Sweet Little Lies ~ Abbi GlinesAbbi Glines
Sweet Little Lies
Published by Abbi Glines
Copyright © 2017 by Abbi Glines
Interior Design & Formatting by:
Christine Borgford, Type A Formatting
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Abbi Glines. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Sweet Little Lies
About the Author
Books by Abbi Glines
I’D DRIVEN FOR OVER AN hour with nowhere to go. Tears were blurring my vision, my chest ached, and I wanted to curl up in a ball and sob freely. But there was no time for that. I had Heidi to think of. My sister. She was my first concern. Always my first concern. She could never know what had happened.
I no longer had a home or a job. I had this car I was driving. I had my sister. That was it. Heidi’s care had been taken care of—or I thought it had been. Jasper had said he was going to pay ten years in advance but I wasn’t sure he’d had a chance to do that yet. Even if he had how could I let him after what we’d learned? She was my sister. Mine. I should take care of her. Not him.
Just three hours ago my life had seemed perfect. I’d been happy and I was almost at the point where I could accept the security that came with Jasper Van Allan’s love. I didn’t blame him because he was an innocent bystander of the dark past too. Our circumstances weren’t his fault or mine, but I should have known better than to trust love. It was a dangerous path that eventually uncovered lies that always led to ruin.
The home that Portia Van Allan had placed Heidi in for her long-term care loomed up ahead. I pulled over to take a breath before walking inside to face Heidi. She wouldn’t understand why I was upset. I didn’t want Heidi to know the ugliness of the world. Her heart was too big and her smile was too bright to ruin them with our reality. The lies that I now knew regarding her birth were secrets I’d keep. Heidi wouldn’t understand them anyway. She loved our mother as I did. Our mother was a saint and I knew we’d never be the same without her.
The fact Heidi had been born to Portia Van Allan was a secret I would keep from her. Sharing who her birth mother was with Heidi was pointless, even if she could understand—I wasn’t sure that was possible.
Heidi had been the most important person in my life for as long as I could remember. Even as a kid I knew Heidi’s difference made her special. Precious. Easier to love.
As much as I hated Portia for tossing Heidi away because she’d been born with Down syndrome and that hadn’t fit into her life, I was equally thankful she left her to my mother. Portia had given Heidi to us and she’d completed my family. It had always been the three of us. A perfect three that I would always cherish. Our mother had left us with beautiful memories. She had taught us that family was everything.
I pulled off the road and shifted the car into park. Crossing my arms over the steering wheel, I continued to cry. At this point, crying was all I could do. It’s what I needed to do. I would cry and let it all out—my fear, my pain, my disbelief. Then I would dry my face, walk inside, and see my sister. When I walked inside, I planned to hug Heidi tightly and I would not fall apart in front of her. I was strong. My mother taught me to be strong. But right now, I needed Heidi. I missed her more than ever.
Beyond visiting Heidi, I had no idea what to do next. I had no idea where to turn.
Just as a loud sob escaped me, the passenger door of my car opened. My head jerked in the direction of the intruder and I was ready to scream when I realized it was Stone Richmond taking the seat beside me. His face was hard and cold like always.
Jasper’s best friend hated me. I wasn’t sure I liked him that much either. Stone was closed off and unfriendly. He didn’t approve of Jasper and me. It was no secret Stone didn’t think I was good enough for Jasper.
“Crying won’t make it go away. Crying has never fucking fixed a damn thing,” he said looking straight ahead out the window. His jaw clenched and his chiseled face appeared determined.
“I’m out of his life. What do you want?” I said as my voice cracked. Being taunted or corrected by Stone wasn’t what I needed or wanted. Now or ever.
He turned his head to look at me. “I was expecting this,” he said.
How could he have expected this? He didn’t even know the details of what had transpired. I wanted to slap him and scream at him to release some of my pain. But I had never been violent.
“You want her to stay here, don’t you? She likes it here,” he nodded his head at the home Heidi lived in.
The facility was perfect for Heidi. She had friends. They gave her jobs that made her feel productive. She loved the activities. The home offered her a life that was safe but allowed her to be independent.
“It costs too much. Jasper wanted to pay ten years in advance. I don’t know if he did, but I can’t let him. Especially now,” I replied unsure why he was asking about Heidi.
He reached over and took my keys out of the ignition. “You shouldn’t be driving like this. You’re too upset. It’s dangerous.”
I shot my arm out to snatch my car keys back from him. I was angry because his comments were unwelcome and out of line. “Give me my keys back. I’m fine.”
He slipped them into his pocket. “No, Beulah. You aren’t fine. You’re a danger to not only yourself but others on the road. You need to calm down.” He opened the passenger door. “I’ll drive you up there. But you should wait until your face isn’t red and splotchy from crying before you see your sister. I imagine that would upset her.”
I agreed with him. I didn’t want to agree with him. I didn’t want him here. But for a moment, I wasn’t alone. Even if it was Stone, he was helping calm me down. However, his sudden appearance still made no sense, unless Jasper had sent him.
“He sent you to find me, didn’t he?” I asked him as I sat unmoving in the driver’s seat.
Stone waited a moment, then climbed out of the car. He closed his car door, and walked around to open the driver’s side door. I sat and watched him. Waiting for the confirmation that Jasper was trying to take care of me. My heart ached at the thought. Jasper couldn’t do that. Not anymore.
As Stone stood waiting for me to get out of the car, I sighed and climbed out to face him. “Do you know? The lies? Did he tell you?”
Stone appeared unconcerned. His face showed no emotion. I wondered if it was his distaste for me that made him this way. Because I’d seen him laugh, smile, and it had been startling. Stunning even. But he’d never do
ne those things while looking at me.
“I’ve not seen or spoken to Jasper since earlier today in his office.”
Frowning I wondered if he knew anything. Did he think we’d broken up? “Why . . . What are you doing here then? Were you looking for me?”
Stone lifted his chin and he looked slightly annoyed as he stared at something over my shoulder. “Understand something, Beulah. I’ve never disliked you. It was the lies I hated that would eventually come out. They had to. And when they did, I knew you’d be hurt. I knew you both would. I was trying to protect Jasper.” He paused and moved his steely gaze back to me. “And I was trying to protect you.”
What? I shook my head. That didn’t make sense. “What lies did you know?” Because Stone couldn’t have known that Heidi was Portia’s daughter. Or that Portia was my aunt. Were there more secrets I didn’t know? I wasn’t sure I could handle more, but I also knew I had to face the truth. Whatever it was.
“Jasper is a good man. He’s got a good heart. But his life has been easy. It’s been one with little destruction. He has never faced truly dark shit. I have. I see more than I want. I hear more than others want me to hear. When you arrived, I knew there was more to your sudden appearance. I knew there was more that you didn’t understand. I did my own investigating. I found out the truth easily enough.”
He knew and never said anything? He just let Jasper and me fall in love knowing our relationship was impossible? “You knew and didn’t tell us? Why not tell Jasper? You want to protect him so badly, yet you let him . . . you let us go too far.”
He let out a deep chuckle that exuded no warmth or real humor. “Beulah, he would never have believed me. The moment he laid eyes on you he was done. It was over. I saw it and I knew I couldn’t stop what would happen.”
I was ready to snap at him, but then I paused. Something didn’t add up. I’d been so shocked and horrified by Heidi’s name on that birth certificate that I hadn’t thought it through. “Wait . . . Jasper is twenty-one year’s old. Heidi is nineteen. We’re the same age. That . . . Portia’s story. It doesn’t add up. Something is wrong.” I looked at Stone for answers. He said he knew everything already. Did he know why Heidi was younger than Jasper?
Stone sighed. “What did she tell you?”
“That she was raped before she married Jasper’s father, he married her even though she was pregnant. The baby had Down syndrome and she left her with my mother. But . . . Jasper. The timeline . . . something is wrong.”
I was scared to hope that even the lies were wrong. But I found myself clinging to the possibility.
STONE APPEARED TO BE STUDYING the woods behind me with a dark frown on his face. He didn’t respond right away, and I let my imagination take over working out every scenario I could. I wanted to believe Heidi wasn’t Portia’s daughter.
“In the hospital records I found, Heidi was born to Portia Van Allan sixteen months after Jasper’s birth.” He looked at me then. “There are photos in the attic of the Van Allan house that I looked through while staying there the past month. The photos are of Portia pregnant in a white gown, and Jasper is a toddler beside her.”
“What? But . . . she wasn’t raped? Why did she say she was?” Nothing made sense. The lies continued to unravel, and there were lies on top of more lies. What could I believe?
“Heidi is a Van Allan. Half of the Van Allan inheritance should be hers. She has a right to something. If anyone knew the truth, that the Van Allans had a child and gave her away, there could be lawsuits filed on Heidi’s behalf . . . by you.”
I didn’t understand. None of this made sense and nothing was clicking into place. You couldn’t just give a kid away. There were photos of her pregnant with Jasper beside her. People had to know she had another baby. “She couldn’t have just had a baby and everyone forgot it existed.”
He gave a short nod of agreement. “That’s what I thought too. Then,” he stopped and took a long deep breath. I could tell by his posture and the look on his face that I didn’t want to hear this. He didn’t want to tell me either. “There was a small closed casket funeral for Heidi Clarisse Van Allan who died at birth.”
What? What! I shook my head in disbelief. “No,” was all I could say. My throat was thick. My chest felt as if a ton of bricks had been dumped on it. How could two humans be so cold and cruel? To claim their child was dead and get rid of it because it’s not what they wanted. My beautiful sweet sister was the most special person on earth. I felt hate deep inside of me start to burn. It wasn’t an emotion I was familiar with, but it was there and building.
“With the Van Allan money, they were allowed to pay off anyone to keep the truth about Heidi a secret. They never spoke of her again. The people in their world are so consumed with themselves they don’t care about others. The death of a baby—they sent their condolences, and in time everything was forgotten.” The look on Stone’s face was pure disgust as he described how this could go away so easily.
“They just gave her away. They dropped money and a child on my mother. Then not another word. There was nothing from them. Heidi is the most perfect human I know. But they didn’t care.” I said the words aloud trying to comprehend it. I never would though. They were both monsters. Terrible, horrible people with dark souls. I was thankful Heidi never knew them. That she had my mother to love her. My mother was the best.
“Portia already relies solely on Jasper to keep up her life. She wouldn’t let it go so far that you and Jasper went any further being related. But she had to tell a story that made her appear less horrible if that is possible. The rape was her way of adding an excuse and attempting to get sympathy or at least understanding. She doesn’t want him to know the truth. But in her haste, she didn’t tie up all her loose ends to her lie. Jasper is going to realize the same thing you did. He’ll demand the truth. He won’t be able to forgive her.”
How could anyone? How did a mother do that? “How do I face Heidi without breaking apart? I won’t be able to hold her and not weep.”
His gaze shifted up the hill toward the beautiful home that was Heidi’s safe place. “You’re strong. I’ve watched you. You can do this. Do what you always do when you visit her. Play some kickball. Let her do whatever she wants to do today. Enjoy her. When you’re ready to leave, your car will be waiting for you. I’ll drive you to the house and park it, then I can walk back here to pick up my Rover.”
“I just leave her here? I don’t know if Jasper paid them already. If he didn’t, I need to figure out my next move. If he did then . . . then I don’t know . . . I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Stone shifted his eyes back to me. “Heidi is a Van Allan. A Van Allan that lived in poverty in a trailer park while her parents traveled the world and lived in luxury. That money is as much hers as Jaspers.”
His words sunk in. Slowly. I’d seen the birth certificate, and I knew it was real. But I finally let my mind go there, truly accepting that Jasper was Heidi’s sister by blood. She wasn’t mine. The girl that I loved more than myself wasn’t my real sister.
“She will always be your sister,” he added as if he had read my thoughts. “Your connection can’t be broken by something as simple as who gave you life. The bond you have with her is stronger than any blood.”
He was right. Heidi and I were connected. That would never be taken from me. “I can’t see him or talk to him,” I whispered. “Not yet. Maybe not for a while. He’s going to think this through and realize the story we were told was impossible. But I can’t.”
“It’s best you don’t. I can handle things. For now, get in the car and let me take you to visit your sister. It will put your mind at rest to see she is taken care of.”
I did as I was told. After walking around the car, I climbed into the passenger side. It was funny how easy it was to obey Stone. The authority in his voice should annoy me, anger me even, but I found solace in his assertive words. His commanding presence was calming, and I needed that desperately.
drove us in silence back onto the road. From there, it was a short distance up the hill to the facility. The home that had been a godsend for Heidi after losing our mom. Heidi had adored our mother. She’d always felt equal because Momma made sure she did. If I did something, she made sure Heidi did it too. Even if it took a lot of help from both us.
After Stone parked the car, I sat there staring straight ahead. “I never want Heidi to know the truth. Our mother, she was our mother. Heidi loves her and misses her. Momma was Heidi’s world. This isn’t something Heidi will understand.”
I don’t know why I was telling Stone. It wasn’t as if he was going to walk inside and tell Heidi the terrible truth. But I needed to tell someone, and right now he was all I had.
“She doesn’t need to know. She has you. That’s all she needs.”
I agreed with all of my heart. “What if . . . what if Portia wants to see her? Talk to her? If Jasper throws her out . . . What if Portia tried to use Heidi to get Van Allan money?”
That woman wasn’t someone I wanted near my sister. She was evil and cruel, and had no heart. She was selfish and cold. Heidi was nothing like her.
“She won’t,” he said. “There’s too much at stake. More than her being broke and penniless. What she did wasn’t just cruel, it was illegal.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I’ve verified her actions were and still are illegal,” he said with confidence.
I turned my head and looked at him. “But she may decide to face her lies.”
Stone leaned closer to me—closer than he’d ever been. His gaze was intense and invited no argument. Where Jasper was kind and warm, Stone wasn’t. “The first thing you’re going to have to learn is to trust me, Beulah. Because I don’t lie, and I swear to you that Portia won’t come near Heidi.”
He didn’t add that he wouldn’t let her. But his expression was so determined that I didn’t question it. It was hard not to believe his sincerity.
“Okay,” I whispered.
He nodded his head toward the door. “Go. Visit with Heidi. Forget the shit from today. I’m going to text an address to you. Drive your car there after your visit.”