IN THE STUDY
The door opens, interrupting my thoughts, and George enters with a tray. He sets it on a ledge and stands at attention, waiting for me to speak. I watch his eyes scan the desk and detect a small tremor around his lips when he spots Preface. Rising, I lift the cover from the tray to discover a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and an assortment of fruit. The sight and smell of food turns my stomach and I replace the cover, taking my seat at the desk once more.
"I need more coffee before breakfast."
"Best to eat something. You've been drinking too much alcohol and starting the morning with caffeine on an empty stomach will not help."
I begin to answer, but can manage no more than a sigh. "I want pancakes then, something to soak up the vodka."
"Very well. Do you wish me to take the tray?"
"Of course not, George. You know I will eat the bacon." His eyes flutter again over the desk, stopping to gaze at Preface. "What's on your mind, George?"
Clearing his throat, he places a hand on the edge of my desk and indicates the chair opposite me.
"Sit. No need for formality. You're the one that insists on all that. Just say what you need to without all the dramatics."
"I wonder why you've removed Preface to a Suicide from the library."
The song begins again while I ponder his question. Wind tickles branches against the window and I stare out into a cold Vegas morning, time ticking and ticking in my brain. I'm sure my purpose must be clear to him, but of course he will force me to speak it. Very well, my dear George.
"I intend to publish Preface. An editor will arrive at tea to peruse the manuscript."
I hear no response and turn to find him holding the book in his hands. "Are you ready for people to read this? Some secrets are better buried."
"I want people to know about our love story. The papers spread scandalous lies and I want to tell everyone the truth..."
"Be careful, Ella. Sometimes the truth is worse than the lie."
I sip my coffee and watch him take leave from the study. The wind rises and raps at the windows while the melancholy music brings tears to my eyes. I can do this. I can face this. I'm ready.