The smell of the flowers almost choked Kendall. She sat stoically next to Johnnie in the second row of the graveyard, after they’d had dismissal at the same church Kendall had attacked Megan at almost five weeks before. The woman herself sat in front of Kendall, her head turned into her husband’s shoulder, her own shaking while the priest spoke of her son being one of God’s special angels.
Kendall’s jaw clenched at the sight of the small, white casket, its lid closed and decorated with an elaborate bouquet. They’d even given him a name. Patrick Caldwell.
Johnnie sat next to her with blank stoicism, but Kendall saw how his gaze kept roaming to his oh-so-torn up ‘Megs’. Kendall had wanted to come the moment she’d heard about this event when Johnnie had returned home late that night after he’d gotten the woman’s call and forgotten Kendall existed.
She’d gotten up the next morning and listened with rapt attention as he explained Megs’s benevolence to her. Instead of spitting in his face at the reverence in his tone, she’d lowered her gaze and murmured her appreciation, praising Megan’s ability to forgive. She’d been convincing enough because when she requested to go to the funeral with him, he’d hesitated and walked away. She’d listened at his library door as he’d ran the idea by ‘Megs’ and here Kendall sat.
Feeling in control of her world again. She’d gotten to Johnnie because, though she was free to leave, he’d asked her to stay with. He said he’d gotten used to having her there. He’d even suggested she transfer her residency, which she wouldn’t do yet. She had other plans on her agenda first. Like getting pregnant for him and seeing Megan breathe her last.
The memory of her mother’s blood spraying her flashed in Kendall’s mind again and she hugged herself. Johnnie put his arm around her and hugged her, apparently believing her affected by this funeral.
Kendall didn’t quite understand why everyone was so hurt. They didn’t even know this baby because Megan hadn’t delivered it yet, so how could they mourn it? They’d known Ellen—all of them—and hadn’t thought enough of her sister to even attend her services. They hadn’t thought enough of Ellen to keep tabs on her family and know Ellen’s mother had killed herself.
The priest fell silent and closed the bible. One of the men who’d delivered news of Ellen’s death began handing out single, long-stemmed, white roses to everyone, then everything went still, all eyes focused toward the two parents.
“C’mon, baby,” Outlaw soothed. “C’mon. You can do this.” His voice broke. “We’ll place our roses together. Hear me, Megan? Together. Just like we made him. Together.”
Instead of moving, she clung tighter to Outlaw and Kendall rolled her eyes. Johnnie stood and Kendall went to follow suit. He shook his head and stopped her rise by placing a hand on her shoulder. Swallowing, Kendall watched in disbelief as Johnnie placed the flower on that too small casket, put a kiss to his fingers, then placed those same fingers against the shiny wood.
Johnnie knelt in front of Megan, down on one knee. The woman he’d identified as Megan’s mother slid closer to her. Val, Mortician, and Digger all did exactly what Johnnie had, but, instead of kneeling in front of her afterwards, the formed a semi-circle.
“We’re all here, baby,” Outlaw went on. “Your mom right next to you. Johnnie. Val. Digger. Mortician. Me.” He had his profile to Kendall and his long, dark lashes glistened. “Big Joe. Him and Ma, they gonna watch over our boy for us, Megan.”
Megan sobbed against Outlaw’s shoulder and it sounded as if her heart was really breaking.
“He’s not for us, anymore, baby,” Outlaw said quietly. “He was too special to stay here, so let him go in peace, baby. Let him go with his white rose from his mama.”
She didn’t move.
“Johnnie right in front of you to take that rose for you, sweetheart. If you need him to do it, he will. And I’ll give him mine. We put our roses together or Johnnie’ll hold them both and place them for us.”
Megan pulled away and sat with her head body, trembling. Johnnie went to pull the rose from her.
“No,” she choked out. “Christopher. I…we…this is important to him that we do it.”
Johnnie nodded and Kendall saw the moisture in his own eyes.
“My brave, beautiful, Megan,” Outlaw croaked.
He stood and brought Megan to her feet with him, his arm tight around her. Keeping a firm hold on her, they approached the casket. He raised their hands and dropped the rose he held, just as Megan released hers. He whispered something to her, hugged her to his chest, and nosed her hair, threading his fingers through it.
Johnnie nodded and a man wearing an eye patch helped Megan’s mother to her feet just as Outlaw swept Megan off hers. He started away from the casket. Kendall shifted and his gaze fell on her. Her stomach flipped at the burning hatred in his eyes. She almost believed he was capable of killing her. A moment later, he moved away from her, his precious wife in his arms, as if her sister had never existed.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW