the family murder case (part twenty-nine)

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"Bobby has a crush on you." She spoke quietly, her body turned to face Erika as if we weren't there. "Everybody's seen it but you. Why do you think he suddenly started coming home every weekend? He made himself ignore our relationship, and of course my mother helped." She paused for a moment, and I wondered if she was going to say something about her own role in the deception, but she didn't.

"He's never been happy." She waved her free hand. "I don't want to get all psychological, but you can imagine, with his parents and everything.

"At dinner that night, it was more and more obvious that Freddy was attracted to you, and Bobby was jealous. Freddy apparently decided to take the direct approach, to wait for you in your bed. Some men think that's attractive, or maybe they hope the convenience will be a factor, but he was that type. Very self-confident. Unlike Bobby."

"And remember that Freddy was staying in Bobby's room, and Bobby was drunk. I assume that Bobby wondered where Freddy was, and either he figured out that Freddy was making a pass, or one of his 'friends' told him, and maybe they teased him, and he went to take out his frustrations.

"You were so upset the next day, you didn't see anybody. But I saw Bobby for a few minutes, and he was nearly catatonic. Far more upset than he would have been just because Freddy was dead – as you noticed, they didn't even really like each other. And I'm so sorry I never mentioned this–"

"I know," Erika said. "You were protecting Bobby. I understand."

"No, you don't, not really." She cupped Erika's hand between hers. "I was protecting him, which I know was wrong, but I was protecting you, too. If you had known, you would have wondered whether you were responsible in any way, which you weren't. You would have wondered what you could have done differently, to prevent it from happening." She glanced at us for a second. "As you are all aware, I know how it feels to be in a position like that, and I didn't want you to ever feel that you might have had any responsibility for what happened. Which you don't, of course, but logic doesn't always help when you're in that situation."

Claudia's turned to us, but Erika reached for her and Claudia turned back to embrace her.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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