I never could. What he did, he did out of concern for me. I did need to eat, even though my appetite was nonexistent. Ethan was right. I had someone else to consider besides myself. Especially now.
I looked at my mom and roamed my eyes over her perfectly coiffed and dressed presentation today for her ex-husband’s funeral. Why in the hell had she even come to the service? She’d barely spoken to Daddy after I moved away to London. She certainly couldn’t have any true grief for him. Could she? I had absolutely no idea. It saddened me to realize that I couldn’t tell because I didn’t know her well enough to tell. My mother and I weren’t close like that. We didn’t share deep feelings or secrets. I never knew why she suddenly divorced my dad, or if she’d ever even loved him. I didn’t know why they ever got married in the first place. How had they met? Where had he proposed? Stories of them dating? I had nothing.
I turned away and went with Ethan to a table, my heart closing off from her a little more with every step I took.
“You are so very beautiful,” Ethan said softly as I tried valiantly to ingest some of the food he’d gotten for me, “on the inside as much as the outside.”