The journal explained it all, even his odd behavior: his nocturnal sleeplessness, his bizarre tastes in food, his sexual inexperience. She thought of the strange terminology he sometimes used. Even his features looked different, stronger, more confident, more manly than he had looked before.
It couldn’t be real, yet what if it was?
Dear God, she was in love with him. She had to know the truth.
She was almost ready to leave Patrick’s condo. She had showered and applied her make up before finding the journal in his study. Her hands shook as she fastened the hooks on her bra. Her knees trembled as she stepped into the skirt of her white linen suit.
She finished dressing with one objective. She had to see Patrick. She had to know if what the journal said could possibly be true.
Stuffing the leather notebook beneath her arm, she headed for her car, her hands so unsteady she dropped the car keys two times as she tried to unlock the door.
“Calm down, Julie,” she said as she slid behind the wheel and started the engine. “You’ve got to get there in one piece if you want to get this all straightened out.”
It didn’t take long to reach the office. She parked in her usual spot behind the building, saw Patrick’s Porsche parked in the lot not far away. He was there in his office. A Patrick she didn’t really know.
She prayed the words in the journal weren’t true, but the pieces fit so neatly together, everything Laura had said–confirmed. And explained in detail in Patrick’s own hand.
She rested her head on the steering wheel, gathering her strength and her courage. With a final deep breath, she got out of the car and crossed the parking lot, entered through the back door and made her way directly to Patrick’s office.
She could only imagine the look on her face–terror, sheer, stark terror. And a pain that ran soul deep.
It couldn’t be true. There had to be some other explanation.
Patrick glanced up as she walked into his private office and quietly closed the door.
He smiled. “Julie…” Then he saw her face. “My God, what’s wrong?” He was out of his chair in a heartbeat, worried about her, ready to help, strong, purposeful, determined.
Everything he never was before.
Julie’s gaze met his and her whole body tightened. “Stay where you are. Don’t…don’t come near me, Patrick.”
He frowned, etching deep lines into his forehead. Then he saw the journal she clutched under her arm. “Julie…”
She held it up with a trembling hand. “Explain it, Patrick. Tell me this is some kind of sick joke. Tell me none of this is real. That you made it all up.”
Patrick said nothing.
“Are you crazy, Patrick? Are you insane?”
He stiffened, tension making his broad shoulders look even wider. He took a deep breath and slowly released it, his brilliant blue eyes fixed on her face. Resignation settled over his handsome features. “No.”
A hard lump rose in Julie’s throat, part of it anger, part of it fear. “If you aren’t crazy, then I must be. This can’t be real. Laura was never abducted. There is no such place as Toril.”
He said nothing. The silence was so deep, the air between them filled with such clarity she knew in that moment the journal was real.
“Oh, my God.”
“I’m sorry,” he said gently. “In life, there are always things that are bigger than we want to believe. Frightening things. Things we don’t understand. I hoped you would never know the truth. I hoped you would never find out.”
“It-it can’t true. It isn’t possible.”
His eyes were filled with regret and something else she could not name. “I’m afraid, love, that it is.”
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