Next to what I see at work, we're talking Ozzie and Harriet.
"No prob," I said. "I want to see the new Disney film anyway."
"The new Disney chick is a babe and a half," Shauna said. "Their hottest since Pocahontas."
"Good to know," I said. "So where are you and Linda going?"
"Beats the hell out of me. Now that lesbians are chic, our social calendar is ridiculous. I almost long for the days when we hid in closets."
I ordered a beer. Probably shouldn't have, but one wouldn't hurt.
Shauna ordered one too. "So you broke up with what's-her-name," she said.
"Right. Nice name, by the way. She have a sister named Whiskey?"
"We only went out twice."
"Good. She was a skinny witch. Besides, I got someone perfect for you."
"No, thanks," I said.
"She's got a killer bod."
"Don't set me up, Shauna. Please."
"Remember the last time you set me up?"
"So what was wrong with her?"
"For one thing, she was a lesbian."
"Christ, Beck, you're such a bigot."
Her cell phone rang. She leaned back and answered it, but her eyes never left my face. She barked something and flipped the mouthpiece up. "I have to go," she said.
I signaled for the check.
"You're coming over tomorrow night," she pronounced.
I feigned a gasp. "The lesbians have no plans?"
"I don't. Your sister does. She's going stag to the big Brandon Scope formal."
"You're not going with her?"
"We don't want to leave Mark without us two nights in a row. Linda has to go. She's running the trust now. Me, I'm taking the night off. So come over tomorrow night, okay? I'll order in, we'll watch videos with Mark."
Tomorrow was the anniversary. Had Elizabeth lived, we'd be scratching our twenty-first line in that tree. Strange as this might sound, tomorrow would not be a particularly hard day for me. For anniversaries or holidays or Elizabeth's birthday, I get so geared up that I usually handle them with no problems. It's the "regular" days that are hard. When I flip with the remote and stumble across a classic episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Cheers. When I walk through a bookstore and see a new title by Alice Hoffman or Anne Tyler. When I listen to the O'Jays or the Four Tops or Nina Simone. Regular stuff.
"I told Elizabeth's mother I'd stop by," I said.
"Ah, Beck..." She was about to argue but caught herself. "How about after?"
"Sure," I said.
Shauna grabbed my arm. "You're disappearing again, Beck."
I didn't reply.
"I love you, you know. I mean, if you had any sort of sexual appeal whatsoever, I probably would have gone for you instead of your sister."
"I'm flattered," I said. "Really."
"Don't shut me out. If you shut me out, you shut everyone out. Talk to me, okay?"
"Okay," I said. But I can't.
I almost erased the email.
I get so much junk email, spam, bulk emails, you know the drill, I've become quite handy with the delete button. I read the sender's address first. If it's someone I know or from the hospital, fine. If not, I enthusiastically click the delete button.
I sat at my desk and checked the afternoon schedule. Chock-full, which was no surprise. I spun around in my chair and readied my delete finger. One email only. The one that made Homer shriek before. I did the quick scan, and my eyes got snagged on the first two letters of the subject.
The way the window screen was formatted, all I could see were those two letters and the sender's email address. The address was unfamiliar to me. A bunch of numbers @comparama.com.
Excerpted from Tell No One by Harlan Coben Copyright 2001 by Harlan Coben. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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