“Are you feeling up to a talk?” she asked, waiting in the doorway. Although she knew he wasn’t the one who’d tried to kill her, she still wasn’t comfortable being alone with him.
He glanced up, obviously surprised to see her. “I’m fine and until the nurses decide to take me back to my room, I’m enjoying the view. Please come join me.”
She stepped inside, careful to sit in a chair by the door. Silly, since she was in an open room with a view. He couldn’t hurt her, not that he’d want to. She just had a difficult time believing it.
“What did you want to talk about?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I’m not really sure. I guess I needed to say thank you for trying to warn me about Paul Dunne.”
Uncle Marc shook his head. “If it weren’t for me, none of this would have been set in motion in the first place. Paul has a gambling problem. I have a drinking problem.” Uncle Marc adjusted the blanket on his lap as he spoke. “I did things that if not illegal, were unethical and immoral to say the least. He’d rather I inherit than you because he thought he could blackmail me and keep me from info rming the police about the embezzlement. You, on the other hand, would have turned him in. He wanted you dead and he wanted me to kill you.”
He repeated the same things he’d said to the police, but Lilly had been so overwhelmed at the time, she hadn’t processed it all. She appreciated hearing it again.
“So he shot you because you refused to kill me.” She nearly choked over the word.
“And because he believed I was about to warn you. He was right.”
She glanced down at her trembling hands. “When will they let you go home?”
“Possibly tomorrow but don’t worry. Once I have the strength to pack, I’ll move out of your house. I called my brother and asked if I could move in with him for a while.”
Lacey opened her mouth, then closed it again. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew she’d be inheriting not just the money but her childhood home. Paul Dunne had told her as much during their meeting. She’d just never let herself think about the fact.
Now that she was forced to face the truth, she realized something important. “I don’t want the house,” she said, the words coming out before she could stop them.
“Your parents would want you to have it.”
“I want you to stay there. It’s your home, not mine.”
He wheeled his chair closer to her. “That’s awfully generous.”
Lacey wasn’t sure she’d call it an act of generosity. It was more like one of necessity. When she’d attended his engagement party, she’d shut the door on that part of her life.
“It’s not part of who I am anymore and you’ve lived there for so long, I can’t see any reason for you to move.”
“Well, I have one. I can’t afford the house anymore.”
“Please. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. It’s just a fact. And you know for the first time I do believe I’ll survive.” He shook his head and laughed, then winced in pain.
“This isn’t a pity party, you know. It’s called moving on in life.”
Lacey rose from her seat. “I don’t know what’s left of the trust fund but doesn’t it cover the house?”
“If you’re living in it, then yes. It’s your money, Lacey. Starting soon.”
She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. She didn’t know what the future held, but she did know she had very little left in the way of family beyond Uncle Marc. Although the man had been the cause of her childhood trauma, he may well have just saved her life. She didn’t know if they could ever have a relationship, but as gestures went, he’d made a start.
She raised her gaze to meet his. “You can stay in the house,” she said. “As I said, it’s your home, not mine. Whatever basics the trust has always covered, well that can continue as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure my parents would want it that way.”
“I doubt it after all I’ve done to you.” His gaze shifted out the window, his embarrassment and humiliation clear.
“Actually I think my father would be grateful you saved my life, so let’s just start from here, okay? From where I stand, you don’t have any more family than I do.”
He blinked. “Your parents would be proud of the woman you’ve become,” he said. “Through none of my actions, that much is for sure.”
She thought his eyes were moist but she couldn’t be sure. Before she could reply, a knock at the door startled her. She turned to see Ty and the chief of police standing in the entry to the solarium.
“We didn’t want to interrupt, but I’m glad you’re both here,” the chief said.
Beside him, Ty scowled but said nothing.
Lacey felt sure he’d overheard at least part of her conversation with her uncle and didn’t approve, but the money was hers to spend as she wanted. Or it would be soon.
“What’s going on?” Marc asked.
“Paul Dunne was arrested at the airport before he could board a flight to South America .” Don’s grin told a story of his own. The man was obviously pleased they had caught their suspect.
“You’re now both safe. You can relax and things can go back to normal,” he said.
“Whatever that is,” Ty said as he shook the man’s hand and thanked him for his hard work.
Lacey studied the man she knew she loved. However would she handle what had to come next?
She could no longer avoid returning home to New York , but was that what she really wanted?
They walked out of the hospital and headed for Ty’s car. A cool breeze blew around them and the sun shone bright in the sky.
Avoidance and procrastination. Two things Lacey had never considered herself an expert in before now. She had a business waiting for her in New York but she couldn’t bring herself to bring up the subject and tell Ty she had to leave.
He knew, of course. Her leaving was like the pink elephant trailing behind them. The more they avoided talking about it, the larger it loomed. But now that the reasons for her return had been resolved, she couldn’t avoid her responsibilities back home any longer.
He paused by the car, leaning against the passenger side door. He studied her with those intense eyes and she couldn’t tell what he was really thinking.
“My apartment’s been cleaned. I can move back in anytime,” he said, obviously choosing a safe topic of conversation.