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A Torquere Press Arcana - 55
narrowed. "You still don't."
There was no answer for that. It wasn't the different name on the birth certificate that bothered
him, just the fact Nathan could have planned this, from the first kiss, through all those knowing
touches, through every second they'd spent together.
Gale continued peeling paper, paying no attention, until Nathan tensed at his side, sucking in a
soft breath.
"Gale."
"What?"
He looked up, following Nathan's stare. He couldn't see anything worth noticing at first. Just a
bunch of disjointed scratched and scrawls, some of them suffering a half-assed attempt at
replastering -- more of it seemed to be peeled out with the paper than there was left in the wall.
Then, like a stereogram picture finally coming clear, the lines linked up, scratches and curves
suddenly not the arbitrary mess he thought they were.
Words.
A Torquere Press Arcana - 56
Chapter Ten
Words. Etched into the plaster, the way the letters had been carved into the windowsill. Gale
stepped back, taking in the expanse of the scrawls, some as high as a teenage girl could reach,
some as low as the skirting boards.
One set of lines made up "-mber, 1974", the rest of the line hidden behind the next sheet of
wallpaper. On the other side, the letters "KA-" disappeared beneath the paper's edge.
He stared at Nathan. Wordlessly, and in synch, they began peeling the rest of the paper, tearing
off ragged old strips of floral chintz, stripping away years from the walls. The flaking plaster
kicked up fine dust, coming clear of the letters and numbers like sand. It had protected the words
from the worst damage of the paper.
When most of the paper was in piles on the floor, little shreds in their hair, they stood back, just
gazing at the things Katherine Oakley had written.
"Let me out" repeated several times, in different sizes and letter cases. "K" and "
D" were carved into a large lopsided heart, and the words beneath read "for ever". The dates
ranged from "September 1974" to "October 1975."
How long, how often had she been here? Well after Nathan's birth; the Indiana certificate was
dated June 1975.
On the bottom right corner of the wall, as if she'd been sitting against the door when she wrote it,
the tilted words read "my baby moved today". A little higher up, looking a little different, the
words "who will you be? Not like me" were written.
The initials E.O. appeared once or twice, crossed out with angry slashes, and Gale remembered
Mrs. McIntyre s words:
"She should have listened to her mother."
"I went to see Sarah McIntyre," Gale murmured after a moment, watching from peripheral vision
as Nathan's eyes widened again. "She's not in the greatest shape these days, but she remembers
Katherine at this window. Always at this window."
"There used to be a lock on the door," Nathan said, sounding a little numb. That explained the
torn paper in the bedroom downstairs. "Do you think& ?"
"Maybe." Gale shrugged, voice soft. Reaching out, he traced the words Katherine had scratched
into the plaster. "Must have driven her crazy."
Nathan dropped to his knees, hands clenched tight in the shredded paper.
"It was my fault," he whispered. "If it wasn't for me, then she'd--"
A Torquere Press Arcana - 57
"Oh, no, you do not start thinking that." Gale knelt at Nathan s side, pulling the paper free, arms
wrapping around Nathan's shoulders. "That's bullshit. Elizabeth Oakley is the only one who's
responsible for this, not you, not Katherine."
Shoving at his arms, Nathan shook his head angrily.
"What if Bobby's right, what if all I do is hurt people? Him, my mother, you--"
Gale kissed him, palms against Nathan's damp cheeks, body arching against him. Nathan's arms
wound around his waist, holding on tight.
"You didn't hurt me," Gale said between kisses. "You pissed me off. There's a big difference."
"No, there isn't."
"There is to me. I came looking for you today to tell you how much I missed you." Gale's hands
rested on Nathan's shoulders, thumbs brushing against the column of his neck. "That you've
fucked my life up so much my day isn't right without you. And it's not about this goddamned
house, it's not about whatever the hell your name is. It's about you."
"But you said--"
"Don't get me wrong, I'm still pissed off that you didn't just tell me what you were doing from
the start."
"I was going to," Nathan said. "The day you told me my family was fucked up and that I needed
to get a life."
"I didn't say that, exactly, I& "
Nathan looked at him.
"Okay, fine. Not one of my best moments." Gale looked away. "But meeting Sarah just& " He
shook his head. Nathan leaned back against the opposite wall, taking up the position he'd been in
before, and Gale leaned into his arms as though they'd been doing this forever. "Ties just screw
you up, you know? And nothing I replaced them with would be any good to me in the long run.
And you& " He laughed softly. "You were both."
"Sorry& " Nathan murmured against his hair, and Gale could feel a smile. "You went to see her
for me, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Didn't help much though."
"Still. You went. That means a lot to me."
A Torquere Press Arcana - 58
There wasn't much Gale could say to that.
They remained silent for a while, watching the shadows creep across the room, demarcating the
grooves and scrawls on the wall as peaks and valleys, softening the edges of the decrepit room.
In less harsh light, the damp and cracks, the peeling paint and rotting wood could better disguise
themselves. It might even have been pretty once, when Katherine sat at the window and dreamed
of a future for her baby.
"What're you gonna do now?" Gale asked after a while, still watching the flickering shadows.
"There's nothing we can prove with just a wall of scratches and an old lady who's not sure what
year it is anymore."
Nathan shrugged. "It doesn't matter."
"But you can't challenge for the house." Gale stopped short of admitting the house was rightfully
Nathan's; some things were still ingrained too deep.
"I don't care," Nathan said. "I haven't cared about the house for a long time. Or the money."
"What about Bobby?"
Nathan shook his head. "I don't know. Part of me wants to leave him to it, and damn straight
that's all he deserves, but& " He looked at Gale. "Maybe I'll try making him see sense one last
time."
Thinking back on his conversation with Bobby, Gale thought that might be a lost cause, but it
wasn't his call to make.
"Yeah," he said, brushing a kiss to the side of Nathan's neck. "If anyone can do that it'd be you."
Standing, brushing dust and flakes of wallpaper from his clothes, Gale extended a hand to
Nathan, who took it and followed him wordlessly. Picking up the candle, Nathan stared at the
wall one last time before extinguishing the flame.
"I don't regret it," he said softly, and in the near dark of the room what light there was caught on [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]