The next two weeks weren’t as awkward as Reagan thought they might be. Archer made it easy, just like he always does. He never pressed her, and when he brought up anything she was uncomfortable with, he easily changed the subject. They watched movies, cooked and when she had a nightmare, he was there and then, yes, they had sex. They couldn’t put that genie back in the bottle once they’d let it out. But what that meant, she didn’t really know.
Even though Archer took some time off, he was really still working. He would hole himself up in his office, which was an extension of the his bedroom, the room they were now sharing. However, the times when he had to take a call or respond to emails for work, and she was alone, her thoughts invariably moved to Evan. Then she would get emotional.
She began to feel like she was going through the motions with Archer. Time was standing still. He was sweet and caring and the sex was a good distraction. Yet she still thought of Evan. And why hadn’t he called her? She picked up her phone more than once to call him and chickened out. If he cared, he would have called, and he didn’t. In fact nobody did. Maybe she’d been right to leave. They didn’t want to see her and she’d made it easy for them and her by leaving. What hurt most was her father and Ryan.
Still, the nightmares didn’t stop. Every. Single. Night. That was one of the reasons she slept in Archer’s bed. If she didn’t dream about her father lying in a pool of blood, it was her mother sneering at her with a knife in her hand. Some nights, more often now, it was Evan lying in a pool of blood instead of her father.
She still didn’t know why Evan lied to her, but the more she thought about it and began to put together bits and pieces of remembered conversations, she was pretty sure it had to do with her mother.
That day kept playing over and over in her head. After Ryan and her mother left, a lady she didn’t know, who she later came to know as Viv, came into her bedroom, and with a gun stuck in her back, led Reagan out the back door of her house and into a car. They drove to the clubhouse where she took her down to the game room, put tape over her mouth and tied her hands behind her back.
Everything she had believed as truth, was a lie. Her whole life had been a lie. She needed Archer to distract her from her thoughts, so she walked towards the kitchen where he was preparing lunch.
She heard him on the phone, so turned to leave, but heard her name so she stopped to listen where he couldn’t see her.
“Good … but she’s still having nightmares.”
“I’ll call around and get her an appointment.”
“I don’t think she’s ready to talk to him.”
“Fine. I will. I’ll be in touch. Bye,” said Archer.
Reagan was pissed. She thought nobody cared. But clearly, someone had asked about her. She stormed into the kitchen. “Who was that?” she demanded.
Archer spun around looking guilty. “Your father.”
“He’s checking up on me?”
“He’s worried about you.”
Now she was beyond angry. “Why did you tell him about the nightmares? I didn’t want him or know! You should’ve let me talk to him!”
“Reagan. Calm down. He’s got a reason to be worried. He wants you to see a counselor. And frankly, I agree.”
“No,” she said, “I can’t talk to anyone about it,” she said, feeling trapped and ganged up on.
“I’m trying to help you Reagan! You have to talk to someone. You won’t even talk to me. You avoid it every time I try to bring it up. You won’t tell me what the nightmares are about. You are supposed to go back to work in 2 weeks. Your sister is getting married in 6 weeks. Are you going to be able to work? Or will you fall apart? What about Evan? Do you love him? And where do I fit into your life?”
The walls were closing in and she couldn’t breathe. “Stop it Archer! Stop!” she screamed. She couldn’t deal with any of that yet.
Archer went to her and took her in his arms. “Shhh. I’m sorry. I’m worried sweetheart. You don’t do anything except sit around and mope. Don’t think I don’t notice.”
At first she wanted to just let him comfort her, then a thought occurred to her making her angry. She beat on his chest to push him away. “Are you blocking everyone’s calls?” she demanded.
Archer’s expression belied nothing. “I’ve been calling your brother and your father daily. Providing updates.”
Reagan was livid. “So they wouldn’t call me? I trusted you! And you kept this from me? I didn’t think they wanted to talk to me!”
“I wanted to give you time away from outside pressures. To see if it would help.”
“Don’t do me any more favors!” She turned to walk away and go to the guest room but Archer grabbed her arm.
“Reagan! Don’t walk off,” he begged.
“Let go of me!” she growled out and he immediately released her like he didn’t realize he even had hold of her.
Why is everything so complicated, she thought, why does everyone feel the need to make decisions for me? Maybe because she was a mess and didn’t want to make any decisions of her own. That was true. Well, she was done with it. Yes, she needed a safe place, and Archer had seemed safe. But he got complicated the minute they slept together and now he’s lying to her too. By omission. No different than what Evan did. Or her father when he didn’t tell her and Ryan about Taylor or how horrible her mother was.
Ryan was the only person that never lied to her. But why didn’t he just call her? But then, she could’ve called him too. She was just as bad. That ends now. She picked up her phone and punched Ryan’s name. Her hands were shaking she was so angry.
“Rea! How are you doing?” he said, with an obvious forced cheerfulness.
“Why didn’t you call me?” she asked sharply, not bothering to respond to his fake pleasantries.
“Because Archer was calling us. He said you needed more time….”
“More time? More time for what?!?” She was livid.
“Away from any reminders,” said Ryan.
“I did need space, but I wasn’t running away from you and Daddy.”
“He called us everyday. You didn’t know he was calling us?”
“No. Not until today.”
“He said you needed to decompress. And promised to call everyday. And he has. It sounds like you are doing better. Are you?”
“I almost called you so many times, but I was afraid at first, and then, after a couple of days when you hadn’t called, I didn’t think you wanted to talk to me. I’m sorry Ryan. I should’ve called anyway.”
“Did it help? Not having to think about home?”
“Not really, because I think about it every single day, and dream about the clubhouse every single night.”
“God Rea. Maybe you should see a counselor?”
“So I’ve been told.” she said sarcastically.
“It wouldn’t hurt, and it might even help.”
“How’s Evan?” she asked, preferring to ignore the therapy suggestion.
Ryan was quiet for a second before answering. “He’s been seeing a counselor. Same as you should. Why don’t you call him and find out for yourself.”
“He probably hates me by now.” Was that really why? Or was it because she felt guilty for running away from him and sleeping with Archer instead of talking to him because she was afraid of being hurt again?
“No, Rea, he doesn’t hate you. You need to call him. It would help him and maybe you too. After all he’s been through, after what our mother did to him, he still loves you in spite of it all.”
A creepy feeling ran down her spine. “Ryan, what are you talking about? And why exactly is he in therapy? He wasn’t in the game room. Is it because of his wife? And mother didn’t do anything more than flirt with him, and now that I think about it, she probably did try to keep us apart.”
“Ryan … say something!”
“Rea, you need to talk to Evan,” he said softly.
She knew she had to suck it up and call him. Ryan was right. She was hiding from him. And what did her mother do to him? “Okay. I’ll call him,” she said softly.
“Thank you. The therapy seems to be helping him. He’s back at work. You can call him there if you want. And Reagan, you really should seek help. Not the kind Archer is giving you.” His last words weren’t happy sounding.
“Jason gave me the card of a therapist here. I’ll call them.”
“Good,” said Ryan and the relief in his voice was apparent. “So, would you like some company this weekend? Or is that too much too soon? I thought maybe Rosa and I could come up and have dinner with you and Archer?”
“You don’t hate him?” asked Reagan surprised.
“He’s not my BFF, but I need to see my sister, so if I have to make nice I will.”
“I want to see you too. I miss you Ryan. I’ll tell him you guys are coming.”
“And you really do sound better. Like you are finally taking back control. But promise. Call and get an appointment – as soon as we hang up. I love you sis.”
“I will. I love you too Ryan. And Ryan, tell Evan I said hello – and I’m sorry – for making this hard – and I’ll be in touch very soon.”
“I will. Bye Rea.”
“Bye. We’ll talk tomorrow and I’ll let you know how it’s going.”
God, she loved her brother and felt better after talking to him. He always made her feel better. And he was right. She was going to have to suck it up and go see a therapist. And just maybe, keeping her insulated from the pressures of life had indeed helped her a little. It at least gave her a chance to breathe.
She took a deep breath and opened to door to go find Archer. He couldn’t keep her from her family. No matter how much ‘better’ she might seem to be to Ryan, she wasn’t so sure. And he lied to her.
Archer was sitting in the lounge chair, drinking a beer and looking out the picture windows. “Archer,” said Reagan, “we need to talk.”
He turned and looked at her. “I was trying to keep the stress off, so you could rest,” he began to explain.
“Come sit over here so we can talk,” said Reagan. After they were seated she eyed him and felt her resolve melting. The look on his face said it all. “You can’t keep secrets from me. I spoke to Ryan. So I know what you’ve been doing.”
“You didn’t call Evan?” Archer looked relieved. “I thought that’s who you’d go to.”
“Ryan is the only person in my life that hasn’t lied to me, whether it’s ‘for my own good’ or to get something from me. I never, ever thought you’d be in the category of liars!” She found her anger again.
Archer had a pained look on his face. She realized it was similar to the one he had when he left her all those years ago. “Reagan. Everything isn’t that black and white. Some truths should never be told, because too many lives would be destroyed.”
He was confusing her. “What does that even mean? My mother was a sociopath! And when she was convicted, Daddy just said she made some bad ‘choices’ and had to atone for them. Not that she was a scheming liar that hated her children. Had I known, perhaps I never would’ve wanted to see her again, and all this mess would’ve been avoided. He tried to protect us with half truths, and then when he finally told the truth, I didn’t want to believe it.”
“Your father loves you very much and was doing his best at the time. I’m sure he was hurting too, and only wanted to spare you and Ryan that same pain. Don’t judge him too harshly. He’s a good man. He nearly died for you.”
“God, I sound like I’m blaming him. I’m not. I’m just trying to make a point. Just please, no more lies. I feel like my whole life has been one big lie.”
“I’m sorry Reagan. I never intended to hurt you. I won’t try to shield you anymore. I guess that’s what we do for those we care about. Try to protect them from harm. You know I only did it because I care deeply for you. You must know that by now. Don’t you think maybe it’s some weird karma that brought us back together?” Archer stopped and scrubbed his hands across his face. “You’re not going to leave are you?”
God, he looks miserable. thought Reagan, but only because he cares. “Not yet. But I can’t do secrets Ev…Archer.” Shit, why did she almost say Evan. He totally noticed it to. Because she kept thinking about him so much.
“You wish you were having this conversation with Evan?” he asked like he didn’t really want the answer.
She said no lies, was in fact adamant about no lies. She had to be honest with him even though it was painful to say out loud. “I miss him terribly Archer. I’m sorry if that hurts you. I don’t mean to. But it’s true. There’s so much between us still unsaid. So I ran. I ran from him, because he scared me and you didn’t. I need to talk to him. Maybe that’ll help me sort out my feelings. I’m going to call him.”
“Because you are still in love with him?”
“Archer, please, don’t make me answer that.”
“You already did. So, what about us? Where do I fit into your life?”
“Archer. God, I don’t know. I’m confused by my feelings. You make me feel safe. I can breathe around you. You’re there for me when I wake up screaming. You kiss me and help me feel and forget for a few minutes … but still, I think of Evan … a lot.”
“Then I need to do a better job of making you forget him. I’m here. I will be as honest as I can. I have a healthy respect for my competition. But just so you know, there is another truth I’ve been withholding … I love you Reagan.”
Reagan caught her breath. She couldn’t say it back. She loved Evan, but he hurt her badly and she was afraid of him hurting her again. Was she falling in love with Archer too. She didn’t know. How could she possibly love two men at the same time?
“See Reagan, some truths are better left unsaid,” he said finally, to break the uncomfortable silence.
“Archer … I like you a lot, but I’m not ready. I told you. I’m confused.”
“It’s okay Reagan. You loved me before, you will again. But maybe since you know how I feel, you’ll better understand why I’ve done what I have for you. You’re important to me. Always were. It was you that forced me to see the direction my life was headed and that I would drag you down with me if I stayed.
“So, sweetheart, no more talk of hard truths. Let’s just take things a day at a time. Come, let me hold you. Please. I need to know I didn’t lose you yet.”
Whenever he put his arms around her, she did forget. Is that why was it so easy to fall into his arms? Then she remembered Ryan. “I forgot to tell you. I’m going to make an appointment with a therapist for tomorrow. Jason gave me a card. And Ryan and Rosa, they’re coming this weekend for dinner.”
Archer laughed and it sounded good. “You know, you are getting better. We couldn’t have had this conversation when you first got here. And, you are aware, Ryan isn’t my biggest fan?”
She smiled and it felt nice. She took his hands in hers and patted them. “I asked him about that, and he said you were helping me, so he’d give you a pass. Therefore, I expect you to be on your best behavior.”
Archer looked at her and she tried to read his expression. She couldn’t, but then he pulled her into his arms and kissed her – and she didn’t care.