Cuddy rolls over and squints at her alarm clock. Six p.m. Crap! She’d meant to take a short nap. She rubs her eyes and sits up. Rachel is in the doorway, glowering at her.
“Sorry, my alarm didn’t go off. Are you okay?” Cuddy asks.
“Your alarm went off an hour ago,” Rachel says. “You didn’t hear it. How long are you going to have jet lag?”
“Sorry,” Cuddy repeats.
This isn’t jet lag: if it was, she should have gotten over it within a few days. Instead, she’s feeling worse every day, worse in a way that feels vaguely familiar. She pushes that thought to the back of her mind; she can’t deal with it now. “You should have woken me. You’ve missed your Orff class, haven’t you?”
“Doesn’t matter; I can go next week,” Rachel says. Given half a chance, she’ll opt out of most of her extra-curricular activities. Instead of swimming in a group with other special needs kids she wants to ride; she dreams of dancing, not banging on a xylophone. Cuddy can sympathise with Rachel, but she won’t let her brood at home just because she can’t have what she wants. At least, most days she won’t allow it. Today she’s honestly too tired to care, so it’s a relief that it’s ‘only’ the Orff class that Rachel has missed.
“Have you packed some of your toys into the box I put in your room?”
“I guess that’s a no.” Cuddy rubs her forehead tiredly. They’re due to move at the next weekend — if the bathroom is done by then. Which it won’t be if she doesn’t get herself out to the house soon and kick the construction company into action. “Okay, I’ll see what I can fix for dinner.”
The fridge fails as a source of inspiration. “I could make … ”
She stares into the cavernous depths, trying to focus, but all she can think about is the silverware. She can’t do without it until they move, which means it’ll have to go with the last batch of things. She should make a list of things that she’ll need right till the end, she supposes. Pulling her head out of the fridge, she looks around for a notepad or a scrap of paper. There’s a magazine on the kitchen counter and some junk mail, but no notepad. Where is her notepad? She drifts towards the door, wondering whether it’s worth the bother. Maybe she should just leave it until she can concentrate better.
“Food, Mom,” Rachel says.
“Right,” Cuddy says. “Food.” She can’t focus on cooking when there’s so much to be done. “Shall I order pizza?”
After an astonished silence Rachel whoops with delight. “With lots of cheese, please.”
“Okay.” Ordering pizza isn’t that difficult. “Do we have …?” She riffles through the kitchen drawers.
“What are you looking for?” Rachel asks.
“One of those leaflets. You know, from a takeout.”
“You chucked Pete’s stuff when we started packing.”
There’d been piles of print-outs and other papers that Pete amassed when coming up with a treatment plan for Wilson, sports magazines, other magazines (that she’d deftly hidden from Rachel’s curious eyes), and all sorts of odds and ends, including leaflets from takeouts where Pete ordered when looking after Rachel. She’d figured they wouldn’t need Germantown takeout flyers after moving to Drexel, so she’d thrown everything in the trash.
She stands irresolutely in the kitchen. This, she tells herself, is a problem with a solution. She just needs a moment to come up with it. In theory, they could go out somewhere and eat, but in practice that would mean getting Rachel in and out of the car, and she doesn’t feel up to it. Besides, she’d have to get dressed, brush her hair, and put on some make-up …
“Can’t you Google some place with takeout?” Rachel asks.
“Yeah,” Cuddy says. “Yeah, I could do that.”
With Rachel’s help she finds a place nearby that’ll deliver in half an hour; their order reflects a balance between healthy eating and Rachel’s preferences that leans heavily in Rachel’s favour. She has barely put the phone down when it rings. It’s Wilson, calling from Drexel, with something about workmen and the bathroom. She should have checked on the bathroom yesterday, but she’d been too tired. Surely tiling a bathroom isn’t rocket science! It takes a few minutes to get Wilson to volunteer to take care of the problem — which is by far the best solution, because he’s out there already. Besides, the longer he’s out there, the longer the reprieve before she has to face Pete.
Now that she knows what game Pete was playing in Paris, she has no desire whatsoever to face him. How she’d been so obtuse as not to notice what he was up to is a mystery to her now. In hindsight, with additional information at her disposal, it’s easy to see where he was going when he flirted with her. She should have known that he’d never tempt her back into his orbit for her own sake. He is convinced that she should never, ever get involved with him again, so if he sweet-talks her, then it’s for some other purpose, for some greater good. She has come out of the affair looking like a moonstruck idiot and Wilson has gotten hurt. He isn’t moaning about it, but he is upset — if not for himself, then for Joel.
She would doubtless have refused his proposal: Wilson may choose to marry in order to safeguard the interests of his child, but that doesn’t mean that she is prepared to do the same. Besides, since she knows more than he does, namely that Joel isn’t his son, she can’t very well marry him and then adopt Joel under false pretences. Nevertheless, she’d have preferred to deal with Wilson on her own terms instead of having Pete humiliate both of them.
But that’s a minor glitch in her emotional system compared to how she feels about Pete using her. It hurts that he can’t be open and upfront with her. It hurts even more that he believes she’d adopt his son without his consent. What hurts most of all is that their friendship didn’t stop him from messing around with her feelings and playing with her heart.
She’d believed that they were okay. That saving Wilson together created a … not a relationship, but a bond or a pact. A non-aggression pact, or even a mutual assistance pact. But apparently Pete doesn’t see it that way. To him, theirs was a temporary alliance that he could — and did — terminate at will with no prior notice. She was never an ally; she is The Enemy, tolerated as long as she is needed, but not trusted.
She’s sick of it: sick of being appreciated as long as she’s performing and being dropped the moment she loses her usefulness or doesn’t fulfil expectations. She was Mom’s favourite daughter while her achievements were something to boast about: valedictorian, med school, dean at a ridiculously young age. But when her mother’s friends told tales of their successful sons-in-law and their talented grandchildren, she couldn’t compete anymore. She was PPTH’s darling as long as her leadership brought in donations and national renown; she was heir presumptive to the deanship at Philadelphia Central after curing their ailing Department of Family and Community Healthcare, but when her own health took a beating she was dropped like a hot potato. She was good enough to donate her liver to Pete’s friend, but now he has no use for her anymore …
And yet she’ll let him into the apartment, listen to whatever apology Wilson has brow-beaten him into proffering, and say that she’s fine, no harm done. She’ll do that because it’s easier that way: she’ll come out of the meeting with her pride intact, Wilson will be placated, and everything will go back to normal. Besides, there’s no alternative. She has nothing to gain if she takes a stand on this. Pete saved Wilson’s life and he’s the father of Wilson’s son. If she makes Wilson choose, he’ll choose Pete. Oh, he’ll be annoyed as hell and perhaps he won’t talk to Pete for a few days or months, but sooner or later he’ll cave. He always does.
Around eight p.m. there’s a knock on the door. Rachel, aware that Pete is expected in town, flips her wheelchair into reverse gear in the direction of the door. Cuddy instinctively rises to call her back and go to the door herself, but then she realises that Pete has come while Rachel is still up in order to use her as a buffer. Okay, he’ll get what he wants — but it’ll come at a price.
“It’s probably Pete, honey. Do you think you can entertain him while I, uh, take care of some packing?”
While Rachel opens the door and greets Pete enthusiastically, she withdraws into her bedroom and stares at the packing boxes that are stacked in one corner. The voices — Rachel’s youthful lilt and Pete’s baritone rumble — move to the living room. She considers lying down again, but Rachel won’t be able to keep Pete in check forever. Now that he’s here, he’ll come in search of her sooner or later. So she gets up, pulls open her closet, and throws her clothes haphazardly into the top box, knowing that she’ll regret it when she has to unpack the boxes in her new home. Nevertheless, emptying her closet shelf by shelf is satisfying; at least she’s getting something done. It would make more sense to pack the remaining books or the crockery that she doesn’t need on a daily basis, but she’d need to leave the bedroom to do that.
She discovers a box of mementos at the bottom of her closet, mostly things she collected when Rachel was a baby, and is crouched on the floor immersed in them when the bedroom door opens.
“You gonna avoid me all night?”
She carefully replaces one of Rachel’s earliest drawings into the box before swinging around to face him. “Yes, that was the plan. That’s why I stayed here, where you were bound to find me.”
He gazes around the room — the open closet, the half-filled boxes — and then steps inside, moving to the nearest box and fingering the contents.
“Keep your hands off of my stuff!”
He glances her way quickly before looking down again. “I … came to apologise,” he says.
“I’m aware of it. Apology accepted.” She’s aiming for an aura of ‘too busy to waste time on the past’, but maybe she isn’t one hundred per cent convincing; his gaze is keen and searching. So she adds a bright smile.
He raises an eyebrow. “You’re still mad at me.”
Okay, so the smile was a total fail. “No,” she says in measured tones. “I’m not mad at you.” That’s the truth: she’s hurt, not mad. “I get why you did it. You’re worried that if Wilson gets married, you’ll lose control over your son.”
He looks over his shoulder, steps back to the door, and pulls it shut.
“Afraid to proclaim the truth?” she mocks.
“The truth is best administered in homeopathic doses,” he says, lowering himself onto the bed, “which isn’t Rachel’s strong point.”
“Nor is it yours. When are you telling Wilson about Joel?”
He shrugs. “The present moment lacks magic.”
She takes a deep breath. “Look, this is going to keep happening.”
“What, Wilson proposing to random women?”
Random, huh? She opts to ignore the insult. “Yes. Either that, or Amy claims Joel again.” Or Wilson dies. “If you want to be in Joel’s life, you need to —“
“Who says I want to be in the kid’s life? Perhaps I just don’t want you in it.”
She rocks back on her heels, shaking her head. “Why am I even surprised?” she says more to herself than to him. Of course he’s going to avoid the problem for as long as possible. Thing is, his take on how long that could be differs from hers. He’ll do as he pleases, while Wilson, Joel, and she herself draw the short straw. “Okay, I don’t care what you want. If you don’t tell Wilson what’s going on —”
“Nothing is going on!” Pete insists (predictably).
“… then I will.”
He rises to loom over her. “Are you threatening me?”
She folds her arms in front of her chest. “I’m telling you how this will go.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“You should have thought of that before you started messing with me. Now it is my business, and I’m under no obligation to put up with the games you play.” He doesn’t contradict her, which she takes to be a good sign. “You have twenty-four hours to tell him the truth: that’s nine o’clock tomorrow evening. If you haven’t told Wilson by then, I’ll tell him.”
When his lips tighten she feels a twinge of satisfaction. She has finally gotten his goat. But then he smiles. “You wouldn’t do that,” he says.
She rises to face him. “I wouldn’t?”
He tips his head to one side in contemplation. “No, you wouldn’t. You don’t want to cause a rift between Wilson and me. Nor will you do anything that is detrimental to the kid’s well-being.”
She has had enough! When he manipulates people, he banks on them playing the game according to a predictable pattern, sticking to the rules that society and morals dictate, while he interprets those rules as he pleases. He’s expecting her to fold or to call, but not to raise. Well, not this time, because although she doesn’t have a good hand, his is even worse. She tosses the memento in her hand (Rachel’s first shoes) onto the bed and pushes past him.
“You’re bluffing!” he calls after her.
Oh no, she isn’t! She takes the stairs, because it’s quicker than waiting for the elevator. Downstairs she rings the bell; she forgot her key to Wilson’s apartment at her place. Wilson opens the door with Joel on his arm and an expectant expression, but when he sees her, his face falls. “Come in. Did he screw up the apology?”
“You could say that,” she says. She hasn’t prepared what she wants to say, but her anger fuels her tongue. “Wilson, you know how I said that House messing with us wasn’t related to me in any way?”
“Yes. I still think you’re wrong. He’s —”
“It is related to me insofar as you were planning for me to adopt Joel.” She holds up a hand to silence Wilson, who is probably about to expound his ‘sibling jealousy’ theory again. Pete is bound to turn up soon, and she needs to say her lines before he does. “He doesn’t want that because Joel is his son, not yours.”
Wilson’s mouth drops open and then shuts again. His glance flickers from her to Joel and back again. “Uh,” he says. Then, after a moment, he flaps his free hand in denial. “That’s … no. No, no! He’s messing with you, Cuddy. He didn’t even know Amy before —”
Cuddy considers explaining what happened, but decides that the story is too convoluted for a short summary. Besides, how Pete did it is of no significance. “Ask him,” she says instead, “and do a paternity test for good measure.”
Wilson’s eyes are focused on a spot behind her. She doesn’t need to turn around to know that Pete has caught up with her. “Is any of this true?” Wilson asks Pete. There’s no reply, but from the way Wilson’s features slacken she can tell that Pete’s demeanour confirms her words.
“You couldn’t keep your trap shut, could you?” Pete says.
Cuddy whirls around. “Go ahead, blame me,” she snaps at him.
There’s a squawk from Wilson. He must have tightened his grasp on Joel, because Joel is squirming in his arm, pushing against Wilson’s face with the palm of one hand. Cuddy steps forward, holding out her arms. “Shall I take him?”
Wilson takes a step backwards, half turning away from them. “No!”
“Relax, I’m not gonna take him away from you. You can keep him,” Pete says.
Cuddy digs her elbow in his ribs.
“What?” he says, looking down at her in astonishment. “He’s worried that I’ll abscond with the little pooper, which I have no intention of doing. He can keep him for as long as he likes.”
Cuddy mentally face-palms. Maybe Pete is trying for ‘reassuring and conciliatory’, but he’s coming across as ‘uncaring’.
“You tricked me into getting chemo treatment by pretending that Amy was pregnant,” Wilson says in a flat monotone.
“Not by ‘pretending’, by getting her pregnant,” Pete corrects him. “Pretence seemed risky; I figured you might administer a pregnancy test yourself before agreeing to chemo therapy, given her history of false alarms.”
Cuddy sighs and rubs her forehead. She wishes Pete would show the slightest indication of guilt or remorse, but now that he’s immersed in the technicalities of his clever little plan, he is distancing himself from the emotional aspect. He’s even slightly boastful. What an immature brat he is! All it needs is for him to crow how clever he is.
“Nice,” Wilson says in the same tone as before. “What made you believe a child would change my mind?”
“Married three times before the age of forty,” Pete says, “to women in the best child-bearing years. You were practically begging for the patter of little feet in the hallway. You were lucky your marriages never lasted long enough for little Jimmies to materialise.”
“Lucky,” Wilson echoes.
Perhaps Pete realises that he’s put his foot in it multiple times, because he holds his peace for a change. When Wilson makes no further comment Pete asks, “Can we take this inside?”
“So … I can, uh, apologise?” Pete says, sounding uncertain for the first time. So he has finally, finally understood what he has done! Cuddy exhales, only now noticing that she’s been holding her breath. Her legs feel like jelly, her hands are shaking. She feels every year of her age dragging her down like weights attached to her waist. She’s getting too old for Pete’s shenanigans.
Wilson turns around and disappears into the apartment, leaving the door open behind him. Pete hesitates, then trails behind him. Before Cuddy can follow him, he demonstratively slams the door in her face. That’s okay, she decides. She has had enough for one evening; let those two fight it out! They’ll settle the matter with one of their absurd male bonding rituals.
She’s barely been back upstairs for five minutes when her front door slams. It’s Pete, looking grumpy. “What do you want?” Then she sees his bag. “Oh, no!”
“He kicked me out. He went inside, got my things, and dumped them outside the door.”
“Where is he? Did you leave him alone?”
“I didn’t leave him; he kicked me out,” Pete says, getting louder and enunciating each word separately.
Cuddy feels gloom descending on her. “And you let him? Idiot!” The one time that Pete should stay obstinate and not listen to Wilson, he actually does as he’s told!
Pete scratches his cheek. “He wouldn’t see it rationally. Got all pissy.”
“Well, you’re not staying here. I’m feeling pissy too.” She’s even more annoyed at him than before she marched downstairs — if that is even possible. Even his kicked puppy look (which isn’t fake for a change) doesn’t placate her. She’s going to have go down and sort this out, because he, the guy with the gift of the gab when he so chooses, can’t manage a decent or even a half-assed apology. Oh, for crying out loud! What she wants is an early night so that she won’t feel like death warmed over tomorrow; what she needs is a cup of good, strong tea; what she’s going to get is a few hours at Wilson’s kitchen table, talking him through this so that he doesn’t throw a pity party. She should have waited till morning to spring this on Wilson, but knowing what to do is always easier in hindsight. (And it’s a lot easier to keep your temper when you aren’t dead on your feet.)
She holds the door open for Pete. “Out! I’ll fix this for you, but that doesn’t mean I’m putting up with you. I have better things to do than to pamper you. Or are you volunteering to help me pack up my belongings?”
In answer he picks up his bag.
“I thought not,” she mutters as he departs.
After checking on Rachel (who is still awake, reading in her bed) and telling her where she’s going, she ventures downstairs for the second time. She listens outside the apartment door: she can hear Joel screaming, but it’s muted. Joel must be in his bedroom at the other end of the apartment. First she knocks, then she rings the bell. There’s no reaction; maybe Wilson is with Joel and can’t hear her. So she gets out her key to his apartment to open the door, but although it turns in the lock, she can’t get the door to open. Wilson must have bolted it from the inside. He never does that, because he takes naps whenever he gets an opportunity, preferring not to be disturbed if she swings by to drop off groceries or bring him a meal.
She raps on the door again and calls his name, in a low tone at first, but more insistently when there’s no response whatsoever. Then she goes out onto the sidewalk and peers at the windows facing the street. It’s dark outside by now, but there’s no sign of light from Wilson’s apartment. If Wilson is in there, then he’s sitting in the dark. She pulls out her cell and tries to call him, first the landline, then his cell phone. Both go to voicemail.
“Crap!” she says and goes back inside. Joel is still bawling. What on earth is Wilson doing in the dark? A shiver of realisation runs down her back: he’s probably drinking. How could she forget that he’s an alcoholic? She rings his doorbell again, pressing the bell button while she counts to fifty.
That finally provokes a reaction. “Go away!” Wilson calls from inside.
“Open the door and let me take care of Joel,” she answers.
She listens for his reply, but all she can hear are odd scraping sounds on the inside. It sounds as though he’s doing something to the wall. She rattles the doorknob.
“Open up, Wilson. Someone needs to see to Joel,” she repeats.
When she presses her ear against the door she hears a door inside the apartment open and then slam shut. So Wilson isn’t going to open the door. When she tries to ring the doorbell again, she realises what he has just been doing: he has disconnected the doorbell. She considers her options. She could call the caretaker and ask him to break down the door, but if Wilson shows signs of life before the door is open, the caretaker will refuse. She pulls out her cell and calls Pete’s number, but his phone goes to voicemail, just like Wilson’s.
She has Dr Nolan’s numbers, both the office one and his private cell (for emergencies), and after a moment’s consideration she calls him.
“Dr Cuddy? What has happened?”
She opts for the nutshell version of the evening’s happenings. “Wilson has locked himself into his apartment. He isn’t answering the door or the phone, and I can’t get in. I think he’s drinking.”
Nolan is brisk and to the point. “Do you have reason to believe he’ll harm himself?”
She considers the question. “I … don’t know. But Joel is in there — the baby.” She can’t bring herself to say, ‘his son’. “And as far as I can make out, he isn’t looking after him. Joel is screaming his head off. Normally Wilson carries him around the apartment and sings to him when he’s restless.”
“Okay,” Nolan says. “Where are you?”
Cuddy isn’t sure she understands the question. “I’m in front of the door to his apartment.”
“Can you hear Joel?”
“Can you hear or see Wilson?”
“No. I’ve been out on the sidewalk in front of the house, and there’s no sign of him from there either.”
“Okay. Stay where you are, please. If anything changes — if you stop hearing Joel or you have reason to believe that Wilson is doing something to endanger himself or the child — then please call the police at once. I’ll be over as soon as possible; I estimate it’ll take me about half an hour.”
After disconnecting the call Cuddy sinks down on the doormat with her head resting sideways against the door so that her ear is pressed against the leaf. Other than Joel’s screams there is no sound from within: no television, no footsteps, nothing. The guy living on the third floor, traversing the hall on his way out, looks at her curiously but he asks no questions. The headlamps of occasional cars passing by outside send streaks of light along the otherwise dark hallway. A television blares on the second floor; the smell of cooking wafts down the stairs. Joel’s screams die down. Cuddy sits up and stiffens. There’s relative silence for about half a minute, only broken by snatches of voices from the street, but just as she’s about to pull out her cell and call the police, Joel gets going again. He’s probably hungry.
When Nolan arrives less than twenty minutes after the phone call, Cuddy struggles to her feet and shakes the hand he holds out. She probably looks a sight, but she’s beyond caring.
“What happened?” Nolan asks.
She decides that Wilson can tell him the details, so she only says, “He found out that he isn’t Joel’s father.”
Nolan’s reaction isn’t quite what she expected. “He has suspected that to be the case all along.”
“Oh.” She drags a hand through her hair. “I didn’t realise that.”
“So, what changed? Has Joel’s birth father claimed him?”
A brief explanation is called for. “It’s Pete.” Nolan looks at her blankly. “He’s the father. … You know, House.”
Nolan stares at her. “You’re kidding.”
She wishes! “No. He did it so Amy would pressure Wilson into getting treatment for his thymoma. It worked, so …”
“I don’t understand,” Nolan says.
Cuddy rubs her forehead with the back of her hand. She doesn’t want to think about this; she just wants Wilson in safe hands. “He figured Wilson would consent to treatment if he had an incentive to stay alive, so he conned Amy — Joel’s mother — into getting pregnant. He didn’t consider the ramification of passing his own child off as Wilson’s.”
“And today he told Wilson.”
“I told Wilson,” Cuddy clarifies. “We had an agreement that he’d tell Wilson when he came this time, but he chickened out, so I took the matter into my hands. It … it wasn’t good timing, I guess, but I lost my temper.”
“So you were in on this deception.” Nolan doesn’t try to hide his disapproval.
“I found out about five weeks ago, the last time Pete … House was here. That was when Wilson got custody for Joel. It was all so sudden and confusing. … Anyway, before House left he promised he’d own up, but now …” She trails off.
“Where is Greg now?” Nolan asks.
“I don’t know. Wilson kicked him out, and I didn’t want him at my place either.”
Nolan receives this last piece of information with a raised eyebrow, but Cuddy decides that she owes him no explanation for her treatment of Pete. Then he turns towards the door and tries to ring the doorbell.
“It’s no use; he has disconnected it,” Cuddy informs him.
“Okay.” Nolan steps back and scans the door from top to bottom. “I assume he isn’t responding to knocks either.”
Cuddy shakes her head.
Nolan moves about three yards away from the door before taking brisk steps towards it, ramming it with his shoulder when he reaches it. The door shakes, resonating, but doesn’t give way. When he moves back to repeat the procedure, Cuddy says, “Are you sure …?”
“You got a better idea?” Nolan says just before his shoulder collides with the door again. The door, made of solid, durable wood, shows no sign of giving way, but the din is impressive, as will be the bruise that must be forming on Nolan’s shoulder. After repeating the procedure a third time, he calls, “James? Are you going to open the door? Because this was the ‘light’ version. If you don’t open up, I’ll take a proper run, and then the bolt will give way.”
There’s silence on the other side, and then the sound of the bolt being removed and the door being unlocked. Wilson, dishevelled and bleary-eyed, his shirt hanging out and his feet bare, stands in the doorway glaring at Nolan.
“James,” Nolan says. “I was worried about you.”
“No need,” Wilson says. “I’m fine.” He transfers his glare to Cuddy. “Absolutely fine.”
“Can we talk about this?” Nolan asks.
“There is no ‘this’,” Wilson replies. “I had an altercation with House, that’s all. I’m not drinking, in case you were wondering.”
“That’s great,” Nolan says, and it sounds as though he means it.
“No liquor in the place, and I didn’t want to leave Joel alone,” Wilson admits.
“Still great,” Nolan responds. “You had a choice and you made the right call. Now, since you’ve admitted you were tempted, can we go inside and talk about it?”
Wilson hesitates, then he nods, standing aside to let Nolan enter. Cuddy wants to follow them to get Joel, but Nolan blocks her way when he notices.
“Go inside,” he says to Wilson. “I need a moment with Dr Cuddy.” He steps outside again while Wilson disappears down the entryway.
“What about Joel?” she asks.
“Between James and myself, I’m sure we will manage,” Nolan says, his voice now devoid of the friendliness with which he greeted Wilson. “Find Greg.” It’s an order, not a request.
“Sorry?” She doesn’t want to deal with Pete; she contacted Nolan because she was worried about Wilson and Joel, not because she wanted to get sucked any further into the vortex of Pete’s machinations. In fact, she’d told Wilson about Joel precisely in order to put an end to her involvement in them.
“Wilson isn’t the only addict in danger of a relapse,” Nolan says in the manner of someone spelling out the obvious.
She’s not in the mood to play minion to Nolan or babysitter for Pete. “So?”
“Dr Cuddy, you interfered in something that wasn’t your business. What concern of yours was it whether or when Greg told James about the boy’s paternity? You precipitated this showdown so that you wouldn’t be accessory to what you consider a deception. Didn’t it strike you that openness might result in a worse state of affairs than an on-going deception?”
Wait, he’s blaming her? Pete screws Wilson over royally and plays with her peace of mind, but his therapist decides that she’s the culprit? Wonderful!
Of course she’d wondered whether Wilson would benefit from knowing that Joel wasn’t his son as long as Pete wasn’t prepared to take over as father. Seen from a short term perspective, Wilson would be better off stewing in blissful ignorance, but — the matter would only have gotten more complicated the longer he remained in the dark. Take, for example, this idea of his that he and she should marry: he’d never have had it if he hadn’t wanted a mother for his son. Had he known that Joel was Pete’s kid, he’d have left well alone. As for Pete, his ploys for keeping his fatherhood a secret while maintaining a grip on his son would only have gotten more and more convoluted. This time, they were lucky: she was the only one who got hurt. Next time, they mightn’t be so lucky. Next time, Wilson might actually be in love with his future bride.
She stares at Nolan angrily, her lips incapable of uttering the complex chain of thoughts going through her head. Besides, she doesn’t owe him an explanation. What happened between Pete and her is none of his business, regardless of how it influenced her actions. So all she says is, “He isn’t answering his phone.”
“Keep trying,” he instructs her.
“Sure,” she mutters, rolling her eyes as she turns away.
Nevertheless, she tries calling Pete at ever lengthening intervals, in between putting Rachel to bed and trying to get some more packing done. What Nolan said about Wilson not being the only addict struck a chord: she’d rather not be held responsible for Pete’s third relapse. Wilson holds her responsible for Pete’s first one and not quite innocent of the second one, although her personal jury is still out on that one …
Around midnight, when, giving up hope, she goes to brush her teeth, her phone rings. It’s Pete’s number, but when she picks it up the voice at the other end asking whether he’s talking to ‘Lisa’ is that of a stranger. Her heart misses a beat while her overwrought mind paints ten different scenarios of disaster in a matter of milliseconds. But his next words disabuse her mind of all notions of accidents, muggings, or overdoses.
“Desire Gentlemen’s Club, ma’am. We’ve got a guy here who needs to be picked up.”