Especially since I had a feeling I would only see a fraction of the percentage I was supposed to receive from this job.
I glanced over at Phillip as he hunched over his laptop, working away as per usual. My eyes scanned his body one last time before I turned my gaze back out the window, watching as the ocean rolled underneath us. Worry bubbled in my veins. I looked down at my phone, at the email I had opened up from the mental facility. For a few days, I had allowed myself to forget everything. And even though I felt tremendous guilt, I had even allowed myself to forget what had happened to my mother. But I sat there staring at the letter that had been sent to her, and I knew it was from the same person.
It had to be.
I’m sure that facility keeps you mighty comfortable. But who are you to deserve comfort after what was done to all of us? Does our money pay for your continued comfort?
Maybe you’ll meet the same end as your husband soon enough.
I read the letter over and over, digesting the fluid cursive handwriting. I’d never forget that handwriting, no matter where I went. I knew it was the same person, the same individual that kept sending me letters until my mother had spiraled into her current state. Changing my name and my eye color to hazel along with moving and taking the job I did had been enough to get the stalker off my back. But now, this person had found my mother.
And if this was the same person like my gut was telling me, it was possible they might make a move.
I sighed and closed the email. I couldn’t look at it a second longer. I pulled up a new tab and began researching other mental facilities in the area. Possibly one upstate. If my mother was no longer safe there, then maybe it was better if I took her out of their care and placed her somewhere else. Moved her away from the city altogether. It wasn’t as if she remembered the city. I kept her there because it was my home. But really, it wasn’t, not anymore.
It hadn’t been my home since our world came crashing down.
My search for mental facilities upstate led to a search for mental facilities across the country. Los Angeles. Detroit. New Orleans. I knew Rhonda had contacts in all those areas because I’d been sent to those cities for assignments she’d passed to me. Los Angeles, especially. I’d been there three times for three separate clients.
I pulled up the highest-rated mental facility in LA and began to click through the website.
Perhaps a change of location would be good for everyone. Maybe getting out of the state of New York altogether would allow me a chance to live a normal life again. Maybe my father hadn’t screwed over someone on the West Coast like he had the entire Eastern Seaboard.
Maybe this person sending these letters wouldn’t bother to chase us down across the country.
Then again, my mother was at a delicate stage in her treatment. It had taken her months to get settled into the facility without waking up and pitching a fit as to where she was. They were in the process of tweaking her medication after all of the progress she had made coping with what happened to us. And moving her might pose a threat to that treatment and all of the progress she had made over the past couple of years.
Anything could set her off, and I didn’t want to be the event that triggered a cataclysmic loss of that magnitude. My father had done enough of that to her.
She didn’t deserve any more.
I tucked my phone away and pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind. As I gazed out the window, I heard Phillip typing away on his laptop. I closed my eyes and wondered for a brief moment what it would be like to actually be his fiancée. What it would actually be like to marry a man like Phillip Chambers. And the more I imagined it, the more I found it was like Cristoff said. He was always wrapped up in his work and would struggle every waking second to spare any thought for me. Sure, Phillip was handsome. Smart. Funny. Capable. But he wasn’t the kind of man that was cut out for a relationship that required the kind of work an engagement did.
The kind of work a marriage did.
I looked over at him, watching his beautiful green eyes scan the screen in front of him. My heart rate ticked up a notch as his dexterous fingers started banging on his keyboard again. I had to admit, our chemistry was off the charts. I felt it every time I was near him. I’d felt it in the garden that night. I’d felt it beneath his body on the balcony that night. I’d even felt it last night, when his eyes dropped to my lips. And I’d almost given into it. I almost rose up onto my toes and kissed him. But I knew it would lead me down a path I couldn’t afford to travel. I knew if I slept with him again and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time, it would make walking away from him even harder.