Now she knew what she had to do and she would not be dissuaded again.
Settling back against the soft cool pillow, she breathed in his familiar scent. This had always been Declan's side of the bed, and she had truly believed that it would always remain that way. But how could it now? How could it when everything she had ever believed about him was a lie?
Closing her eyes she tried to fight off the flash-backs but she knew it was futile. They would come to her whether she wanted them or not. It was unavoidable, and so she allowed them access.
That night when she had retreated to the warmth of her kitchen from the chill of the front porch and her visitors words, Morgan had wanted so badly to just bury all of the accusations and worries that had formed in her mind over Declan's behaviour. She had wanted to force them back into the deepest, darkest corner of her memory where she hoped they would gather dust and eventually be forgotten, like her childhood toys which were stacked in the back of the garage.
But she realised that she could not run from the feelings of betrayal, that they could no longer stay hidden from her. Not her fathers betrayal and not her husbands either. She knew that she must confront him, then perhaps the truth would set her free.
When she entered their bedroom she found Declan working at his computer typing away, no doubt perfecting his article, and the sound of his fingers against the keypad made her sick. How could he be so blatant in his deception?
"Can you stop for a minute, we need to talk?" She asked, swallowing her fears as far down as she could.
"Babe i really gotta finish, the paper's deadline is tomorrow and we print on Friday." He replied, not looking at her.
"There's not going to be a story Declan." She replied, calmly. This stopped his fingers typing and he finally looked up, instantly seeing the seriousness behind her words.
Morgan looked into his pale jade eyes and saw not one hint of doubt behind them. He truly believed in his plan, but was that only because he thought she did not know the truth?
"That's not all this story will do is it?" She asked, watching carefully to see if he would give anything away.
Declan squinted and stepped back, apparently shocked by her questioning, "What do you mean?" he asked.
Turning from him, afraid to see the lie when it finally registered Morgan replied, "This story is a big deal for you." She stated, "But then you always knew it would be didn't you?"
"Baby, please. You're not making any sense." Declan pleaded, "Where is this coming from?"
"How did you know about the journalists well placed source for his article?" She questioned, "And why didn't you know that the article about my Dad was being published in the first place? I mean you work at the paper for God's sake!"
"I write a small section of that paper, they don't tell me everything!" He replied angrily, "And ask for that reporter i gave him a piece of my mind, i demanded to know where he got this information from."
"And? What did he tell you?" She demanded, unwilling to allow him to continue his deception.
"He told me that a guard at the prison gave him the information." Declan replied, straight faced.
Her head turned towards him at this admission while her heart leaped at the glimmer of hope he had given her. Maybe she was wrong after all, maybe he hadn't lied to her. But then her head spoke up and reminded her of the other loose end, the journal.
Walking over to the desk she removed it from its hiding place and threw it down onto the floor. "And this?" She asked, "How do you explain it?"
Declan returned her glare and pointed to the notebook, "You've been snooping through my things?" He demanded.
"I've been snooping?" She shot back, incredulous at his accusation. "What do you call keeping a journal full of information on my father and me? Why do you have all of this?"
Declan let his head sink, apparently in defeat. But when his head snapped back up Morgan saw no hint of remorse there, it reminded her of Robson. "I'm a writer Morgan." Declan replied, "And you, you have this amazing story. How could i not be interested in it?" He shook his head as though he couldn't comprehend her viewpoint.
"How long have you been keeping that journal?" She asked, her voice wavering at the implications his answer may bring.
"For a very long time." Came his infuriating reply.
"So the whole time we've known each other, you've been compiling the details of my life's story?" She asked.
"You make it sound like such a bad thing." He shrugged, "So i was interested in you, what does it matter now?"
"What does it matter?" She repeated in horror, "The first day you came to book club and you sat next to me, what was that? Were you just looking for a way to get more information? Or did you actually want to know me? Which is it Declan me or my story?" She cried as every moment which had ever passed between them flashed before her eyes. Although the memories were the same they seemed now tinged with darkness and lies.
"I admit that day yes i wanted to find out more about you." He replied, "I was curious. It's not like i was alone in that the whole school talked about who your Dad was and what he did."
"So what, you just waited for the right moment to get close to me? Oh my God!" She cried remembering the day she had fought with Liz and he had comforted her, "That day in the library when i was crying you were there. And i thought you were so sweet listening to me complain about everything, but that was all part of your plan wasn't it? To make me think that you were this great guy that i could talk to?"
"My God Morgan, you're acting like i held a gun to your head or something!" He accused, "I didn't force you to tell me anything, you needed a shoulder to cry on and i was there for you. And yes i wanted to hear your story of course i did but i didn't make you do or say anything."
"So when i was trying to decide if i should visit my Dad or not and you told me to go and find out about him for myself, was that for my benefit or all just so you could get the juicy details?" She asked, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"I was trying to help you." He replied, his jaw set in determination.
"YOU were trying to help yourself!" She shouted, the anger suddenly flooding to the fore and bursting free, "But why? Why did you pretend to love me? Why not just get your information and sell your story?"
"Morgan i wasn't pretending. Our relationship may have been founded from my curiosity but our love, my love is real." He pleaded.
"So real that you sold me out to the paper?" She asked quietly, "You wrote that article didn't you? So that you could force my hand into letting you write your story, the story you've been writing since the day we met?"
"Do you have any idea what it's like for me? I mean have ever even given my career a second thought?" He demanded. "Of course not, because it's always been about you and what you wanted hasn't it? You wanted to wait until we were married and so we did. You wanted to know what to do about your father and so i helped you!" He yelled, "But what about me Morgan? What about what i wanted?"
"I don't understand?" She replied, afraid his raised voice would wake the children.
"Before i met you i had dreams, big dreams." He replied, "I was going to be a star reporter, the kind that uncovers gross miscarriages of justice and rights wrongs. I was all set to win an internship at The Sim City Herald, all i had to do was write the perfect piece, show them that they should pick me over all the other budding writers out there. So yes i wanted your story, because i knew that it would win me the job i had always dreamed of." He said, tears showing in his eyes as he admitted the truth, "But i couldn't do it. I fell in love with you Morgan and i couldn't leave you, not even for my dream job."
"Then why did you do this to me now?" She asked, shocked by his admission yet still torn between her love for him and her anger.
"Do you know why i write the births deaths and marriages section?" He asked, wryly. "Because my colleagues think I'm a joke. Here i am sitting on the biggest story that Bridgeport has ever had, superstar turned murderer and his kidnapped daughter. It's right here." He said grabbing her arms and shaking her firmly, "Right within my reach but i ignore it, like it's not even there. So my boss put me in the writers graveyard, the place where creativity goes to die. Nobody wants to write the section i write, it's humiliating. But I've done it every day since i left school so that i could be with you, so that i can feed our children and keep this roof over our heads."
"So you sold me out because your colleagues pick on you?" Morgan spat the ridiculous words from her mouth, her fury returning.
"Morgan we needed the money, what they're paying me for this article it's huge. We can send the kids to private school if we want."
She jerked away from his grasp wiping the tears from her cheeks hurriedly. "We were doing just fine until you wrote that article, my business was taking off we would have been fine!" She yelled no longer caring if the children were woken.
"Morgan please, i need this, we need this." He begged.
"No! That story will never be printed do you hear me? Never." She threatened.
"You don't mean that." He replied, reeling from the venom in her words.
"Don't YOU tell me what i mean." She said, forcing the words out slowly through her rage, "You have lied to me for our entire relationship, you have tainted every memory that i have, but you will not humiliate me and my family for money or for your pride."
"If i take away this story now my career is over." He shook his head, "My boss will never take me seriously."
"I don't care about your career or your boss!" She screamed, "This is my life that you have played with and I'm telling you that your game is over. We are over!"
Declan stepped back from her and looked at her as a wounded bird looks up at a cat about to strike, "You're leaving me over this?" He asked.
"Our marriage is nothing but a lie." She replied, "I want you to leave now."
"No." He shook his head adamantly, "I'm not going anywhere, you're angry right now and you're upset but we will work this out Morgan. We have to for the children." He pleaded.
"Just get away from me Declan." She answered holding up the palms of her hands to fend off his apologies, "I can't even stand to be in the same room as you right now."
He hadn't argued further that night. Declan had walked away, retreated to the couch where he stayed every night since.
The pair had lived a separate existence. Avoiding each other where possible, treading on eggshells to preserve the scrap of love that remained between them. But it faded with each day that passed and Morgan knew that their silent treaty could not last. A choice had to made, she must either forgive him or leave him, for there could be no middle ground, no compromise to speak of.
But a decision of this magnitude was not easy to make. Morgan's heart was still filled with love for her husband, yet her head told her it was all false, never a real love to begin with.
But her heart told her to remember what a great father he was. He loved his kids with every fibre of his being and there was not a scrap of deceit in that. How could she in all good conscious rip them away from the happy family unit they had always known?
How could she ever explain to them why Mommy and Daddy weren't together any more? How could she bear to see their little faces wrinkled in confusion?
Yet equally, how could she take him back into her heart and into her bed knowing that he had betrayed her in the most cruel of ways? Taking her deepest most secret thoughts and attempting to use them for his own personal gain was unforgivable. Morgan sat up in bed that night knowing what she must do.
She had to divorce her husband.
Telling him would not be easy, she knew this of course, but she couldn't prolong the inevitable any longer.
"We can't go on like this." She began, choosing her words carefully.
"Thank God, Morgan." He exclaimed, "I've been waiting for you to come round, i didn't want to rush you." He explained, the relief filling his face as he assumed that she was ready to forgive him.
"No, Declan you misunderstand." She answered, cutting him off, "I've given this a lot of thought believe me I've thought of nothing else, but there is just no way back to where we were before." She explained.
"Are you ending this?" He asked, suddenly catching her tone.
Morgan stared into his gorgeous face, seeing the hurt and disbelief registered clearly there. Her heart lunged once more begging her to reconsider, but her head was in control now and she refused to listen.
"Yes." She replied, "I can't forgive what you did." She added quietly.
"What about the kids?" He asked, tears welling in his eyes now.
"You'll always be their father, i can't take that from you. I wouldn't want to." She clarified, "I think it's best that they stay with me at least until they start school, then maybe we can share custody?" She surprised herself at how calm she was being, whilst inside she felt anything but. Her heart was racing and her legs were shaking so badly that she was certain at any minute she would collapse.
"Is this really what you want Morgan?" He asked.
"Yes." She nodded slightly, hoping that he would not press her too hard and force her heart back into it's powerful position.
"You know I'm sorry right? For everything." He added, "I would never hurt you or the kids."
"It's too late." She whispered, "I can't forget what you did."
Declan took in a shuddering deep breath and Morgan prayed that he would not break down and cry in front of her. She knew there was no way she could watch that impassively, her heart would surely melt. But instead he said, "I'll move out. I can get a place down town somewhere. I'll still send you money though, I'll make sure you and the kids are alright."
"I know you will." She smiled sadly as her heart strings tugged once more.
"Is it really the end?" He asked, searching her eyes for the truth.
She hesitated at this, returning his gaze, seeing that he was deflated and broken by her words. Could she really do this? Could she really walk away from their life together?
"It has to be." She said finally.
It had not been easy for her to rebuild herself or her life after Declan left. In truth all Morgan had wanted was to curl into a ball and hide away. But she knew if she gave into her depression she may never come out from under it and so she threw herself into rebuilding her business.
She contacted the paper and made them print a retraction of the article which had smoothed the way for her to contact the parents who had been her client base previously. Most of them had returned and eventually the article was forgotten.
Throughout the darkest of her days there was one constant that had kept her from sinking, Howie.
He had been there to make sure she got up out of bed on a morning.
And to make sure she remembered to eat. Again she found herself wondering how she had allowed their friendship to fade into the background, when now she couldn't imagine life without him.
The triplets adored their uncle Howie too, and although Declan visited often the children soon formed a strong bond with Howie which Morgan thanked her lucky stars for.
On the day of the triplets birthday their bond with Howie was plain for all to see.
Yet some found it harder to swallow than others.
Morgan had expected this day to be difficult. She hadn't really spoken much to Declan since their divorce was finalised, other than when he picked up the kids or dropped them back off again and even then it was only the briefest of courtesies. But today was their children's birthday and she knew that she had to make the best of the situation for them at least.
However as Declan surveyed the happy scene it seemed that he was set on ruining the day for everyone.
"I'll take MY son." He snapped, seeing Howie playing with an excited Oscar.
"Of course." Howie smiled, trying to avoid the anger in Declan's voice by handing the boy right over.
"Don't think i don't know what you're trying to do." Declan whispered as Howie passed the boy to him. Howie gave him the briefest of shocked looks but kept his lips pressed shut.
The mood shifted as Declan got his way and he proudly introduced Oscar to his cake, assisting him in blowing out the candles on the rainbow coloured treat.
As the eldest of the triplets clapped, his eyes wide with joy everyone gathered around to take at look at his new appearance.
His soft emerald eyes, were his fathers yet the hair was still all Morgan.
Morgan swiftly scooped up Olivia and presented her with the delectable lilac frosted cake helping her middle child to extinguish the flames from her candles.
Then she happily gazed down at her newly acquired form. Her bright auburn hair was all her fathers yet her aquamarine eyes were her mothers proving that Olivia was still the exact opposite of her brother.
And finally Odette's turn came. She blew out her own candles with such determination that Morgan had to laugh, Odd was ever to do things in her own unique way. She grew up as different from her brother and sister as could be, with a flourish of white blond hair and the palest pastel green eyes Morgan had ever seen.
As Morgan saved the last of the cake into the fridge for later she sensed Declan behind her, turning to see him gathering the plates and stacking them familiarly into the dish washer.
"I'm glad we could share today." He said softly, "I've missed you."
Morgan turned to see the hope in his face, could he really still believe there was a chance between them? She had hoped the divorce would help him realised that it would never happen.
"We're apart for a reason Declan." She replied, crushing his hope. "Or have you forgotten what you did?"
She turned and walked away immediately not wanting to prolong the awkwardness a moment longer.
Declan closed his eyes and listened to Morgans footsteps grow gradually further from him. It was difficult for him to be in the house they once shared, seeing her and his children so obviously happy without him around. It felt like a knife in his heart.
Sighing he swallowed the pain and headed for the triplets bedroom hoping to say goodnight before he left.
But once again he found an unwelcome guest taking his place.
"I should have known you'd be here." He spat unkindly, "But then you never could wait to take my place could you?"
"Declan please this isn't the time or the place." Howie cried holding up his hands to implore for peace between them.
"You know Morgan hates me because she thinks i played a game with her, that I'm not who she thinks i am. If she only knew just who the biggest fraud in her life was." He gestured to Howie in frustration.
"I understand you're upset but please think about the kids, they don't need to see you like this." Howie reasoned.
"Maybe it's time everyone saw you for what you are Howie. why don't you just come clean?"
"Declan!" Morgan warned, walking in on the little scene, "Leave Howie out of this, our problems are nothing to do with him."
"Oh i think they're everything to do with him." Declan countered, his confidence growing now. "You still don't see it do you? I may not have always been straight up with you but he." Declan spat pointing animatedly at Howie, "He has lied to you your whole life."
"That's enough Declan, just get out!" Morgan snapped.
"What! You don't want to know the truth Morgan? I thought that was what you wanted." Declan laughed, "Well let me help you out since Howie here still can't man up."
"Your best friend, your brother." He spat the word distastefully, "Your saint Howie is in love with you." Declan finished.
"Don't be ridiculous!" Morgan snorted, shaking her head at Declan's outburst.
"You don't believe me?" Declan crowed, "Ask him!" He challenged.
"Howie?" Morgan looked at him the laughter preparing to fall from her mouth, but the look on Howie's face told her that this was no laughing matter. His face told her that Declan was telling her the truth now.
The cakes in this chapter were made by the ever so talented Scones ~ find them at her blog HERE