The Rift

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Chapter 22

“Don’t leave me, Mac.” Bethie sobbed.

Mac crossed back over to her, leaving the door to the back room of the funeral home partially opened. He sat down beside her on the old fainting couch. It smelled musty. On the floor were small piles of cushion stuffing. Bethie must have been picking at the worn hole in the upholstery. “People are going to wonder where you’ve gotten off to, Evans.”

She shook her head, and the tears fell unchecked, dropping onto the black silk fabric of her dress. “I can’t go back out there. I can’t face those hypocrites.”

Mac folded her up in his arms and held her. “Just put on face, fake it ’til we make it, right?”

“I can’t,” she cried. “Not this time. I don’t know how Liam is doing it. I’m so angry.”

“With Liam?”

“With all of it,” she snapped and threw her hands into the air. “Liam and Jay’s ignorant father and his cronies. You know what? I should march right out there and give that man a piece of reality.” She clamored off the couch and started for the door until Mac grabbed her arm and held her back.

“Who is that going to help, Bethie? Liam? Mr. Keller? Jay?”

Bethie’s bottom lip trembled, and she started crying once more. Mac moved to her and led her back to the couch, handing her a box of tissues. “Listen kid, no one can make sense of this and the one person who can is gone. Jay wouldn’t want us to harbor ill wishes for his dad. I mean he loved him, even if he didn’t agree with his choices.”

Beth’s words were broken between sobs. “If he... he should have listened... Jay would be here... he wouldn’t have...” She tried to control her breathing.

“No, Bethie. We can’t blame anyone. Jay was trying, but sometimes it’s too much and you just let go.” Mac’s eyes watered and he wiped back unshed tears.

“No, I refuse to believe that.” She refuted. “He had us. He could have tried harder. He could have called, he could have come home to us, to Liam.”

“Shh.” Mac folded his arms around her again. He knew he was a poor substitute for Judah, but Judah had yet to arrive.

Beth spoke into his shoulder. “I wish it was an accident. Why did his dad say that? Why did he lie?”

“Easier to deal with. I don’t think any parent, no matter if they agree with your life choices or not wants to admit their child purposely...” Liam gulped back the word. “He must feel like he failed. Hell, we feel that way. I should have been a better friend.”

Her soft hands cupped the sides of his face and her swollen, red-rimmed eyes stared into his. “You were an awesome friend, you are an awesome friend, Mac.” Her eyes darted to the side as a thought struck her. “Do you think he stopped taking his medication?” She bit on her lower lip, contemplating. “You know you can’t just go cold turkey off that stuff. What if that was it? What if he was out of his head because of the chemical effects? They say on every damned commercial that those pills... what if he didn’t plan-”

Mac put his finger to her lips and shook his head. “Don’t look for excuses either, Beth. Jay knew, he planned it at some point. For fuck’s sake he sent a letter.”

This fact, based in gut wrenching reality, sent Bethie into another jag of tears. Mac pulled several tissues from the box and blotted her face, wiping a stray strand of hair from her face. He used another tissue to dry his own eyes. Pieces of cheap tissue stuck to her skin and his. Mac tried not to laugh. His face broke, and he began to giggle. Bethie looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “What?”

Mac pointed at her face and cracked up into fits of laughter. “You’re peeling.”

Bethie started picking the tissue off her cheeks. “What the... you have them too.”

“Here let me help.” Mac leaned in at the same time Bethie leaned forward and their foreheads smacked together. Bethie fell back and Mac fell forward, both stunned and tangled in funeral attire, arms and legs, trying to prevent themselves from falling off the side of the old couch.

“What the fuck, MacMillan?” growled Judah, dressed in a suit and tie, his hair slicked back from his angry face.

Bethie shoved Mac off her prone body. “Judah, wait.”

Mac sat stunned on the floor, watching Bethie run from the room.

Judah was gone. She looked back at Mac through the doorway. He grimaced, rubbing his forehead.

“Are you okay?”

He nodded. “You?”

She shook her head. “I have to find him and explain.”

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