An excerpt from "From the Front Desk"
Wendee sat up, dropped his hand, and twisted to face him. “There is nothing soft about standing up for someone you love and standing by your integrity.”
Toby looked down at his legs, feet crossed at the ankles. He laced his fingers together and rested them on his lap. “There was no integrity in what I did.”
“Nor what they did to your sister.” Wendee shot back and her eyes flashed. “If you had it to do all over again…would you do anything differently?”
Silence sat between them like a wall. In his mind’s eye he saw his sister. Her normally clever features and quirky smile alight with teasing vanquished behind the pale features of a stranger who’s very essence was stolen away without permission. The raw impact of his rage struck like a blow to the gut. A white heat swept across his brow as he relived his complete ineptitude to help Carrie when she needed him most. Toby unlatched his fingers from his lap and curl them into fists. His shoulders tightened and he rubbed his knuckles along his upper leg curbing the urge to stand and run.
He couldn’t outrun what had been done to his sister, nor could he outrun his response. “No.” He pounded his bunched hands on the wood slats of the bench. “I’d do it again.”
“Despite what you know now?” Wendee’s voice probed, yet she retained the distance between them. “Being hunted down—on the run—facing the exile from your family?”
He forced his hands to open and curled his palms around the edge of the seat. “Why are you asking me this?” The words scratched like sandpaper across his throat. He leaned forward as though to encapsulate the hurt. “I opened myself to you. I have told you things I never told anyone before.”
“Because right or wrong, Toby, you’d do it again.” Her voice came closer. The hair on his airs stood up as if reaching to touch her. He heard her draw breath. “It’s not for me to judge you. I wasn’t there, I can’t possibly know.” Light fingers touched his hand. “But you’ve allowed me to get to know you now and I can tell you this…I’d want you there for me.”