“Are you crazy?” Jimmy exclaimed, as he dropped his fork in apparent shock. “He shot you. He drugged me and set me up. The guy doesn’t deserve anything.”
“I’m not saying that what he did wasn’t wrong. He’s a messed up guy who did some very bad things. But he’s also my brother and there are things he deserves to know, irrespective of the things he has done and I am the only person who can tell him.”
Jimmy looked across the table at Tobias, I looked too and smiled as he nodded and placed his hand over mine.
“I get it.” He murmured, his tone leveled out. He picked up his fork and stabbed it into a maple syrup and bacon covered pancake. “I guess I’m still bitter.”
“I don’t blame you.” I replied. “Be angry, the guy doesn’t deserve a free pass… not from you not from me… but he deserves the truth.”
After breakfast Jimmy left. Tobias cleared the dishes away while I called the officer who’d been assigned to my case. Because of Ryan’s admittance he’d been processed right away, his sentencing was still a while off but he was incarcerated, in maximum security an hours drive from Worthington central.
“Ruby, what you did was dangerous, but without you… we might not have been able to work this all out… at least not for a while. If you ever consider a change of career… the police force could do with a mind like yours.”
I smiled, I’d had enough drama and danger for a lifetime.
“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for the information.”
“Stay safe Ruby Moritz.”
I hung up the phone and typed the name of the prison into my laptop. Once I found the phone number I called the visitor line.
“Good Morning, Worthington Max Penitentiary. Our visiting hours are Monday and Wednesday between 10am and 5pm. If you want to book a visit press one.” The operator sounded, I swallowed hard and pulled the phone away from my ear, pressing the number one.
The phone rang a couple of times before a person picked up. They took my details and after a minute or two gave me a visiting time for the next day, Wednesday at 3pm. I hung up the phone and walked from the bedroom out into the kitchen. Tobias wasn’t there anymore, so I walked back down the hallway and into the study. I pushed the door open and looked inside. Tobias sat at his computer, leaning back in the chair. He looked up at me and smiled.
“I had a few things to take care of.” He murmured. “I arranged for one of my executives to take the reigns for a week or two.”
I smiled and walked into the room. “Handing over the power to someone else.”
“I have more important things on my mind, and yeah the place hasn’t crumbled while I haven’t been there so far.” Tobias paused and opened his arms. I walked to him and sat down on his lap. He held me close and kissed my shoulder. “But it would be irresponsible of me to leave it any longer.”
“And you don’t want to go back yourself?”
Tobias shook his head. “I don’t know what I want to do.”
I smiled and cupped Tobias’ cheeks with my hands. “Lets just take life one day at a time.”
Tobias nodded and pressed his lips to mine. “Did you book a visit?”
I nodded and looked down at Tobias’ chest. Facing Ryan was going to be difficult, talking to him knowing what he had tried to do to us… How close he came to succeeding. If things had been different, I could have had a brother.
“Tomorrow at 3pm.” I managed to whispered. “I’m going to give him Mom’s diary.”
Tobias’ hand lifted mine so that our eyes aligned.
“Are you sure?”
I bit my lip and nodded. “I had my parents in my life. I have memories of them, and besides its only one of the diaries. I still have the others and the letters.”
“You are a better person than I could ever hope to be Ruby.”
I leaned in and kissed Tobias softly on the lips. “You don’t give yourself enough credit Tobias Clarke.” I murmured as I pulled back.
Tobias looked confused, like he didn’t understand what it was that he had ever done that could make him a good person. His self esteem had never been particularly high. He didn’t see himself the way I had always seen him. He had done, wonderful things for others but didn’t even realise that was the case and that was what made him a great person. He didn’t do what he did for adulation, he just did it because he could.
The next morning I woke wrapped in Tobias’ arms. Even in his sleep he was being careful of my sore shoulder, cradling it just enough to keep it still in place. I watched him as he slept peacefully, thankful that it was possible, thankful that things had turned out the way they had.
Today was going to be painful, in a million and one ways, but knowing that as soon as it was over Tobias would be waiting for me made it feel possible.
A lonely and unexpected tear left my eye and rolled down my cheek just as Tobias’ eyes flickered open. He watched me sleepily before lifting his free hand to my face.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
A sleepy grin washed over his face and he closed his eyes. “Coffee?”
“I’ll get it.” I murmured. “You stay here.”
Tobias’ eyes shot open and he stared at me with frantic eyes. “No. Your arm.” He stopped speaking and sat up straight, removing himself from me, quickly but carefully.
“I’m not an invalid.” I huffed, relaxing back into the mess of pillows.
“I know.” He replied. “But you’re my patient. Let me get the coffee.”
Tobias stood up and left the room where nothing more than his black boxer shorts. It was a sight to behold, and hold it I did in my memory long after he’d left the room, but I couldn’t help and sense that something was a little off. When he returned almost half an hour later with coffee, waffles and a small bag I smiled.
“You’re a lovesick goon.” I grinned as he placed the tray down on my lap.
I opened the bag and pulled out the little t-shirts Tobias had bought back when we first found out, before I thought I’d lost the baby… before any of this. I held the pieces of fabric in my hands like they were the finest pieces of silk I’d ever touched. He’d kept them.
“Tobias…” I started, unable to stem the flow of tears as they fell from my eyes. “Our baby…”
“Ruby, I know today is going to be hard for you…” He stopped and placed his hands over mine. “But I also know this is something you have to do.”
“Yes.” I whispered.
“Well, there’s something I have to do as well. I’m afraid I can’t wait any longer.”
Through the haze of tears I forced myself to look at a terrified Tobias. I had never seen him look so nervous before in my life, not even as he held me on the sidewalk after I’d been shot.
Tobias took the tray off my lap and placed it on the nightstand before moving closer to me, he leaned back a little and dug into his pocket.
“Ruby, The first day you walked into my office I knew I was in trouble. I wanted to scare you off and pull you close simultaneously. You confused me in a way I had never been confused. I didn’t realize it was love, and then when I finally worked it out, I knew I couldn’t live without you. These past few months have been hard, we almost lost one another… and our baby.” Tobias pulled his hand out and held out a small baby blue box. “I want it all with you Ruby, the white picket fence, holidays by the lake, the arguments about stupid little things and the make up sex that follows. I want to build a life with you, forever. Will you please put me out of my misery and marry me?”
My heart leapt and I let out a shaky breath as Tobias opened the small blue box and revealed a beautiful ring. He’d picked something modest but perfect… even when it came to this he knew me so well. We were perfect together, complementing one another’s strengths and weaknesses. I’d felt lost until I’d met him, and it wasn’t that he had saved me in any way, or vice versa… it’s just that as cliche and cheesy as it sounded… we really were made for one another.
“Yes.” I managed to reply. “Of course.”
Tobias slipped the ring on my finger and then leaned in to kiss me. “Thank you.” He murmured, leaning his forehead against mine.
“You’re thanking me for agreeing to marry you?” I giggled.
“Maybe.” He replied with a boyish grin.
I turned to look at the waffles and coffee and licked my lips. “All this wedding proposing has left me famished.”
Tobias leaned back and lifted the tray back down. “Bon appetite.”
“Thank you chef Clarke.”
Tobias stood up and walked to the door. “I’m going to shower Wife to be.”
I lifted the cup of coffee to my mouth and took a tentative sip. “Alright husband to be. I’m just going to stuff my face with waffles and stare at my ring.”
Tobias grinned and walked out of the room.
“Did you want me to come in?” Tobias said as we walked up to the entrance of the prison a few hours later. “Into the room.”
I held onto Tobias’s hand tightly, tempted to say yes and take him in with me. Facing Ryan alone terrified me, but I knew I had to do this alone, that this was between the two of us. “I’ll be alright.”
Once we were processed Tobias was taking to a separate room while I was led down a hallway. The guard led me into a room, ushering me to a dark grey table. He walked inside and closed the door. I looked down at the diary I’d brought and placed it down on the table. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Maybe he wouldn’t care, maybe he still hated me, or what I represented to him. But I had to try.
A few minutes later the door opened and two more security cards walked a chained Ryan to the seat across from me. He looked completely different to the once suave businessman I’d known. The boy with the boyish smile who seemed to have every woman at his beck and call. The man who had headlined a business with precision. He was so like Tobias in so many ways, but his demons had overcome him.
“I was surprised when they said you were coming.” He managed to whisper. He didn’t look up, but I could see that his skin was dull, and his eyes sunken in. “I almost killed you.”
I shuddered, I didn’t need reminding of that fact, the moment was still clear in my mind and for I knew it would be, probably for the rest of my life…
“I’m still alive though…”
“I thought hurting you would make me whole.” He stated with total hopelessness in his voice.
“I was wrong.” He replied his voice thick.
I swallowed back my own ball of emotion and placed my hand on the book. “I wish things could have been different.”
Ryan didn’t say anything, but he let out a sigh as his shoulders fell forward.
“Ryan. I went through some of old possessions. Things I hadn’t been able to touch after Mom died. I guess part of me expected what you’d said to be some kind of warped crazy lie…”
I opened the book and stared at my mothers handwriting. “But I found the truth.”
Ryan looked up at me finally, his eyes soft but withdrawn.
“Except you were wrong about one thing.”