Vin wasn’t entirely sure how Suzie would react. Sure, she was the nicest lady he’d ever met, kind, forgiving, and generous. But if she didn’t know it was Drew, how would she react? With two kids in the house? Both boys had been stalked, and lately Suzie had been a bit protective. If she didn’t know….
Vin stood in front of Drew and stared. The man’s sandy-brown hair had grown to his shoulders and hung in greasy clumps. It had probably been about a week since he’d shaved, but Vin didn’t think Drew intended to grow a beard. The scraggly growth went well with the stretched out T-shirt and the torn and spotty jeans, but not with his good reputation.
He didn’t look anything like he once had. It wasn’t even a naughty version of himself. With the dazed look in his eye and the odd things he said and did, the style was complete degradation, the zenith of his corruption. And he said that if Suzie didn’t accept him just as she had when he’d been the clean-cut, fatherly type, then he’d fall apart?
She might not even recognize Drew. Though Vin had known Drew for many years, he’d barely recognized his best friend. Suzie had only known him for a few months. In that moment between meeting and recognizing, would she say something to tip Drew over the edge?
There was no more down left to go. Vin couldn’t take any risks here. He had to come up with just the right tactic.
He would call Suzie from the airport and talk to her, warn her. He would clean Drew up as best he could, and stand next to Drew when they arrived home. That would be enough. It had to.
“Drew.” Vin knelt in front of his friend, who had been staring out the window this whole time. “Be reasonable. You can’t stay here. You can’t work like this. You belong home, with me. Suzie, Miranda and I can help you get back to what you were before.”
“Heh.” Drew smiled mirthlessly. “Yeah, right.”
Vin gritted his teeth. “Or we could check you into…” He was about to say rehab, but he glanced at Maria, who had moved behind Drew’s chair. She shook her head in warning.
Had they already tried rehab?! The depths of the problem before him gave Vin the shivers.
“Won’t do any good,” Drew muttered, confirming Vin’s fears. Drew took a deep breath. “Not much point in going on, really.”
“What do you mean by that?” Vin couldn’t quite keep the ice out of his voice.
“Better dead than pathetic,” Drew said.
“Can you think of anything more pathetic than a man who lets himself fall into the pits of H*ll just because he MIGHT get rejected?” He should stop here. He’d already said too much. But he was on a roll. “This isn’t like you, Drew. If you’re going to take your own life anyway, why not at least try first?”
If Drew heard what Vin said, he didn’t give any indication. He stared out the window as though nothing else in the world existed. After several minutes, during which Vin struggled with how to get through to Drew and what to do once he did, Vin headed for the kitchen.
“Maria. A word, if you wouldn’t mind.”
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