Chapter One Hundred and Forty-Two

After We Fell


one hundred and forty-two




I try to gather my thoughts as I cross the grass to meet Kimberly. I don’t know what to say to her, and I’m terrified that she may not be aware of what happened last night. I don’t want to be the one to tell her—that’s Christian’s responsibility—but I don’t think I have it in me to pretend like nothing happened if it turns out that she doesn’t know.

    My question is immediately answered when she turns around to face me. Her eyes, though covered mostly in shadows, are swollen and sad.

    “I’m so sorry,” I say. I sit down next to her on the bench, and she wraps her arms around me.

    “I would cry, but I’m afraid I’m all dried up.” She tries to force a smile that doesn’t meet her eyes.

    “I don’t know what to say,” I admit, glancing across the way at Smith, who, thankfully, is out of earshot.

    “Well, you can start with helping me plan a double murder.” Kimberly gathers her shoulder-length hair in one hand and pushes it to the side.

    “I can do that.” I half laugh. I wish I had even half of Kimberly’s strength.

    “Good.” She smiles and squeezes my hand. “You look really hot today,” she tells me.

    “Thank you. You look beautiful,” I tell her. Bright sunlight breaking through the overcast makes her pale blue beaded dress glitter.

    “Are you going to the wedding?” she asks.

    “No, I just wanted to look better than I’m feeling,” I reply. “Are you going to the wedding?”

    “Yeah, I am.” She sighs. “I don’t know what I’ll do afterward, but I don’t want to confuse Smith. He’s a smart kid, and I don’t want to alert him to anything that’s going on.” Her eyes focus on the little scientist and his train.

    “Besides, Sasha’s skanky ass is here with Max, and I’ll be damned if I give her something to gossip about.”

    “Sasha came here with Max? What about Denise and Lillian?” Max’s treachery knows no bounds.

    “Exactly what I said! She has no shame, coming all the way to England to attend a wedding with a married man. I should beat the hell out of her to get some of this anger out.” Kimberly is so tense you can practically see it emanating from her. I can’t imagine the pain she must be feeling right now, and I admire the way she’s holding herself together.

    “Are you . . . I don’t want to pry, but—”

    “Tessa, all I do is pry. You’re allowed to, too,” she says with a warm smile.

    “Are you going to stay with him? If you don’t want to talk about it, we don’t have to.”

    “I do want to talk about it. I have to talk about it, because if I don’t, then I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay as angry as I am.” She grits her teeth. “I don’t know if I’ll stay with him. I love him, Tessa.” She looks at Smith again. “And I love that little boy, even if he only talks to me once a week.” She laughs weakly. “I wish I could say that I’m surprised by this, but honestly, I’m not.”

    “Why aren’t you?” I ask without thinking.

    “They have history, a long, deep history that I’m just not sure if I can compete with.” Hurt fills her voice, and I blink back my tears.


    “Yes. I’m going to tell you something Christian told me not to tell you until he can tell Hardin, but I think you should know . . .”