Материалы к занятию
“Wow, I can’t believe he’s coming to the wedding,” Ryan says later that night at the kitchen table, eyeing his phone.
“Who?” I ask, looking up from my plate of overcooked lasagna Ryan’s mother made and left in the freezer. I neglected to preheat the oven, and the top got scorched.
“Josh Graham,” he says. “An old friend from Yale. He just emailed me.”
“You’ve never mentioned him before,” I reply, scrunching my nose.
“Josh is a fraternity friend,” he says. “He’s living in New York now with a wife and two kids. He runs a hedge fund and is doing really well for himself.”
I imagine the email from Josh Graham saying he’ll be coming with a date, and I look away indifferently.
“Is something wrong, honey?” Ryan asks.
I sigh again. “I don’t know,” I say, tugging at my sweater, which suddenly feels itchy around the neckline. “I guess I’m wondering if we should have kept the guest list to only close friends and family.”
“But when we discussed it, you didn’t bring up any apprehensions about the size of the wedding. And Josh is a close friend.”
“A close friend? I have never heard of him, and it sounds like you haven’t seen him since college.”
“Yes,” he says a little defensively, “but we email and talk on the phone now and then. Besides, he’s a great business contact.” He turns back to his laptop, looking a bit wounded.
“Business contact?” I say. The words shoot out with a little more oomph than I planned. “So our wedding has become a networking event?”
“Kailey, you’re overreacting.”
I sigh. “Didn’t you say that a bunch of your dad’s colleagues are coming, too?”
“The Hartmans, yes,” Ryan says. “But I’ve known them since I was a baby.”
“All right, fine,” I continue. “But your father said he wanted to reserve a table for his employees. Ryan, really? His employees?” I feel anxiety welling up in the pit of my stomach and rising to my chest.
He sighs. “What do you expect, Kailey? My parents are paying for the wedding.” He gets up and walks to the kitchen, opens the fridge, and grabs a beer.
“I know,” I say. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
My phone rings before Ryan can venture a response, and I’m relieved to have an excuse to stop talking about the wedding. Since the engagement party, every interaction has felt strained, every conversation stressful.
I recognize the number on my phone: Harborview. Dr. Branson, perhaps? I pick up. “Hello?”
“Hi, it’s Cade.”
“Hi,” I say, turning to Ryan, who’s typing something on his laptop.
“I’m sorry if I’m bothering you,” he says.
I walk to the living room. “It’s okay. What’s going on?”
“Cade, what is it?”
Ryan looks up from his laptop, and his eyes meet mine for a brief second before he turns away.
“I just…miss you, I guess,” he says.
The words pierce my heart. I remember the first time he told me he missed me. A month after we started dating, he called me one evening and those three words slipped out of his mouth and slayed me, right there on my couch on a Thursday night. And there is his voice on the phone again. The world has shifted, and yet his words hit me as hard as they did so many years ago. And maybe even harder.
“Do you need me to come over?” I say, aware that Ryan is listening.
“If you can,” he says. “If it’s not too much trouble.”
“Of course it’s not,” I say, glancing at the clock: seven-thirty. “I can be over by eight.”
“That was Cade,” I say to Ryan. “He’s…struggling tonight. I’m going to go over and check on him.”
Ryan grunts a reply but doesn’t look up from his laptop.
“I won’t be long,” I say. “Just there and back.”
I grab my keys and purse. Ryan doesn’t say goodbye.
Seattle is glorious tonight. The skyline sparkles over Lake Union as I drive down I-5, and I am struck by how much I love this city, all of its angles, all of its character. I’ve been drawn to it from the moment Tracy and I rolled in with all of our earthly possessions in the back of her car. I fell for its rain-soaked streets, the briny smell of the sea, the sound of ferry horns on Elliott Bay, the music spilling out of restaurants and bars, a new talent, a new yet-to-be-discovered sound around every corner.
But so much of my love for Seattle is wrapped up in Cade. Every song. Every neighborhood. Every hole-in-the-wall café. We left our mark on the city together, and without those memories Seattle might as well be Chicago or Los Angeles or New York or any metropolis on the face of the planet. Cade is Seattle. And Seattle is Cade.
“Hi,” I say to the security guard at the reception desk at Cade’s building when I arrive. I strain to remember his name. My head is foggy tonight. Chris, I think. Yes, that’s right.
“He’ll be glad to see you,” Chris says. “He’s had a hard night.”
He leans closer to me. “Someone scared the living hell out of him.”
“What do you mean, someone scared him?”
“He went out for a walk,” Chris explains, “about four o’clock, and came back an hour later really shaken up.”
“Is it okay for him to be out on his own?”
“Dr. Branson said it was okay for him to leave for walks,” he says, pointing to the clipboard sign-out sheet. “See, she signed him out right here.”
I nod. “What do you mean, he was ‘shaken up’?”
“He said someone was chasing him, that someone wanted to hurt him.”
“Do you think it was real or post-traumatic stress, as Dr. Branson described?”
Chris shrugs. “Beats me, but the guy seemed really frightened. He kept looking over his shoulders thinking someone was coming for him.”
“That’s terrible,” I say. “No wonder he didn’t want to be alone.”
“Nice of you to come,” Chris says as I head to the elevator. “Let me know if you need anything.”
The elevator deposits me on the third floor, and when I knock on Cade’s door he opens it immediately.
“Hi,” I say, giving him a hug.
“Hi,” he says, pulling me tight. I’m aware of his hands around my waist.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“Don’t be,” I reply. “I’m glad you called. Now tell me what happened. Someone was chasing you?”
“How do you know?”
“Chris told me.”
He gives me a blank stare.
“The security guard.”
“Oh yeah,” he says. “Kailey, it’s not safe out there for me.”
“Sit down,” I say. “What do you mean?”
“Someone was following me. I started walking faster, and he started walking faster. Then I began to run, and he began to run.”
“Are you sure the person was following you?”
“Yeah,” he says.
“Did you get a good look at who it was?”
“No,” he says. “It was too dark.”
“We have to protect you. Please, don’t leave the building unless you’re with someone. I don’t know what’s going on, or why these people want to hurt you, but, Cade, promise me you’ll stay here and keep yourself safe until we can get to the bottom of this.”
He nods. “I’m glad you’re here. The world feels better when you’re with me.”
Before I can respond, Cade’s phone rings. “I’ll get it,” I say.
“This is Chris at the front desk. There’s a man here who says he needs to see you.”
“A man? Who?”
“Says his name is Ryan.”
Why is Ryan here?
“Ok,” I say, “um, I’ll come down.”
“Actually,” Chris says, “he’s just stepped into the elevator. I tried to stop him, but he said he was your fiancé.”
“Yes,” I say. “He is. It’s fine.”
“I’ll just be a moment,” I say to Cade, heading out to the hallway. Ryan is stepping off the elevator. His face looks ashen.
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
“Nice to see you, too,” he says.
“Ryan, what’s this about?”
He throws up his arms. “What’s this about? I think you know what this is about.”
“Shhh,” I say. “Please, he’ll hear you.”
“Kailey,” he says, “at this point, I don’t care if he hears me.”
I look down at my feet.
“I’m done,” Ryan says. “Done pretending that this little charade doesn’t bother me, because it does. You’re the woman I love, and I have had to sit back and watch you spend every spare minute, expend every ounce of your emotional energy, on this man, while all I get from you is the scraps. Kailey, I would be fine with the scraps if I knew you really loved me, if I was assured that you wanted to be with me in the way that I want to be with you.” He shakes his head. “But I’m not assured. In fact, I think that as long as Cade is in the world, I’ll never have your heart.”
My eyes widen. “Ryan, you wouldn’t.”
His eyes search mine. “Wouldn’t what?”
It has never crossed my mind, this ugly thought that hovers now, but then I’ve never seen Ryan’s eyes flash with anger in this way. I’ve never seen such a passionate response from him. That, and he came home from work late tonight. My heart begins to thump loudly in my chest. “Tell me you wouldn’t hurt Cade.”
He shakes his head. “What are you talking about?”
“Someone was following Cade tonight. Someone wanted to hurt him.”
He shakes his head again. “I can’t believe this. Even now. Even when I’m standing here, pouring out my fears to you, all you can do is worry about him? Or worse, accuse me of trying to hurt him?”
I take a step toward him. “But I”
“It’s okay,” he says, forcing a smile. “I know this is hard for you. And at the end of the day, I’ve only wanted to make life easier for you. I’ve only wanted you to be happy. And if you’re happy with Cade, then you should be with him.”
“Ryan, please. I”
“Goodbye, Kailey. I love you. I always will. I’m sorry I…I’m sorry I’m not the one.” He ducks into the elevator before I can beg him not to go.
I fall to my knees and weep.
A few minutes pass before I pick myself up. I wipe away the tears on my cheeks before I return to Cade’s door and peer in. “Cade?” The apartment is empty.
“Cade!” I cry. I notice a note, written in his handwriting, on the coffee table. It reads:
My dearest Kailey,
You saved me, and the only way I can repay you is by not ruining your life. It’s time I said goodbye.
I will always love you, no matter how close or how far.
“No!” I cry. “Cade, no.”
He must have slipped out and used the stairs to leave while I was talking to Ryan. Did he hear everything? Is he upset?
I don’t wait for the elevator. Instead I bolt to the stairwell. My feet pound down the cement stairs, footsteps echoing off the walls. When I reach the first floor, I race to the reception desk. “Did Cade leave?”
Chris nods. “About five minutes ago.”
I shake my head. “Why didn’t you stop him?”
“We have a sign-in, sign-out system here, but we can only advise patients. At the end of the day, they have free will.”
I nod, solemnly. “Did he say where he was going?”
“He didn’t, just left heading that way.” He points right, toward the city, and my heart sinks.
It’s after ten before I drive home. I looked everywhere I could possibly think of for Cade, but this time, it seems, he is gone. Ryan too. His car isn’t parked in front of the house, and when I step inside, there’s a permanence to the air of loneliness I feel, as if an era has ended, just like that, without my even knowing it or asking for it. Just gone.
I walk to the kitchen and somehow know I won’t find Ryan at the breakfast table in the morning. I can’t even remember the last omelet I made him. Sunday? The Tuesday before last? Was it spinach and leek or mushroom? I think about all of our lasts. Our last kiss. The last time he danced with me in the living room, made love to me on a Saturday morning with birds chirping out the bedroom window. The last time we held hands or laughed together. I want to memorize the details, and mourn them.
And yet I still wonder if he could have been part of the reason Cade left tonight. Did Ryan frighten him? Could he have hurt him? Impossible. Or not? The world feels cruel and sad and confusing, as if everything I love has been reduced to a small pile of sand and I must try my best to hold it in my hands, wincing at every grain that slips between my fingers.
I’m startled by the sound of a knock at the door, and even more startled when I open it to find James standing on my doorstep. It’s begun to rain, well, pour, and James’s hair is wet. His bangs are plastered to his forehead. He looks disheveled, anxious.
“I’m sorry to bother you at home,” he says. “You mentioned you lived in Wallingford, and, anyway, it wasn’t hard to find your address online.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Kailey, we need to talk,” he says, his eyes sad and pleading.
At first I want to send him away. I don’t trust him, and I’m not sure if there’s much more to say. But something in his eyes tells me to invite him in, so I do.
“Sit down,” I say, pointing to the couch. He does so in one exhausted heap, as if there are weights strapped to his shoulders. Dark circles hover under his eyes, and for the first time the once ageless James looks tired and weathered, like Old Man Time has finally caught up to him. He buries his head in his hands. “I don’t know where to begin,” he mutters.
My heart beats faster. I’m not sure what he will tell me, but I know it is going to be a long and painful story. “Just tell me what you need to tell me, James. Please.”
He looks up and nods. “Cade and I always had a complicated relationship,” he says. “You know that.”
He takes a deep breath. “Element Records was our baby. We both were so proud of it, and we both brought different strengths to the company.” He looks up at the ceiling nostalgically as I reach for a tumbler and pour him a glass of Scotch. He takes it. “Cade had a gift, you know. This special ability to recognize talent. I always told him it was like a sixth sense. He could walk into a room and smell the next Nirvana. For a long time, it seemed like anything he touched turned to gold, and I naïvely thought that would continue forever. But that was foolish thinking. There’s a cycle to everything. Ups and downs. And Cade fell into a downturn. At first it was just a band here and there. He’d sign a group and offer them an enormous advance, and they’d sell ten thousand albums instead of the one hundred thousand we planned on. We’d spend fifty grand on marketing an artist only to have her fizzle out with a mere two thousand records.” He nods. “This kept happening. But Cade kept wanting to invest more and more. There was no end to his efforts, no stopgap. He kept promising that we were so close to the next big thing, that I should trust him and stop worrying so much.”
“But you stopped trusting him.”
“I did, in a lot of ways,” James continues. “He seemed to have lost his edge, but not only that, he was drinking more. The booze, the pills. He was spinning out, Kailey.”
“I know,” I say. “I was there. But was it as bad as you make it out to be?”
“It was and it wasn’t,” he says. “I have to tell you something that I’ve carried with me for far too long.”
“What is it?”
He rubs his forehead. “I could have helped him. I was his best friend. But I let my personal fears get in the way.”
“Alexis,” he says. “She was in love with him.”
He nods. “You didn’t know. No one did. But I knew. I felt it every time she was with me. She only wanted Cade. Everyone always wanted Cade. After a while, it took a toll on me. I always felt second-best.” He sighs. “So when Cade started to spiral, I thought it was my moment to shine. I thought that by his failure, I would rise. That Alexis, everyone, would see that I was worthy.” He looks down at his lap. “I was a fool.”
“Wow,” I say, recalling the way Alexis had looked at Cade. I’d mistaken love for admiration. Had he returned her feelings? I shudder. “I don’t know what to say.”
“You and I both know that Cade was troubled in those days,” James continues. “The drinking. The erratic behavior. Would he have snapped out of it? Maybe. I don’t know.” He sighs. “But I had to do something. So I started taking the company in a new direction, signing pop artists, changing our focus a bit. When we forced him out, I didn’t think it would ruin him. I thought he’d take some time to regroup, maybe even start his own offshoot label. Instead it was disastrous. If you think for a moment that I haven’t lived with guilt all these years, you are mistaken.”