Free B0092XNA2Q EBOK by Charles Martin

Book: B0092XNA2Q EBOK by Charles Martin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charles Martin
    I didn’t even know her and yet she’d undressed me in a single sentence. She knew me better than I liked. I didn’t respond. Whilewhat she said was true, she was also trying to turn my screws and get a rise out of me.
    She thumbed at me. “Can he talk? What language does he speak?”
    I turned to her. “I speak English.”
    One hand on her hip. “It is alive.” She eyed me. “I thought you’d taken a vow of silence.”
    Steady explained. “He can talk. He has no intent to be rude. He simply chooses not to engage or initiate conversation, and avoids environments in which he might.”
    She looked at me, but spoke to Steady. “What’s his name again?”
    “Sort of a sucky name.” She bit her bottom lip.
    “He didn’t choose it.”
    “Still sucky.”
    She looked at me. “You’re strange.”
    Another bait. I didn’t bite.
    She spoke slowly. As if doing so would allow her to produce the intended reaction or control the outcome. “Do you know who I am?”
    Most in the civilized world knew her. “Yes.”
    “So, I know Steady. Steady knows me. Steady knows you. You know me. I don’t know you. Who are you, besides a hermit?”
    It was a good question. The answer was simple. “I am not the man I’d hoped to be.”
    My response was a speed bump. She rolled over it. “Which way would I go if I wanted to get myself out of here?”
    I pointed through the glass toward the mangroves. “Head twelve miles that way. You’d lose a few pints of blood to the mosquitoes, but there’s no need. I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”
    “Just like that?”
    “Just like that.”
    She eyed me for a moment, assessing. Then she stood, walked tothe galley, and grabbed both plates. She handed one to Steady then stood holding my breakfast on the other. She picked at the white, flaky fish, finally tasting it. She pushed it around her mouth, unable to hide her surprise. When the plate was empty, she set it down, and walked out on the deck with her mug. She climbed up on the foredeck and stood staring at the Ten Thousand Islands. Her arms crossed. A breeze tugged at her clothes, revealing the rope burn on her neck. Steady followed her and handed her a small tube of Neosporin. “Katie, if you’ll tell me what you need, what you want, how to help, I—we—will.”
    She glanced over her shoulder and down at the galley where she had last seen me. “I don’t like the way I treat people. I am… People deserve better.”
    She was a roller coaster. High highs, and low lows. Steady put his arm around her. “You can rest here. Take some time—”
    She looked cold. Her eyes fell to the water’s surface. Lost in a gaze. He lifted her chin. “Let’s don’t talk anymore today. Let’s just take it easy. You’re safe. No one knows you’re here except us.” She glanced at me. Steady looked at her neck. “This will heal.”
    She shook her head, staring out across the gulf. Tears were dripping off her face. She tried to speak and couldn’t. She was waging a battle against the rising tide of her emotions and the tide was turning. She was losing. Finally, the words exited in a whisper. “If regret is an ocean, then I’m drowning.”
    Steady led her to my cabin, where she spent the day sleeping. He, on the other hand, walked the perimeter of the boat, his beads in his hands, eyes on the horizon. I cleaned, spooled, and oiled some reels, replaced one of the live well pumps on the Pathfinder, and watched my cabin door out of the corner of my eye for the next eruption. Late in the afternoon, we fished a little—live shrimp on an eighth-of-an-ounce jig head. Toward dark, I swam the fifty yards to the beach, gathered driftwood, and built a bonfire. Steady followed in the dinghy and, at dark, we grilled a few trout and two reds, quietly watching the boat for any sign of life.
    None emerged.
    Steady had something on his mind. Kept watching me out of the corner of his eye. He usually chewed on whatever he

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