A silent string of curses ripped through Max’s mind. A few years ago he might have slammed his fist into the porch post after hearing that Mrs. Mac knew about Liza Jane’s none-too-perfect past with him. But he kept himself in check.
Bernice seemed to let her news sink into his exhausted brain cells before she spoke again. “When he came to me for some honest advice, he didn’t hold back a single detail. By the time the two of them found out about the baby, I had no doubts about the fatherhood of that child. But I had plenty of doubt about that marriage.”
“Liza Jane says she loved Johnny,” Max offered with some bitterness.
“I know that girl tried hard to be a devoted wife. Land sakes, how it hurt me for the longest time to watch those two together. As polite as two foreigners who didn’t speak the same language. But they stuck it out, both of them. By the time Annie came along, you’d have thought their marriage was made in heaven.”
The news hit Max like a dull slug to the gut. True as it seemed to be, he’d never get used to the idea of her loving anyone else but him.
“So she was better off without me, after all.” His caustic murmur was meant more for himself than for her ears.
“She never had a day’s doubt that John wanted anybody but her. You would’ve been a different story altogether. She never would’ve felt good enough to match up to that old girlfriend of yours. Sad to say, she never felt good enough for John, either. She was indebted to him for doing right by her for the sake of their baby.”
“Is that what you think?”
“Put your hackles down,” admonished Bernice. “Elizabeth never had a debt to pay as far as I’m concerned. She’s been a good wife, a wonderful mother and a sweet daughter-in-law. I’m probably the only one who knows how much she’s punished herself for the mistakes she made as a kid. How many of us wouldn’t like a second chance to do over some of the things we did in our younger days?”
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