Veronica smiled as she stopped beside Janelle. “I promise to be on my best behavior, even if I think your ex-husband was one of the lowest life forms on the planet.”
Janelle tried to laugh at that comment, but couldn’t quite muster it. Yes, Richard had been a despicable man in the end, but he hadn’t always been that bad. She liked to think she never would have married him if he had been. It was the memory of the man she’d loved a long time ago that brought her here now, to his funeral.
“You’re probably right,” Janelle quietly agreed. “Let’s get this over with then, shall we?”
Janelle turned and led Veronica toward the door of the funeral home. She’d waited to arrive as late as she could in the hopes of slipping into a pew in the back of the chapel as the service started, and slipping out again as soon as it ended. Janelle’s jaw dropped when she saw that the line stretched from the chapel, through the lobby, and almost to the door she had just entered. She groaned inwardly. There went her chances of going unnoticed.
The number of people there to pay their respects to the man she’d been married to shocked her to her core. She received a few disapproving looks from people she’d known her whole life. Some of the frowns came from people who had known Richard in high school, when he was the life of the party and so charismatic he could charm a smile from a snake without even trying. But most of these people hadn’t seen him since. Their scorn washed over her like a hot wave of anger and embarrassment.
They had no idea of the man Richard had become in the fifteen years since they’d seen him last. They didn’t know the mental and psychological toll his addictions had taken on him. She had barely recognized him in the end, physically or emotionally; she imagined most of these people wouldn’t have been able to point him out in a crowd. And those that had seen him since probably never knew of his alcoholism. To Janelle’s knowledge, he’d kept that secret to himself.
She put her head down, didn’t look at anyone, and only spoke to Veronica in hushed tones as they made their way through the line. They were walking through the double doors of the chapel when Janelle finally looked up and saw Richard’s sister, Martha, barreling toward her with a scowl on her tear-stained face. The anger in her cloudy, blue eyes matched what Janelle had often seen in Richard’s.
Janelle swallowed the lump in her throat and fought the urge to run in the other direction.
“How dare you?” Martha whispered loudly. “How dare you show your face here after everything you did to my brother?” Her hands trembled as they rose to her hips. Janelle imagined Martha was resisting the urge to hit her and took a step backward.
“I came to pay my respects—”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish