Monday, July 25, 2011

Chapter 23: In which a tornado puts everything into perspective.

They walked up to the truck, which was parked in front of Seven West, in a tow-away zone. “Want to get a coffee in here?” asked Eoin, indicating the restaurant behind them.

“What about your truck?”

“Ah, let them tow it. I’ve never been to an impound lot before. It could be an adventure.” He took her hand and let her up the stairs.

The restaurant was in a tall, dark house. Eoin and Katie walked all the way to the top floor; the walls had been pulled down and the spaces were open, with cozy tables and mismatched chairs spread throughout. “Let’s sit by the window,” said Katie, eyeing an old velvet sofa. It was one of the only empty spots in the room, which was otherwise filled with tall, lanky men in plaid shirts and dark jeans and their short, pale girlfriends who, for the most part, sported messy updos and tired, sad eyes.

Katie realized she was with her own tall, lanky man in plaid, and she was pretty sure she also had tired, sad eyes. And she was in black ballet flats. She’d become a hipster without even trying.

“I’ll have a latte,” she ordered from the young woman who approached their table. “And a cookie, or something.”

“Oh....” said the girl, pushing her over-sized glasses up her pert, pale nose. “Sorry, I’m not...I don’t work here.”

“You don’t?”

“No, I’m just …. Are you Eoin Verdon?”

“Yeah,” Eoin answered, blushing.

“I thought so. We studied an installation of yours last year in my art class. It was amazing.” The girl smiled sweetly. “I’ve always hoped to meet you.”

Katie watched Eoin watching this girl. She tried to feel jealous, but she didn’t. She felt proud. She thought this was a good sign. Wait, no. She did feel a bit jealous. But not of this girl. Of Eoin.

Running that new, curious information around in her head, she turned to look out the window. The sky was a strange shade of greenish grey. The air was so hot, the clouds were thick and heavy. It was going to rain....Dammit. Her basement would flood again. Poor walls couldn’t take this anymore. They’d start to dissolve any day now, the concrete turning to sand, the sand slipping down, giving way, her house collapsing....And then it was raining, heavy, hard rain drops pelting sideways against the glass. The wind picked up, tree branches lashed against the window.

“This looks bad,” Katie turned back to Eoin, just as he was standing up and someone ran into the room with a wild-eyed look, his hipster hair even more unkempt. “You’ve got to come downstairs. There’s a tornado warning.”

“In the city?” Katie and the girl both said at the same time, and Katie nearly said,  “You owe me a beer,” but then realized this might not be the best time for such shenanigans. She was just so terrified, all of a sudden. The green sky and the rain and everything.

Eoin grabbed her hand and they followed the rest of the hipsters towards the stairs. No one was being too nonchalant now, though Katie did notice that a number of them were cradling their lattes as though they were relics.

“How can there be a tornado in the city?” Eoin asked. “I thought those were country things. The Wizard of Oz, and all that?”

“It’s really rare, but it’s happened.” Katie nearly lost her footing on the steep, winding stairs. Damn Toronto and its repurposed houses.

“It’s only a warning!” the art student’s voice was wavering behind Katie. “It’s only a warning!”

The group crammed into the basement, a rather oppressive room with very little light. Katie pulled Eoin over to a space beside the stairs, and they settled themselves down on the floor. “I guess my truck can’t get towed when the weather’s like this,” he grinned.

“Well, it might get towed by nature,” Katie smiled. “That would be a pretty good story, too.” She leaned her head against his shoulder, looking for a comfortable position. “Do you have tornadoes in Ireland?”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve never been in one, though. Have you?”

“Only once. “ Katie’s voice was low, nearly whispering. All around the basement there was a hushed apprehension; everyone was waiting for something to happen. “I was in grade three. And Anne was in grade eight. And they sent us home from school early, because of the warning.”

“They didn’t keep you there?”

“No, this was the eighties. I think children’s lives were worth less then. Or they trusted children more. Anyway, they sent us home. Anne and I walked, we fought our way home against crazy strong wind.” Somewhere across the room a radio crackled on. Katie thought maybe they could pretend they were waiting out a bomb attack in the subway during the Blitz.  “Our parents weren’t around, but Anne was great. She gathered up snacks, and water, and blankets, and she made us a little hideout in the basement. And we waited there until our parents came home. She read me stories, we drew pictures.” Eoin held Katie close, pulled her in to him. “I miss my sister,” she said, her voice extra quiet so the hipsters couldn’t hear.

“We’re going to find her,” he murmured into her hair, and she shook her head.

“You keep saying that, Eoin. But what if we don’t?” She took a deep breath. “What if we do, but by the time we find her its too late?”

“Too late for what?”

“For everything. She’ll be too sick, or she’ll be....What if she dies? What if she’s never coming back? It’s the not knowing that’s killing me. I have no power, Eoin. ”

“Sure you do. Look how far we got in only a few hours today. We know she smokes. We know she got banned from that 7-Eleven and we know she’s hanging out with a long-haired criminal. That’s power.”

Under any other circumstances that list of details would be a very bad list. But Eoin was right: they had more today than they had yesterday. And yet.

“Where does it get us? Where do we go from here? I can’t control any of this.“

“Sure you can. You control what you do next. Have faith in your sister. She’s obviously a survivor.”

“Yeah. But … what if she comes back and I’m still....a mess? I’m a mess, Eoin. I’m nothing like what I was supposed to be. And she always believed in me. What if she comes back and we’re not sisters anymore? What if she doesn’t want me?” Kate was feeling hysterical. This was so not the way to behave on a second date.

“What are you talking about?”

Katie reached into her bag and pulled out the note Anne had left her. It was dark, but you could still make out the words “You were going to be fantastic” in spite of the dim basement.

“Anne left me this. A couple of weeks ago. And she’s right. I was going to be fantastic. I was going to be amazing. And now I’m just...and if I were better, maybe she’d come back.” The words were crazy. The idea was crazy. But that’s just it: stuck here in this terrible, cramped basement, the city overhead being torn apart by a tornado, Katie felt crazy.

“Oh, Katie.” Eoin’s face was kind, so kind. He smiled at her. “You are fantastic.”

“All clear!”  a voice called out from across the basement. “CBC says we’re okay to venture outside. The threat is over.”

A sigh of relief passed through the crowd. Katie and Eoin got to their feet, and followed the rest of the crowd up the creaking stairs.

They got out to the sidewalk, the once-violent rain now trickling into a soft summer shower. The sky was blue again amidst the clouds. You’d never know that only moments before they’d been down there, in the dark, cowering in fear, losing their minds. (Well, okay, maybe not “their” minds. Maybe just Katie’d been doing that.)

“Shoot,” Eoin looked around himself. “I forgot my bag. Back in just a sec.” He kissed Katie quickly and bounded back up the stairs to the restaurant, nearly knocking over a guy in a ripped-up hoodie and a scruffy beard. He was decidedly not a hipster. “Woah, watch it, man”.

The scruffy-beard guy stared up into the slowly clearing sky. “Weather’s one PMS-y bitch,” he murmured, and nodded over at Katie. “Were you stuffed into that basement, too?”


“I was out here putting up posters when the storm hit. Good thing I’d only started otherwise I’d be having to redo all my work.” He pulled a poster out of a satchel, and stapled it to the telephone pole.

“Hey, can I borrow that for a second?” Katie reached for the staple gun, and with four quick punches You were going to be fantastic was stapled between an add for belly dancing class and a poster for an upcoming Rob Zombie show.

She stood back to admire her work. But something seemed off. “Do you have a pen?” She asked the poster boy. He handed her a black Sharpie. Katie carefully crossed out “were” and with the tidiest printing she could manage, carefully wrote in “are”.

Eoin appeared at her side, and raised an eyebrow.

“I have to reach her somehow.”  Katie took his hand. An idea was beginning to form.

You Decide!

When Katie gets home, there is an email in her inbox.

It’s from Nora inviting her to Melissa’s 34th birthday party!
It’s from ex-boyfriend Bobby, telling her that he’s coming to town next week for business and he’d like to meet up!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Give Away Winner!

Thanks so much to Cherie, Annabelle, Keri, Nina, and the Anonymous Puppet Master who all participated in the Give Away for The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

And the winner is ... Annabelle!!

I ended up writing everyone's name on little slips of paper, mixing them all up, and tossing them onto my couch. I was as fair as anyone could me. Honest.

Thanks so much to the rest of you. I really appreciate your support of the site. I have some other books that I've won on their way to me so I'll be sure to have another give away soon!

Cherie: I'm glad that summer will always be a time of love and happiness for you. Hooray for summer love!

Annabelle: Your story is super. I especially like the idea of the kid in a suit.

Nina: I hope this summer it's your turn for a lasting romance! Perhaps someone will fall in love with little Nina and seek out the adult version?

Teehee, Keri. Something tells me that Katie still knows that boy with the trombone....

Puppet Master! You should get your own blog. That was lovely! But then, we already discussed this over cheese toast....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 22: In which Katie and Eoin come closer to finding Anne

Katie knew Eoin believed that they would find Anne somewhere out there, but she wondered, with all that space, and all those lights, and all that darkness that could hide a person, if Anne would ever be found at all.

Eoin’s heartbeat was steady against her back. Katie closed her eyes against the city and allowed herself to feel hope.

The next morning Katie woke up feeling complicated. She and Eoin had left everything kind of vague; he’d walked her to the streetcar stop and they hadn’t kissed goodbye, they’d just stood together under the streetlights in a quiet, calm silence, but they hadn’t made any plans, there had been no talk about tomorrow, or the weekend, or any sort of future. And now, lying in her room, she could remember his hands in her hair and his mouth on hers and she felt an excitement, and a happiness, but it was all mixed up with Anne. And that soured the sweetness, just a little.

Katie leaned over to her bedside table and looked at her phone.  Eoin had sent a text message last night.  Katie. I had a great time. And I’m glad my art project has brought you closer to your sister. Talk soon. She’d read it a million times, but she hadn’t replied yet. She wasn’t sure what it meant.

Had the art project brought her closer to Anne? Maybe that’s how it felt to him. But to Katie, in the light of this early June morning, it felt like maybe it was making her realize how far away Anne really was.

Eoin’s optimism about Anne was charming but he didn’t really know her, or Katie,  or the story, not really--he knew the bare bones of the narrative, but he was missing the feelings, the context, the living of it. Katie suspected that sharing in this charming optimism could be dangerous. Or it could be what she and her family needed to bring Anne back to them. Either way this whole thing with Eoin was definitely far messier than a new relationship should be. Katie pulled her sheet up over her head and tried not to wake up quite so fast.

By the time she climbed onto the streetcar she was already running 15 minutes behind. She was all confused, tired, and the early summer heat wave wasn't helping. Temperatures had risen dramatically, and the humidity was awful. It wasn’t even 9am and already the sweat was gathering at her hairline, and pooling in the small of her back. She reached into her bag, one she’d hastily grabbed on her way out the door, feeling around for a Kleenex to dab at her dampening skin. Instead she pulled up something else entirely: the note from her sister, written on creamy paper from her office building. You were going to be fantastic, it said, in her sister’s once-tidy cursive writing.

It had been crumpled at the bottom of her bag all this time. Katie felt a surge. The past tense of her sister’s statement clawed at her heart.

She reached for her phone and found Eoin’s message from the night before. Me too, she wrote, and she hoped he knew that she was agreeing with all that he’d said, terrifying as it all might be.

Katie slid into her desk at 20 after 9. “I’ll take a shorter lunch,” she apologized to Paul, Mike, and Erica, who were all seated at their desks when she got there.

“As long as you let us come in late too, we don’t care what you get up to,” Paul told her, and Erica shushed him from across the workspace. “Well, it’s not like she’s our ‘Boss’ boss,” Paul shrugged, and Katie knew these were the types of insubordinate attitudes that Katherine should be squashing. But Katie didn’t care. She had other things to worry about.

Her only clue to Anne’s whereabouts was the possibility that she had been standing in front of a 7-Eleven when she took that photo for Eoin’s project. According to Canada411 there were 26 7-Elevens in Toronto. She began going through the list, looking for the most likely locations where she might find her sister. She’d start with central Toronto first.

Katie opened up Excel and began creating a spreadsheet of shops she should visit. She decided to create a corresponding map, too.

She was hard at work when she heard a voice beside her. “Katie?” Mike was standing at her elbow. “Sorry to interrupt.” Katie felt herself blushing, and quickly minimized the documents.  

“Oh, no worries.” Katie smiled at him brightly. “What’s up?” She saw that Mike was glancing at the screen from where the documents had disappeared.

“Oh, I just wanted to make sure it was cool I left a bit early for lunch today. ” Mike stared again at her computer screen.

“Sure.” Katie agreed, knowing, as did the rest of her staff, that she had no leg to stand on when it came to keeping proper office time, as was evidenced this morning.

“Um...” Mike looked around, and then leaned in, asking quietly, “You’re working on the Hilltop project, aren't you?”

“The what?”

“The Hilltop project. I heard that the meeting last night didn't go well. Melissa must be devastated. So she’s got you on it, trying to fix things?”

Katie glanced across the room. Melissa wasn’t at her desk. She remembered how flustered, anxious, Melissa had been last night. So she’d been on her way to a big meeting. Katie had never felt so out of the loop, Melissa-wise.

“Yeah....” Katie smiled that bright smile again.  “Yeah, she’s asked me to help her revise stuff. But listen, it’s totally secret, right? You never saw this. Not even Paul can know, okay?” She lowered her voice conspiratorially at Mike.

“What are you doing?” he whispered back, pointing at his eye.

“Winking,” whispered Katie. “Can’t you tell?”

“Not really. You look like you have a wayward contact,” he patted her on the shoulder and went back to his desk.

By the time lunch rolled around, Katie was printing out the map and the spreadsheet of all the most likely 7-Elevens in the city. She found her phone and texted Eoin. “R u busy tonight? I have a plan. Need your truck. And need your belief.”

Eoin was waiting for her at the end of the day, his big rusty pickup rattling in front of the glass and chrome building. She didn’t know if she should hug him, kiss him, or high-five him, but his car was a standard and he was too busy shifting gears to engage in any contact, so she was off the hook, greeting-wise.

“So you need my belief, hey?” Eoin shouted over the wind rushing through the windows. They’d unrolled them as there was no air conditioning, and Katie’s hair was blowing everywhere.


“That text message. You said you needed my truck and my belief”.

“Oh, right.” Katie felt slightly embarrassed. That was such a dramatic thing to text. “I guess I”m just a bit skeptical that this is going to work.” She rolled her window up; the air blowing across her face had been hot, humid, not at all comfortable.

“But--” Eoin shouted, not realizing that the rolled-up window negated his need to yell."Sorry." His voice was normal-level again. "
Doing this was your idea."

“I know. But it’s just that I don't want us to fail.”

"Who said we’re going to fail?" He reached across the seat and put his hand on her knee. Which he left there until he had to shift into 4th, but she could feel his fingers for the rest of the ride.

They struck out at the first two places. The first 7-Eleven said they would never sell to “those kinds of people”, which Katie assumed either meant they didn’t sell to white people, women, alcoholics, the homeless, or any combination of the above.  At the second place a very sensitive and patient older woman with very little English but a warm heart promised to keep an eye out for “su hermanita”, which Katie hoped meant “your sister” and not something unsavory.

The third 7-Eleven was right downtown, on Yonge Street. Eoin had a bit of trouble finding a spot on the busy street for the truck so he let Katie out first. “I’ll drive around until I find parking,” he said. There's that optimism again, Katie thought, staring at the giant pickup truck and the tiny downtown-Toronto parking spaces.

The bell at the top of the 7-Eleven door pinged, indicating her arrival. The shop was empty except for the cashier, a young woman with long dyed black hair and a lot of facial piercings. Katie approached her. The pierced girl barely looked up. “Hi....” Katie started, and the clerk asked, “King-sized or regular?”


The girl reached under the counter and pulled up a pack of Dumaurier cigarettes.

“I’m not here for cigarettes.”

“You’re not?” The girl finally looked at her, really looked at her and shook her head. “Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

“Really?” Katie held up the iPad which Eoin had brought along and showed the girl Anne’s picture. “Did you think I was this person?”

“Yeah. Her." The piercing girl sounded surprised. "Are you related, or something?”

“She’s my sister,” said Katie, breathless, and the door bell pinged again. She spun around, wondering if it were Anne. Because wouldn't that just be amazing? Instead Eoin loped in, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry -- it took a while to find a spot.”

“She knows her. She’s seen Anne. She sells her cigarettes.” Katie didn’t even realize Anne was smoking again. Katie thought she hadn't smoked since that summer she was 16 and smoked to impress the bad boys who'd moved in three houses down from theirs. She'd quit because she knew it would ultimately kill her, the irony of course was that now smoking might just save her life.

“That’s terrific,” Eoin grinned widely at their facially-pierced guardian angel.  

“I didn’t say that,” she said, frowning. “I said I sold her cigarettes. Past tense. She hasn’t been in in a long time.” Face-piercing girl was rapidly losing her angelic status.

“What do you mean?” Katie gripped the counter in front of her.

“I mean, she used to come in a lot, maybe 3, 4 months ago. With this guy. Long hair, with a jean jacket? Anyway, I caught him stealing one too many times, and he got banned. Haven't seen either one since.”

Katie sagged a little, hanging on to the counter, and the cashier smiled at her kindly. “Sorry. She’s missing?”

Katie nodded, and felt Eoin’s hand on her elbow, steadying her. “If you do happen to see her again, please leave her this?” Eoin handed over one of Katie’s business cards. “Thanks for your help.” He led Katie out of the shop.

“Goddammit!” Katie yelled, and kicked the side of the building, (realizing as she did so that no passersby even noticed. Such was life on Yonge Street.)

“Yes, goddammit is right.” Eoin kicked the building with his black Converse-sneakered foot. “Now let’s go take a break.”

They walked up to the truck, which was parked in front of Seven West, in a tow-away zone. “Want to get a coffee in here?” asked Eoin, indicating the restaurant behind them.

“What about your truck?”

“Ah, let them tow it. I’ve never been to an impound lot before. It could be an adventure.” He took her hand and let her up the stairs. 

You Decide! 
A tornado warning traps them inside the coffee shop 
After they have their drink, Eoin's truck has been towed

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Most Frugal Novel In The World

Hey! I wrote a post over at The Year of Shopping Detox!

Read it while we wait for Katie to decide what to do: shop for art supplies or visit the 7-11?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Give Away #2!

I recently won  The Lost Summer Of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees from the fine folks at The Debutant Ball.

This book is seriously good. And it could be yours!

Louisa May Alcott is one of the world's most beloved children's authors, but the truth is she never really wanted to write nice books for children. She wanted to write literary fiction for adults, serious stories for serious readers. She wanted to write about passion, betrayal, independence, injustice, intrigue.... But Little Women sold a lot of copies, and her family needed the cash. So Louisa set aside the stuff she truly loved and wrote the stuff that the world truly wanted.

Louisa was notorious for burning correspondance, evading biographers, and keeping quiet about herself (something tells me LMA would not have been much of a Tweeter). So no one knew much about her love life. But Kelly O'Connor McNees wondered: how could LMA write realistic love stories if she'd never been in love herself?

McNees discovered that there is very little known about the summer when Louisa was 22, just before she movee to Boston to begin her writing career. McNees got to thinking -- maybe that was the summer Louisa fell in love?

The Lost Summer Of Louisa May Alcott does a great job of imagining this romance. It's a lovely, well-written, and exciting novel. And it could be yours!

Leave a comment and I'll randomly select a winner!

Tell me about a bittersweet summer romance of yours,


Tell me how old you think Katie was when she had her first romance. Be as detailed as you'd like in helping me to flesh out my (our) protagonist's romantic history!

I will announce the winner on July 22nd!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chapter 21: In which Katie and Eoin sit on a fire escape and fall in love a little bit.

And then a familiar voice, disembodied, "Don't you ever call me again, not unless you've got weed," filled the room. 

Eoin laughed, his mouth still against hers. "You must have activated it, let me take that from you," and he pulled the iPad from her hands, but not before she'd seen, on the screen, a blurry photo of her sister. And under that the words: Anne. Location unknown.

Eoin bent down towards her, to kiss her again. Katie pressed her hands against his chest, and pushed him off. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. “No,” she said, and her hands reached for the iPad. “Let me see that."

She stared at the iPad. The screen was blank. She shook it, she raced her fingers across it. “Katie?” Eoin put a hand on her shoulder. She jerked away and started pacing in front of the giant map, holding up the iPad, aiming it at various twinkly lights. “Katie?” Eoin’s voice again. “What’s going on?”

“How do you get it to work? Why won’t it come on?” Katie’s voice shook. There were tears in her eyes. “Eoin. You need to help.” Her blood was humming with a high-pitched anxiety. She handed the iPad to Eoin, roughly. “Find her again. Please. Find Anne.”

“What? Who’s Anne?” He looked so worried. Katie realized he might be a bit confused -- after all, she’d had a pretty significant personality switch in a very short time. She took a deep breath, and then hovered, hesitated, on the edge of speaking. She wondered if maybe she should keep this a secret; she knew telling Eoin about Anne would ruin the mood, shake things up here in a way that might make it impossible to get back to where they’d been. But keeping Anne a secret would mean she was ashamed of Anne, and she wasn’t. She exhaled and spoke.

“Anne is my sister. And she’s in your project.” Katie pointed towards the blinking lights. “She’s in there somewhere.”

“Anne -- the one who came up accidentally when we where....” He didn’t say it. Somehow the universe in which they were kissing was so far away from the place where they stood now. Eoin came towards her. “Are you okay?”

Katie remembered her sister’s voice, harsh, laughing. Asking about weed. Is that who Anne was now? Is that who she’d always been? Katie didn’t know this sister anymore. “I need to find her.” She was pleading now. The map on the wall was so vast, and there were dozens of lights blinking against the dark room. Location Unknown. Anne could be anywhere. “Eoin, find her again.”

“I don’t know which light is hers,” Eoin said. “Sorry. She wouldn’t tell me. She was a little....”

“Spacey? Vague? Sketched out?”

“Yeah ... I guess. She was a bit off, sure. She wouldn’t tell me where she was, so I couldn’t chart her. So I just stuck her in the middle.” He gestured towards the centre of the map, where a cluster of lights shone.

“Please, Eoin, just bring her up.”  Katie could feel her impatience with this man rising with every single second.

“Okay...” Eoin aimed the iPad at the lights.  A teenaged boy appeared on the screen. Eoin frowned apologetically. “It’s not an exact science yet. I have to talk to my tech guy....” An older lady appeared on the screen. Katie bounced on her toes. 

“So why do you want to find her so badly anyway?” Eoin glanced over at her.  “Didn’t you realize she was a part of this? I mean, didn’t you guys tell each other about how you answered a stranger’s phone? .... Oh, okay. Here she is.”

Katie snatched the iPad from his hands. There was a close up of Anne, just a view of her face, angled sideways at the screen. She wasn’t smiling at the camera, but she wasn’t frowning or angry. Just looking serious. Her hair was long, loose, blowing around her face. It must have been a windy day. “What’s that in the background?” Katie thought she could see the name of a shop behind her but it was too blurry. “Can we get some lights on in here?” It looked like a 7-Eleven.

“Sure. Okay. But only if you tell me what’s going on.” Eoin put on hand on her shoulder, and with the other he tilted her face up towards his. “Please, Katie. I’m confused.” His eyes were so kind.

Katie pulled the iPad with the picture of her sister to her chest. “Can we get out of here?” She turned her back on the vast, blinking map. Location Unknown.

                                                         *          *         *          *

“And you have no idea where she’s been living?” Eoin passed Katie the can of Harp lager. She took a long swig, and stared out at the city. They were sitting on the fire escape of Eoin’s building, lights and sounds of Toronto floating up through the darkness. It was as though Eoin’s map project had come alive beneath them, 6 stories below.

“For a while, for about a year, we knew where she was most of the time -- she was still in contact with Jason, her husband. She stayed with some old supportive friends, but for the past six months or so she’s been essentially MIA. It’s really scary.” Katie shivered against the chill in the night air, and Eoin pulled her against him in a hug. She allowed herself to take comfort there for a moment, and then pulled away, put her hands on the cold metal railings and looked down towards the city.  “I worry about her. And my parents have given up. And Jason .... I don’t know how long he’ll put up with this, either. What she’s doing to her kid .... Everyone has lost patience with her.”

“But you haven’t.” Eoin took the beer back from her, took a sip.

“No. Because I’m her sister.”

“The two of you must have quite the bond. I’ve got four brothers and I never speak with them. In fact, for all they know I could be sleeping in the streets myself and they’d not have any clue.”

“She was always there for me. She was … when everyone thought art school was a terrible idea, she encouraged me. She used to buy me paint, and canvas, and she even helped me to organize my first art show when I was a student. She got her company’s head office to buy one of my paintings for their lobby in Calgary.” Katie smiled at the memory of her sister insisting the visiting businessmen take home an original Katie Christensen because it would be worth millions one day. Katie had stopped by the office to meet her sister for lunch in her paint-spattered overalls and Converse sneakers, carrying a piece she was bringing home from her studio to store at her parents’ place, and her sister had been proud, defiant, compelling. Katie had sold her first painting for $200 to a man who was swayed not by her bold use of line and colour, but because Anne was a terrific salesperson who believed in her product.

“You’re an artist?” Eoin poked her in the arm. “I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, I’m not really one anymore. I was and then....” The story was so long. And she was so tired, the beer, the excitement of finding Anne, Eoin’s kisses, the fact of Eoin himself, pressed close to her on this too-small fire escape. Katie sighed. “I just haven’t been up to art lately. But I was going to do it. Be an artist. And Anne believed in me. But then then I moved away.  And then she got … sick. And now....” She turned to look at him. God, he was a good listener.  “Sorry. This isn’t much of a first date. I mean, I’m laying a lot on you.”

“Yeah,” Eoin pulled her closer to him, turned her so they were facing each other. “This is much more like 3rd date material.” He smoothed his hand over her head, with a firm, warm palm. It was soothing and sexy at the same time. He cupped the back of her neck gently, his fingers tangling up in her hair. “Don’t worry, Katie. We’re going to find her.”

His words were so strong, so definite. He really meant them. Katie leaned forward and kissed him once. “Thanks, Eoin,” she said, and settled into him, her back against his chest. They finished the beer in silence, passing it back and forth. Katie knew Eoin believed that they would find Anne somewhere out there, but she wondered, with all that space, and all those lights, and all that darkness that could hide a person, if Anne would ever be found at all.

Eoin’s heartbeat was steady against her back. Katie closed her eyes against the city and allowed herself to feel hope.

You Decide!

Katie goes shopping for art supplies because she suddenly (finally!) feels a creative impulse! 


Katie tries to track down the 7-Eleven where Anne picked up Eoin's phone!

Also -- does she do this thing alone, or does Eoin come with her?

Two choices to be made this time, friends!