Marc’s solution instead had been to go to Lilly and tell her the truth. Unfortunately Dunne had been scared to death that Marc would reveal all of his transgressions. His fear of losing his status as a respected attorney had overwhelmed him. While Marc had been worrying about waylaying Tyler Benson’s watchdog P.I., Dunne had followed him to see Lilly. Marc had been so preoccupied, he’d never seen the man until he felt the burning, searing pain in his back.
Though he’d turned his life around and was actually helping the police capture the guilty party, the woman he was supposed to marry wasn’t impressed with him. Francie’s scowl and cool attitude froze the room. Marc sensed it without looking her way. Their confrontation would come next, he was sure. After which, she would stomp out in her Jimmy Choos that were probably on his current credit card statement. Next time around, he needed to find a poor woman with few needs except love, he thought wryly.
Then there was Molly. She stood behind her mother’s chair. A good woman, she’d taken this hard because in Marc, she’d seen a chance at family. The poor girl had made the mistake of putting her hopes in him. He’d disappointed everyone in his life. The bright-eyed lawyer would be no different. But he’d have been proud to call her his daughter and he needed to tell her so.
For all the good it would do.
What a goddamn mess.
The police finally took off, as did Ty, Hunter and Lilly, all without a word. They knew better than to stick around for the show. But he and Lilly had unfinished business to discuss, assuming he was still conscious when Francie was finished with him. Marc didn’t wonder where his sense of humor was coming from. It was all he had left, all he owned, all he could proudly claim.
Francie strode to his bedside, a place she hadn’t visited since his admission. “This isn’t going to work,” she said.
He leaned his head back against the pillows, exhaustion overwhelming him. “What, no how are you feeling? No I’m sorry I haven’t visited?”
“Oh please don’t tell me you’re the wounded party,” Francie said.
He raised an eyebrow—the one part of his body that would work right now. “The only part of you that’s been wounded is your wallet, Francie. The sad part is, I truly loved you. Which shows you how little I think of myself and what I deserve out of life.”
She walked over and braced her hands on the bed. Her position gave him an ample look down her white fitted jacket, into her ample cle**age. Which, he proudly noted, he hadn’t paid for.
“Is that your pathetic way of saying you’re sorry?” Francie asked.
“It’s my way of saying we want different things in a relationship.”
Molly coughed and turned away.
Francie rose and squared her shoulders. “I never lied to you about enjoying money and now that you have none—”
“Please don’t concern yourself,” he told her. Surprisingly, he meant it. He’d been preparing himself for this day since he’d learned Lilly was still alive. “I wish you well.”
She inclined her head. “The same here. I have an eight-o’clock flight tonight for London .”
Molly sucked in a sharp breath. For the first time, Marc felt a real pang of regret. Not for himself, but for Molly.
“I’m assuming you charged it?” he asked wryly.
She had the good grace to flush.
He shook his head. “Find yourself a rich one, Francine. You need it.”
She kissed his cheek and sashayed out of the room. Marc’s gaze never strayed from Molly’s pale face.
Francie paused in the doorway. “Molly?”
Marc held his breath.
“Yes?” She held on to the back of the chair with a death grip, her knuckles white.
In her eyes, he saw pure hope and knew the disappointment to come would hurt her worse than anything else today.
“I left a box of things at Marc’s. When I’m settled, I’ll call with an address. Please ship them to me, will you, dear?”
“I’ll see to it,” Marc said, before Molly was forced to answer and probably burst into tears.
She blew a kiss that could have been directed at him or at her daughter before walking out the door without looking back. She didn’t care which of them she’d hurt. Which made him wonder why he’d loved her at all, but he knew. He’d been taken in by his good fortune—he’d had so little in his life.
Marc held out his arms and Molly crawled right in, careful not to jostle or hurt him in any way.
After the brief hug, she stepped back.
“I wish you were my daughter,” he told her, knowing somebody had to love this girl.
She smiled, a sad one that broke his heart. “For what it’s worth, I believed in you. You know, about not being behind the attempts on Lilly’s life. You didn’t disappoint me.” She stepped back to the foot of the bed.
“That means a lot.” His eyelids grew heavy, complete exhaustion setting in. “When I’m out of here, what do you say we order in pizza and just talk?”
Molly leaned against the end of the bed frame. “I would love to but I’m not going to stay around.
I care about you but now that I know you’re going to be okay, I need to go.”
“Where?” he asked, understanding even if it hurt.
She shrugged. “Anywhere far away.”
“You don’t have a license to practice law anywhere, ” he reminded her.
“I know. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do yet. But I just can’t stay here with all the memories and could-have-beens surrounding me.”
“What about Hunter?” Marc asked. He’d noticed the chemistry between them. He knew the man cared for Molly. He’d seen it in Hunter’s eyes when he looked at her. And as hard as it was for Marc to admit, he knew Hunter would take care of her the way she deserved to be cared for.
“Hunter deserves a woman who has her shit together. I’m a mess,” Molly said bluntly.
Marc nodded. He didn’t blame her for feeling that way. “Give it time. You never know what the future holds. Keep in touch?” he asked hopefully.
She nodded. “I’ll stop by before I leave for good.”
But in Marc’s mind, she was already gone. He’d lost the one person who believed in him. That was okay though. He needed to learn to rely on himself. One of the doctors who’d come to see him had suggested he enroll in private therapy as well as AA. He would, if he could afford it.