I can only hope that the person I turned out to be was the result of outside influences, and not because that’s who I’ll always be. A vindictive, cheating shell of a person.
I open the backpack and begin reading more notes while Silas drives. I come across something about files that Silas stole from his father, and how we suspect they might implicate my father. Why would Silas steal those from his father? If my father is guilty, which I believe he is, why would Silas want to hide that?
“Why do you think you stole those files from your father?” I ask him.
He shrugs. “I don’t know. The only thing I can come up with is that maybe I hid them because I felt bad for you. Maybe I didn’t want your father to go to prison for longer than he already was, because it would have broken your heart.”
That sounds like something Silas would do.
“Are they still in your room?” I ask him.
Silas nods. “I think so. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that I keep them near my bed.”
“When we get to your house tonight, I think you should give them to your father.”
Silas glances at me across the seats. “Are you sure about that?”
I nod. “He’s ruined a lot of lives, Silas. He deserves to pay for that.”
“Charlie didn’t know you had these?”
I’m standing outside Silas’s father’s study. When we walked in the door and he saw me with Silas, I thought he was going to hit him. Silas told him to give him five minutes to explain. He ran upstairs and got the files and brought them back down to his father.
I can’t hear their entire conversation. Silas is explaining to him that he hid them to protect me. He’s apologizing. His father is quiet. And then…
“Charlie? Can you come in here, please?”
His father scares me. Not in the way my father scared me. Clark Nash is intimidating, but he doesn’t seem evil. Not like Brett Wynwood.
I walk into his office and he motions for me to take a seat next to Silas. I do. He paces the length of his desk a few times and then stops. When he faces us, he’s looking directly at me.
“I owe you an apology.”
I’m sure he can see the shock in my expression. “You do?”
He nods. “I’ve been harsh on you. What your father did to me—to our company—that had nothing to do with you. Yet I blamed you when the files went missing, because I knew how fiercely you stood by him.” He glances back at Silas and says, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in you, Silas. Interfering with a federal investigation…”
“I was sixteen, Dad. I didn’t know what I was doing. But I do now, and Charlie and I both want to make things right.”
Clark Nash nods and then walks around his desk to take a seat. “So does this mean we’ll be seeing you around more often, Charlie?”
I glance at Silas and then back at his father. “Yes, sir.”
He smiles a little bit, and his smile looks just like Silas’s smile. Clark should smile more often.
“Very well, then,” he says.
Silas and I both take that as our cue to leave. As we’re walking up the stairs, Silas pretend-falls, sinking down on the top stair as he clutches his chest. “Christ, that man is terrifying,” he says.
I laugh and pull him back to his feet.
At least if things don’t work out in our favor tomorrow, we’ll have done one good deed.
“Charlie, you were a good sport today,” Silas says, tossing me a t-shirt. I’m sitting cross-legged on his floor. I catch it and shake it out to see what’s on the front. It’s a camp t-shirt. He doesn’t offer pants.
“Is that your way of flirting with me?” I ask. “Bringing sport into your compliments?”
Silas makes a face. “Look around this room. Do you see anything sports related?”
It’s true. He seems to be more into photography than anything else. “’You’re on the football team,” I say.
“Yeah, well, I don’t want to be.”
“Charlie says quit the football team,” I tell him.
“Maybe I will,” he says. With that, he swings open his bedroom door. I can hear him rushing down the stairs two at a time. I wait a moment to see what he’s up to, and then shortly thereafter, he’s running back up the stairs. His door swings back open and he smiles. “I just told my father I quit the football team,” he says proudly.
“What did he say?”
He shrugs. “I don’t know. I must be scared of him, because I ran back upstairs as soon as I told him.” He winks at me. “And what are you quitting, Charlize?”
“My dad.” My answer comes easy. “Charlie needs to walk away from things that stunt her emotional growth.”
Silas stops what he’s doing to look at me. It’s a weird look. One I’m not familiar with.
“What?” I suddenly feel defensive.
He shakes his head. “Nothing. It was a good thought, that’s all.”
I hug my knees and stare at the carpet. Why was it that when he complimented me my entire body went into overdrive? Surely his opinions couldn’t matter that much to Charlie. To me. Surely I would remember if they did. Whose opinions were really supposed to matter in life, anyway? Your parents? Mine were screwed up. Your boyfriend’s? If you weren’t dating a saint like Silas Nash, that could go very wrong. I think about what I would tell Janette if she were asking this question.
“Trust your gut,” I say out loud.
“What are you talking about?” Silas asks. He’s digging around in a box he found in his closet, but he leans back on his haunches to look at me.
“Trust your gut. Not your heart, because it’s a people pleaser, and not your brain, because it relies too heavily on logic.”
He nods slowly, never taking his eyes off of me. “Charlize, it’s really sexy when you get deep and say stuff like that. So unless you want to play another round of Silas Says, you might want to lay off the deep thinking.”
I put down the t-shirt and stare at him. I think about today. I think about our kiss and how I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t hoping he would kiss me like that again tonight. This time in private, without a dozen eyes on us. I reach down and tug at a piece of the carpet. I can feel my face grow warm.
“What if I do want to play another round of Silas says?” I ask.