Who deserved his anger more? Ricky, for leaving Hope to fend for herself and her children, refusing to give her one dime more than the courts ordered? Or himself, and by extension Max and other friends from high school, for letting Hope slide out of their lives and doing nothing about it for nearly nine years now?
"Everything okay?" Tiffany asked, her voice pitched soft. She rested a skinny, wrinkled hand on Seth's arm when he returned to the gate. For just a moment she was a shadow of the robust, loving-but-opinionated old woman who had helped raise him.
"Nobody here, waiting for Hope to get home. Except us."
"Wonder what's keeping her. Well, maybe she ran into some old friends and decided to give herself a night off. Never seen a girl work harder, taking care of her children. And such good little children, too." She patted his arm and stepped back.
"Should have offered her a ride home," he muttered.
"Hmm? What? Oh, you don't think that big, greasy idiot... grabbed her?"
"No." Seth said it to reassure Tiffany and hoped she had outgrown her ability to know when he was lying. He needed to convince her so he could convince himself that Hope was all right. Wherever she was, instead of being safe at home. "There's a good explanation why she's not back yet. Some of us were talking about her today and realized we hadn't seen her in a while. Maybe one of them caught up with her already."
Please, Lord, let Max and Tony have found Hope. Not Ricky. Please, she's over at Randolphs' right now, with the kids bedded down for the night, because Max took her home to hide from him. Please?