Found in You (Page 68)

Found in You (Fixed #2)(68)
Author: Laurelin Paige

“I believe in you.” His voice was soft. “And whatever you need, I want to give it to you. If you need help—”

“Oh, my god, I can’t believe this.” I backed out of his grip. “I can’t f**king believe this.”

Hudson clenched and unclenched his fists. “Tell me that you didn’t do it. Tell me you didn’t call her. Tell me you didn’t see her.”

But I couldn’t say that. I had called her. I had seen her. Even when I promised I wouldn’t. It was only my motive that was debatable and I couldn’t prove it.

I shook my head. “It’s not how it looks, Hudson. I didn’t stalk her or harass her or whatever she’s claiming.” I could go into details, explain everything. But it came down to the simple fact that either he believed me or he didn’t. “Are you on her side or mine?”

“I’m on your side. Always, your side.”

“Then you believe me?”

He stuck his hands in the pockets of his suit pants. “Did you call her?”

“Yes! I said I did upstairs!” I didn’t care that I was loud, didn’t care that the doorman was watching us. I pulled my phone from my bra and held it out toward him. “Here, you want to see? Take it! You’ll see all the times I called her since that’s what you seem to be concerned with.”

He ignored my outstretched hand. “I don’t want proof. I want to help you.”

“I don’t f**king need any help!” I threw my phone across the lobby floor. It shattered against the wall.

For three seconds, I stared at the mess. It occurred to me that was happening inside me. My heart was shattering into a dozen pieces. So much for being able to let go of my past. It would always come back to haunt me.

I turned and ran—ran across the lobby and out the front door.

Hudson was right behind me. “Alayna, come back here.”

I kept running but I was no match for him, especially when I was wearing heels. He reached me before I’d passed the edge of the building, grabbing me at my wrist. “I’ll cancel my trip. We’ll find the best treatment—”

“I’m not sick.” I yanked my arm from his hold. “Go to Japan, Hudson. I don’t want to see you.”

“I’m not going to Japan now.” He was smooth, in control. Like always.

I began walking away. “Go to Japan,” I called over my shoulder. “I don’t want to see you for a while, if not ever. Got it? If you’re at the penthouse when I get home, I’ll find somewhere else to sleep and I don’t mean for just one night.”

He didn’t follow me. I couldn’t decide if that made things better or worse.

Better, probably. Because every part of me was in deep pain. And that kind of ache can only be suffered alone.

***

I rode the subway for a long time. I was lucky to get a seat before the rush hour crowd hit, and I stayed planted there on the E line all the way down to the World Trade Center. After a while, I switched to the A line and eventually ended up at Columbus Circle out of habit. I didn’t go to The Sky Launch though. I wandered over to the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center and caught a foreign film. When it was over, I snuck into the next showing. Still, after having viewed it twice, I had no idea what I’d seen. My head—and heart—were too muddled for the subtitles.

I didn’t get back to The Bowery until after midnight. With my phone broken, I was out of touch. There was no way of knowing what I’d find there. Part of me hoped Hudson ignored me, that he’d be there waiting for me. But then I remembered what Lauren said about being willing to stand behind my conditions. If he was there, I’d have to leave, and as twisted and broken as I feared our relationship was, I wasn’t able to do that.

The penthouse was dark, the place quiet except for the sound of the grandfather clock. It felt so much like the first time I’d come in there in the middle of the night, except then things were new and the trepidation I had was fused with excitement. Now, I felt numb and empty. I knew without looking around that Hudson wasn’t there.

I made it halfway down the hall to the master bedroom when a light flipped on in the guest room.

“Laynie, is that you?”

It took several seconds to recover from the minor heart attack Brian had given me. “Yeah, it’s me.”

My brother came to the guest bedroom doorway wearing a white t-shirt and striped pajama bottoms. “Awesome. Are you okay?”

That was the question of the year. “I guess so.” I slumped against the wall and tilted my head. “What are you doing here?”

“Hudson said he had to go on some business trip, but he didn’t want to leave you alone. So he had some guy pick up my stuff from the Waldorf and moved me in.” He leaned his shoulder on the doorframe. “I hope you don’t mind that I’m here.”

“I’m actually kind of glad.” The words were out of my mouth before I realized I meant them. Having someone else around helped lessen the emptiness. And it warmed me that it had been Hudson who’d arranged it. Even with everything that had gone down I was still on his radar.

Brian crossed his arms over his chest. “Personally, I think he should have canceled his trip.”

“He probably should have. But I told him not to.” I slid down to the floor, too exhausted to stand anymore, but needing to get more information from my brother. “Anything interesting happen after I left?”

Brian moved out of the doorway and sat down on the floor across from me. “Not really. More of the same. Accusations and liquor. You know, a typical family party.”

He said it all tongue-in-cheek, but that was exactly what our family parties had been like growing up. At least, the liquor part. There was always lots of liquor.

“Hudson’s mother’s an alcoholic.” I wasn’t sure Brian had figured that out.

“Yeah, I picked up on that. She has that weird yellow skin thing that Dad had. And she was shaky when I first met her. Does she acknowledge it?”

“No. No one does. She’s a different drunk than Dad was, though.” Our dad had been a happy drunk. He’d talk too loud and laugh a lot. When we’d been little, we’d thought it was fun. It took growing older to realize what his antics did to our mother.

“How so?”

“She’s mean. Hateful. Vindictive. Bitter.” I paused. “Did I say mean?” I rubbed my hand over my eyes. “God, this baby thing is probably killing her.”