Grabbing him before I know I’ve moved. Shaking him. “You let her kill her baby?”
Del tries to pull away. Whispers. “Yes.”
Look at his face. Seeing the terror there. The aching anguish, too. Loosen my hold. “Why Del? Why?”
He doesn’t drop his gaze. “How could she keep something, feel it growing in her, when it was made by rape, Trev? How could she? I loved her, I thought, but I could never love it. All I would see would be memories of that night.” Shuddering. Eyes tearing. “I couldn’t let it happen. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. That…that ended it for us.”
“But…” Dropping my hands. Still looking down at him.
He wipes away the tears. Starts to turn away. Stops. Touches my face. “Why does it matter to you, Trev?” He searches my face. Looking for something. Asks quietly, “Do you hate me now?”
Do I? Thinking. Slowly shaking my head. “No. No Del. I understand. Gods. Yes. I understand now.”
“Understand what, Trev?” Stepping back. Still looking at me. “Tell me.”
Running my hands over my face. Through my hair. Taking a deep breath. Then telling him about Nora. Bit by piece. Haltingly. About the baby. Her death. Her suicide.
Del listens. Silently. When I’m done he takes my hands. Holding them tightly.
“It wasn’t your fault Trev. Get that out of your head. She made the decision. It was her choice. She did it to punish you for not being there.” Del’s voice grows stronger. More positive. “For not loving her the way she thought she loved you. But Trev she didn’t love you. She couldn’t and still kill your child. She was selfish. I’ll bet she didn’t plan to die. It was a cry for attention. She thought you’d be back some time. She could show you the scars and say ‘See what I did because you left’. She wanted to tie you to her through guilt and because of the baby.”
Listening. Trying to believe. “Maybe.”
“No ‘maybe’, Trev. I think my…my girlfriend knew how Nora felt. It’s just…the only reason she didn’t try to kill herself was because she wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. They destroyed enough of her. She wouldn’t let them take that last bit. I've thought about it. I really have. After… After I made her loose the baby. After I left her.” He stares at me, making me look at him. "Believe me, Trev. Believe that you were only the cause because she wanted something to keep you tied to her. It could have been anyone, any man who spent a night with her and then left. I think she was a sad, lonely woman. You gave her a brief touch of the romance she’d been looking for, and she made it into something big. Something so special she couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t believe it wasn’t the real thing. You said you picked her up in a bar. Twice. She was looking for someone and you fit the bill because you treated her nice for a few hours.” He touches my face again. Strokes my cheek softly. “Trev, you did nothing wrong. Nothing. Do you understand that? Nothing.”
Nodding once. Feeling as if, finally, a huge burden has been lifted from me. Trying to smile. “How did you get so smart, Del?”
He chuckles. “Life, Trev. I live. I learn.”
Cupping his chin in my hand. Bending to kiss his forehead. “You learned well Del. Thank you.” Smiling at him. “I’ll never forget Nora, but now maybe I’ll stop blaming myself so much for her death.”
“No,” he said seriously. “You will stop blaming yourself at all. It’ll take time but you will. You cared for her in your own way, I can tell that, but you didn’t love her. How could you, you didn’t even know her.”
“But I…” Sighing. “I used her, Del.”
“No Trev, no more than she used you. For a night you both got what you were looking for to some degree. Just remember, you had no control over her emotions, her dreams of what never existed.”
Del smacks my shoulder. “You’ll do more than try. If I have to I’ll keep beating that message into your hard head till you believe it.”
“Planning on being around that long?” I chuckle.
“Baby, I owe you for what you did tonight for me. Yeah, I’ll be around one way or another till my debt is paid.”
“Del you don’t owe me anything.”
He smiles. “Don’t argue with me Trev. Just live with it. Got that?”
“Yes sir. Got it.”