“I’m sorry,” she says, looking at me with the biggest tears in her eyes. “I would have never, ever done anything with him had I known.”
“I know,” I tell her, swinging slowly. “I’m sorry that they stopped you from coming to the funeral.”
“Yeah,” she says, “but I think it was for the best. Can you imagine?”
“I had them close the casket because I couldn’t stand to look at his face.” I look down, and the tears fall. “I stood there the whole time watching the casket, trying to ask him why,” I say, sniffling. “People would come up to me and tell me what a great guy he was, and I wanted to laugh in their face and say yeah, you should ask his other wife how great he was.”
Hailey laughs. “I haven’t even read the letter he left me.” She looks over. “I don’t know if I want to.”
“Well, I can tell you it’s probably better than the shit he left me,” I tell her. “I mean, after I cried over it and questioned my whole am I good enough.”
“It was never you.” She smiles at me. “It was him.”
“I love your brother,” I tell her, “which is weird since I haven’t told him yet.” I look down at my fingers and then back up again. “I mean, I know the whole Frankie thing, and he told me he would never be able to love again. I know this, but I can’t help it. I love him. With all my broken pieces and all his broken pieces, maybe we’re whole together.” The tears fall down my face.
“I think you’re the best thing to happen to him. He is the one who came to me,” she says. “He drove seven hours to see me and plead your case.” She looks down with her own tears falling. “At first, I told him no.”
“I understand,” I tell her.
“But then I thought of Jensen and his daughter, Mila, and pictured him losing her, and I couldn’t do that to you. I couldn’t do it.”
“So you and Jensen?” I smile at her, and she nods.
“Hands down the best thing that ever happened to me. I loved Eric, but what I feel for Jensen is more. I can’t even explain it to anyone. But you …” She looks at me. “You get it.”
“I wanted kids with Eric.” She smiles. “But I was like whatever. With Jensen, I would die to have his child. To give him that. For there to be a part of me and a part of him.” She smiles so big. “It would be worth everything. It would be worth all the hurt I’ve gone through if I could have that one thing.”
I look at the door, seeing Lizzie come out toward us. “Hey there, princess, did you meet Hailey?” I tell her, and she looks at Hailey.
“Do you hate us?” she asks her, and Hailey just looks at her. “I know who you are. I heard Uncle Elliot and Uncle Ethan talk about you.”
“Honey,” I say to her, and Hailey holds her hand up to me, letting Lizzie finish.
“I know Daddy did the wrong thing. I know he lied to you. But …” She looks down with tears brimming her eyes. “But we didn’t do that, and if you hate us, so will Blake.”
“Oh, baby,” Hailey says, getting up, going to her, and stooping down to see her.
“Mommy likes Blake and so do Daisy and me. And with Blake, Mommy doesn’t cry anymore. Like ever, not even in secret.” I put my hand to my mouth. “So please don’t hate us.”
“I could never hate you or Daisy or your mom,” she tells her while she cries. “Ever, ever.” She rubs her face softly.
“So you won’t tell Blake not to like us?” she asks her with her eyes so beautiful and clear.
“Silly girls, Blake doesn’t like you,” she says, and Lizzie gasps in shock. “He loves you.”
“Really?” she asks, looking at me with hope in her eyes, and then leans in to whisper, “We’re going to move close to him.”
“Are you?” She smiles at her. “He’s super lucky then.”
“I think we should get inside before Jensen sends out a search party,” Hailey says, getting to her feet. Lizzie runs ahead of us. “Whatever shit things Eric did, he did two things right.” She turns and looks at me as I look back at her.
“I mean. I did help, but yeah. Let’s give him that one,” I tell her. “You think he’s looking down on us?”
“I fucking hope he is so I can tell him that he didn’t break us; he unexpectedly made our broken love stories perfect!”
We walk in hand in hand, opening the door and looking around at everyone. Crystal looks at us, making sure Hailey is okay. She gets the nod from Hailey and only then smiles. “There you are,” Blake says, coming to us. “Are you okay?” he asks, looking back and forth between us.