Always. Занятие 29

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Аудиоверсия занятия

 

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Аудиотренажёр

1


“Okay,” I say. “I’m going to look into this.”

2

“What do you think it all means?” Cade asks.

3

“I’m not sure,” I reply. “But I promise you, I’m going to find out.”

4

I drive Cade back to Harborview. Together we take the elevator up to his third-floor apartment.

5

He makes me a cup of coffee with the coffeemaker I bought him after receiving the green light from Dr. Branson, and I smile when he hands me the mug. “You used to love coffee,” I say.

6


“Did I?”

7

I grin. “You bought one of those enormous La Marzocco espresso machines, like the ones they have at cafés.”

8


“I did?” He laughs.

9


“You did.”

10


“It was red.”

11


I nod.

12


He sits down on the love seat, and I join him. There isn’t much space, so our thighs touch, as do our arms. “What was I like?” Cade asks, looking suddenly thoughtful.

13


“You were larger than life,” I say. “You loved music and vodka martinis with cheese-filled olives.”

14


He raises his eyebrows.

15


“You loved travel and people, and owned a thousand records. You told the funniest stories. In the two years I dated you, you never ran out of stories, and you never stopped making me laugh.”

16


“Two years,” he says, a little in awe, a little regretful.

17


“Yes,” I say. “And I loved every day, even those hard days at the end.”

18


“Why were they hard?” he asks. It’s as if Cade’s mind is on fire, exploding with questions, his brain’s circuits firing so rapidly that his speech is having trouble keeping up.

19


I tell him about the drama with Element Records. I tell him about how he began drinking heavily. I share James’s accusations.

20


He turns to me, eyes so big and earnest that I want to pull him to me and hold him tight. “I wish I could still make you laugh.” He nods. “Like I used to.”

21


“Oh, Cade,” I say, feeling an intense rush of emotions wash over me. “I’m just so happy I found you again. I’ve missed you. Every day since you’ve been gone. And I looked for you around every corner of this city. I was always looking for you, even when that voice deep down told me it was time to stop. I had to mourn you like you were dead. I had to say goodbye. And I’ve never been the same since.”

22


He touches my cheek to wipe a tear away. “What did you do all those years?”

23


I swallow hard. “I got a job in New York working for a magazine. It was grueling. I had a boss from hell, and I pretty much hated every minute of it.” I laugh. “My apartment was infested with mice.”

24


He smiles, listening intently, patiently.

25


“I moved back four years ago when my editor offered to bring me back to the Herald. I met Ryan after that.”

26


Cade looks at his feet.

27


“Sorry, I…” My voice trails off. I don’t know what I’m beginning to say, or even what I want to say.

28


“Do you love him?” Cade says suddenly.

29


“Yes,” I say. It’s the complicated truth.

30


He nods. “I was so lucky.”

31


“What do you mean?”

32


“To have had you in my life,” he replies earnestly, regretfully.

33


“But you still have me in your life. And you always will. That will never change.”

34


“I wish…”

35


I wish, too. So much.

36


His eyes meet mine, and their pull is magnetic, so I close mine tightly. I can’t. It isn’t right. He’s not himself, and I’m…

37


I feel his fingertips on my lips and a wave of emotion washes over me.

38


“Open your eyes,” he says suddenly with the same swagger and confidence that once possessed him. “I need you to see me.”

39


I obey, and when he pulls me to him, I don’t protest. I melt into his embrace. My arms wrap around him, then my legs as he pulls me onto his lap. Our bodies press against each other, and then he kisses me. When our lips meet, the past, the future…none of it matters now. Only us. Only this moment.

40


I pull back when I hear a knock at Cade’s door. I quickly jump to my feet and nervously run my fingers through my hair where his hands were moments before.

41


Cade opens the door. It’s Dr. Branson.

42


“Cade,” she says. “It’s so good to see you back. I hope you won’t leave us again anytime soon.”

43


He nods, then looks at me.

44


“Hi,” I say. “I was just…helping Cade get settled again.”

45


“Of course,” she says, stepping back into the hallway. “I won’t keep you, but I would like to run some tests later.”

46


After she’s gone, we stand in silence. I feel guilty and scared. As much as I want to turn back to him, to pick up where we left off, to shower him with all the love I still feel, I know it’s not right. I’m going to marry Ryan.

47


“I’m sorry,” I say, breaking the icy silence. It cracks all around us like a winter lake on a sunny day. “We shouldn’t have done that.”

48


He looks confused, but then nods.

49


I take a step toward the door.

50


“You could…stay,” he says.

51


There is longing in his voice, and I want so desperately to go to him, to fill the void in my heart with his love, the love he once gave me so freely. But I can’t.

52


“I have to go,” I say. “I…”

53


He sits down, staring out the window.

54


“Please,” I say. “It’s not that I don’t want to. But I just…can’t.”

55


He continues to sit in silence as I place my hand on the door.

56


“I’ll be back to check on you tomorrow afternoon. I promise.”

57


Ryan calls from Mexico on my drive home.

58


“Hi,” I say, my voice weary and distant, as if I’ve lived three lives in the span of just this afternoon. My heart feels heavy with guilt.

59


“So, did you find your missing hobo?”

60


I’m momentarily annoyed by Ryan’s tone, but I know I don’t have the right to be. “Yes,” I say. “I found him and got him back to Harborview.”

61


“Good,” he says. “I thought about flying home today, but the hotel is nonrefundable at this point, so I might as well stay and enjoy the sun.”

62


Rain splatters my windshield. Everywhere outside it’s gray. The light. The clouds. The pavement. The world is bleak on bleak.

63


“It’s okay,” I say. “Just stay.”

64


“I love you,” Ryan says. “I don’t always understand you, but I love you.”

65


“I love you, too,” I reply, haunted by the words that just flew out of my lips. They echo in my head after I’ve hung up the phone.

66


I grasp the steering wheel tighter and begin to cry.

67

The feedback on your series keeps breaking records,” Jan says that morning at the office. “Good fodder for the editorial page.”

68

I sigh, thinking of Ryan’s Pioneer Square projects inching closer to completion. “Maybe we should just leave it at that. After all, I’ve covered both sides. Both the homeless advocates and the developers have had their say.”

69

Jan shakes her head. “And yet there’s still a missing piece.” Her eyes pierce mine. I know she’s right.

70


“When are you going to let me read it?”

71


I know exactly what she’s referring tothe article about Cade. I’ve made progress with it, for sure, but it’s far from complete.

72


“Soon,” I say, letting my eyes fall upon the framed engagement photo of Ryan and me that sits on my desk.

73


“Your engagement party is this weekend, right?”

74


I nod.

75


“I’m going to try to make it,” she says. “At least for a bit.”

76


I smile.

77


“Kailey, you don’t have to go through the motions if you don’t want to.”

78


“I’m going to marry Ryan, Jan,” I say. “I’m going to marry him, and you are going to come to our tenth and our twentieth, and our fiftieth wedding anniversaries.”

79

I turn for the door before I can see the look on her face.

80

I meet Tracy for lunch before stopping to see Cade. She tells me about a new guy she’s dating named Trent.

81

“I like everything about him,” she says, “except his name.”

82


I can’t help but laugh. “What’s wrong with Trent?”

83


“Everything,” she replies. “Trents are never any good. They’re either really boring accountant types with bangs that are cut evenly across their forehead, or they’re heavy-metal, thrasher-rock dudes.”

84


I smile. “So it sounds like you found the world’s best Trent.”

85


“Exactly,” Tracy exclaims. “He’s got to be in the Trent Hall of Fame. He’s cute, smart, and, oh, he has a boat, and we’re very compatible from an astrological perspective.”

86


“I’m happy for you,” I say, smiling big. “Are you bringing him to the engagement party on Saturday?”

87


“Yeah,” Tracy says. “You’ll get to meet him. And can you actually believe I was able to get that night off work? I mean, I may or may not have had to kill for it.”

88


I grin. “I expect no less from my best friend.”

89

I fill her in on Cadewell, everything but what happened at his apartment yesterday.

90


“So it sounds like Ryan is easing into all of this,” she says. “He’s such a good guy; he’s always so understanding.”

91


“He is,” I say wistfully.

92


I tell her about Cade’s recollection of being on a boat.

93


“Is he sure?”

94


“I don’t know,” I say. “His doctor said that his memory could ebb and flow. That not all of the details would connect or even match.”

95


“Right,” Tracy says. “I had an amnesia patient once. Her memory was fluid in the same way Cade’s doctor describes. She kept insisting that what was clearly a childhood incident happened on her forty-third birthday.”

96


“Did she ever recover?” I ask, a little afraid to hear the answer.

97


“She had a remarkably patient husband. He went over the time line with her until she closed the gap,” Tracy says.

98


“In this case,” I say, “we might not have time for that approach. I wasn’t there that night, but even if Cade doesn’t remember what happened, there must be someone who does. I’m going to try to piece it all together if I can.”

99


I find Cade in the common area of the apartment building when I arrive. He’s playing a game of chess with another resident and looks up and smiles when he sees me.

100


“Hi,” I say.

101


“Hi,” he replies.

102


I sit beside him as he finishes the game with a winning move.

103


“Nice,” I say, smiling as the other resident, an older man, stands up and leaves.

104


“It’s funny how stuff like this can just come back to you,” he says.

105


“You’re making amazing progress,” I say.

106


He smiles.

107


“I was thinking,” I say. “It’s almost Christmas, and you need a tree in your apartment.”

108


His face brightens.

109


“Would you like to go pick one out with me?”

110


“I would,” he says.

111


After signing Cade out, together we walk to my car and drive to a tree lot on Capitol Hill with a blow-up Frosty the Snowman.

112


“How about this one?” I say to Cade, pointing to a little tree at the back of the lot.

113


He studies it carefully, then nods. All around us are families and couples. A little girl with blond pigtails and pink rubber rain boots races up and down the rows of Christmas trees.

114


“Grace!” her father calls playfully. “I can see you!”

115


Cade looks at me when he hears her name. He remembers, just as I do. The skin on my arms erupts in goosebumps.

116


I pay for the tree and a worker offers to rope it to the top of my car, but Cade holds up his hand. “I’ve got it,” he says.

117


I watch as he lifts the tree up and secures it on the top of the car. He isn’t as strong as he used to be, but he’s just as determined. I watch, beaming with pride, as his arms thread the rope to the roof rack. “This baby better not fall,” he says with a laugh, then turns to me. “What do you think?”

118


But I’m not thinking about the tree. I don’t care if it falls into a ditch on the side of the road. All I care about is this man before me and how, in this moment, his injury, like a suit of armor, appears to be falling off him before my very eyes.

119


“Should I put some more rope by the trunk?” he asks. The Christmas lights strung above us make his eyes twinkle, and I will away the tears that are flirting with the edges of my lids.

120


“No,” I say. “It’s perfect. You’ve done a perfect job.”

121


We drive to the local drugstore and find our way to the holiday aisle, where I stack our cart with my favorite multicolored lights, boxes of red and silver ornaments, and a tree stand. On a whim, I throw in a pack of silver tinsel.

122


“Merry Christmas,” the clerk says, handing me my change at the register. I stuff it into the Salvation Army bell ringer’s red bucket on our way out.

123


Back at Cade’s building, we carry the tree and decorations to the elevator, then up to his apartment. He sets the tree in the stand, and I fiddle with the radio I brought over for him a few weeks ago. It isn’t anything near the level of sound system Cade once owned, but it plays music, and that’s good enough.

124


At the sound of Bing Crosby’s voice singing “White Christmas,” I stop the dial. Cade has set the little tree up by the window, and together we unwind the lights and string them around the branches. Cade is quietly focused as we hang the ornaments, then finish with the tinsel.

125


When it’s complete, we turn the lights off and sit on the love seat, admiring our little tree. I lean my head on Cade’s shoulder. It feels natural, like it’s a resting place made just for me, always for me.

126


My mind churns. Ryan. The wedding. Cade’s healing. There is so much to do, so much to figure out. A world of decisions to make. But for now, this is enough. The Christmas tree, like life, isn’t perfect. It leans to the left a little, and it’s missing a star. There are no presents underneath, no tree skirt. But even so, it’s just right.

127


Ryan,” I say from the bathroom while I’m getting ready for our engagement party. I can barely focus on my dress, which needs to be ironed, or my hair, which I suppose I should curl. “Do you know any forensic accountants?”

128


“Sure, why?” he replies, poking his head in the doorway while tying his tie.

129


“It’s just some stuff that came up with Cade.”

130


His expression changes momentarily. “Oh,” he says.

131


“The thing is,” I continue, “I think there’s a very good chance that his business partner took everything from him.”

132


“Wow,” he says. “Well, it could be worth looking into, but, Kailey, those guys aren’t cheap.”

133


I know it’s not fair to expect Ryan to pay any more out of pocket for Cade’s well-being. He’s already aware of the Harborview costs but hasn’t questioned them, and for that I am grateful. “You might find someone to work on commission, based on what they could find and recover.”

About the Author

Диана Семёнычева

Диана Семёнычева

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