She spun around to stare after him. "Lee Holivan, donít you dare walk away from me!" She was at his side in two seconds. "What the hell is going on with you?"
"Donít make this any harder than it is, Andi." he told her.
"What are you talking about?"
"Weíll discuss this later... Iím going home."
"How will you get home?" she called after him.
"Stop worrying about everyone else!"
"Lee!" Turning on her heel, she went back into Jimmyís room. "Rick, please go catch up with Lee. Heís being unreasonable and he wants to go home."
Rick frowned and left the room to find his brother.
"Sweetie, whatís going on?" Jimmy asked her.
"Hell if I know." she told him. "Lee just told me he wants a divorce."
"Oh, Jimmy, my life is crazy mixed up!" she fell into the chair at his side.
"Donít overreact. Maybe Lee is just having a bad morning."
"This isnít like him." she pushed her curly hair out of her face. "Heís scaring me."
"Then go home and talk to him." Jimmy advised.
"No, I came in here to be with you and Iím going to stay here. I will not give in to his tantrum." she said stubbornly.
"Andrea, something is going on and you should find out what it is." he insisted.
"No, I want to be with you. Tell me what the doctors told you in California." And with that, she pushed thoughts of Lee from her jumbled mind.
"Lee, would you just stop!" Rick caught up with him as the elevator was opening. "What are you doing."
"Going home." he got into the elevator and Rick followed him.
"Whatís going on? You and Andrea never argue."
"She was upset when she came back into the room. What did you say?" Rick continued.
"Are you protecting her now?"
"I donít understand why youíre hurting her... I thought you loved her." there was puzzlement in his voice.
The elevator doors slid open and they stepped out.
"I do love her." Lee said softly.
"So why are you hurting her? Why now, when she has to deal with Lee... whatís the deal?" They walked slowly through the lobby and toward the car.
"You know, sometimes you have to hurt the one you love to do whatís best for them." Lee answered.
"Iím still lost. Fill me in, please."
"Iím letting Andi go."
"Free. Iím divorcing her."
"Itís what I have to do." he stopped at the car. "You canít change my mind."
Rick stood a few feet behind his brother, staring at his back in amazement. "You canít be serious."
"Iím afraid I am. Iíll be contacting Bill before the week is out to have him draw up the papers." Lee continued as Rick unlocked the front car door in a daze.
"What about your promise to leave her everything?" Rick asking, folding up Leeís walker and shoving it into the back seat.
"I will... nothingís changed about that." was his answer.
Rick shut the door and circled the car to get in on the driverís side. "Why are you doing this?"
"Itís for her good. I love her enough to let her go." Leeís voice was filled with love and pain. "I expect sheíll find someone else who will always be there."
Rick fell silent, his heart waging a silent battle. He was rejoicing at the thought of Andrea being free for him to love, but a part of him was dying at his brotherís sacrifice. He wanted Andrea for himself, but his first thought was to protect his brother from pain. "Andrea loves you." he said as he started the car.
"Yes, I know about my relationship with Andi. Things are not always what they seem, Rick."
"Now what are you talking about?"
"Lets wait until we get home and then I promise to explain everything."
"You what?!" Rick jumped out of his chair and started pacing behind the desk in the den.
"Iím sorry, Rick, but itís the truth. Andrea only married me because I talked her into it. We were never really husband and wife." There was remorse in his voice.
"You lied to me! Both of you lied to me!"
"It was bad enough when you thought we were married! You still accused her of being a gold-digger so I can imagine what you would have said if I told you we werenít married in the true sense of the word! Andi is my best friend and I hate to see her hurting in any way." Lee defended himself.
"She went along with you. You both lied to me! You didnít even trust me, your own brother!"
Leeís laugh was brittled. "Why should I have? I know how you think."
"So why tell me now?"
"Andi is unhappy."
"So she wants the divorce."
"No, I do. I want her to be happy and she isnít happy with me." Lee couldnít tell him that he and Andi would be perfect together."
"But youíre hurting her by divorcing her. Or does the end justify the means?" Rick asked sarcastically.
"Something like that."
"I canít believe any of this! Iím leaving. This is too unbelievable. You lied, she lied, now youíre lying to her and sheís probably lying to you! Incredible." Rick turned and stormed out of the room.
Andrea came through the front door quietly, wondering why no one had called her at the hospital to tell her what was going on. As she closed the front door behind her, she heard a loud crash and then some cursing, followed closely by a number of thumps and thuds.
"In the den."
She followed his soft call into the study. "What in the world is going on?"
"Andi, Iím so sorry." He was crumpled up on the leather couch, his head in his hands.
"Lee, whatís happening?"
"I told Rick about us." he moaned through his fingers.
Excitement rushed through her veins, then they turned icy. "Oh, no."
She saw the tears start to slide down his cheeks. Jumping to her feet, she left Lee in the study and took the stairs two at a time. She practically flew down the hallway and into his room. "Richard Holivan!"
He turned, in a half crouch, and growled at her. "Donít start with me. You lied. I trusted you and you woke up every morning and lied to me!"
"I was protecting Lee!"
"He was protecting you so basically you were protecting yourself." he spat, his mind spinning.
"I did what I had to do. I made a promise and I kept it." She stood tall before him, her body wide and proud, not flinching at the anger on his handsome face.
"Youíre a damn lying bitch!"
"Youíre a coward." she stated calmly.
He raised his hand instinctively in response but she didnít budge.
"Thatís right, prove it by hitting me! If you loved your brother, you would stay and stand beside him. Be strong for him because I wonít do it anymore. I donít care if you hate me but stay here and love him." she challenged.
"Fine, you move out then! I donít want to be anywhere near you. Take your stuff and go by tomorrow night!" he yelled.
"Iíll do better than that. Iíll be out in an hour. But if I find out you left Lee, I will personally hunt you down and kill you." she poked him in the chest with each word. Then, without another comment, she turned and left.
Rick stood there, the smell of her perfume still lingering in the air, and wanted to die. His heart ached with every beat and he wondered if he would even live.
"Andi, you canít go." Lee sat on the red couch and watched as she packed up all of her writing stuff.
"Iíll move back into the other house. Iíll be fine and anyway, itís closer to Jimmy." she answered, packing her notebooks.
"What about me?"
"Rick will be here with you." she opened a second suitcase and began unloading her dresser drawers.
"It was either him or me, Lee. I had to do what I thought was right. Have Bill send me the divorce papers when theyíre ready."
"Iím not going to divorce you now!"
"What do you mean?"
"I was going to divorce you so you could be with Rick. But now that Iíve loused everything up, I wonít leave you hanging alone." he told her.
"Lee, you do whatever you think is right." She closed both her suitcases and set them on the floor. "Iím gonna leave everything else. I have what I need." Kneeling next to his legs, she took his hands. "You know where I am and how to get me. Call whenever you need me. Youíll always be my best friend, Lee. Rick can never take that away. And please donít let me come between you two... you need each other."
He pulled her into a big hug. "Be safe and take care of yourself, okay?"
"Yes." she sniffled and stood. "Good bye, Lee."
"See you later." he corrected.
"Yes, later." She grabbed her suitcases and left the room. Down the hall she went and out to the garage. She dumped her luggage into the trunk of her five year old sedan and closed it. Circling around the back of the car, she opened the driverís door.
She looked up.
"Iíll hire the best gardener in the state to take care of your plants."
Tears clogged her throat. "Thanks, Lee."
He nodded and turned away, closing the door between them.
Getting into her car, she jabbed at the button on the garage door opener to life the door. As it slid open, she started her car and backed out. Pulling out of the driveway onto the street, she dared not look back, knowing that if she did, she would burst into tears.
Lee sat at the kitchen table, his chin resting in his hand. He was trying to decide if having Rick around made up for losing Andrea.
Rick stepped into the kitchen and stopped. "Whereís Andrea?" his voice was strained.
"Gone. She left. She isnít coming back."
Rick nodded and went to make himself a cup of coffee. "I cancelled my flight on Saturday."
"Thatís great." Lee said listlessly. "Would you get me my phone book from the drawer there?"
"Who are you calling?"
"I need to find a gardener to take care of A... of the plants." he replied.
"Oh." he handed Lee his phone book. "I guess we could get a maid and a cook now."
"Yea, I guess." Lee sighed heavily as he thumbed through his book. "Iíll contact some people and see who I can find."
"You want me to bring the phone over to you?" Rick offered.
"Thatís fine." he shrugged. "Whatever."
Rick brought him the cordless receiver. "There ya go. Can I get you anything else?"
"Rick, if you hover, Iíll kill you." Lee growled, his heart still aching from letting Andi go.
"All right, all right. Two death threats in one day is enough for me." Rick quietly left the room, his own heart heavy with regret for sending Andrea away. Lee was miserable, he was miserable and he guessed that Andrea was miserable, too.
Andrea closed the door behind her and sighed. The house was empty and stuffy. First she had to turn on the air conditioning... and fast. Looking around, she realized how empty the house was. No one sitting in the study or the kitchen, no one out on the patio. But she finally had her studio back. And her own bed. And her own bathroom. And the deadly silence.
"Oh boy." She turned on the air conditioning then went through the house and out the back door to work in her garden.
The fresh air and exercise made her feel better and about two hours later, she went inside the shower and change before going back to the hospital to see Jimmy. As she was heading for the bathroom, the phone rang.
"Lee, whatís wrong?"
"Nothing. Can you please tell us where the dust pan and vacuum are?" he asked.
"I dropped something and Rick canít find the vacuum." he told her, a laughing note in his voice.
"Are you really stickiní it to him?"
She laughed. "Theyíre both in the closet outside of the bathroom off the kitchen."
"Thank you." he sang.
"Youíre welcome." she sang back.
"Iíll talk to you later."
"Okay, donít kill him, though."
She hung up and wrapped her towel tighter around her body. Rick would probably go crazy within twenty-four hours if Lee really laid into him. Grinning, she headed for her much needed shower.
Andrea returned home late that evening, tired from arguing with Jimmy and his doctors. The house was dark and silent, but she really should be used to it. After all, for two months Lee was in the hospital and was home alone but she had gotten accustomed to Rickís presence in the house. She almost went into the kitchen to greet him but immediately changed her direction when she realized what she was doing. Instead, she went directly upstairs and into her studio where she was totally comfortable. As she looked around the room, she realized that she had left a number of her favorite pictures at the Tamarack house. The studio seemed empty without them so she wandered out of the room and down the hall. She peeked into the two empty bedrooms, but they were spotless. The third bedroom was where Rick had slept and it was basically clean because she had come back and cleaned the whole house after they left. The queen size bed was covered with a dark blue quilt that was soft and fluffy to touch. The two pillows at the head of the bed were in matching blue shams that she remembered finding shoved under the bed. No, Rick definitely was not a neat man. But that went right along with the number of other differences between the two brothers. Lee was the most easygoing guy she had ever met while Rick was more uptight than most. Leeís tidy life included several pairs of designer pajamas while Rick wandered around the house at night in sweatpants and a tee shirt. Lee owned a large number of hand tailored suits while she doubted Rick owned more than one off-the-rack. Bout they were both stubborn and headstrong and both of them could be really wonderful people when they wanted to.
She straightened the already perfect quilt, checked the dressers for dust, then left the room, closing the door behind her. Back down the hall she went, across the threshold and into the master bedroom. The room was dark and without another thought, she flopped onto the bed, curled up and went to sleep.