Instead, what little light is left in her fades. She crumples further into herself, practically shrinking before my eyes. Her arms wrap around her front, and she stares vacantly at the marble countertop.
“When I graduated law school, I changed my mind,” she says. Then she pierces me with a sad, forlorn look that makes my chest clench. “For the first time in my life, I considered doing something else. Maybe following in my father’s footsteps wasn’t the right thing for me. I remember the day of graduation, I got into an argument with my father.”
I remember too. I learned all about it through my surveillance—Stitches had been her security that day. He’d told me about how it seemed there was some tension between Delphine and her parents. Daddy Adams in particular.
It didn’t show in the photographs that were taken. Everybody was all smiles mere minutes after a blowout. That mask of perfection the Adams’ were so good at.
“My mom suggested I take a year off. Do some volunteer work and travel. See if maybe that would clear my head. I had been working so hard for years, always top of my class. She said I earned it.”
“But he didn’t like the idea,” I predict.
She shakes her head. “They fought about it too. Their marriage was never the same after the affair. Nothing was…”
“Something like that is a difficult thing to overcome.”
“She died only a couple months after that. She was killed… in broad daylight. On a normal day, out shopping on Saxby’s Street. They never caught the guy. He happened to get away. I don’t remember much about that period. I didn’t know how to deal with losing her.
“But the one thing I do remember, is that pushing me over the edge.That’swhat made me realize I had to do it. I had to follow in his footsteps so I could get justice for her. I had to do it to make a difference. He knew all along,” she says, a long-stifled sob bubbling out of her. Once the lid is off, it’s blown off. It tears through her. Raw, broken, the uncomfortable sound of grief and pain. “He knew all along and he pretended he didn’t. He let me fall in line like a stupid fool, so hopeful I could make a difference when he knew all along. It wouldn’t even matter. He knew who was behind it.”
I can’t take it anymore, sitting here and watching her suffer. It’s its own form of torture when I know I can’t do shit to fix any of it. My stool tips over with how fast I leap up and crush her into my arms.
She lets me, sputtering out a helpless breath as my arms engulf her. She goes limp in my hold, her face pressed into my chest. Her tears stain my shirt, so wet they soak through the fabric.
But I only hold her tighter. I tangle my fingers in her hair and attempt to absorb her pain as my own. If it means taking it away from her, taking it on so she doesn’t have to hurt anymore, I’d do it, no questions asked.
As she mourns in my arms, I’ve never wished more for a superpower.
The rest of the night doesn’t go as I hoped it would—it’s anything but light and easy. Delphine’s racked by emotion. She clings to me until no more tears come and then she’s exhausted. I help her to bed and stay with her as she drifts off.
I’ve never understood the many different human emotions people feel. Grief being one of them. Pulling the bedsheet over Delphine and dropping a kiss on her forehead, I begin to understand an aspect of it I’ve never considered before.
There’s no quick fix or magic solution. It’s not a straight line, but a rollercoaster of highs and lows. No matter how long it takes, I’m here, ready to help her through this.
* * *
Over the next few days, Delphine feels better. She gets out of bed when I do and makes coffee. She feeds the cats. Stitches tells me she spends the days going for runs and reading by the window (a favorite spot of hers). Though she’s still not herself, she seems glad whenever I come home from another day of running my operations at the club.
“I told you to give it time,” Stitches says over the phone. “Miss ADA’s a strong woman. She’ll bounce back.”
“After her run, take her to her favorite bagel spot. She’ll like that.”
“Very cute. Very thoughtful. You sure you’re not in love?”
“Francis,” I warn. I’m at the club, sorting through business documents, the phone tucked into the crook of my neck.
He chuckles. “Kidding, Psycho.Sheesh!”
“Have Fabio and Omar call me. I need an update on what my enemies are up to.”
“From what I heard, Lucius is coming back to town at the end of the month. Hector Belini’s been released from the hospital. I’m told with quite the burn scars on his face.”
“We’ll have to increase surveillance on them. Make sure we stay abreast of anything they’re doing.”
“Got it. I’ll have ‘em get back to you with more details. And, Psycho?”
I produce a thick hum from my throat in answer.