When we reached the door, King didn’t knock, just shoved it open and walked inside. For a split second, my heart skipped a beat because I thought that maybe he was robbing the place, but I quickly squashed that idea when I heard him call out, “Grace?”
Grace. I recognized the name from earlier.
I followed him into the house and closed the door behind me. When I turned back around, I came face to face with a thousand tiny eyes staring back at me. The small living room was covered with them. From the plant shelves to the buffet style table in the entryway to the coffee table and on top of the old TV, ceramic rabbits of all shapes and sizes were everywhere.
King didn’t pay them any attention as he strode through the living room to the sliding glass doors on the back of the eat-in kitchen where large stuffed rabbits occupied all six chairs of the table like they were about to enjoy a meal together.
I guess Grace likes rabbits.
“Out here!” shouted a high-pitched, yet scratchy voice.
King held the sliding glass doors open so I could pass, but he didn’t step aside. I had to brush against his chest to get through. In my attempt to touch him as little as possible, I stumbled outside onto a wooden deck where a little woman with pixie–style, gray hair sat in a plush navy blue deck chair. Her feet were resting on top of the table, crossed at the ankles. She drank out of a tall glass with light green liquid. A leaf floated on the top of the ice.
Instead of asking me who I was, she stood up and brought me in for a hug. She was easily in her seventies, and wore a denim-colored sweater, matching pants, and white orthopedic shoes.
“I’m Grace,” she said, pushing me far enough away that she could study my face, but keeping her hands on my elbows.
“Hi.” I wasn’t sure what the protocol was about introducing myself to her, but King solved that problem for me.
“This is Doe.”
“What an unusual name. What does it mean?”
I looked to King, and he nodded. “Doe as in Jane Doe,” I told her.
“Are your parents into true crime novels, or are they hippies who fried their brains on too much acid? Lots of them peculiar types around here. Although I’ve never met you before, so I don’t believe you’re from Logan’s Beach.”
“I’m not sure what my parents are into, ma’am.”
Grace looked at me quizzically and then over to King, who was still standing in the doorway. He shrugged.
“You’re letting all the bought air out over there,” Grace scolded King. “Come out here. Sit. Have a drink.”
Grace waved King over and tugged me to a chair. She poured us both a glass of the green liquid from the glass pitcher on the table.
“I hope you like mojitos!” she exclaimed, finishing her drink and pouring herself another.
I took a sip. The ice clinked against my front teeth. The drink was both sweet and bitter, but under the heat of the noon sun, it tasted heavenly.
Thankfully, my sunburn was fully healed, and I no longer needed to hide in the shade. Nor did I resemble a ripe tomato.
King took the seat next to me and across from Grace.
“What you got for me?” Grace asked King.
He laughed and shifted in his seat. He removed a small black plastic bag from his pocket and slid it across the table.
“Thank you, sweet boy,” Grace said, hugging the bag to her chest. She set it down on the table and turned to me. “So, how did you two kids meet? Tell me everything.”
“Um…” I had no idea how to answer her, so I started with the truth. As I spoke, it became like word vomit of epic proportions, and I couldn’t stop it from barreling out of my mouth. “Well Grace, we met on the night I decided to sell myself for a hot meal and a place to sleep. I was about to suck this guy’s dick when he realized I was being skittish about the whole thing and threw me out. Then, my friend, who was a hooker, stole some money from him. Then, she shot me, or grazed me, or whatever. Then, he found my only friend dead in a hotel room with a needle in her arm, but that was before I escaped. Then, he killed my would-be rapist and brought me back to his house for a bath and a conversation about how I was now his possession and didn’t have a choice about it.”
I stopped and looked up at Grace whose glass was paused mid-air.
King cleared his throat. “She came to my coming home party.” It was the truth, but he was leaving out all the cringe-worthy details I’d just laid out for her. Grace set her glass down and threw her head back in laughter.
“I don’t think you two could be any cuter together,” she said, ignoring everything I’d just told her. “I’m so glad you found someone, dear boy. I’d missed you so much while you were gone, and I prayed every single day that you would find someone who made you as happy as my Edmund made me.” Grace turned a small silver band on her ring finger.