“Her husband and I worked together at the plant,” Jackson said. “There was an accident. He died. A bunch of us went to his wake, and there she was. After the service, I helped her clean up, and we got talking. This was right after the divorce, so neither of us was thinking much about romance. But it found us anyway.”
He turned around and stared up at the sky.
“But no matter how close we got, she couldn’t let go of him,” he said. “Every inch of this town reminded her of him, and I could tell it was tearing her up inside. So I thought… maybe she needed a fresh start.”
“Right,” Angela said. “And this fresh start just happened to not include me.”
“Believe me, I wanted more than anything to bring you with us,” he said. “But—”
“But you thought something was going on between me and Kay,” Angela said. “Sexually.”
“Is that what Kay told you?” he asked.
“So it’s not true?” she replied.
“Of course not,” he said. “Kay was a messed up kid. Lying, stealing, vandalism, drugs. We tried to keep him under control, but nothing was working. We knew it was only a matter of time before he got you in trouble, too. So we realized we had to leave one of you behind. And since Harriet was the only parent Kay had left… we didn’t really have much of a choice.”
“I… suppose that makes sense,” Angela said.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Jackson said. “I’d planned on inviting you to live with us after Kay moved out, but by then the damage was done.”
“Honestly, I probably still would’ve said yes,” Angela said. “I was always more pissed at Mom and Harriet than at you. At least… that’s what I told myself.” She sighed. “I’m sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that, especially not in front of everyone.”
“No, I had it coming,” he said. “I think that was Vivian’s plan all along. To catch you off guard so you’d blurt out what you were thinking instead of bottling it up.”