Chapter 229

Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8:40 AM
It was a few minutes after six that evening when Mark Russell exited the studio to the still brightly lit street. His arms were full with a portfolio, a computer briefcase, a coffee mug, and car keys and he didn’t see the woman waiting a little ways down from the studio entrance.

“Hello, Jeremy.”

Jeremy whipped around at the sound of that name and the voice. The travel coffee cup hit the pavement with a loud crack as he took in the sight of his wife standing in front of him.

“Amanda … oh my god!”

The emotional roller-coaster of the last several days had drained Amanda. The confrontation with Richie had been the final nail in the coffin of her emotional responses.

Facing Jeremy, she felt nothing.

Not even surprise that she felt nothing.

All she wanted were answers.

“I think you owe me an explanation.”

Jeremy looked at her for a long moment.

“Let me make a phone call first.”

She nodded at him. He dialed and spoke.

“Christina? I have some shots I have to run to a client tonight so I’m gonna be late. Yeah, I know. I’ll be there in time to help him go over his lines for the play. Okay, I’ll be home as soon as I can. Uh huh, me too.”

He hung up the phone without looking again at Amanda, but heard her next question.

“That boy, he’s your son, isn’t he?”

At that Jeremy did look at her.

“Yes, he’s my son.”

Amanda nodded, the first shaft of pain suddenly slicing through her numbness.

“My car is over there.” Jeremy pointed and they walked to his car. He put everything he was carrying inside and they stood there a moment. Amanda motioned to the restaurant where she had waited for him earlier that day.

“Let’s go there.”

Jeremy hesitated. “Uh, I’d rather not. Christina and I go there …” His voice trailed off.

Her eyes closed, the irony of his concern for the other woman not lost on her.

“Then I’ll follow you somewhere else.” She turned to head to her car, then stopped and pierced him with a look. “And Jeremy, don’t try and lose me, I already know where you live.”

Jeremy swallowed thickly at that and nodded, then got in his car, waiting until she was behind him to pull out of his parking space. They traveled roughly ten miles before Jeremy pulled off to a side street and then down a few blocks to a small café. Both parked and she followed him inside to a table. They ordered coffee and sat there in silence until it arrived.

Amanda spoke first.

“Are we still married?”

Jeremy winced slightly but answered.

“No.”

She nodded at that, then took a copy of the report out of her purse and slid it across the table to Jeremy.

“Read that. Then we’ll talk.”

Sitting and sipping at the coffee she couldn’t taste, Amanda waited for Jeremy to read through the several pages. He finally finished, but held off speaking until the waitress had refilled their cups and been assured that they wouldn’t need anything for a while.

“Most of this is true. Enrico Sanchez was into drugs in a big way. He was laundering money through the company and getting kickbacks from other contractors. The FBI approached me, told me I had to cooperate or I would get charged with federal RICO crimes even if I knew nothing about this.” He wasn’t meeting her eyes as he spoke, just filling in what the report had missed.

“The car accident wasn’t an accident. It was rigged – I found that out later. That same day the FBI moved me into witness protection. They had been following me and saw the accident. Thought I was driving. When they saw the condition of the body, how badly burned it was, they decided to let him be me.”

“Who did I bury?’

Her voice was shaking a little as the memories of the few moments of staring at what she believed was the almost unrecognizable burned body of her husband rose. Of how she had run from the room, barely making it to a bathroom before she had been violently sick.

Keeping his voice low, Jeremy answered.

“The guy who was killed was someone who worked on one of the construction sites. He had been sent to pick up some hardware. He wasn’t married and his dad lives out of state, so his family was just told he had been killed in an accident. Apparently his father is in a home with early Alzheimer’s, so there weren’t a lot of questions asked.”

Raising a hand to be heard, swallowing past the lump in her throat, Amanda broke in.

“Why didn’t you let me know any of this? Why didn’t I go into that program with you? Why…” she stopped as answers to those questions slammed into her.

“You took Christina and your son. That’s why I didn’t know and that’s why you didn’t take me, isn’t it?”

Meeting her eyes, Jeremy nodded.

“I’m sorry, Amanda. I met her a few years ago in Miami and … we … and then she got pregnant and suddenly I had a son.”

“And another one on the way, right?” Amanda’s voice now showing some of the hurt she felt.

“Yes, we’re having twins this time.”

Pain, deep and biting, hit Amanda at that admission. She had to change the subject. Gathering back the emotions flooding her, she sheathed them again in ice.

“I got an insurance payout and was able to sell the business. Did you make me commit fraud?”

“No! Enrico had to believe I was dead, so everything went through that way. The FBI arranged it. There’s no way it can come back on you.”

Jeremy had his own questions also.

“How did you find me?”

Amanda then handed him the handwritten letter from Mrs. Bongiovi.

“She had me investigated. I have no idea how that Mr. Davidson found out where you were, but he did.”

“He’s probably ex-FBI, Amanda. They still have pull with their former co-workers at times.”

“What about you? Don’t you have to testify? Isn’t this all going to come out?”

Jeremy shook his head softly.

“No. It’s over actually. Two weeks ago Enrico was killed in Miami. He was the only one I knew anything about, so now there’s nothing for me to testify to as he can’t go to trial. They already have a written deposition of everything I knew.”

Amanda sat in silence as everything she heard worked its way through. Tears filled her eyes suddenly and she dashed them away in anger.

“So, Mark, you’ve got your new life and your new family and everything’s just great in your world.” The sarcasm in her voice had Jeremy flinching.

“Amanda…I…” He began, only to have her turn such hate-filled eyes on him that he sputtered to a stop.

“I want a copy of those divorce papers. I want proof this is over.”

“They’re in a safety deposit box at a bank. I can get them tomorrow when it opens at eight.”

“I’ll meet you where you work at eight.” Amanda stood and looked down at the man she had once loved with all her heart.

She tried to think of something to say, some shred of acknowledgement of what had been or some response to what had happened, but nothing came.

Jeremy looked into the once more lifeless eyes of his former wife and knew shame.

5 comments

  1. Alice Faye Says:

    two words....holy shit!

  2. Sandy Says:

    I agree with Alice...holy shit! Great story Sun!

  3. Heike Says:

    I did not think that the story could get any better - but I was wrong! - Off for holidays now - hopee to find some new stuff when I am back!

  4. Jen Says:

    OMG! Poor Amanda...as if she hasn't been through enough.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    shit...I can't believe he did this and is making her suffer for him being an ass!

    Beth

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