Home > The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3)(7)

The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3)(7)
Justin Cronin

“I do love you so,” he said.

“And I love you.”

“It was a wonderful day, wasn’t it?”

She nodded against him. “And we’ll have many more. An ocean of days.”

He pulled her close. Outside, the night was cold and still. “It was a beautiful song,” he said. “I’m glad we found that piano.”

And with these words, curled together in their big, soft bed beneath the eaves, they floated off to sleep.

I’m glad we found that piano.

That piano.

That piano.

That piano…

Peter ascended to consciousness to find himself naked, wrapped in sweat-dampened sheets. For a moment, he lay motionless. Hadn’t he been…? And wasn’t he…? His mouth tasted like he’d been eating sand; his bladder was dense as a rock. Behind his eyes, the first stab of his hangover was making its presence felt.

“Happy birthday, Lieutenant.”

Lore lay beside him. Not so much beside as coiled around, their bodies knotted together, slick with perspiration where they touched. The shack, just two rooms with a privy out back, was one they’d used before, though its ownership wasn’t clear to him. Beyond the foot of the bed, the small window was a gray square of predawn summer light.

“You must be mistaking me for somebody else.”

“Oh, believe me,” she said, placing a finger against the center of his chest, “there’s no mistaking you. So how does it feel to be thirty?”

“Like twenty-nine with a headache.”

She smiled seductively. “Well, I hope you liked your present. Sorry I forgot the card.”

She unwound herself, swiveled to the edge of the bed, and snatched her shirt from the floor. Her hair had grown long enough to need tying back; her shoulders were wide and strong. She wrenched herself into a pair of dirty gaps, shoved her feet into her boots, and turned her upper body to face him again.

“Sorry to run, mi amigo, but I’ve got tankers to move. I’d make you breakfast, only I seriously doubt there’s anything here.” She leaned forward to kiss him, quickly, on the mouth. “Give my love to Caleb, okay?”

The boy was spending the night with Sara and Hollis. Neither ever asked Peter where he was going, though certainly they had guessed the kind of thing it was. “I’ll do that.”

“And I’ll see you the next time I’m in town?” When Peter said nothing, she cocked her head and looked at him. “Or…maybe not.”

He didn’t really have an answer. What passed between them wasn’t love—the subject had never come up—but it was also more than physical attraction. It fell into the gray space between the two, neither one thing nor the other, and that was where the problem lay. Being with Lore reminded him of what he couldn’t have.

Her face fell. “Well, shit. And I was so damn fond of you, Lieutenant.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

She sighed, looking away. “I guess it’s not like this could have lasted. I just wish I’d thought to dump you first.”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let things go so far.”

“Believe me, it’ll pass.” She lifted her face toward the ceiling and took a long, steadying breath, then touched a tear away. “Fuck it all, Peter. See what you made me do?”

He felt awful. He hadn’t planned this; up until a minute ago, he’d expected that the two of them would just drift in the current of whatever-this-was until they lost interest or new people came along.

Lore asked, “This isn’t about Michael, is it? Because I told you, that’s over.”

“I don’t know.” He paused, shrugged. “Okay, maybe a little. He’s going to find out if we keep this up.”

“So he finds out—so what?”

“He’s my friend.”

She wiped her eyes and gave a quiet, bitter laugh. “Your loyalty is admirable, but trust me, I’m the last thing on Michael’s mind. He’d probably thank you for taking me off his hands.”

“That’s not true.”

She shrugged. “You’re only saying that because you’re being nice. Which is maybe why I like you so much. But you don’t have to lie—we both know what we’re doing. I keep telling myself I’ll get him out of my system, but of course I never do. You know what kills me? He can’t even tell me the truth. That goddamn redhead. What is it with her?”

For a moment Peter felt lost. “Are you talking about…Lish?”

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