This chapter contains explicit content and discussion of suicide.
The ache in my bad hip and leg woke me some time after midnight. Noel was asleep; I kissed his cheek and slipped out of his arms, pulled on a bathrobe and got my tin of supplies from my bag, and made my slow, careful way down the spiral staircase.
We had put out the fire in the fireplace and closed the street-facing shutters, so that not even the street lights glimmered through the sills. I went out to the courtyard and curled myself into one of the teak lounge chairs under the lip of the roof, rolled the joint, and lit up.
Twenty minutes or so passed as I smoked and watched the rain. This late, the neighborhood was dark, all the lights off in the neighboring houses, the only sound the occasional passing car splashing down the street. Any music was too far away and faint to hear, but the rain made its own kind of harmony as it tapped on the stone pavers and potted plants.
No wonder Noel had thought of his house as an oasis. Close all the doors and shutters, and you wouldn’t know you had any neighbors, let alone that you were in a large and bustling city.
The back door opened and Noel looked out at me. “Is your hip bothering you?”
He disappeared for a moment, then came outside bearing a thick denim stadium blanket, lined with flannel. “Budge up.”
I moved over to make room for him. We wedged together in the chair and he tucked the blanket around us. I gave him the cigarette once he was settled, and he had a drag, exhaling with a deep sigh. I stroked his hair, loving the way the ends wanted to curl around my fingers.
I said softly, “You’re so beautiful,” and he huffed.
“You’re floating right now.”
I hummed in agreement. I was feeling pretty jolly, but that only made me affectionate. “I’ve always thought you were beautiful. The first time I saw you I had no idea who you were but I knew I wanted you.”
“And you drew me,” Noel said. “I remember.”