ARIEL EST ENTRÉE DANS MON BUREAU SANS FRAPPER, UN BLOC-NOTES EN cuir à la main. Ses lunettes noires étaient posées sur l’arête de son nez, endroit qu’elles ne quittaient jamais, car elle ne voulait pas porter de lentilles de contact.
– T’as une minute ?
J’ai pris le verre de scotch sur mon bureau et l’ai avalé d’un
– Je suppose.
Elle s’est assise et a croisé les jambes avant d’ouvrir son carnet. Elle a parcouru ses notes, la tête inclinée et les lunettes sur le nez.
– Comment va ta poitrine ?
Douloureusement. Péniblement. Faiblement. Faites votre choix.
Ça faisait un mois que Joseph m’avait tiré dessus. J’avais encore trois séances de kiné par semaine pour essayer de reconstruire le muscle de mon pectoral gauche. Je ne pouvais pas me servir de mon bras gauche comme avant, mais une fois que j’aurais retrouvé mes forces, tout redeviendrait normal.
Elle a regardé la bouteille de scotch presque vide posée sur
– Tu sais que tu n’es pas censé boire quand t’es sous
Comme si j’en avais quelque chose à foutre.
“It’s Dunbar,” he responded. “I just wanted to let you know she left Scotland. Her plane took off a few hours ago.”
I’d asked him to notify me if her situation ever changed. She said she was leaving in a week, but she obviously cut the trip short—because she gave up on me. I listened to the rain as I stayed on the phone, unsure how to respond. “Thanks for letting me know.”
“Good night, sir.” He hung up.
I kept the phone to my ear even though he was gone. I listened to the line go dead before I tossed the phone back onto the nightstand. My eyes immediately returned to the window, where the water stuck to the glass then dripped down.
She really left.
It was over.
I’d never have to hear from her again.
I could go back to my life.
It should come as a relief, like a toxin had been removed from my bloodstream. But instead of feeling joyful, I felt something else entirely.
“I wanted you to know it wasn’t all an act. I wanted to be free because I deserved to be free. I did what I had to do to get out.”
“But when I told you I loved you…I meant it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I do.”
My hands were still by my sides, cold from the breeze and white from my grip. “You expect me to believe that?”
“Why wouldn’t you? You were there, Crewe. You knew how I felt about you before I even said anything.”
I shook my head and stepped back. “Everything was a lie. You successfully played me, tricked me into getting what you want. Now that you have your freedom, why don’t you just go enjoy it and disappear?” I hated to think of how many men she’d slept with this past month. I shouldn’t care, and the fact that I did pissed me off.
“Because I haven’t enjoyed my freedom…not like I thought I would.”
I stared at her and couldn’t look away. My entire body shut down so I could take in everything without missing a single syllable.
“Crewe, I miss you. I thought I would be happy back in New York, but I’m not. All I do is think about you. I’m not saying I don’t want my freedom, because I do. But I want both. I was hoping we could start over.”
“Start over?” I asked with a strangled laugh. “I almost died on the operating table. No, we can’t fucking start over.”
Someone knocked on my door even though it was almost nine o’ clock. “Sir?” Dimitri’s voice carried into the bedroom. “I’m sorry to bother you, but it’s urgent.”
I had a naked woman on my lap. Nothing was that urgent. “It can wait until tomorrow.”
Dimitri’s feet didn’t fade away as if he walked off. His mouth was right by the door. “It’s Lady London. She’s here. Do you still want me to send her away?”
My entire body froze when I heard what he said. At first, I thought I imagined the entire thing, but my fingertips pressed into Sasha’s hips, reminding me that this wasn’t a dream. This was really happening. “London?”
“She’s outside, sir,” Dimitri said. “What are your orders?”
Sasha looked down at me. “Who’s London?”
I ignored what she said. She wasn’t even there. “I’ll be down in ten minutes.”
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