in the library
He peppers me with questions about Ray, but can this boy handle the truth? Opening my eyes, I remove a thin volume from the row of books in front of me. Preface to a Suicide. I can't look at the book without feeling emotion, a single tear collecting in the corner of my eye. Sipping the martini, I allow the tear to fall down my cheek without bothering to wipe it from my face.
Placing my drink on the square end table made of marble, I open the book and read the words of the first page.
Dedicated to Ella Thomas, with love.
"And I will always mean it. All of my love, Ella," I hear Ray speak, his voice close enough to feel against the back of my neck. Shutting my eyes again, his arms envelop my waist and pull me against his body. Warm lips touch my skin and I drop the book onto the table next to my martini. Ray spins me into a tight embrace and suddenly we dance to silent music, a slow waltz. Letting him lead me, my heels click while he turns me round the floor.
A laugh escapes my lips and the rare emotion I recognize as happiness bubbles in my veins. "My love."
Hands grip my hair and pull my mouth to meet his, a warm tender kiss stops our dancing. He tastes of cigar and vanilla and for a moment, my mind swims with pleasure. My heels lift off the floor and I'm in his arms, giggling while he twirls me and sings a nonsense ballad I do not recognize.
Something, something those something nights
And the stars, and the cars, and the bars and the barmen--
And, O my charmin’, our dreadful fights.
And the something town where so gaily, arm in
Arm, we went, and our final row
And the gun I killed you with, O my Carmen
The gun I am holding now
"All the days of my life," he says. Pulling me close again his lips find mine, with more urgency, hands pulling at my dress. I melt into his ferocity and yield to it, happy to be in his arms.
The moment stops in time and our passion transcends the place of this library in Vegas and stretches through the years back to Uxbridge where we first met. I remember his Firebird and driving on the highway going south to see his father. Those images flicker and a voice pulls me from my reverie.
"Ella. Are you okay, Ella?" I hear George's voice from the entrance to the library. "Do you want me to make you another martini?
"Yes, George. Please," I say. My voice fails and again more tears on my cheek as I rub my fingers over the cover of Preface to a Suicide.