Found in You


Found in You: Page 48



And despite the myriad of affairs you've had over the years, I would never have thought you'd stoop so low to sleep with your son's girlfriend."

"She was never my girlfriend!" Hudson said at the same time his father said, "She was never his girlfriend!"

The scene had moved from shocking to uncomfortable.

Brian sidled up next to me. "Wow. This family is f**ked up."

It was strangely comical, those words coming from my brother's lips. Our own family with our alcoholic father and distant mother and me-the sister with a mental disorder-had always seemed the definition of f**ked up. The Pierces, though, made us look like the Brady Bunch.

I gave Brian a wry smile. "Tell me about it."

Totally f**ked up. And why I was still there was beyond me.

So I left.

My hands shook the entire ride down the elevator. I didn't know where I was going, only that I had to go. Hudson and I could work things out later when it was only the two of us. There was so much to sort through, but I knew in my heart of hearts that we were okay, that we were as connected as our eyes had been when we stood in the living room with chaos surrounding us.

I paused in the middle of the lobby, wondering if I should call Jordan for a ride. But where would I even go?

"Alayna!" Hudson called after me. He must have taken the other elevator down.

He'd noticed I was gone. It warmed some of the chill that had settled over me.

"Why did you leave?" he asked when he reached me.

"Isn't it obvious? That was a madhouse and I didn't want to be there anymore."

"Yes, that it was."

"I, um..." There was so much to say, but only one thing important to me-to us. "Why didn't you defend me up there? Are you that mad about the David situation? It's me supposed to be mad at you, remember?"

He met me with silence.

"Wait-" The truth burned into me with sickening certainty. "You believe her."

His jaw twitched.

"Hudson?"

I'd thought-when our eyes had met, when we'd connected-I'd thought it had meant he was on my side. I'd been wrong. And it was like a knife to the gut.

Hudson put his hands on my arms, echoing the way his father had grasped me not fifteen minutes before. His touch felt...wrong. Cold where it was usually warm.




"I believe in you." His voice was soft. "And whatever you need, I want to give it to you. If you need help-"

"Oh, my god, I can't believe this." I backed out of his grip. "I can't f**king believe this."

Hudson clenched and unclenched his fists. "Tell me that you didn't do it. Tell me you didn't call her. Tell me you didn't see her."

But I couldn't say that. I had called her. I had seen her. Even when I promised I wouldn't. It was only my motive that was debatable and I couldn't prove it.

I shook my head. "It's not how it looks, Hudson. I didn't stalk her or harass her or whatever she's claiming." I could go into details, explain everything. But it came down to the simple fact that either he believed me or he didn't. "Are you on her side or mine?"

"I'm on your side. Always, your side."

"Then you believe me?"

He stuck his hands in the pockets of his suit pants. "Did you call her?"

"Yes! I said I did upstairs!" I didn't care that I was loud, didn't care that the doorman was watching us. I pulled my phone from my bra and held it out toward him. "Here, you want to see? Take it! You'll see all the times I called her since that's what you seem to be concerned with."

He ignored my outstretched hand. "I don't want proof. I want to help you."

"I don't f**king need any help!" I threw my phone across the lobby floor. It shattered against the wall.

For three seconds, I stared at the mess. It occurred to me that was happening inside me. My heart was shattering into a dozen pieces. So much for being able to let go of my past. It would always come back to haunt me.

I turned and ran-ran across the lobby and out the front door.

Hudson was right behind me. "Alayna, come back here."

I kept running but I was no match for him, especially when I was wearing heels. He reached me before I'd passed the edge of the building, grabbing me at my wrist. "I'll cancel my trip. We'll find the best treatment-"

"I'm not sick." I yanked my arm from his hold. "Go to Japan, Hudson. I don't want to see you."

"I'm not going to Japan now." He was smooth, in control. Like always.

I began walking away. "Go to Japan," I called over my shoulder. "I don't want to see you for a while, if not ever. Got it? If you're at the penthouse when I get home, I'll find somewhere else to sleep and I don't mean for just one night."

He didn't follow me. I couldn't decide if that made things better or worse.

Better, probably. Because every part of me was in deep pain. And that kind of ache can only be suffered alone.

***

I rode the subway for a long time. I was lucky to get a seat before the rush hour crowd hit, and I stayed planted there on the E line all the way down to the World Trade Center. After a while, I switched to the A line and eventually ended up at Columbus Circle out of habit. I didn't go to The Sky Launch though. I wandered over to the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center and caught a foreign film. When it was over, I snuck into the next showing. Still, after having viewed it twice, I had no idea what I'd seen. My head-and heart-were too muddled for the subtitles.

I didn't get back to The Bowery until after midnight. With my phone broken, I was out of touch. There was no way of knowing what I'd find there. Part of me hoped Hudson ignored me, that he'd be there waiting for me. But then I remembered what Lauren said about being willing to stand behind my conditions. If he was there, I'd have to leave, and as twisted and broken as I feared our relationship was, I wasn't able to do that.

The penthouse was dark, the place quiet except for the sound of the grandfather clock. It felt so much like the first time I'd come in there in the middle of the night, except then things were new and the trepidation I had was fused with excitement. Now, I felt numb and empty. I knew without looking around that Hudson wasn't there.

I made it halfway down the hall to the master bedroom when a light flipped on in the guest room.

"Laynie, is that you?"

It took several seconds to recover from the minor heart attack Brian had given me. "Yeah, it's me."

My brother came to the guest bedroom doorway wearing a white t-shirt and striped pajama bottoms. "Awesome. Are you okay?"

That was the question of the year. "I guess so." I slumped against the wall and tilted my head. "What are you doing here?"

"Hudson said he had to go on some business trip, but he didn't want to leave you alone. So he had some guy pick up my stuff from the Waldorf and moved me in." He leaned his shoulder on the doorframe. "I hope you don't mind that I'm here."

"I'm actually kind of glad." The words were out of my mouth before I realized I meant them. Having someone else around helped lessen the emptiness. And it warmed me that it had been Hudson who'd arranged it.
Even with everything that had gone down I was still on his radar.

Brian crossed his arms over his chest. "Personally, I think he should have canceled his trip."

"He probably should have. But I told him not to." I slid down to the floor, too exhausted to stand anymore, but needing to get more information from my brother. "Anything interesting happen after I left?"

Brian moved out of the doorway and sat down on the floor across from me. "Not really. More of the same. Accusations and liquor. You know, a typical family party."

He said it all tongue-in-cheek, but that was exactly what our family parties had been like growing up. At least, the liquor part. There was always lots of liquor.

"Hudson's mother's an alcoholic." I wasn't sure Brian had figured that out.

"Yeah, I picked up on that. She has that weird yellow skin thing that Dad had. And she was shaky when I first met her. Does she acknowledge it?"

"No. No one does. She's a different drunk than Dad was, though." Our dad had been a happy drunk. He'd talk too loud and laugh a lot. When we'd been little, we'd thought it was fun. It took growing older to realize what his antics did to our mother.

"How so?"

"She's mean. Hateful. Vindictive. Bitter." I paused. "Did I say mean?" I rubbed my hand over my eyes. "God, this baby thing is probably killing her."




"Right? What a way to find out your husband cheated on you."

"Not even because of that. Jack's infidelity is old news. That he was with Celia is a surprise. I thought he had better taste than that." Maybe that was why Hudson hated it when his father touched me. He was afraid Jack was after me, too. If Hudson had only told me the truth about Celia and his father, I could have tried harder to...

I let the thought die. It was no good thinking about the things Hudson hid from me. It only led back to the things I'd hidden from him. If we'd both been honest from the beginning, maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we were in now.

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