Wonders if they are like magnets, she and Luc.

If they have circled each other for so long that now they share an orbit.

It will become a hobby of his, these kinds of clubs. He will plant them in a dozen cities, tend them like gardens, and grow them wild.

As plentiful as churches, he will say, and twice as popular.

And long after the days of Prohibition, they will still flourish, catering to many tastes, and she will wonder if it is the energy that stokes him, or if they are a grooming ground for souls. A place to ply, and pry, and promise. And in a way, a place to pray, albeit a different kind of worship.

“So you see,” says Luc, “perhaps I win.”

Addie shakes her head. “It is only chance,” she says. “I did not call.”

He smiles, gaze falling to the ring against her skin. “I know your heart. I felt it falter.”

“But I didn’t.”

“No,” he says, the word nothing but a breath. “But I was tired of waiting.”

“So you missed me,” she says with a smile, and there is the briefest glimpse in those green eyes. A fracture of light.

“Life is long, and humans boring. You are better company.”

“You forget that I am human.”

“Adeline,” he says, a shade of pity in his voice. “You have not been human since the night we met. You will never be human again.”

Heat flushes through her at the words. No longer pleasant warmth, but anger.

“I am still human,” she says, voice tightening around the words as if they were her name.

“You move among them like a ghost,” he says, his forehead bowing against hers, “because you are not one of them. You cannot live like them. You cannot love like them. You cannot belong with them.”

His mouth hovers over her own, his voice dropping to nothing but a breeze.

“You belong to me.”

There is a sound like thunder in the back of his throat.

“With me.”

And when she looks up into his eyes, she sees a new shade of green, and knows exactly what it is. The color of a man off-balance. His chest rises and falls as if it were a human thing.

Here is a place to put the knife.

“I would rather be a ghost.”

And for the first time, the darkness flinches. Draws back like shadows in the face of light. His eyes go pale with anger, and there is the god she knows, the monster she has learned to face.

“Suit yourself,” mutters Luc, and she waits for him to bleed into the dark, braces for the sudden, reaching void, expects to be swallowed up and spit out on the other side of the world.

But Luc does not vanish, and neither does she.

He nods at the club. “Go on, then,” he says, “go back to them.”

And she would rather he had banished her. Instead, she rises, even though she’s lost her taste for drinks, for dancing, for any kind of company.

It is like stepping out of sunlight, the humid room gone cold against her skin, as he sits there in his velvet booth, and she goes through the motions of her night, and for the first time she feels the space between the humans and herself, and fears that he is right.

In the end, she is the one to leave.

And the next day, the speakeasy is boarded up, and Luc is gone. And just like that, new lines are drawn, the pieces set, the battle started.

She will not see him again until the war.

New York City

July 29, 2014


The A train jostles Addie out of sleep.

She opens her eyes just as the lights overhead flicker and go out, plunging the car into darkness. Panic surges like a current through her chest, the world beyond the windows dark, but Henry’s hand squeezes hers.

“It’s just the line,” he says, as the lights come on again, and the train settles back into its easy motion, and she realizes when the voice comes on the intercom that they’re back in Brooklyn, the last stretch of subway underground again, and when they get off, the sun is still safely in the sky.

They walk back to Henry’s, heat-logged and drowsy, shower off the salt and sand, and collapse on top of the sheets, wet hair cooling on their skin. Book curls around her feet. Henry pulls her against him, and the bed is cool, and he is warm, and if it is not love, it is enough.

“Five minutes,” he mumbles in her hair.

“Five minutes,” she answers, the words half plea, half promise as she curls into him.

Outside, the sun hovers over the buildings.

They still have time.

* * *

Addie wakes in the dark.

When she closed her eyes, the sun was still high. Now, the room is full of shadows, the sky a deep indigo bruise beyond the window.

Henry is still asleep, but the room is too quiet, too still, and dread rolls through Addie as she sits up.

She doesn’t say his name, doesn’t even think it as she climbs to her feet, holding her breath as she steps out into the darkened hall. She scans the living room, braced to see him sitting on the sofa, long arms stretched along the cushioned back.


But he’s not there.

Of course he’s not there.

It has been almost forty years.

He is not coming. And Addie is so tired of waiting for him.

She returns to the bedroom, sees Henry on his feet, his hair a mess of loose black curls as he searches under the pillows for his glasses.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I should have set an alarm.” He unzips a bag, puts a change of clothes inside. “I can stay at Bea’s. I’ll—”

But Addie catches his hand. “Don’t go.”

Henry hesitates. “Are you sure?”

She isn’t sure of anything, but she has had such a good day, she doesn’t want to waste her night, doesn’t want to give it to him.

He has taken enough.

There’s no food in the apartment, so they get dressed and head over to the Merchant, and there’s a sleepy ease to all of it, the disorientation of waking after dark added to the effects of so long in the sun. It lends everything a dreamy air, the perfect end to a perfect day.

They tell the waitress they’re celebrating, and when she asks if it’s a birthday, or an engagement, Addie lifts her beer and says, “Anniversary.”

“Congrats,” says the waitress. “How many years?”

“Three hundred,” she says.

Henry chokes on his drink, and the waitress laughs, assuming it’s an inside joke. Addie simply smiles.

A song comes on, the kind that rises above the noise, and she drags him to his feet.

“Dance with me,” she says, and Henry tries to tell her that he doesn’t dance, even though she was there, at the Fourth Rail, when they flung themselves into the beat, and he says that is different, but she doesn’t believe him, because times change, but everyone dances, she has seen them do the waltz and the quadrille, the fox-trot and the jive, and a dozen others, and she is sure that he can manage at least one of them.

And so she draws him between the tables, and Henry didn’t even know that the Merchant had a dance floor, but there it is, and they are the only ones on it. Addie shows him how to lift his hand, to move with her in mirror motions. She shows him how to lead, how to twirl her, how to dip. She shows him where to put his hands, and how to feel the rhythm in her hips, and for a little while, everything is perfect, and easy, and right.