Always. Занятие 13

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Аудиоверсия занятия

Аудиотренажёр

Chapter IX. Part III

117


I look out to the restaurant beyond her; half the dining room is empty. “Surely you can get us in,” I say.

118


She looks at me, then Cade. “Well, I—I,” she stammers.

119


Just then a woman approaches. Blond, with dark-rimmed glasses. I recognize Dawn, the manager, immediately. Over the years, she’s become a reliable source on the downtown restaurant business, and I’ve quoted her in numerous articles.

120


“Kailey,” she greets me warmly, stopping beside the hostess. “I read your piece on Pioneer Square. The restaurant values the potential business that new development may bring, but on a personal level I feel for the people who might be displaced. Your writing always makes me realize that there are two sides to every issue, especially the hard ones.”

121


“Thank you,” I say, forcing a smile. It’s a tough moment to accept a compliment, given all that Cade has lost.

122


“Are you doing an interview?” she asks, assuming that Cade is a subject of my ongoing series.

123


“No reporting today. Just lunch,” I say, turning to Cade. “Just…the two of us.”

124


Dawn looks at Cade, then at me. For a moment I’m not sure how she will react.

125


“It would mean the world to me if you could find us a table,” I tell her. “Maybe something in the bar, tucked away?”

126


Dawn is a consummate professional. She smiles, squares her shoulders, and turns to the hostess. “Jennifer,” she says, “see Kailey and her guest to table nineteen.”

127


“Thank you so much.”

128


Jennifer selects two menus and begins to walk ahead. Cade and I follow. “Will you be comfortable here?” she asks, stopping at a table in the far corner of the bar. There are no other diners in the area.

129


“It’s perfect,” I say, smiling.

130


I sit down, and Cade continues to stand. “It’s okay,” I say, pointing to the chair beside him. “You can sit there.”

131


He stares at the chair as if it’s a foreign object from a strange land. For a moment, I’m convinced he’ll bolt, but then he drops his bag to the ground and sits at the table with me.

132


The waiter arrives next. If he’s put off by Cade’s presence, he doesn’t show it. Dawn has probably briefed him; I’m relieved.

133


“Hello,” I say to him. “What’s your name?”

134


“Kyle,” he says.

135


“Hello, Kyle. I’m Kailey, and this is”—I pause, feeling an unexplained surge of emotion—“Cade.” It’s important to me that this waiter knows his name. And I wish he could know so much more, that he once was a force in the music industry, that I once…

136


“Nice to meet you, Cade,” Kyle says, pretending quite well the situation is like any other run-of-the-mill restaurant interaction.

137


Cade stares ahead.

138


“I think I’ll just order for us both if that’s okay,” I say nervously.

139


Kyle nods agreeably. “Perfect.”

140


“We’ll have the chicken satay, the eggplant, and green beans. The prawns and pot stickers. An order of the sea bass and, oh, the pad Thai.”

141


“I’ll get that right in,” Kyle says, spinning on his heels.

142


Cade keeps his hands in his lap, where his gaze is fixed.

143


I don’t know what is going on in his head. I don’t know what he must feel. But my heart is beating so fast, I worry that it might burst.

144


“Cade, you and I had our first date here,” I say, letting out a nervous laugh. “You probably don’t remember. It was a long time ago.” I turn and point across the room. “We sat over there.” I smile. I’m not sure if he’s even listening. And I feel as if I’m talking to myself in the mirror. “I was nervous about my dress,” I continue. “But you said I looked like Stevie Nicks. Remember?”

145


His gaze doesn’t leave his lap.

146


“Well,” I say. “That comment made me feel pretty cool.” I sigh. “You always knew what to say.” I keep my eyes on him, willing him to look at me. “You always made me feel special, wanted.”

147


The waiter fills our water glasses, and I take a sip. Cade guzzles his, and Kyle instantly returns to fill it a second time.

148


“You saved my life,” I continue, once we’re alone again. “Do you remember?” I don’t wait for him to respond. “I almost fell down a cliff.”

149


Cade listens, but I’m not sure he understands.

150


When Kyle brings out our food, Cade surveys the table with big eyes.

151


“Go ahead,” I say. “Dig in.”

152


He cautiously reaches for a pot sticker, and I push the plate toward him. “Have as much as you want. All of it if you’d like.”

153


He shoves the pot sticker into his mouth, and then another. With no regard to napkins or silverware, he reaches for a prawn and then a slice of sautéed eggplant. He crams a handful of green beans into his mouth next, then moves on to the pad Thai after I’ve spooned some of it onto my plate. I hand him a fork, and he takes it.

154


He’s ravenous and focused, as if, without a moment’s notice, the waiter will return and whisk all of this luscious food away and shoo him out the door in the process.

155


“I’m glad you’re enjoying the food,” I say as he polishes off the prawns.

156


“When you left,” I say, “I didn’t know why. I didn’t know whether you needed a break from me, or if you needed to take time away from life, from the company. I waited, Cade. I waited so long.” I wipe away a tear, and when I notice a bit of food in his beard, I inch my chair closer to him and dab my napkin to his face and beard. He doesn’t flinch. I don’t even know if he’s listening.

157


I sigh. “But you never called. You never wrote me, not even once. You just…disappeared.” I nod to myself. “And, just when I’m about to get married, I find you again. On the streets. And you don’t know me. You don’t even know me.” A lump is forming in my throat, and I swallow hard. “But I know you. I could never forget you.” I extend my hand across the table to him. “And I want to help you, if you’ll let me.”

158


He is unfazed, and his eyes remain cemented to his lap. Tearfully I pull my hand back.

159


The waiter returns to the table. “I’m glad to see that you two have enjoyed things.”

160


“Yes, thank you,” I say, offering my credit card. He returns a moment later, and I sign the receipt.

161


Following my lead, Cade rises to his feet and lifts his bag from the floor. As we weave through the restaurant on our way out, a few diners at nearby tables gawk and whisper, but Cade registers no response. I realize that at this moment, there could be a half dozen of Ryan’s or my colleagues and friends looking on. But I don’t care. All that matters to me is this moment. And all I can think is: What next? When we get out to the street, then what? Do I let him slip away? What if I never find him again?

162


It’s a warm day for November, and the spicy food has made my cheeks red, so I peel off my sweater and tuck it into my bag. The brisk air feels refreshing on my bare shoulders.

163


I look Cade straight in the eye a final time. “Well,” I say, my voice faltering again. “Thank you for letting me take you to lunch. I…I mean, if you…if you ever…” My voice trails off. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t want my help. I take a deep breath. “I wish you the best,” I say. “I always will.”

164


As I turn to leave, I feel a light hand on my shoulder, gently pulling me back.

165


Cade looks at me quizzically, then drops his bag to the sidewalk. As I face him, he touches my shoulder again, at the place where my tattoo resides. He delicately touches it, tracing the lines and swirls with his finger, then rubbing it lightly as if it might come off.

166


A moment later, he steps back and unfastens the last remaining button on his jacket and lets the right sleeve slide off, revealing a dirt-stained, torn T-shirt and a bony shoulder beneath. And then I see it, his tattoo, just like mine. Still just as vivid and beautiful as on the night we wandered into that tattoo shop in Belltown and, on a whim, like the wide-eyed hopeless romantics that we were, got matching tattoos. Just like that.

167


A decade later, we stand on this Seattle sidewalk, our tattoos the only evidence of that old life. But it is evidence, and my heart flips and flutters when I see a flicker of recollection in Cade’s eyes. He’s in there somewhere.

168


His eyes lock on mine. “Kailey,” he mutters, his voice soft and timid but familiar. So familiar. “Kailey,” he says again, as if he’s learning how to form the word with his mouth.

169


“You remember,” I cry. A single tear trickles down my cheek.

170


I close my eyes tightly, then open them again, looking up at the sky. Just above the buildings, painted across the sky in the faintest swath of colors, is a rainbow.

Chapter X. Part I

1


“Let’s go up to the deck,” Cade says as the ferry slowly releases itself from the dock and forges out into Elliott Bay.

2


I scrunch my nose. “Won’t it be a little cold up there?”

3


“Nah,” he says confidently, slipping off his black denim jacket and tucking it over my shoulders.

4


The crossing to Bainbridge is only thirty minutes, and fifteen minutes in I can see the island in the distance.

5


He offers me his hand, and together we walk up the narrow stairway that leads to the upper deck.

6


We’ve been dating about two and a half months now, and I still feel butterflies flutter inside when we touch.

7


On the top deck, he reaches for the camera dangling by a strap from his shoulder. “Wow, the light is beautiful out here. There’s just enough cloud cover.” He points to the railing ahead. “Stand over there. Let me take a picture of you.”

8


“I don’t know,” I say shyly. “I’ve never liked having my picture taken.”

9


“Humor me,” he says, pointing ahead. “Just one photo.”

10


“Okay,” I finally say, walking ahead. I lean back, letting my arms drape across the railing on either side of me.

11


What I don’t admit to Cade is that cameras have always made me feel anxious. Behind the lens, someone is looking at you, but you can’t see them. It’s one-sided and nerve-racking. And I feel vulnerable as Cade’s camera flashes again and again.

12


“Try to relax,” he says, lowering the camera and walking toward me.

13


“I’ll do my best,” I say, looking away. My cheeks feel stiff, my mouth awkward.

14


He lifts the camera back to his eye. “If only you could see what I see.”

15


The wind is cold and it’s whipping my hair across my face, this way and that. Cade takes one more photo, then walks to me, wrapping his arms, warm and strong, around my waist. And when our mouths find each other, he pulls me even closer. For a moment, a magical moment, we’re so entwined in this embrace that I’m not sure where he begins and I end.

16


The ferry sounds its horn as we arrive on the island. We walk with a herd of other passengers off the ramp and through a long corridor that leads to the terminal. The little town of Winslow is just ahead, and we walk hand in hand along the sidewalk that leads to Main Street.

17


“Hey,” Cade says, pointing ahead. “Let’s rent a motorcycle and see the island in style.”

18


On the next block, I see the rental company, with a lot of motorcycles and scooters parked in front. “Really? Do you know how to ride?”

19


He grins. “Do I know how to ride?”

20


I flash him a playful smirk.

21


“I guess I’m going to have to prove it to you, then,” he says, still smiling as we weave through the rows of bikes. Cade walks into the rental office and comes back with the key to a shiny black motorcycle trimmed in chrome. He hands me a helmet and then puts one on himself.

22


“Ready?” he says, straddling the bike.

23


“I guess,” I say nervously.

24


He hands me his camera. “Mind stuffing this in your purse?”

25


“Sure,” I say, fitting it inside my bag.

26


Cade pats the seat behind him, encouraging me to get on. “Don’t be afraid, baby.”

27


I swallow hard. “I’ve never ridden a motorcycle before. What if I fall off?”

28


“You won’t,” he says, handing me his jacket, which I immediately put on. “I promise. Just hold on to me.”

29


“Okay,” I say, climbing onto the bike and wrapping my arms around his waist as he guns the engine.

About the Author

Диана Семёнычева

Диана Семёнычева

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