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Chapter Two

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I had time to kill before any self-respecting bar would be open, so I decided to check out the beach. Growing up in Florida, I spent most of my free time sunbathing on sand as fine and pure-white as flour, with a poetry chapbook propped up on my chest. I had a feeling this place would be different.

After driving through a gingerbread village with antique lampposts and shuttered, snow-dusted storefronts, I parked in a deserted lot and walked along a winding path to the beach. From here, the island curved away from me like a crescent moon, narrowing as it went north. At the top of the crescent, dark, foggy mountains curled into the bay.

It was stunning. And freezing.

With a sigh, I sat down on the hard, gold sand. My phone found its way into my numb hands, and I dialed the number of my dad's flat in London.

"Professor Stephen Lewis speaking."

At the sound of his voice, my shoulders relaxed for the first time in hours. Weeks. A year. "Hi, daddy."

"Hello, Miramax." I pictured him leaning back in his burnt-orange office chair the way he always did, with a stack of papers to grade in one hand and a Shakespeare play in the other.

"Awfully loud where you are," he said. "What are you up to?"

"Just out for a walk on the beach."

"That sounds nice. Are you visiting friends from home?"

I'd considered it while I'd packed my suitcase, piece by precious piece. But I'd fallen out of touch with my friends from home, even my best friend, Rosa. Rhys didn't like them.

"Yeah," I told him. "Visiting friends."

"How's the weather there?" my father asked.

"Nice. Sunny." I frowned up at an ash-gray sky.

"How's Rhys?"

"He's okay. I'm not sure I'll be seeing him for much longer, though."

"Oh, yes? Why is that?"

"I don't know.... Time to move on, I guess."

"Hmm." I could hear him mulling this over.

Since my mother died sixteen years ago, my father and I had had no one but each other. Rhys changed everything. He was respectable, ambitious, and, soon enough, a student at Yale law school. Once I moved to Connecticut with him, my father felt okay about leaving me alone in the States and finally returning to his favorite place in the world, London. I didn't blame him for leaving. I was happy for him. I just worried about him all the time.  

"How's school?" I asked.

"Going splendidly. I have some exceptionally bright students in my class this year. Talking of which, my merry Miranda," he said, "I'm having a few students over for lunch, so I had better go."

I thought of his messy flat and was relieved to think he wouldn't be eating lunch alone. "What are you having for lunch? A nice, big salad, right?"

He laughed. "Of course!"

I smiled in spite of myself. "You are taking care of yourself, though, aren't you? You're taking your medicine?"

"I'm getting on all right." He sounded more sincere this time.

"Okay, well, I'll talk to you soon."

I dropped my phone back into my purse and wiped my face on my sleeve, pretending my cheeks were wet from the salt spray. At least he sounded like he was doing okay. That was a relief, because I didn't know when I'd have enough money to visit him again, after what Rhys had done.

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