Sugar Free Page 38

“But you said you didn’t think it was true,” Caroline says as she turns to look at me for the first time since we got in the car. “Something must have made you think JT was lying.”

I nod. “What we couldn’t get our heads around was the fact that if JT raped me and you, the DNA should have matched up. It should have hit when the DNA from your case was put into the system. So that meant either JT was lying or perhaps the DNA from my case wasn’t in the system. Last month, the investigator that Beck hired to help us with all this had pulled my criminal file so he could get up to speed. He noticed that a document was missing regarding submittal of the DNA in my case into the national DNA database, so Beck and I wanted to check that out. We had intended to tell you after we verified it.”

“And let me guess,” she says softly with full awareness of this fucked-up, complicated mess. “The DNA from your case was in the system.”

“Yes. Yesterday I talked to the cop who investigated my rape and he verified it was all there. Because I believed JT raped me and that was his DNA, it only stood to reason he lied to me about raping you. There was no reason to tell you at that point.”

“You’re wrong,” she says, a little anger touching her voice. “You should have at the very least told me JT was my half brother. Well…Beck should have. How long has he known?”

“A while,” I admit. “But that’s something you need to discuss with him.”

Caroline gives a tiny, bitter laugh. “For all Beck’s bitching and moaning about the secrets this family keeps…about him acting all high and mighty about the truth…he sure does lie a lot.”

“I’m sorry,” I tell her simply. Because I am. Sorry she just heard this terrible news and on top of that, has every reason to be pissed at her brother for keeping her in the dark. But it’s not my place to fight Beck’s battles for him when it comes to Caroline. He’s going to have to take one on the chin and resolve this himself.

That is, if he doesn’t go to prison for the rest of his life.

Silence hangs heavy in the air as I let Caroline process everything she’s just learned. Her eyes slide back to the steering wheel. While I know she’s going to be troubled by these events for a long time to come, I also know this woman is strong and resilient and that she will get past this eventually.

“Do you think—” she starts to say, and then abruptly stops, as if she really doesn’t want to know the answer to the question she was getting ready to ask.

I hold still, wait for her to determine the level of bravery she needs.

She clears her throat and starts again. “Do you think JT knew I was his half sister when he raped me?”

I internally wince, because this is what makes this story ten times more horrible. But I tell her the truth. “Yes, he knew.”

Caroline jerks in the seat and her face pales, her lower lip trembling.

“Beck asked your father that after the graveside service and your dad said JT’s mom told him when he turned eighteen,” I tell her with brutal honesty. No way I’m holding anything back from her.

“Ally’s perfect, isn’t she?” Caroline asks in a small voice, and I know what she’s wanting me to affirm. That she wasn’t touched by the nastiness of rape and incest.

“She’s absolutely perfect and she is everything that you are,” I tell her truthfully as I put a hand on her shoulder and squeeze. “Out of all of the bad that has happened to you, and even knowing this horrific truth, I know you’ll accept every bit of it with the knowledge that you have Ally, and nothing better will ever happen to you in your lifetime.”

A tiny sob pops out of Caroline’s mouth and she squeezes her eyes shut while she nods effusively in agreement. “I’ll take every bit of this nastiness,” she says in a quavering voice, then opening her eyes to look at me. “Every bit of it in exchange for the wonderful gift I got out of it.”

“No other way to look at it,” I agree, dropping my hand to grab hers, which sits limply on her lap. I lace my fingers with hers and squeeze.

Caroline tilts her head and her eyes widen as she realizes something. “The DNA…if the DNA in your case doesn’t match JT…then…?”

I shrug nonchalantly even as a stab of pain lances straight through my heart. Caroline doesn’t need to know how bad this feels to me, so I say, “I must have been mistaken.”

She shakes her head, and squeezes my hand so hard the tips of my fingers go numb. “I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.”

“Perhaps,” I say as I pull my hand away from hers. “But it’s a worry for another time. If you’re okay with it, I want to get back to the courtroom for Beck. Want to come?”

She nods her head. “Yeah…let’s swing by the bathroom so I can repair this wreck of a face. I don’t want to upset Beck, but maybe it will scare the reporters off if we run into them.”

I laugh. “You two…your bond is amazing. I know you have a lot of reasons to be pissed at him, but you also have this love that’s untouchable. I’m a little envious of it actually.”

Caroline smiles at me. “You have the same thing with him. Don’t ever doubt that.”

And I don’t…doubt it. But I do worry that might not be a good thing as we try to hold this puzzle of lies together because we’re fueled by this love we have for each other.

“After considering the evidence before me, I believe the state has met its burden of probable cause in this matter. As such, I am binding this case over for trial and will set it on the trial docket to commence on April 21…”

The judge’s words are still echoing in my head two hours later as Sela and I make our way wearily from the elevator into the condo.

I’d like to say this came as a surprise but it didn’t. Not after the motivating factor for JT’s murder is the fact he raped our sister, Caroline. There wasn’t a judge in the state who was going to let that one pass by, no matter how liberal minded they might be.

After the hearing, Doug, Caroline, Sela, and I all met in the small conference room behind the courtroom. It was a brief meeting and was only for Doug to reassure us not to lose hope. That there would surely be a plea deal offered.

Nope, not even going to consider that.

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