“I said no.”
She looked at him, the way his eyes lit with power and flinched ever so slightly.
He drew his smile into a tight thin line, his fingers flicked in a nervous motion. “You think you have the upper hand here, but you don’t.”
That was true. She didn’t.
He took a step towards her and she inclined her head, her dark hair spilling from her shoulders down her back. She stood tall, stretching her 5 foot 6 stature and looked him right in the eyes.
“You were with me that whole evening and night. I need to hear you say it.”
“I’m not going fake an alibi for you.”
“Don’t test me, Marian. It’s not fake. I was with you that night.”
“Not the whole thing.”
He grabbed the back of her head, tangling his fingers into a fist in her hair and yanked. She cried out in surprise. Shawn had been many things, but he’d never been physically violent. “You’re hurting me,” she said through clenched teeth.
Shawn broke his grasp and flung her away. She caught herself before she fell to the ground and smoothed her pants.
He turned his back on her. “What do you want?” he finally said.
“It’s not about me wanting something. It’s about doing what’s right. The decent thing. The human thing. I can’t believe you, Shawn.”
She would have to live with her decisions up to this point. Not asking enough questions. Allowing explanations that didn’t add up. How she would give anything to go back to that night and somehow see through to this one. But all she could do was make better decisions from this point forward. And lying on the stand was something that couldn’t be undone.
He spun on her. “You think I wanted this to happen? You think I’m making these choices in a vacuum? That I had another option?” He lowered his voice and said, “Think about Alex.” His strength broke over the name of their son.
“Don’t do that,” she said, anger rising. “He’s all I’m thinking about.” She felt tears prick her eyes as she saw the regret in his, but not over what he’d done. She’d been hinting for years about making their relationship official, and now his aversion to marriage was going to wreck his life. Married couples couldn’t be compelled to testify against one another. But there had been no ring, no empty promises.
“No more lies, Shawn.”
His chin quivered and he grabbed her once more, rough at first, but softening as he pulled her close and spoke heavy in her ear. “They said if I didn’t do it, they’d take Alex.”
The whole world fell out from under her, dissolving equilibrium.
“They’re watching. Now push me away,” he said.
She blinked and then snapped into action, shoving him hard. “You need to go.”
They stared at one another. Two lovers. Two strangers. Two parents.
She forced steel into her voice as she fought tears. “I said go.”
He turned to leave and she reached out a hand that he didn’t see. “Shawn,” she said, softer.
He stopped but didn’t turn around.
“I’ll do it.”