“You shouldn’t be blaming yourself,” he says instinctually. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Just let myself be played like a fool—”
“No,” he interrupts firmly, “he’s your father. You loved and trusted him like you’re supposed to.He’sthe one who fucked up and betrayed that.”
A flimsy sigh puffs its way out of me. “I feel so broken, Jon. I feel so… victimized, like yet again, I have no control. I’m just this game piece being used.”
He reaches out, his hand gripping my thigh. His touch warm and strong as he gives me a reassuring squeeze. “You’re no game piece and you’re not broken. What have I told you? Nothing can ever break you, Phi. You don’t even see it, but I do.”
I shake my head to protest, but he cuts me off before I can even begin.
“You’ve stood up against criminals so dangerous, grown men piss themselves at the thought. Yet you never once backed down.”
“But I had your security watching out for me—”
“Youdidn’t know that. And you stood your ground anyway. A fifteen-year-old girl marching out to the pool to tell off a jock three times her size and the entire senior class. Do you know how impressed I was? You caught my eye all the way from my balcony.”
“You’re saying what you think will make me feel better.”
“I’m saying what I think of you. I spent twelve years admiring you in the courtroom, following your trials and successes. I was always proud of you.”
The pain remains acute and unending, but a small twinge of appreciation flutters inside me. Salvatore has always known how to get through to me in my low moments.
“Thank you…” I whisper.
“We’re pulling up in the next minute. Are you alright to do this?”
“I… I don’t even know what to do.”
“We can do whatever you want. This goes how you want it to go—you’re in control. But it’s something you have to do, Phi. You need it to move past this.”
Salvatore’s speaking words I know deep inside are the truth. I do need to confront the web of lies that have been spun all around me. Dad has lied to me for so long that I can’t go another day without finally sorting through it all.
It ends here. This evening.
Salvatore brakes outside the large gray home with its perfect shutters and many chimneys. Dad stands on the front doorstep watching a car pull out of the driveway, its headlights blinding. Seated behind the wheel is a woman with short, white-blonde hair and a doughy face.
Lena Burtka. Lena Volchok.
At the home Dad once shared with Mom.
A switch is flipped inside me. I shift from defeated numbness to frenzied anger flushing through me at the sight of my father’s mistress at the house where he made a home with my mother. The second Salvatore parks, I’m flying out the car.
It happens fast. Dad looking over, spotting me as I charge toward him. His eyes expand in shock and his lips part to speak. He wasn’t expecting me.
“How could you!?” I scream. My voice echoes on the quiet, affluent street. I don’t give a fuck that it does. I run at him and shove his chest hard. “How could you do what you’ve done?!”
“Delphine, calm yourself!”
“You’ve been spying on me. You’ve been tracking me. You’ve been involved with the woman you cheated on Mom with. You’ve known all along about what happened to me. How could you!?”
“What on earth are you talking about—Mancino.” Dad’s face darkens as he looks beyond me to the red Mustang parked against the curb.
I shove him again to force his attention. “Tell me everything! Tell me the truth!”
“NO MORE LIES!”