Damn him! How could he? Had he been lying to me all this time--months and months? Of course he had! The bastard. The total creep.
She wanted to think about Matt, about what had happened to separate them, but she wound up thinking of times they'd shared, mostly good times.
Begrudgingly, she had to admit that she had always been able to talk to him freely and easily about anything. She could talk to Matt the way she talked to her women friends. Even her girlfriends, who could be catty and generally had terrible luck with men, liked Matt. So what happened between us? That's what she desperately wanted to know.
He was thoughtful--at least he had been. Her birthday was in June, and he had sent her a single rose every day of what he called "your birthday month." He always seemed to notice whether he'd seen her in a certain blouse or sweater before, her shoes, her moods--the good, the bad, and occasionally the stressed-out ugly.
He liked a lot of the same things Katie did, or so he said. Ally McBeal, The Practice, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Dinner, then drinks at the bar at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. Waterloo in the West Village; Coup in the East; Bubby's on Hudson Street. Foreign movies at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema. Vintage black-and-white photos, oil paintings that they found at flea markets. Trips to NoLita (North of Little Italy) and Williamsburg (the new SoHo).
He went to church with her on Sundays, where she taught a Bible class of preschoolers. They both treasured Sunday afternoons at her apartment--with Katie reading the Times from cover to cover, and Matt revising his poems, which he spread out on her bed and on the bedroom floor and even on the butcher-block kitchen table.
Tracy Chapman or Macy Gray, maybe Sarah Vaughan, would be playing softly in the background. Delicious. Perfect in every way.
He made her feel at peace with herself, completed her circle, did something that was good and right. No one else had ever made her feel that way before. Completely, blissfully at peace.
What could beat being in love with Matt?
Nothing that Katie knew of.
One night they had stopped at a little juke bar on Avenue A. They danced, and Matt sang "All Shook Up" in her ear, doing a funny but improbably good Elvis impersonation. Then Matt did an even better Al Green, which completely blew her away.
She had wanted to be with him all the time. Corny, but true.
When he was away on Martha's Vineyard, where he lived and worked, they would talk for hours every night on the phone--or send each other funny e-mails. They called it their "long-distance love affair." He had always stopped Katie from actually visiting him on the Vineyard, though. Maybe that should have been her early-warning signal?
Somehow, it had worked--for eleven glorious months that seemed to go by in an instant. Katie had expected him to propose soon. She was sure of it. She had even told her mother. But, of course, she had been so wrong that it was pathetic. She felt like a fool--and she hated herself for it.
How could she have been so stupefyingly wrong about him? About everything? It wasn't like her to be this out of touch with her instincts. They were usually good; she was smart; she didn't do really dumb things.
Until now. And, boy, had she made a doozy of a mistake this time.
Katie suddenly realized that she was sobbing and that everyone around her on the deck of the boat was staring at her.
"I'm sorry," she said, and motioned for them to please look away. She blushed. She was embarrassed and felt like such an idiot. "I'm okay."
But she wasn't okay.
Katie had never been so hurt in her life. Nothing came close to this. She had lost the only man she had ever loved; God, how she loved Matt.
Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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