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.He watched her fumble in her tote for a moment, and then he handed her a tissue the way he mighthand a homeless person a quarter, with neither a smile nor any real sympathy at all.William stepped forward."Miss Gallager.We appreciate your bringing my son home."Jill tensed, instantly feeling ill and faint again, facing William, wondering if her guilt showed—and praying that she would not have a blackout now.He was beginning to waver before her very eyes."I am so sorry," she began."I never thought—""Yes, of course, we all are.Now, if you will excuse me, I wish to retire." His smile was brief and strained; clearly he did not want her to finish."Until tomorrow then.Good evening."Jill watched him leave the room, walking like a very old man, his shoulders hunched over, his strides slow and heavy with effort.She had done this to him, she managed to think."My father is seventy-nine years old," Thomas spoke suddenly.Jill was riveted by his gaze."This has destroyed him."Jill did not know what to say."It was an accident," she whispered."An accident," Thomas repeated harshly."An accident.""Tom." Alex stepped between them, gripping his shoulder."We're all shocked and exhausted." There was a warning in his tone."Let's skip all this." He turned to Jill."You must be tired from the flight.Lauren will show you to a room."Jill was so eager to flee she turned and took a stumbling step toward the doorway, but Thomas's cutting voice halted her an instant later."What happened?"Jill froze."I asked you what happened," Thomas said."My brother's dead.I have a right to know."Jill had no choice but to face him."We were going away for the weekend.There was a tree." She did not continue.Thomas stared.Everyone stared."I don't understand," he finally said.His nose was turning red."I spoke extensively with the Highway Patrol.You weren't drinking.You weren't on drugs.The traffic was moderate, and moving well.Theroads were only slightly damp.I do not understand!" His voice rose."Fm sorry," Jill whispered, trembling wildly now.**I don't know what happened." But she did.Hal had upset her and she hadn't been concentrating on the'road.She had killed him, and Thomas had every right to blame her, to hate her—they all did."Tom.Not now.Not today.Not like this." Alex's voice was hard.Thomas wheeled to face his cousin."Then when? Tomorrow? Before or after the funeral?""I expected to meet all of you under far different circumstances," Jill suddenly whispered.Tears blurred her vision.They all turned to stare at her.Lauren, cold; Thomas, visibly upset; Alex, his face an unreadable mask."Hal spoke of you so often, so glowingly.he loved you all and made me love you too, and he told me how he wanted us to meet.it should not be this way!"Thomas made a scoffing sound.Jill tensed.Thomas stared."I am going to drop all pretense.Miss Gallagher.All pretense and all attempts at civility.My brother is dead, and had he not been in New York, he would be very much alive today.I can imagine what it is that you want, and I will tell you this.You will not succeed."Jill was dazed."I don't know what you're talking about."But Thomas wasn't through.His face flushed, he said, "Hal had no intention of ever bringing you home."Jill stiffened, unable to respond, because she was recalling their very last conversation.Horror had overcome her.And she thought.What if Hal had told his entire family that he was having doubts about us?Alex turned, clearly intent upon ending the gathering."Lguren, why don't you have sandwiches sent up to Miss Gallagher's room? She looks exhausted.I'm sure she wants to retire for the evening.As we all do."Lauren stared at Alex as if she did not understand a word he said.Jill, who was almost quaking, looked from the one to the other, and watched Lauren finally, reluctantly, walk awayto do as Alex had asked.*Thank you," Jill said to Alex, praying for one kind face in the family.He just looked at her, and this time she saw the loathing in his eyes, barely disguised."How long did you know my brother?" Thomas demanded.Jill tensed with dread."Eight months.""How did you meet?" Thomas continued, his regard unwavering.Jill found herself glancing at Alex instinctively, even while knowing that no support would be forthcoming from him.Alex looked at her and finally at his cousin."Tom, leave it until tomorrow.""It's a fair question," Thomas said."They're all fair questions.She appears here with his body.He is in a coffin, God damn it.I want to know how they met."Jill wished she had something to lean on for physical support.Before she could reply, Lauren was reentering the room and said, "I believe he first saw her in a health club."Jill glanced at Lauren."No.I do train at a small studio in SoHo, but we met on the subway.""That's not what Hal told me," Lauren returned."It's the truth," Jill said, mildly perplexed.Lauren was mistaken."The underground!" Thomas was incredulous."Just what the hell was my brother doing on the bloody dammed tube?""It's a very good way to get around the city," Jill said defensively."My brother had a driver at his beck and call," Thomas returned."He did, but he didn't want to live that way.He rarely used the driver in the eight months I knew him."Thomas looked at her in such a way that she knew he thought her influence was responsible for, such absurdity on the part of his brother, either that, or he thought she was lying."It's the truth," Jill cried."Hal was down-to-earth.""Don't tell me how my brother was," Thomas snapped.Their gazes locked [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]