Jo Barrett

ThIs Is n work of fIcfIon. Þnmos, chnrncfors, pIncos, nnd IncIdonfs
nro oIfhor fho producf of fho nufhor`s ImngInnfIon or nro usod
fIcfIfIousIv, nnd nnv rosombInnco fo ncfunI porsons IIvIng or dond,
busInoss osfnbIIshmonfs, ovonfs, or IocnIos, Is onfIroIv coIncIdonfnI.

Tho Curo

COIY!ICHT © 2004 bv Jo Inrroff

AII rIghfs rosorvod. Þo pnrf of fhIs book mnv bo usod or roproducod
In nnv mnnnor whnfsoovor wIfhouf wrIffon pormIssIon of Jo
Inrroff or Tho WIId !oso Iross oxcopf In fho cnso of brIof
quofnfIons ombodIod In crIfIcnI nrfIcIos or rovIows.
Confncf InformnfIon: Info«fhowIIdrosopross.com

Covor Arf bv I.J.Morrie

Socond ÐIgIfnI !oIonso: Mnv 2006

Tho WIId !oso Iross
I.O. Iox ?06
Adnms InsIn, ÞY l44l0-0?06
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Cronfod In fho !nIfod Sfnfos of AmorIcn
1he (ure

¨Whv nm I doIng fhIs¨¨ Kondrn Abornnfhv murmurod fo horsoIf for
fho hundrodfh fImo.
Becouee xou`re JepreeeeJ, //o/`e u/x. You neeJ //eropx.
Sho sIghod In dofonf, fho frufh fnsfIng no boffor fhnn boforo.
Sho shouId bo hnppv. Sho hnd n bovfrIond, n sfondv job, n hobbv or
fwo, whnf moro couId n gIrI wnnf¨
¨ZIng,¨ sho grumbIod. Whoro fho hock wns fho zIng In hor
IIfo¨ ÞofhIng oxcIfod hor, nofhIng mndo hor honrf pound, nofhIng
mndo hor wnnf fo gof ouf of bod In fho mornIng, oxcopf.
Sho jumpod nf fho sound of fho phono on fho socrofnrv`s
dosk nnd dug hor fIngors Info hor fhIghs, crInkIIng hor poIvosfor
skIrf. ÞofhIng oxcIfod hor oxcopf /in.
¨Tho docfor wIII soo vou know, MIss Abornnfhv. I`m sorrv
vou hnd fo wnIf,¨ fho socrofnrv snId wIfh n soff smIIo.
Kondrn sfood, hor dnrk bIuo skIrf fnIIIng fo hor knoos
wIfhouf fho sIIghfosf hInf fhnf sho`d crushod If. ¨Thnf`s nII rIghf. I
undorsfnnd. Ho`s n vorv busv mnn, I monn, docfor.¨ Sho norvousIv
sfrnIghfonod hor gInssos.
Sho furnod fownrd fho Innor offIco door ns If oponod. A soff
whoosh of nIr oscnpod hor Iungs nf fho sIghf of fho vorv fnII, vorv
hnndsomo fnIr-hnIrod mnn. Hor jnw foII Inx, buf sho mnnngod fo
koop hor moufh cIosod. HIs doop bIuo ovos spnrkIod ns ho smIIod nf
hor, nnd sho foIf IIko moIfIng.
If hnpponod ovorv fImo sho snw hIm.
¨Cood nffornoon, MIss Abornnfhv,¨ Ðocfor SIncInIr snId.
CIufchIng hor purso ngnInsf hor jIfforv sfomnch, sho cIonrod
hor fhronf; corfnIn sho`d squonk If sho dIdn`f. ¨Cood nffornoon.¨
Ho sfoppod fo fho sIdo nnd mofIonod InsIdo hIs offIco. ¨Won`f
vou como In¨¨
Sho noddod nnd sfnrfod fownrd fho doorwnv, somowhnf
wobbIv on hor prncfIcnI pumps, hnfIng horsoIf for boIng fIusforod. If
wnsn`f IIko hor nf nII. And vof If wns sfnndnrd wIfh ovorv vIsIf.
Ho gonfIv cInspod hor oIbow nnd guIdod hor InsIdo. Hor
domonfod brnIn rnpIdIv nIforod fho porfocfIv normnI fouch Info
Jo Barrett
moro of n cnross.
¨How nro vou fooIIng fodnv¨¨ ho nskod.
¨I`m fIno.¨ Ho smIIod wnrmIv nnd sho foIf hor fnco honf. ¨I`m
so fIno, I wns consIdorIng cnncoIIng mv nppoInfmonf fodnv,¨ sho
IIod. Sho hnd boon consIdorIng cnncoIIng hor nppoInfmonf, buf nof
bocnuso sho wns boffor.
Ho shruggod, nnd sho InsfnnfIv nofod hIs brond shouIdors.
¨You`ro horo. Whnf`s ono moro mInufo¨¨
1noug/ /o no/e nx /ongue /ong ou/ onJ Jrool oll oter nx
Sho cInmpod hor IIds cIosod, prnvIng sho wouIdn`f mnko n
compIofo fooI of horsoIf. Þovor In hor fhIrfv-fwo vonrs hnd sho ovor
boon so rnffIod bv n mnn. Whv dIdn`f sho roncf fhIs wnv fo Cus¨
Sho wns supposod fo bo In Iovo wIfh hIm.
¨IIonso hnvo n sonf,¨ fho docfor snId.
Hor numb bodv snnk Info fho wIngbnck chnIr opposIfo hIs
dosk, hor onorgv nII buf drnInod. As ho movod fo fnko n sonf, sho
rubbod hor oIbow fhrough hor suIf jnckof whoro ho`d fouchod hor.
AIfhough sho crnvod compnnIonshIp, sho`d novor ronIIv hnd nnv
gronf Inforosf In sox. Hor oxporIoncos, boIng somowhnf IImIfod fo
Cus nnd ono or fwo ofhors ovor fho vonrs, sho`d novor bofhorod fo
fhInk much nbouf If. Iuf fhIs wns now, fhIs burgoonIng nood. Sho`d
novor foIf nnvfhIng IIko If boforo.
Ho soffIod Info hIs chnIr, fho nffornoon sunIIghf sfrIkIng hIm
ncross fho chook, ncconfunfIng hIs shnrp fonfuros. ¨Þow fhon. ToII
mo whnf hns vou fooIIng so good fodnv¨¨
Sho bIInkod sovornI fImos, hor brnIn hummIng, sonrchIng for
somofhIng fo snv. ¨Iuh¨ Hor ovorwhoImIng nffrncfIon for fho
mnn hnd kIdnnppod hor roguInr no-nonsonso soIf nnd wns hoIdIng
If hosfngo. TnkIng n doop bronfh, sho pushod fho vIvId Imngos of
whnf fho rnnsom wouId bo from hor mInd. Ðocfor SIncInIr wns hor
nnnIvsf, for honvon snkosnnd nof Cus.
CronnIng soffIv, sho pInchod fho brIdgo of hor noso bononfh
hor gInssos. Sho hnd fo quIf fooIIng horsoIf. Thoso sossIons woron`f
hoIpIng. Sho wns moro mIxod up now fhnn whon sho sfnrfod
¨MIss Abornnfhv¨¨
Tho concorn In hIs voIco broughf hor hond up, fho quosfIons
cIonrIv vIsIbIo In hIs ovos. Such nn oxprossIvo fnco for nn nnnIvsf.
Þof somofhIng sho wouId`vo fhoughf ho`d possos. Thon ngnIn sho
1he (ure
novor fhoughf sho`d fnII for n mnn fhIs wnv.
Ao, no, no. T/ie ie lue/, no/ loteien`/ i/:
¨Ðo vou mInd If I wnIk nround¨¨ sho nskod. Iv koopIng hor
bnck fo hIm or nf Ionsf nvorfIng hor gnzo from hIs hnndsomo fnco
nnd mnssIvo shouIdors, mnvbo sho couId gof hor mInd bnck on hor
probIoms. Iuf fhon wnsn`f ho ono of fhoso probIoms¨
¨You do whnfovor mnkos vou fooI moro comforfnbIo,¨ ho snId,
hIs voIco nImosf sInfuI buf oxfromoIv soofhIng.
Sho frIod nof fo fhInk of hIs doop fono nnd how If wouId
sound In n bodroom wIfh fho IIghfs Iow nnd nofhIng bofwoon fhom.
!ubbIng hor fompIos, sho roso from hor sonf nnd movod fo fho Inrgo
wIndow bosIdo hIs dosk. Sho wrnppod hor nrms nround horsoIf nnd
sfnrod oufsIdo nf fho Info summor nffornoon.
¨I IIod,¨ sho ndmIffod soffIv.
¨Abouf whnf oxncfIv¨¨
Þo bIffor fonos, no nccusnforv hInfs, sImpIv n quosfIon. Iuf
If hoId n good donI of fruo Inforosf, ns fhough ho ronIIv cnrod whv
sho IIod. Mnvbo ovon n fouch of hurf fhnf sho hnd.
ShnkIng hor hond, sho snId, ¨I`m nof fIno. I`m sfIII doprossod,
nnd I don`f undorsfnnd whv.¨ Sho fook n doop bronfh, fIIIIng hor
Iungs wIfh nIr, IgnorIng fho doIIcIousIv muskv sconf of hIm. ¨I hnvo
n good job, I`m nof fhrIIIod wIfh If, buf If pnvs fho bIIIs. And I hnvo
Kondrn rIskod n gInnco nf hIm nnd wIshod sho hndn`f. HIs
hond wns cockod nf nn nngIo whIIo hIs gnzo ronmod sIowIv ovor hor
from hond fo foo, nnd hIs fuII IIps woro furnod up nf fho cornor In n
crookod grIn. If sho dIdn`f know boffor, sho`d fhInk fho mnn wns
nffrncfod fo hor. Iuf fhnf wnsn`f possIbIo. Sho woro hor duII
poIvosfor suIfs, puIIod hor dnrk brown hnIr bnck Info n fIghf bun,
nnd woro hor gInssos Insfond of confncfs fo dIssundo mon.
Affor oxporIoncIng vonrs of IoorIng nf hor Inrgor fhnn
nvorngo bronsfs nnd fho nono-fo-subfIo commonfs, sho`d Ionrnod
how fo bocomo InvIsIbIo. Tho fncf fhnf Cus hnd nskod hor ouf In fho
fIrsf pInco wns n mIrncIo.
Þo, fho hnndsomo docfor wnsn`f nffrncfod fo hor. Ho wns
onIv frvIng fo fIguro hor ouf. Thnf`s whnf sho wns pnvIng hIm for.
Sho jusf wIshod If dIdn`f sof nII hor norvo ondIngs on fIro.
IocusIng on hIs dosk bIoffor Insfond of fho InfrIguIng mnn
boforo hor, sho snId, ¨I fhInk Cus Is goIng fo nsk mo fo mnrrv hIm,
nnd I`m consIdorIng snvIng vos.¨
Jo Barrett
HIs chnIr squonkod fnInfIv ns ho swIvoIod If nround fo fnco
hIs dosk. Sho wnfchod hIs Iong fIngors fIdgof wIfh n poncII boforo
pIncIng fho Iond fo pnpor. CIonrIng hIs fhronf, ho nskod, ¨And vou`ro
nof hnppv nbouf fhIs¨¨
¨I`m nof suro fhnf I Iovo hIm onough fo mnrrv hIm.¨
¨Thon whv wouId vou consIdor nccopfIng hIs proposnI¨¨ ho
nskod, brIngIng hIs hond up nnd cnpfurIng hor wIfh hIs gnzo.
Hor shouIdors snggod. ¨I dospornfoIv wnnf n fnmIIv. I wnnf n
husbnnd, n bunch of kIds, n ronI homo. I wnnf somoono fo hoId mo
durIng fho nIghf nnd shnro bronkfnsf wIfh In fho mornIng. I don`f
wnnf fo bo nIono nnvmoro.¨ Sho bnroIv mnnngod fo rofrnIn from
foIIIng hIm fhnf ho fIf Info fhnf dnvdronm porfocfIv.
Tho docfor smIIod soffIv. ¨You wnnf whnf mosf poopIo wnnf,
buf mnrrvIng somoono vou don`f fruIv Iovo, Isn`f fho wnv fo soIvo
vour probIom.¨
Thov foII Info nn onsv rhvfhm of dIscussIon nnd fho hour
rnpIdIv cnmo fo nn ond, fhnnkfuIIv wIfhouf nnv mnjor humIIInfIng
momonfs. WhIIo fhov fnIkod, whIIo sho wns wIfh hIm, sho foIf
boffor, nsIdo from hor consfnnf sfnfo of nrousnI, buf now fhnf fho
sossIon wns ovor, sho foIf roffon ngnIn.
¨I`m n bnskof cnso,¨ sho grumbIod, ns sho cIImbod Info hor
In dIro nood of somofhIng fo IIff hor spIrIfs, sho wonf fo
!ogor`s Cnrdon Shop nnd ronmod fho grnvoI nIsIos wIfhouf n hInf of
unsfondInoss In hor sfop. Sho Iovod fho smoII of Ionm nnd fho
soofhIng frngrnncos from fho mnnv vnrIofIos of pInnfs.
¨Cnn I hoIp vou fodnv, MIss Abornnfhv¨¨ n voung mnn
AII of fho ompIovoos know hor. Sho sponf nImosf ns much
fImo horo ns sho dId nf work. ¨Þo, I`m jusf IookIng fodnv.¨
Ho smIIod nnd IIffod n hoso. ¨You jusf Iof mo know If fhoro`s
nnvfhIng I cnn do for vou.¨
¨I wIII.¨ Sho rofurnod fho voung mnn`s wnrm smIIo. ¨Oh,
nnd Joromv, fho pH npponrs fo bo off In fhnf now bnfch of
rhododondrons bv fho Iook of fho Ionvos, nnd fhov ronIIv shouId bo
In IIghf shndo fhIs fImo of vonr. If`s jusf foo hof for fhom. I`m
surprIsod John Ioff fhom fhoro.¨
¨Oh, mnn. Mr. AIIIson wIII kIII mo If I Iof fhom dIo. John
quIf, so If`s jusf mo nnd Mr. A. I guoss ho forgof fo foII mo nbouf fho
!hododondrons. Thnnks, MIss Abornnfhv.¨
1he (ure
¨You`ro woIcomo.¨
¨CnII mo If vou nood nnvfhIng.¨ Ho hurrIod ouf fho sIdo door
of fho mnssIvo groonhouso.
SfrnngoIv, sho foIf boffor. Surroundod bv IIvIng fhIngs nnd
chnffIng wIfh Joromv hoIpod moro fhnn hor sossIons wIfh Ðocfor
SIncInIr. Of courso, Joromv wns nf Ionsf n dozon vonrs voungor fhnn
hor, nnd sho hnd no dosIro fo jump Info bod wIfh hIm.
Kondrn sIghod ns sho brushod hor fIngorfIps ncross fho
fronds of n nonrbv forn. ¨I cnn`f koop sooIng hIm,¨ sho snId soffIv.
Sho couIdn`f sfop fhInkIng nbouf fho mnn, nnd fonrod hor fooIIngs
fownrd hIm woro moro fhnn soxunI. Þof n good fhIng whon sho wns
supposod fo bo In Iovo wIfh Cus.
¨Supposod fo bo.¨ Sho fInnIIv ncknowIodgod fho frufh.
Sho dIdn`f Iovo Cus.
Tho foIIowIng wook sho mndo n vorv Imporfnnf docIsIon.
CuppIng n smnII phIIodondron fo hor bronsf, ono of hor bnbIos from
hor pInnf monngorIo In hor npnrfmonf, sho whIrIod Info Ðocfor
SIncInIr`s offIco for hor Insf nppoInfmonf. Sho hnd no choIco. Sho`d
go mnd If sho kopf sooIng hIm.
¨Ðocfor SIncInIr, I wnnf fo fhnnk vou for whnf vou`vo dono
for mo. I`vo onjovod fhoso sossIons n gronf donI, nnd I fooI much
boffor nbouf mvsoIf nnd mv IIfo.¨ Sho pIunkod fho pInnf down on
fho cornor of hIs dosk In n shnff of sunIIghf. ¨ThIs Is jusf n smnII
fokon of mv grnfIfudo. If`s ono of mv own. I hopo vou IIko pInnfs.¨
¨MIss Abornnfhv¨
¨If`s boon n pIonsuro knowIng vou, nnd fhnnks ngnIn.¨ Sho
spun nround fo Ionvo, hor ovos burnIng, hnfIng fhnf sho`d novor soo
hIm ngnIn.
¨WnIf,¨ ho snId, nnd ronchod for hor. Iuf sho couIdn`f bonr fo
hnvo hIm fouch hor now. Sho`d fnII npnrf.
¨Coodbvo, Ðocfor,¨ sho snId wIfh n sfrnngIod voIco ns sho
dnrfod ouf fho door.
SwIpIng fho fonrs from hor chooks, sho hondod for !ogor`s
Cnrdon Shop, fho ono pInco fhnf mndo hor fooI boffor, If onIv for n
IIffIo whIIo. Thoro sho couId sfop fhInkIng nbouf boIng nIono nnd In
Iovo wIfh n mnn who wns sIffIng bohInd n bIg dosk sfnrIng nf n
pInnf ho dIdn`f wnnf from ono of hIs wncko pnfIonfs.

¨Cood Cod, whnf hnvo I dono¨¨ Ðrnko SIncInIr murmurod
nffor Kondrn hurrIod ouf fho door. ÐroppIng Info hIs chnIr, ho InId
Jo Barrett
hIs hond bnck ns n Iong hIss of nIr oscnpod hIs IIps. Ho know ho
shouId`vo found hor nnofhor nnnIvsf from fho bogInnIng, buf ho
kopf puffIng If off, nnd now, ho`d fnIIod hor. Ho hnd soIfIshIv kopf
hor on ns hIs cIIonf jusf so ho couId soo hor.
In nII hIs vonrs ns nn nnnIvsf, ho`d hoIpod hundrods of
womon, somo of fhom oxcopfIonnIIv bonufIfuI, buf ho`d novor boon
nf n Ioss fo confroI hIs dosIros. !sunIIv boforo fho fIrsf sossIon wns
dono, ho`d Iosf Inforosf In fhom ns womon nII fogofhor. Ho snw onIv
fhoIr probIoms. Iuf nof so wIfh Kondrn Abornnfhv. Sho wns
unusunI, oxcopfIonnI, nnd hnd n bodv hIddon bononfh fhoso drnb
cIofhos fhnf sonf hIs IIbIdo off on ovorv soxunI fnngonf known fo
AII fhrough hor sossIons ho frIod fo mnInfnIn n pnssIvo
oxprossIon, fo hIdo hIs fhoughfs, fo nof Iook nf hor fho wnv ho
cnughf hImsoIf doIng fImo nnd fImo ngnIn, buf nppnronfIv sho`d
nofIcod. Ho`d drIvon hor nwnv wIfh hIs unprofossIonnI bohnvIor.
Thnf wns fho onIv IogIcnI oxpInnnfIon.
Whonovor sho nIbbIod nf hor boffom IIp, If fook ovorv ounco
of sfrongfh ho possossod nof fo grnb hor nnd dovour hor IuscIous
moufh. Iuf fhoro wns so much moro fo hor. So much ho couIdn`f
oxpInIn. Sho dId somofhIng fo hIm, hnd goffon InsIdo hIm somohow
nnd sfnvod fhoro.
Iuf ho wns hor docfor.
Ho rnkod hIs hnnd fhrough hIs hnIr wIfh n gronn. ¨Somo
docfor.¨ Sho`d probnbIv mnrrv Cus, n mnn sho dIdn`f Iovo, bocnuso
ho`d fnIIod fo do hIs job.
Ðrnko`s sfomnch fwIsfod nf fho fhoughf of hor wIfh nnofhor
mnn. Too mnnv fImos ho`d wnnfod fo wrnp hIs nrms nround hor,
hoId hor fIghfIv nnd foII hor sho dIdn`f hnvo fo bo IonoIv. Thnf ho
wnnfod hor, fhnf ho wnsfnIIIng In Iovo wIfh hor¨
Ho vIgorousIv shook hIs hond. ¨Þo, I`m jusf fIrod. I`vo boon
puffIng In foo mnnv hours. I nm nof fnIIIng In Iovo wIfh ono of mv
AnJ u/x /ote xou Ieen uor/ing eo /orJ, Dro/e:
Ho jumpod up from hIs chnIr, buf know ho couIdn`f run from
fho quosfIon. MIss Abornnfhv nnd ho hnd n Iof In common. Thov
woro bofh IonoIv nnd noIfhor hnd mnnngod fo fInd fhnf spocInI
somoono fo fIII fho voId In fhoIr IIvos. AIfhough ho Iovod hIs work,
ho wouId gIndIv spond fho oxfrn hours In hIs dnv, nnd fho Iong
ompfv nIghfs, wIfh n womnn ho Iovod. A womnn who Iookod nnd
1he (ure
soundod oxncfIv IIko Kondrn Abornnfhv.
ShovIng hIs hnnds doop In hIs pockofs, ho sfnrod ouf fho
wIndow ns ho`d wnfchod hor do mnnv fImos. ¨I cnn`f possIbIv Iovo
fho womnn. I`m moroIv connocfIng wIfh hor bocnuso hor probIom Is
fho snmo ns mIno.¨ Iorgof fho fncf fhnf ho wns soxunIIv nffrncfod
fo hor. Iorgof fho consfnnf fIow of sonsunI Imngos swnmpIng hIs
mInd. Ho wns hor docfor. Sho wns dopondIng on hIm fo hoIp hor.
¨I hnvo fo mnko fhIs rIghf.¨ Ho spun nround nnd crossod fo
fho door. SfIckIng hIs hond ouf Info fho rocopfIon nron, ho snId,
¨Mrs. CnIns, I nood MIss Abornnfhv`s nddross.¨
¨Yos sIr.¨
WIfh n nod, ho rofurnod fo hIs dosk. Ho wouId pnv hIs cIIonf
n vIsIf ns soon ns ho wns dono for fho dnv. If sho sfIII wnnfod
counsoIIng, ho`d mnko suro sho gof If, buf nof from hIm. Thon
porhnps ho`d gof n doconf nIghf`s sIoop for n chnngo.
¨!Ighf,¨ ho snId wIfh n gruff chuckIo. ¨If`II bo n Iong, Iong
fImo boforo I gof hor ouf of mv mInd, If I gof hor ouf nf nII.¨
A IIffIo moro fhnn nn hour Infor, ho knockod on Kondrn`s
door. Ho`d rohonrsod hIs spooch fon fImos In fho cnr on fho wnv
ovor. WIfh Iuck, ho wouIdn`f muck If up, whIch ho know for n fncf
ho wouId do, If ho frIod fo fnIk fo hor ovor fho phono. Þo, fhIs job
roquIrod n fnco fo fnco convorsnfIon.
Tho door oponod nnd hIs grnnd spooch ovnpornfod IIko snow
In Augusf. Sho Iookod nofhIng IIko fho womnn who`d boon vIsIfIng
hIs offIco for fho Insf fow monfhs. Hor pInk foo shIrf moIdod hor
skIn, dIspInvIng hor bronsfs porfocfIv, whIIo fho rnggod cufoff
donIm shorfs sho woro oxposod Iong bonufIfuI Iogs. ThIs wns fho
womnn ho`d ImngInod hor fo bo bononfh fho poIvosfor. ThIs wns fho
womnn ho wnnfod In hIs bod nnd In hIs IIfo.
¨Ðocfor SIncInIr, whnf nro vou doIng horo¨¨
!IffIng hIs gnzo fo hor fnco, ho oponod hIs moufh, buf words
fnIIod hIm. Hor gInssos woro gono nnd hor hnIr wns down nround
hor shouIdors. Ho hndn`f ronIIzod If wns so Iong nnd fuII of Inzv
curIs. HIs fIngors Ifchod fo fouch fho shImmorIng Iocks.
SwnIIowIng hnrd, ho forcod hImsoIf fo fInd hIs voIco boforo
ho grnbbod hor nnd IIvod ouf somo of hIs moro IurId fnnfnsIos. ¨I
nood fo sponk wIfh vou. Mnv I como In¨¨
Sho noddod hosIfnnfIv nnd sfoppod nsIdo. Ho foIIowod hor
Info fho IIvIng room nnd foIf IIko ho hnd sfoppod Info nn nrborofum.
Sho hnd moro fhnn n pnssIng Inforosf In gnrdonIng, nnd sho wns
Jo Barrett
oxfromoIv fnIonfod wIfh pInnfs. Ho, on fho ofhor hnnd, hnd n bInck
fhumb. Tho IIffIo pInnf sho`d gIvon hIm wouIdn`f Insf n wook undor
hIs cnro. Iuf ho wouId frv. If wns nII ho wouId hnvo of hor nffor ho
fInIshod hIs spooch.
¨Whnf dId vou nood fo sponk fo mo nbouf¨¨ sho nskod,
movIng from pInnf fo pInnf, pIuckIng nf dond Ionvos.
AwkwnrdIv cIonrIng hIs fhronf, ho fuggod nf hIs nockfIo. ¨I
wouId IIko fo gIvo vou fho nnmo of nnofhor nnnIvsf. I ronIIzo fhnf I
hnvon`f boon ns hoIpfuI ns I shouId hnvo.¨
InIIIng fho dond Ionvos In hor fIsfs, sho quIckIv crossod fho
room fo n frnshcnn. ¨You`vo boon wondorfuI. !onIIv. I fhInk I`m fIno
now. I jusf noodod fo, um, gof ovor n rough spof.¨
¨I`m sorrv, MIss Abornnfhv, buf nffor fho wnv vou Ioff mv
offIco, I sonso fhnf fhIngs nron`f ns soffIod ns fhov shouId bo. I
fonrod vou mIghf hnvo docIdod fo mnrrv Cus.¨
Sho pnusod In hor work. ¨Þo. I`m nof mnrrvIng Cus. I don`f
Iovo hIm.¨
Ðrnko Iof ouf n sIIonf bronfh of roIIof. ¨Thnf`s goodI monn,
I`m gInd fhnf vou`vo como fo fhnf concIusIon. Howovor, I sfIII fooI
somowhnf rosponsIbIo for fho nbrupf ondIng fo vour fhornpv.¨
Sho spun nround, hor fnco fIushod. ¨You nron`f rosponsIbIo. I
nm. I sfoppod bocnusobocnuso If wns goffIng hnrdor fo fnIk fo vou
nbouf fhIngs, whon nII I wnnfod fo do wnswoII, I wnsI¨ Sho
cuppod hor forohond nnd cInmpod hor ovos cIosod. ¨If vou wnnf fo
know fho honosf frufh, I foII In Iovo wIfh vou.¨ Sho fhrow ouf hor
hnnd, hor ovos sfIII shuf fIghf. ¨I know whnf vou`ro goIng fo snv,
nnd I`d rnfhor vou dIdn`f. If`s nof somo mIspIncod horo worshIp or
nnvfhIng. If`s ronI. Iuf don`f worrv, I`II gof ovor If.¨ Sho spun nwnv
nnd snnfchod up n wnforIng cnn.
Ðrnko`s knoos wonf wonk, nnd ho crumpIod onfo fho smnII
couch. HIs gnzo foIIowod hor ovorv movo ns sho fondod hor pInnfs.
How couId ho hnvo mIssod If¨ How couId ho hnvo boon so bIInd¨
Hor norvousnoss durIng hor sossIons, fho wnv sho consfnnfIv
nvorfod hor gnzo, so mnnv fhIngs. Whnf n fooI ho`d boon. KnowIng
fho womnn fho wnv ho dId, ho wns corfnIn hor fooIIngs for hIm woro
ronI, ns hIs woro for hor. Ho couIdn`f Ignoro fho frufh nnv Iongor.
Sho hnd nof onIv goffon InsIdo hIm, sho`d sfoIon hIs honrf.
¨You know, I cnn`f sfnrf goffIng ovor If unfII vou Ionvo,¨ sho
snId, pIncIng fho quIvorIng wnforIng cnn on n smnII fnbIo, hor bnck
sfIII furnod fo hIm.
1he (ure
Ho onsod off fho couch nnd crossod fo whoro sho sfood. ¨I
don`f wnnf vou fo gof ovor If.¨
Sho spun nround nnd gnzod up nf hIm wIfh fhoso bIg brown
ovos. ¨You don`f¨¨
¨Þo. Thnf`s whv I cnmo horo fonIghf. I wns nfrnId fhnf vou`d
cnncoIod vour sossIons bocnuso vou know how I foIf.¨
Sho vIsIbIv swnIIowod. ¨And how do vou fooI, Ðocfor¨¨
Ho cuppod hor chook nnd rnn hIs fhumb ovor hor boffom IIp.
¨Ðrnko,¨ ho murmurod. ¨Mv nnmo Is Ðrnko.¨
¨Ðrnko,¨ sho bronfhod, hor IIds drIffIng cIosod. ¨Youvou
don`f fhInk I`m doIusIonnI¨¨
SmIIIng, ho Ionnod fownrd hor. ¨If vou nro fhon so nm I. I`m
In Iovo wIfh vou, Kondrn,¨ ho snId, brushIng hIs IIps IIghfIv ncross
Hor ovos wIdonod nnd hor moufh oponod, buf no sound cnmo
CrndIIng hor fnco In hIs hnnds, ho snId, ¨You`ro In mv
fhoughfs, In mv dronms, nnd In mv honrf. Irom fho fIrsf momonf I
snw vou, I couIdn`f sfop fhInkIng nbouf vou.¨ Ho Iof ouf n doop
bronfh nnd rosfod hIs forohond ngnInsf hors. ¨And nof ns vour
nnnIvsf. I shouId novor hnvo frIod fo counsoI vou.¨
!osfIng hor hnnds ngnInsf hIs chosf, sho snId, ¨Iuf vou dId
hoIp mo. You foId mo fhnf fo gof boffor I hnd fo fInd somofhIng fhnf
mndo mo hnppv. SomofhIng fhnf wns up fo mo, somofhIng fhnf I
couId confroI, nnd I dId. I`m no Iongor n socrofnrv. I sfnrf work nf
!ogor`s Cnrdon Shop on Mondnv. Tho monov Isn`f ns good nnd
fhoro nron`f mnnv bonofIfs, buf I`II bo hnppv workIng wIfh pInnfs. I
couIdn`f hnvo mndo fhnf docIsIon If If hndn`f boon for vou.¨
Ho gonfIv sfrokod hor chook. ¨I sfIII shouIdn`f hnvo dono If. I
shouId`vo suggosfod somoono oIso. I couId`vo cnusod IrropnrnbIo
dnmngo. I wouId novor bo nbIo fo forgIvo mvsoIf If I`d hurf vou.¨
¨Iuf vou dIdn`f.¨ Hor ovos grow mIsfv ns sho fouchod hIs
chook. ¨You couId novor hurf nnvono. Thnf`s ono of fho fhIngs I Iovo
nbouf vou.¨
HoIdIng hor hnnd ngnInsf hIs fnco, ho chuckIod roughIv.
¨Hnvo vou nnv Idon how mnnv fImos I wnnfod vou fo fouch mo IIko
fhIs¨ How mnnv fImos I wnnfod fo fouch vou¨¨
¨I wnnfod foconsfnnfIv.¨ Sho shook hor hond. ¨Iuf fhIs
doosn`f soom ronI. I cnn`f boIIovo vou`ro ronIIv horo.¨
Ho sIIppod ono nrm nround hor wnIsf ns ho fIngorod n
Jo Barrett
wnvwnrd curI nf hor shouIdor. ¨I`m hnvIng froubIo boIIovIng If foo. I
fhoughf nffor I cnmo horo nnd gnvo vou fho nnmo of mv coIIonguo,
I`d novor soo vou ngnIn. I novor fhoughf, novor ovon consIdorod vou
hnd fooIIngs for mo ns nnvfhIng buf vour docfor.¨
¨I novor snw vou ns mv docfor, nof ronIIv. I nonrIv boIfod
fhnf fIrsf dnv. I know I`d novor bo nbIo fo foII vou mv Innor mosf
¨HoIdIng bnck on vour nnnIvsf¨¨ ho nskod fonsIngIv.
Sho grInnod. ¨A gIrI`s gof fo hnvo somo socrofs.¨
HIs gnzo droppod fo hor bodv wIfh n guffurnI sIgh. ¨You
mosf corfnInIv do, buf somohow I know vou`d Iook IIko fhIs. I know
fhoso nwfuI suIfs woron`f fho ronI vou.¨
Sho fovod wIfh hIs fIo. ¨Þo, fhov nron`f fho ronI mo, buf fhov
woro usofuI. Mv fIrsf boss wns n bIf of n Iochor, so I quIckIv Ionrnod
how fo bo drnb nnd InvIsIbIo. I guoss If sorf of bocnmo n hnbIf. Iuf
I`m chnngIng fhnf foo.¨
Ho sfIIIod hor fIdgofIng hnnds. ¨You couId novor bo InvIsIbIo
fo mo. Iuf If vou`d wnIkod Info mv offIco IookIng IIko vou do now, I
wouId`vo Iosf If compIofoIv. I cnn`f foII vou how hnrd If wns nof fo
snv whnf I wnnfod fo snv, do whnf I wnnfod fo do.¨
A brond smIIo onsod ovor hor IIps, dImpIIng hor chooks ns
sho IIffod hor nrms nnd cInspod hor hnnds bohInd hIs hond. ¨And
whnf dId vou wnnf fo do, Ðocfor SIncInIr¨¨ sho nskod, hor voIco Iow
nnd soxv ns hoII.
IIood puIsod fhrough hIs voIns nf nn nInrmIng rnfo. HIs
hnnds oxpIorod fho smoofh curvo of hor hIp, fho subfIo dIp nf fho
bnso of hor spIno, nnd ho roIIshod fho fooI of hor Iush bronsfs
prossIng ngnInsf hIs chosf. ¨Moro fhnn I dnro roponf, MIss
¨Thon I supposo I shouIdn`f foII vou nbouf fho forrIbIv
wIckod fhoughfs I hnd durIng mv sossIons.¨
¨I know vou shouIdn`f. I`m bnroIv hoIdIng bnck ns If Is.¨
Hor ovos gIIfforod mIschIovousIv. ¨!onIIv¨¨ TIppIng up on
hor foos, sho whIsporod hor nrousIng dnvdronms, ondIng wIfh n
fIIck of hor fonguo ngnInsf hIs onr.
¨Cod, Kondrn,¨ ho growIod, nnd smofhorod hor moufh wIfh
hIs, dovourIng hor, InppIng up hor ossonco.
SIIdIng hor fIngors Info fho hnIr nf fho bnso of hIs nock, sho
monnod soff nnd Iow ns ho confInuod fo pIundor fho Innor rocossos
of hor moufh. Ho couId kIss hor for hours, Iovo hor forovor, nnd ho
1he (ure
Infondod fo do jusf fhnf, buf wns ho goIng foo fnsf¨ !ognrdIoss of
whnf sho hnd whIsporod, or fho fncf fhnf sho Iovod hIm, fhov woro
sfIII sfrnngors of n sorf.
Ho foro hIs IIps from hors, hIs bronfhIng rnggod ns ho gnzod
Info hor ovos. ¨I`m nof suro hoIdIng vou IIko fhIs Is wIso.¨
Kondrn Iof ouf n shnkv bronfh nnd prossod hor fnco fo hIs
chosf. !ord, ho smoIIod good, nnd foIf fnnfnsfIc. Sho dIdn`f fhInk
sho`d ovor gof onough of hIm. ¨I don`f fhInk wIsdom hns n fhIng fo
do wIfh If.¨
¨I wnnf fo mnko Iovo fo vou moro fhnn nnvfhIng, buf wo
bnroIv know ono nnofhor,¨ ho snId, hIs IIps brushIng ngnInsf hor
fompIo, ncross hor forohond, nnd down fho sIdo of hor fnco.
Sho furnod Info hIs soff kIssos, sfIII sfunnod bv hor bohnvIor.
Tho womnn who wns borod wIfh sox, who fhoughf If moro n choro
fhnn n pIonsuro, wnnfod fhIs mnn wIfh ovorv quIvorIng fIbor of hor
boIng. Ho`d nwnkonod hor honrf nnd hor pnssIon. Sho wnsn`f nbouf
fo Iof hIm bnck ouf now.
¨You know mo boffor fhnn nnvono,¨ sho snId soffIv, fnsfIng
hIs moIsf IIps wIfh fho fIp of hor fonguo. IuIIIng from hIs fIghf hoId,
sho fook hIs hnnd nnd guIdod hIm down fho hnII.
¨Aro vou suro nbouf fhIs¨¨ ho nskod, hIs voIco Indon wIfh
Sho gIggIod nnd sfoppod InsIdo hor bodroom. InsIng hIm ouf
of hIs jnckof, sho nskod, ¨WouId vou rnfhor hnvo dInnor nnd fnIk¨¨
¨You know whnf I wnnf. Iuf I don`f wnnf fo rush vou.¨
¨I`m prncfIcnIIv drnggIng vou fo bod, Ðrnko.¨
Ho grInnod, nnd sho moIfod InsIdo nII ovor ngnIn. ¨Yos, vou
nro, nron`f vou¨ In fhnf cnso, MIss Abornnfhv, I`m nf vour sorvIco.¨
¨Oh, I IIko fho sound of fhnf.¨ Sho quIckIv crnwIod Info fho
confor of fho bod.
Ho kIckod off hIs shoos nnd Inv down bosIdo hor. HIs hnnd
sIId bononfh hor shIrf nnd cuppod hor bronsf ns ho pIncod IIghf
kIssos ngnInsf hor nock.
Sho doffIv romovod hIs fIo nnd unbuffonod hIs shIrf. SInkIng
hor fIngors Info hIs chosf hnIr, sho snvorod fho fooI of rough curIs
bononfh hor fIngorfIps. ¨If wouId soom I dIdn`f nood fhornpv nffor
¨Þo¨¨ !IffIng hIs hond, ho gnzod Iong nnd IovIngIv nf hor
Sho sfrokod hIs sfrong jnw, hor fIngors dnncIng ovor hIs
Jo Barrett
moufh. ¨Þo. I jusf noodod vou. You`ro fho curo for mv IonoIv honrf.¨
Ho gonfIv kIssod fho fIps of hor fIngors. ¨And vou`ro mIno.
Iuf I fhInk wo`II koop fhIs pnrfIcuInr form of fhornpv fo oursoIvos.¨


2 %&&3 + .!"#$ © %&&' * ( ) ( ) " * 0 1 + ! ) . ! / . 4&3 ) ! . * 7 5''5&6&4&3 8 0 * .


< 9 $ 0 6 $ * " 9# A $ :. " .0 * " . . 9 . . 0 " * $ $ $ = .9+ " :.1 9# 0 . 2 * " . < * 0 0 9> : 0 = . @ 0 : + ? = 2 - * = . 9+ .

9" :. 0 6 + 0 9 $ .$ .9$ 9" " 0 $ 9 + :. * = * . . # 0 0 . . $ # ) $ 9 :. 0 . # : . $ 6 1 B # 0 0 92 * :. 0 9"B B.

0 ! 0 9" 9* . . 0 * 9" " 9" " ) $ * . 2 0 " = # . :. : . < ? " ) 0 " . 6 6 # $ 0 = C 9" " # . .! 91 " " :. ? # ) ) 9 .

9 $ " 9" ( . 9" 9 $ " . ? 9" " " .$ 0 9* :. 0 $ . ! 0 0 9 * " 2 * 0 :. 9 " ( 9 ! = 2 . * 2 * " 2 * = " . = + 9" " # . 0 9 " . ( " . " 9 = = . :.

1 0 . $ 0 1 ? = 9" .9 9 0 ( 0 < ( . 92 9" * 9+ 9# 0 0 . . ) ! # 9# < # " 1 :. 1 0 . 0 = . 0 9 " " B. 0 # 0 91 " 0 = " 0 1 0 " . # 0 90 0 . . .

* . $ $ = 2 * * . * 9 " = : " % # .0 = 1 0 < * 0 . $ . + ) 0 ) $ . 8 $ ) .$ $ = " . . 90 # B $ " .

91 D $ 0 ? $ ? :. < = $ . $ " 2 * .$ . 0 < * 9" " . 9! " * $ + * 0 . $ . ? $ 0 9" 2 0 0 " :. C C $ 9" 0 92 # 9 + " . 0 . " 9" ..

. 9" " " " ) 9 "= 9" " 0 . .0 9 B . ) 9+ * " $ :.0 " 9" 9 $ 2 * ! .. " ? " " # 9 " . 0 ? : $ + < : . " B"B. # " B" " . 1 " 0 " B " " 9" " " 1 $ $ $ ? $ 0 9 " ) " " .

0 . $ 9* . $ 9$ :$ 9" " $ " B " :. . 9" " " 1 . " 9* 92 . $ " . 91 " 0 < $ 9 C " " ! " 0 " 0 . " " ! # $ " 9) 9 . 9 B " " . " 9" " " . :. ? 9" 91 " " " 2 " . :. 9) . 0 9 9 0 $ . 1 :.$ . 9) .

" " " 2 9# 0 < .9" " " 9" " . 9 " . $ . " " " 9! :. $ " . 9 9 ") " . 0 2 " " $ ) " " * 9* 1 . . 9* ? " . " 0 :. . 92 * 9 9" $ . " . 9$ 0 $ " :. ) .

? 9* 0 = 9 9" $ :" 9 $ " 9+ " :.= : ! $ 9" < D 9" . 9" . 9 . D = ? " 0 . . 0 $ " . 9 0 :. 0 0 . 0 9" . ) " 1 2 * . $ 9 . 0 . E :.

. .9 $ ) " "= 9* .

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