“Samantha.” Her voice cracks. “Who are you guys, and why do you have Eric’s phone?” I can’t see her face, but from her voice, I can tell she’s just as terrified and broken as we are.
“Are you …?” I don’t even know what to ask. “Who are you to Eric?”
“I’m his wife.” My eyes close as I take in the implication of what she just said about that motherfucking bastard. “And I’m tired of answering questions without getting any answers of my own.”
“I,” I start, saying slowly, “where are you?”
“I’m at home,” she answers right away.
“I need you to sit down,” I tell her, knowing I am going to have to break the news to her that her scumbag husband is dead. “There has been an accident.”
“Oh my god,” she whispers, and I hear her sobbing right away. The screen door opens, and I feel Blake sit next to me. I put her on speakerphone.
“Is he okay?” she asks between sobs. I shed one single tear for this woman, and Blake takes the phone from me.
“He didn’t make it,” he says curtly, not even sugarcoating anything as the wails come through the phone. We hear a little girl’s voice in the background. “Mommy, Mommy, are you okay, Mommy?” And now I can’t stop the tears.
“Where …” She starts breathing heavily. “Where is he?”
“He’s at Mercy General hospital,” Blake says. “I’m sorry for your loss, but I have to know … who are you?”
“I’m his wife,” she says as Blake’s hand tightens around the phone, his knuckles going white. “We’ve been married for twelve years. We have two girls.” Her voice fades, and we hear shouting in the background.
“What the fuck is going on?” a male voice shouts. He must grab the phone from Samantha because now he’s on the phone. “Who the fuck is this?” His voice is almost identical to Eric’s.
“Where is Samantha?” Blake asks right away, his protector going to work.
“She’s right next to me. Now answer my fucking question.”
“There was an accident today. Eric didn’t make it.”
“Fuck,” the voice on the other end hisses. “Where is he, and who is this?”
“He’s at Mercy General Hospital. My name is Blake. He was married to my sister.”
“That’s impossible,” the man’s voice whispers urgently. “He’s already married to Samantha.”
“Yeah,” Blake says, nodding his head. I lean my head on his shoulder, thinking that this just got more fucking fucked up than before. Now not only do we have to mourn Hailey’s husband, but we also have to come to terms with the fucker’s double life.
I didn’t think she would be able to survive losing him, but I know this last piece of information will fucking break her. I look straight ahead, not paying attention to the rest of Blake’s conversation. I close my eyes, my body almost numb.
He hangs up the phone and places it next to him gently, the phone already shattered from when it slipped out of Hailey’s hand. “I don’t even want to know how she is going to survive this. I can’t do it,” I say softly. “I can’t tell her. I just …” A sob finally breaks free, and I put my hand on my mouth to block the sound. Blake wraps his arm around my shoulders, bringing me even closer as I bury my face in his shoulder. My tears seeping into his shirt.
Giving me the time to purge it from my system, he doesn’t say anything while I let my pain go. “You good?” he asks when I stop crying, and I just nod my head. “We need to go inside and let them know.” He gets up, holding his hand out to me. “Just let me do all the talking.”
“I wouldn’t be able to even if I wanted to,” I tell him as we walk inside and break the news to them that Eric—sweet, caring Eric—was, in fact, a two-timing asshole with a wife and family.
I sit down with my eyes on my hands. My mind blanks as I watch Hailey’s face while we tell her that her husband isn’t her husband but someone else’s. I sit here watching her as this information sinks in. I sit here empty and hollow with nothing left to give.
Cursing him in my head, I sit here wishing him all the pain in the world. I sit here wishing he was still alive—not for Hailey, but so I could inflict pain on him. I wish he was here, so he could face what he left behind. I wish … at the end of the day, we all have different wishes. I stop my thoughts when I hear Hailey yell, grabbing the picture of her and Eric from beside her and hugging it to her chest.
The doorbell makes us all look up, and if I thought it was bad before, well, let’s just say that we all went down that fucking rabbit hole.