Home > Time (Laws of Physics #3)(12)

Time (Laws of Physics #3)(12)
Author: Penny Reid

Her face crumpled and she closed her eyes. My heart gave an aching lurch. A rush of heat flooded my neck and cheeks. Now I felt like a big jerk, and I wondered if I’d said too much.

“Lisa.” I struggled with the impulse to take it all back.

She swallowed, sniffling, shaking her head, her eyes still closed. “I don’t know what to say.”

I couldn’t think of what to say either.

Were things so broken between us? These last few years, we’d made progress, hadn’t we? We spoke. I knew her daily, weekly, and monthly routines. I knew how she liked her coffee. I knew who her least favorite teachers and subjects were. But how much did I know—really, really know—about my own sister?

In a way, it was ironic. I’d spent twelve days total with Abram, but felt like I knew him better, felt more confident with him, trusted him more than I did Lisa. If I were honest with myself, I had similar feelings toward Leo, and my parents. Similar concerns.

Do they love me enough for me to be myself with them?

My heart gave another painful twist, one that nearly robbed me of my breath. I hoped they did, but looking back, looking at their actions, or lack of actions, I faced the facts I’d been ignoring for maybe my whole life.

I couldn’t be certain. I didn’t trust it. I didn’t trust them.

Watching my sister’s struggle with her wobbly chin, none of my words felt right.

At a loss, I decided to repeat something Abram had said to me at a critical time between us, something that, in retrospect, had made all the difference to me.

“Lisa, will you be brave with me?” I reached forward, covered her hand with mine, and waited until she met my eyes. “Will you let me know you?”

6

Radio Astronomy

*Abram*

She picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”

My leg stopped bouncing. Finally. “Mona.”

“Abram! How are you? How was the flight? Did you sleep? And the concert? Did you make it back in time? Did it go well? Are you all done?”

I closed my eyes and lay down on the bench of the stretch limo, covering my forehead with my arm. Her intoxicating voice washed over me, covering, surrounding, lifting. Relief. Sweet, sweet relief.

“It is so good to hear your voice.” Finally.

I spoke into the darkness, holding the phone to my ear. This moment was the very first moment since I’d left her ten hours ago that I felt like I could breathe.

She didn’t say anything for a moment, but I could almost see her smiling. I could certainly feel it, and an answering slow, spreading smile claimed my mouth. This was how it should have been for the last six days.

“Thank you,” she said, definitely smiling. “It’s good to hear your voice too.” I heard her move, or something rustle in the background. “Do you feel like talking? Or are you too tired?”

“Not too tired. Tell me . . .” I began, not quite sure how to ask my next question. I didn’t want to put her on the spot, but I was worried. “How were things after I left? With your sister?”

A moment of near silence followed, during which I could make out the faint sound of her breathing. My jaw working, I struggled to keep a lid on my temper, but her silence led me to assume the worst.

No one fucks with Mona. No. One.

“Mona—”

“It was good.”

A short, surprised breath fled my lungs. “Good?”

“Yes. Good. We spoke. We talked things through, I think. It wasn’t an easy conversation, and tears were shed. I know how you’re a fan of tears.”

I chuckled, stunned. Actually, I wasn’t stunned. I was disbelieving.

“She was nice to you?” I asked.

Now she laughed. “Yes. She was nice to me.”

Huh.

For some reason, I couldn’t let it go. “Are you sure? You know, you could come out here, meet me in San Francisco. I’ll be very nice to you.”

“Yes.” I heard the shy smile in her voice, and I imagined her face wearing it. “I could, and I thought about doing that.”

My heart swelled, ballooning with hope.

“But I think, after my conversation with Lisa today, it’s important for me to stay here.”

I tried not to be jealous or resentful of Lisa. I tried and tried and tried and would likely have to try again tomorrow.

“Okay. Well, the offer is an open one.” I stretched my arm over my head, bringing my hand back to scratch my beard. “Any time you want to join me on tour, please do it.”

“You sound tired. Your voice is scratchy.”

“That’s because we did four encores.” I yawned, relaxing a little. Finally. “I’m not tired.”

“You, Abram Harris, are telling me a falsehood.”

“I would never.” I yawned again around my grin. “Are you always going to call me Abram Harris?”

“Probably. Is that a problem?”

“No. I’m not complaining either. I’m Mr. Fletcher to everyone these days, he feels more like a role I’m playing rather than really me.”

“I get that.” Her voice was low and soft in my ear, and the constant ache of our separation became something else, something warm, less painful. “People have been calling me Ms. DaVinci since I was little. Can I tell you something? I don’t even like my name.”

“Mona DaVinci? I can’t imagine why.”

She chuckled, and then exhaled. “I’ve always thought about changing it.”

I settled more firmly against the bench, shutting my eyes, grateful we’d spent so much of our time together in Chicago sorting out when we would see each other over the next few months.

As convoluted as it was—twenty-four hours in New York, three days in London, forty-eight hours in Miami, another thirty-six hours in London—we were making it work.

Now that things were settled, now that we had plans and had made promises, now that I knew when and where and for how long I would see her until June, conversations like this one were possible.

“What would you change your name to?”

“You have to promise not to laugh.”

Still grinning, I shook my head. “Nuh-uh. I’ll laugh if it’s funny.”

“Then I shan’t tell you.”

“Shan’t?”

“Affirmative.”

That made me laugh. “Is it Wolf?”

“Is what wolf?”

“You want to change your name to Wolf?”

“Wolf? Where did you get that idea?”

“Because then we could talk about the Wolf coming, and it would take on a completely different meaning.”

She busted out laughing, and so I laughed, and then we were laughing together. God, this was so great. So great.

“You are—” She couldn’t speak, she was laughing too hard.

“What? What am I?”

“Never mind. I shan’t tell you that either.”

I loved her voice. I couldn’t wait until the end of the month and our first scheduled meet-up in New York.

“By the way.” She’d stopped laughing but the happiness in her voice remained. “Where are you? Still at the venue?”

“No. In the car, on the way back to the hotel.”

“Oh. Is anyone with you?”

“No. Everyone else is still at the stadium. I left right after the last encore.”

“Because you’re tired.”

“Because I wanted to talk to you.” I stifled another yawn, clearing my throat. “Tell me about your day. What did you do after you took me to the airport? Thanks for driving me, by the way.”

“You’re welcome. And, let the record show, you got there on time.”

“That’s because you weren’t driving like my Uncle Harry. For once.”

She laughed again, and the seductive sound relaxed every muscle in my body . . . but one.

“You’ve only driven with me twice. That’s not enough datapoints to make any meaningful extrapolations.”

“I love it when you talk data to me. Say extrapolations again.”

Her laugh was harder this time, and I imagined her blushing. “Tell me about the concert.”

“Well.” I yawned again, irritated because I didn’t want to yawn at all. “It was fine. Vicious Pixies opened for us, do you know who they are?”

“No.” She sounded regretful. “I’m not up on the music scene.”

“That’s fine. You don’t need to know who they are for the story. Their bass guitarist showed up to the stadium around the same time I did, except he was totally shit-faced. High out of his mind.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes. I filled in.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes. It worked out though. No one realized it was me. I stood in the back, where the light was bad, and wore a beanie.”

That made her giggle and I heard her typing on a keyboard. “I think it’ll take more than a beanie and bad lighting to hide yourself.”

I loved talking to her. Was this what it would be like all the time between us? So easy. Effortless.

“You’d be surprised. When I checked into my flight today, I walked right by two posters of me in my boxers. No one batted an eye.”

“Oh, hey.” A new edge entered her voice. “I’m glad you brought up those posters.” Mona was quiet for a moment, giving me the impression she was gathering her thoughts.

“Are you?” I prompted, a little worried.

“Can I have one?”

I choked, my eyes flying open. “What?”

“Can I have one of the posters?”

I sat up on the bench and immediately regretted it, my vision swimming, and had to lay back down again. “Uh, I guess?”

“Thank you! That’s excellent. Oh, and can it be one of the big ones? The life-sized ones?”

I laughed and I had no idea why I was laughing, maybe because this conversation felt hugely absurd. Maybe because I was insanely tired. Or maybe because she was so fricken cute.

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