Clare guessed she could wait another hour or so. She'd taken her own sweet time, but she hoped it wasn't too late.
She wasn't sure what she was expecting. She'd only known about Gage through Carson, and she really hadn't listened to everything he'd said. Especially, when all Carson did now was tell her how awful she was and how he didn't need her in his life.
He didn't want to listen that she was getting help. That she was making a clean start. He didn't want to believe her, and she understood that. She'd let him down all his life. And there was a time, she considered it would be a blessing if she did stay clear of this teenage boy's life.
And then Carson called to tell her the news of his engagement.
So here she was, trying to make an effort of being normal.
"Does Dad know you're here?" The boy finally turned to her as if it were a warning of some kind.
"Dad?" That cracked her up. She'd never thought Chevy worth much of anything. But the boy sounded like he was content with the fact that he had a father. She shook her head, no. She didn't see the need to drag him into this. "I want to talk to you. Just let me, at least..explain."
"What's there to explain?" Gage was dead serious.
"You, think you know, but you don't know." She bit back as if he had no reason to be mad at her.
Gage let out a breath. He went to put his work away.
She thought it best if they took a walk. Maybe if she stared at his shoes long enough, she could get this out of her system.
"All right, I know what I said to Carson." She shook her head. "But..but at the time, I wasn't right in the head...I mean, it wasn't the whole story." She sighed, thinking Gage would take her as a liar. "I didn't have you, under the best circumstances. You weren't born in a hospital." She looked at him. "It was before I moved back home to Florida. That's where my people are from." She kept focused on the ground, but then she knew she better look him in the eye.
"Ray," she squinted hard. "Seemed to think you were dead. I mean, you weren't crying." She shook her head. She thought she could remember it like yesterday. Of course, she'd been half conscious, she guessed. "I dunno, it was this old motel, by the base and well, I...I..guess..I didn't know what exactly happened." She didn't want to tell him she was high at the time. "But..but I didn't put you in the dumpster."
She fiddled with her thumb nail. She was in dire need of a cigarette, but she bit her thumb nail ever so carefully.
"I'm sorry." Her tears were bitter. "Sometimes, I wondered. And..and sometimes I didn't." She shook her head. "And when Carson told me..I was so angry. Mad at myself, I..I just didn't know if I could face you." She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "I'm good at making your brother miserable. God, he did raise himself. He took care of me. And I've done nothing to pay him back."
Gage pressed his lips tight. She was certain he'd have something bad to say, but instead he talked about the girl Carson was in love with.
"And he never thought he'd see her again. It was just an accident, you know." He cleared his throat and for a moment she thought he was talking about her.