Today's Reading

"How long until you washed out of the police?" Evelyn asked.

"Less than a year."

"Never could follow orders."

"You're one to talk."

He said it lightly. Once upon a time, she would have taken it as the joke he intended. Instead, his words stung, bringing up the memory of his betrayal.

"I have to get back to my table," she said. He followed her gaze to where James sat.

"If it wasn't for that lipstick camera, I'd almost believe you were reformed," Nick said.

"The war taught me I do one thing very well."

"Oh," Nick said with a smile. "If memory serves, I can think of a few things you do very well."

It was the same smile that always gutted her. Secret, seductive, as if they were the only two people in the world. Once, it got her blood pumping just a little faster. Now it was salt in a wound that had never fully healed.

"What that sniper in Somme started, I'm happy to finish," she said, tapping his chest, where she knew a bullet tore his flesh.

Nick nodded toward James. At the table, a waitress set down two large rum cocktails. Adorning them were hunks of pineapple and maraschino cherries, held in place with paper umbrellas.

"That guy have any idea of your many talents?"

It was a question he no longer had the right to ask.

"Yes," Evelyn said.

The smile fell from Nick's face. He feared that answer, but never expected to receive it. Not that he should judge. Lord knows he had not lived as a monk these past few years. There was a difference, though, between women whose names he didn't remember and this man waiting for her at a brightly lit club. He probably woke to her smile and felt her breath on his chest as he fell asleep at night. The way Evelyn looked at him, it was clear he was more than just an evening's entertainment.

"You have changed," Nick said, nodding toward the fruity concoctions in front of James. "No one goes from liking good scotch to...whatever that is."

"That?" Evelyn replied. "That's my new life. The one you guaranteed when you betrayed me in London."

"I didn't betray you."

"Then what was it?"

Nick didn't answer.

"We're done here," Evelyn said.

Nick grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

"Let me go," she said. "Unless you're going to explain what the hell happened."

"Evie..." Nick started. "I'm gonna need those photos."

"What?" she asked, confused at the sudden turn of conversation.

He nodded toward her purse. "The photos of George Palmer."

"You're working security."

"Among other things," he said. "And you're a private investigator."

"Not quite the same as fighting Nazis, but it beats the hell out of the Junior League."

Evelyn opened up her bag and fished out the lipstick camera. She turned it over in her hand, contemplating it.

"If it weren't for these, would I even know you were in LA?"

"You made it pretty clear you didn't want to see me."

"You didn't even try."

"Evie, please."

Evelyn looked toward the camera in her hand; then she dropped it back into her purse.


"You're impossible," he said.

"At least some things haven't changed."

With that, Evelyn stepped out of the darkness into the blinding light of the main room. The music seemed louder, the dancers faster, and everything contained a slightly frenetic energy. Making her way through the crowd, she sat down across from James.

"You all right?" he asked. "You look as if you've seen a ghost."

"I did."

"Want to talk about it?"

Evelyn shook her head no, then took a tentative sip of the drink in front of her.

"Sweet Baby Jesus. What the hell is this?"

"Punishment for taking so long," James laughed.

"You're never picking the drinks again."

"Then don't ever leave me."

He reached across the table and took her hand. It was a reassuring gesture. One he did a thousand times without thinking about it. She tried to match his smile, but her eyes drifted back to the hallway. Nick was gone.

This excerpt ends on page 14 of the hardcover edition.

Monday, April 29th, we begin the book April May June July: A Novel by Alison B. Hart.

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