Always. Занятие 12

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Аудиоверсия занятия

Аудиотренажёр

Chapter IX. Part II

52


Ryan leaps to his feet. “I’ll get that,” he says, reaching up to the offending smoke alarm on the ceiling.

53


“There,” he says, removing the batteries.

54


I turn off the heat and open the kitchen window to let some of the smoke out, and at once I’m transported back to that little apartment overlooking Elliott Bay. Cade is standing beside me. I have burned our dinner, and we are laughing about a chirping smoke alarm that seems to have a mind of its own.

55


But Cade has been gone for so long. He left me, and I never knew why. And Ryan is here now. Ryan is beside me, and he loves me.

56


I pull my fiancé toward me fiercely. Last night and this morning have been intense. It’s true, I want to help Cade; I want to know what happened to him. But the world turned, and somewhere along the way I had to move on, and I did. And now I am Ryan’s and he is mine. I tell myself this over and over again until it is burned on my heart. I am Ryan’s and he is mine.

57


“I love you, you know,” I whisper into his ear.

58


He kisses me, and I feel the familiar hunger well up in my body. “Take me upstairs,” I say, running my hands along his chest. “I need you.”

59


He lifts me into his arms.

60


The next morning, I open my eyes. Ryan is dressed, and he sits beside me where I lie in bed. He’s wearing the blue tie I bought for him last month. “Morning,” he says, running his hand lightly across my shoulder. I feel goosebumps erupt on my skin as I pull him toward me.

61


“I can’t,” he says. “I’ll miss my train.”

62


“That’s right,” I say, having forgotten about his business trip to Portland. This particular venture falls into the no-discussion zone we’ve set up around potential conflicts of interest. To further the development of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, Ryan envisions forging a partnership with Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. Success for him spells displacement for the homeless, and disappointment—personal and professional—for me.

63


“I have to devote two business days to this phase of the project,” he reassures me. “KGW NewsChannel Eight’s HD Studio on the Square is set to open next year. There are opportunities to develop supporting businesses around the new facility and attract major media coverage in both cities. Our group is active in both sites, but Portland is much further along. To secure the financing, our investors have had to cross-collateralize the loan on the Seattle deal against the one in Portland. It’s risky—if one site fails and the other can’t pick up the slack, they both go under. But it’s the best way to balance the risk. If I can negotiate the final terms, I’ll be home tomorrow night.”

64


I nod, sleepily pulling the comforter higher around my neck.

65


“Good luck,” I say, trying to be supportive. I know how important this deal is to him, even if it means other things to me.

66


“Thank you, babe,” he says, kissing my lips lightly. “I’ll call you from the hotel tonight.” He lifts his suitcase and I listen as his footsteps trail off down the stairs to the entryway, where he opens and closes the door behind him. I hear the sound of the key latching the dead bolt, which makes me feel safe, and loved, and cared for—all at the same time.

67


I stare at the ceiling. Cade’s face appears in my mind, dirty and bearded. Those hollow eyes, razor-sharp cheekbones. I hear Grandma’s voice, too. It reverberates in my ears. Cade saved your life once. Now it’s your turn to save his.

68


I turn her words over and over again in my mind. And then I pick up the phone to call my editor.

69


“Jan, it’s Kailey,” I say.

70


“I just got off the phone with Melissa from the Hope Gospel Mission. She says donations are pouring in. The response to the first piece in your series has been incredible. Nearly a thousand readers have posted online, pro and con, inciting a heated debate about the fate of Pioneer Square. That’s the kind of page traffic that makes advertisers happy. We have to keep the momentum going, have the second piece hit even harder—”

71


This is the professional moment I’ve been waiting for, but I’m barely listening to the feedback.

72


“I need to take the day off today,” I interrupt.

73


“Did you hear me, Kailey? We’ve got to get moving on that second piece. Can you show me some of your raw data?”

74


“Something’s come up.” I take a deep breath. “Something I have to deal with.”

75


“All right,” she says, immediately softening, her voice tinged with concern. “You’re not sick, are you?”

76


“No,” I reply. “I just…need the day.”

77


I park my car on the street in front of Le Marche and step out onto the sidewalk. It’s not quite ten, and I’m grateful that the sun appears to be peeking out from behind a cloud. I survey the sidewalk and nearby alley as I did yesterday—no Cade—then decide to stop at Starbucks for an Americano before launching my little search party of one.

78


The line is long and it winds around the side of the espresso bar. In front of me are two women who look like administrative assistants on coffee runs for their respective bosses. The first woman tosses her shiny brunette hair over her shoulder and makes a comment about the unbelievable number of calories in a slice of banana loaf. Her friend says something in response and they laugh together.

79


Life is simpler in your twenties, especially when it comes to love. You meet someone, you choose them and they choose you. Together you can conquer the world. Move to Paris. Have a gaggle of children or become vegetable farmers. All the stuff you wrote about when you had a diary and a dream is now yours to live out in bright, bold colors. Life is yours, together, and you take it by the horns and live. You pledge your life to someone, fiercely, and the rest is history.

80


But when it doesn’t work out, when the story has an unhappy ending, the way my twentysomething love story did, it changes something in your heart. You go from a girl with a diary and a dream to a girl defined by her job, whose passion for social justice takes a backseat to business headlines. You’re thirty, or thirty-five, and it’s clear now that there are more rain clouds than rainbows and that you are the only one who truly has your own back. The dream has died. You lost the diary—no, you burned it.

81


And then you meet someone who is different than your ex in almost every way, and you wonder if you can do it. You wonder if you can love the way you did so long ago. You’re not sure, but you try, and when you do, when you force yourself to go through the motions, you realize that your heart—asleep for so long—is groggily waking up, like a bear fresh out of hibernation. You’re alternately hungry and grumpy, disoriented, a bit lost. It surprises you when you feel the spark again. And though it might not burn as hot as it did so many years ago, as it did with the man who loved you when you were wide-eyed and twenty-five, it burns steadily now. It keeps you warm. And one day you start seeing rainbows again. One shines out your window at work. Another when you emerge from the grocery store. A double one fills up the entire sky when you’re having a glass of wine after a long day at the office. And that’s when you realize that your heart, beleaguered, weighed down with baggage of all kinds, is ready to try again. And so you do.

82


I blink back tears as I reach the front of the line and order a double Americano and a banana loaf with its fourteen billion calories, which matter nothing to me in this moment. But I know that, somewhere in me, that twenty-five-year-old girl still lingers, and she tugs at my heart now in a way she hasn’t done in so long. “Go find him,” she whispers to me. “He’s out there. He needs you.”

83


I know deep down that no matter what’s to come, good or bad, she’s right.

84


I lean against the brick façade of Le Marche for a solid hour waiting, watching for any sign of Cade. I stop a homeless man and ask if he knows of a Mitchell. He doesn’t. A woman with plastic bags wrapped around her feet and her life’s possessions stuffed into a red Trader Joe’s shopping cart doesn’t either, but she tells me she’s hard up for money to buy a meal. I give her ten dollars.

85


I wait, and I watch, and when the last drop of coffee is gone from my cup, I toss it into a nearby trash can and wander back down to Westlake Center, where Cade disappeared from my view yesterday.

86


I find my way to a park bench and watch a flock of pigeons fight over bread crumbs while a benevolent toddler squeals with delight. His mother looks on proudly. Somewhere around the corner, out of view, a saxophone sounds. At first I can’t place the song, but then it comes to me: “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” that song by Louis Armstrong that my grandmother has always loved. I have, too.

87


The crowd parts enough for me to catch a glimpse of the opposite side of the square. Children watch as a man with a clown nose juggles tennis balls. A young couple reclines on a bench, embroiled in a heated makeout session. And then my eyes freeze on a speck of army green in the distance. I stand up to get a better look, and it’s indeed a man in an army-green jacket. He’s seated against the wall of Macy’s, and his gaze is turned down, so I’m not quite able to identify his face, but my heart beats fast.

88


I cross the square to the street, and disregarding traffic, I barrel across. A taxi swerves and blares its horn at me, though I can scarcely hear it. My senses are dulled. All I can do is focus on the figure ahead of me. The man on the sidewalk in his crumpled army jacket,with his sad face, which I see now, plain as day. Cade.

89


Tears well up in my eyes as I make my way to him. The pull is magnetic, just as it once was. Two halves of a whole. That’s how it used to feel, anyway. My legs are suddenly weak, and I steady myself as I take a few steps closer.

90


“Cade,” I say in a faltering voice.

91


He doesn’t look up, so I try again. “Cade,” I say a bit louder. “I-I…”

92


His eyes meet mine, and every part of me freezes. I’m suspended in time, with waves of memories rushing back—one after the next. The day we met, our first kiss, all the promises, the tender, quiet midnight conversations, all the love.

93


“Hi,” I say softly. “It’s me.” I take another step toward him, aware that I must go slow. I don’t know his mental state. I don’t know what he’ll think or do.

94


He stares blankly at me.

95


“Cade,” I say again. “Cade, do you know me? It’s Kailey.”

96


His eyes search mine.

97


I nod, fighting back tears. My hands are shaking. “May I sit down beside you? Just for a moment?”

98


He’s silent, gaze fixed straight ahead to a spot on the street.

99


I crouch a few inches away from him. The cement sidewalk feels cold through my jeans, and I shift uncomfortably, finally tucking my knees to my chest. Feet pass in front of us. Swanky heels, freshly shined Italian loafers, ballet flats, and boots with elaborate laces. Someone tosses an apple core and it lands a few inches from me. Cade stares ahead.

100


I turn to him, nervous to speak again. “What happened to you?” I finally ask cautiously. “Please talk to me. How did you end up like this?”

101


He turns to me, and when our eyes meet I think I see a flash of recognition. And when I do, his current exterior melts away. The long matted hair melds into his old cropped haircut I used to run my fingers through. The unkempt beard disappears in a flash, revealing his beautiful tan skin. It’s him. He’s in there. But can I reach him?

102


“Cade,” I say again. “Do you know me? Please, Cade, tell me that you know me.”

103


His eyes search mine, and then he scoots back, suddenly frightened.

104


“Don’t be afraid, Cade,” I say, inching closer. “Please don’t be afraid. It’s me, Kailey. I want to help you.”

105


A man in his twenties approaches. He’s wearing a tailored suit and has an expensive-looking haircut. He sneers at Cade as he passes, and I wonder how many sneers, how many smirks, how much hatred Cade must field each day.

106


“Hey,” I say, trying to get his attention again. “Cade, tell me if you know me.”

107


He turns to me, but whatever flicker of recognition I saw in his eyes has vanished. “No,” he says. His voice is hollow, lost, scared, wild. “No,” he says again, shifting a bit to try to stand. His legs are weak and wobbly, and he uses the edge of the building to steady himself.

108


I stand, too, and reach out my hand to him. I touch his arm lightly. The once-strong muscles have atrophied and cling to the bone. “Cade,” I plead through tears. “What happened to you? Please tell me. Please let me help you.”

109


“No,” he says again, taking a step backward. He reaches for a duffel bag at his feet and slings the strap over his shoulder, then turns his back to me and begins walking erratically down the sidewalk.

110


I follow. I won’t leave him. Not now.

111


He walks down a few streets, then rounds another block until we’re on Third, right by Wild Ginger, where we had our first date so many years ago. They’re open for lunch now, and just ahead I see a group of people walking in the door. Does he remember this place? Somewhere, deep down, is the memory still embedded in his heart the way it’s surgically lodged in mine?

112


“Please, Cade, stop,” I say when he reaches the corner beside the restaurant. I’m hungry, and I know he must be, too. “Let me get you something to eat.”

113


He turns around and waits. Instinctively I take his hand. It’s rough and weathered. His nails are caked with dirt, but I don’t mind. I lead him inside the restaurant, and he cautiously follows.

114


“Hello,” I say to the hostess, who eyes Cade skeptically.

115


“Two for lunch,” I say.

116


Her eyes dart around nervously. It’s obvious that Cade’s presence gives her pause.

About the Author

Диана Семёнычева

Диана Семёнычева

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