Chapter Eight

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The cuckolded go unheard under the squeals of zealots. We are saved. Turn this harlot into a queen, she made her bed and lays in it like a grave. I used to lay with her, but deicide is damnation. -Jackson Killian

Chapter Eight

I made a pot of coffee and cleared the table while Jack smoked, occasionally catching a glimpse of him through the curtain. I'd just set the final cup upside down in the dish-drain when I heard the door, and Jack was back in the kitchen, accompanied by a cloud of cool air.

I folded my dishtowel as I leaned back against the sink, watching him unload his pockets. He set his Pall Malls together with his lighter atop the microwave before slinging his jacket over the back of a chair.

With hands like manacles, cuffing first one wrist, then the other, he pushed up the sleeves of his faded gray thermal. The table wheezed softly as he rested his ass against it; his hands clasped the edge, tension causing the veins to stand out on his forearms.

I could almost feel them under my own hands, like Braille. I remembered running my palms over those paths, how they led me up over his biceps to his shoulders. I loved having the ability to touch something on the inside of him, the blood under his skin.

I let myself look a lot longer than I should have, then dropped my eyes to the soles of his shoes before lifting them up to find him watching me.

The warm light directly over his head cut contrasting bright planes and deep shadows into his face. I had the fleeting feeling, strong but gone as soon as it had come, that he'd been seeing something similar in me.

"It hurts. To look at you," he finally said, his voice a sad whisper. "You look the same. You look like my wife. But you're not. And that child—Quinn. Looks like you. Looks like me. Looks like the years you stole."

I marveled at how he managed to accuse me constantly. "Are you writing a song?"

He chuckled, a throaty hum of a laugh, and pushed back from the table with a graceful economy of motion. "No. I don't have any music in me right now. Just regrets. Come sit down, Kit. Let's talk." His fingers seemed to caress the top of his chair before they curled around the post and dragged it out.

I left the towel on the counter and slid onto the bench across from him.

We just looked at each other.

I wasn't sure how to begin—where—or what to say. The impulse to apologize kept clogging my throat, and I swallowed it down.

He found words first. "There's an acrobat living in our apartment now. With like, fifty cats."

My nose scrunched. "Really?"

He nodded and shifted in his seat, leaning a forearm on the table. "I, uh. I was sort of... forgetting you. What you looked like. Carolyn doesn't keep pictures of you."

My smile was bitter. "No. I bet she doesn't."

"You have... or, you had, all our photos. I haven't any."

I didn't say anything, trapped for a moment to ponder the difference between not having any photos, and not being able to look at the ones you did have.

"And nothing on Facebook, either, nobody has pictures of you posted."

There was only one way to interpret that. He'd been through the online accounts of our former mutual friends in pursuit of my image. But it was always my camera, my film.

I sometimes wondered after our old acquaintances. Those who hadn't "unfriended" me after Jack left were lost when I'd closed my online accounts.

"When I saw you... at the concert. Well, that doesn't matter, really. I just. I needed it. I needed to not forget you."

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