Because of His Fortune (For His Pleasure, Book 25)

BOOK: Because of His Fortune (For His Pleasure, Book 25)
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Because
of His Fortune (For His Pleasure, Book 25)

By Kelly Favor

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved

Liam’s
mother is dead.

Anne Houston, the most intimidating,
fearsome woman that Grace had ever met…was dead.

It didn’t seem possible, it didn’t seem
real.
 
And if it felt unreal to
Grace, than she could only imagine the shock Liam must be in, as he settled up
the bill for their meal and prepared to leave the restaurant.

His normally pale face was almost gray,
and his eyes looked haunted, but he seemed to have brought his emotions
completely under control.

“I need to go to the hospital,” he told
Grace, checking the time on his cell phone as they walked out into the fading
light of the city.
 
He waved at a
black limousine that was pulled over just ahead by the traffic light.

“I’ll come with you,” Grace said,
shouldering her purse and moving quicker to keep up with him.

“Okay,” Liam said, his tone neutral.

They got in the back of the limousine and
Liam told the driver where to go.
 
Then
he began texting on his cell phone, his face a mask of control and calm.
 
There were no powerful emotions raging
just beneath the surface.

Seconds later, he was on his phone
speaking to his brother.
 
“Exley,
listen to me,” Liam said into the phone, his voice tight but unshaken.
 
“I’ve just received a call from the
hospital and Mother’s been in a terrible accident.”

Grace wanted to take Liam’s hand and at
least give him some kind of support, but he seemed closed off and unreceptive
to anything from her.
 
His body was
even turned away from her.
 

“She’d passed away, Ex.
 
I’m…I’m on my way to the hospital now to
make an identification of her body…you speak to Vera and tell her, okay?”
 
Liam’s shoulders hunched and he took a
long, shuddering breath.
 
“I’m
certain.
 
Please just come to the
hospital as quickly as you can.
 
Okay.”

When he was done, Liam hung up and began
texting on his phone.
 

His expression was locked tight and Grace
felt powerless to reach him.

As Liam texted and the limo progressed
through New York rush hour traffic, Grace sat next to him and fought to keep
her emotions centered.
 
It was
difficult not to wonder if Liam even wanted her around—or if he
considered her presence a nuisance, inappropriate given how little time they’d
spent together before this tragedy.

I
don’t belong with him.
 
Scott was
right.
 
In the end, the truth always
comes out, and despite Liam telling me he loves me, right now its so clear that
he doesn’t feel he can lean on me.

But she tried to remind herself that Liam
was surely in a great deal of pain, shock and confusion.
 
It had been mere minutes since he’d been
called and informed of his mother’s death.
 
And now he’d had to call and tell his younger brother that their mother
was gone forever.

Who could blame him for being
self-protective at a time like this?

Your
job is just to be here, that’s it.
 
Just be here and let him know you’re not going anywhere, and you’re not
expecting anything from him.
 
You’re
here for him, Grace.
 
It’s time to
stop thinking about yourself for once.

They were caught in bad traffic, slowed
almost to a crawl.
 

Liam put his cell phone away and stared
out the window.
 
She watched him,
the pale skin of his neck and jawline, the earthiness of his hair.
 
He was beautiful, and she loved him, but
it had turned suddenly painful and it was a searing, burning pain.

She finally decided to try and give him
some comfort by putting her hand gently on his thigh.

His leg flinched as if she’d just thrown
acid on him, and she removed her hand as quickly as she’d put it there.

Liam continued staring out the window as
the car fought to inch its way forward in brutal city traffic.
 
If there’s a hell, this must be the road
to it, she thought.

“Is there anything I can do?” she asked,
her voice soft, quivering a bit with the tension of uncertainty.

Liam shook his head.
 
“No,” he said.
 

There was another long and painful
silence.

“I can get out of the car if you need…if
you need time alone,” she said.
 
“I
don’t want to be a burden to you.”

He finally turned and looked at her, and
his eyes were filled with pain, even though his expression was still completely
calm.
 
“I just need to get to the
hospital to make the identification.
 
I need to see her and know that it’s real.”

She nodded.
 
“Of course.
 
Of course.”

He turned and looked out the window again
and Grace closed her eyes and prayed.
 
She didn’t know what else to do.

The car moved slowly, horribly slowly,
and the driver was cursing and honking his horn.
 
Even he was feeling the tension of the
moment, and it was like a lead weight—it was like a poison cloud in the
air as they waited to get free and reach their destination.

After nearly an hour of tortuously slow
progress, they made their way to the hospital and got out of the limousine,
walking into the lobby.

Liam was practically running, and Grace
just tried to keep up with him.
 
When they got inside, she spotted Liam’s brother and sister and waved.

When they saw she was with Liam, Grace
felt a powerful wave of negative energy coming from them.

They ran over to Liam, and Liam embraced
his sister, as Exley stood nearby and stared at Grace with a very odd
expression on his youthful face.
 
“I
didn’t realize you’d be coming to every family event, even deaths and
funerals,” the younger man said.

Grace looked down at the floor.
 
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” she
whispered.

“Well, now that’s out of the way,” Exley
said, his voice dripping with derision.
 
“I just love a woman who knows how to dole out trite clichés at the
right moment.”

Liam and Vera were speaking to one
another in hushed voices, and still embracing.
 
Finally, Liam let go of his sister and
nodded at his brother soberly.
 
“I
have to go and make the ID of Mother’s body now,” he said.

Vera turned her head, and she looked more
beautiful than ever, Grace realized, as if her mother’s passing had infused her
with the depth of feeling she’d previously lacked.
 
Her gaze was all at once sad and
furious, but still composed.
 
“I
think we’ll take it from here, Grace,” Vera said.
 
“This is something for our family to
deal with.
 
Just family.”

“Yes, of course, I wouldn’t dream
of—“

But Vera had turned away and started
walking, and Exley and Liam followed her.
 
Grace felt as if she’d been struck across the face three times.

The worst, by far, was the blow she took
when Liam just followed after his sister without so much as looking back or
even talking to her.

Not even a word telling her to leave, or
to wait.
 

Nothing.

The three of them disappeared around a
turn in the hallway and then they were gone and she was alone in the main lobby
of the hospital.

Grace sank down into one of the chairs
and put her face in her hands, allowing the tears she’d been holding in to come
pouring out.
 
Her shoulders and
entire body shook with the force of it, and she just sobbed and sobbed.

She cried for Liam’s mother, even though
Anne had clearly not liked Grace very much.
 
But still, Grace couldn’t fathom that
the older woman was just gone—gone in the blink of an eye, without even
the opportunity to say goodbye to those she loved.

Whatever else Anne was, she was
definitely a fiercely protective mother, a matriarch that seemed to live for
her cubs.

And Grace cried for her children, and
Liam, who suddenly had to bear the burden of being the male in charge, the
father figure.
 
He seemed to have
taken it all on instantly, but perhaps the weight of it was already too much
for him.

Lastly, Grace cried for herself, because
nobody else cared enough to cry for her.
 
She cried because she’d put herself out there, made herself vulnerable
to a man that she loved, and he’d turned away and left her standing there like
she was less than nothing to him.

It hurt in a way that no wound had ever
hurt before, and she let the tears roll down, not caring who was watching.

After some time, she was able to compose
herself.
 
She went to the bathroom
and sat in the stall, dried her tears, and took a lot of deep, slow
breaths.
 
When it was done, she went
back out to the lobby and sat down again to wait.

She thought it only right for her to be
there for Liam’s return.

But the minutes continued ticking by, and
when it had been nearly an hour since they’d arrived at the hospital, Grace
texted Liam and asked him if he was okay.

She waited, and there was no response
forthcoming.

Anger was starting to percolate as she
continually recalled the image of Liam and his brother and sister walking away
from her, and Liam not even bothering to say a word as he left her standing in
the hospital lobby, alone and confused.

Who
does that
? She asked
herself, waiting for a reply from Liam to her text.

Of
course it’s not right for him to ignore you and snub you, but
remember—he’s just lost his mother in a sudden, violent accident.
 
He’s overwhelmed, he’s going to identify
her dead body and God only knows what else he’s dealing with.

Try
to be compassionate, Grace.
 
Liam
said he loves you and you love him too.
 
So be patient.

She tried to be patient, but as more and
more time passed by, she started to feel just plain stupid.

Making one last effort to reach him,
Grace tried calling his cell and it went directly to voicemail, as if his phone
had been turned off.

“Hi Liam, it’s Grace,” she said when it
was time to leave her message.
 
“I’m
waiting in the lobby of the hospital and it’s been…it’s been a long time and I
don’t have any idea where you are.
 
I don’t mind waiting, but please just send me a quick text or call and
let me know if I should continue waiting.
 
Okay, bye Liam.”

She hung up her phone and sat there,
stunned, watching the steady stream of people coming in and out of the lobby.

Every so often she’d see someone coming
down the hall that looked a little similar to Liam or Exley or Vera, and be
convinced that finally one of them had decided to come and retrieve her.

Her heart would start to beat faster in
her chest in anticipation, but then as the person got closer, she’d inevitably
realize that it was a complete stranger.

And as the darkness increased outside the
hospital doors, Grace realized that she was being foolish to continue to sit
and wait in the lobby.

Nobody was coming.

Nobody was calling to tell her anything.

“It’s time to go,” she whispered to
herself, and felt tears stirring once more behind her eyes.

More than being angry and hurt, she
missed Liam.
 
She missed who he’d
been just prior to receiving that awful, life-changing phone call.

Grace left the hospital, checking her
phone one last time before giving up and putting it into her purse, after which
she went and hailed a taxi and went home.

 

***

 

After a long, hot shower and a bit more
crying, Grace changed into her pajamas—a pair of cozy sweatpants and a
ratty old t-shirt that she’d had since high school.

She connected her cell phone to the
charger and told herself to stop looking at it.
 
After all, Liam hadn’t called or texted
yet, and it had been hours and hours.

Then she ran down to the kitchen and
rustled herself up a snack before heading back upstairs.

Her roommates were ensconced in their
rooms, just as she was about to be in hers.
 
Grace could hear Eliane talking on the
phone to her boyfriend and yelling at him about some perceived slight as Grace
passed by carrying a box of Oreo cookies and a jug of milk.

BOOK: Because of His Fortune (For His Pleasure, Book 25)
13.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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