Last Light
Author:M. Pierce

I nodded. “On the record.”

 

Snow got his bearings and began to ask about my disappearance. Where did I stay? Was my “death” a publicity stunt, a warped promotion for The Surrogate? Did I have a breakdown?

 

And he asked about Night Owl. Did I write it? When did I write it? Did I publish it? Other papers had asked and printed the answers to these questions, but Snow seemed to want personal satisfaction. He wanted the whole truth, which I would never tell.

 

I fed him the story about Melanie—how I found her online and compelled her to publish Night Owl on my behalf. It wasn’t news. Pam had already arranged phone interviews with the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. Everyone knew what I’d done, and why, and everyone believed I orchestrated it alone.

 

I was no longer hiding and running.

 

I was simply lying on the tracks, waiting for the next stray train to take me out.

 

After three cigarettes and a parade of questions, I said, “Look, I’ve got to go.”

 

“Can I get a picture?”

 

“Sure.”

 

I remained seated on the stairs—it seemed fitting—and Snow crouched on the pavement to get a good angle. “Do I look like a writer?” I said.

 

He laughed. “You do. Can I have a formal interview sometime?”

 

“Mm. But don’t run this story tomorrow, Snow. Let me chat with Pam first.”

 

“Your agent.”

 

“That’s right.” We walked back around the condo together.

 

“I’m surprised she kept you on.”

 

“Are you?” I smiled and we shook hands. Snow seemed very young then, and guileless.

 

As I was heading for the door, he said, “Hannah Catalano is the girl, right?”

 

I turned sharply.

 

“Back off,” I growled, and Snow recoiled.

 

My anger faded as fast as it flared, but it stunned me. That fire. That fight I thought I’d lost.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 39

 

 

HANNAH

 

 

On Monday morning, I fortified my nerves with a smart outfit—a taupe square-neck pencil dress, nylons, and black heels—and marched into the Granite Wing Agency.

 

Yes, I took a week of vacation. And a week of sick leave. And another unexplained personal week. But I deserved it, which Pam would understand.

 

I shuffled up the winding stone stairs to the third floor. At the landing, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and then I opened my eyes and stepped toward … Matt.

 

I teetered on my heels.

 

He walked briskly toward the staircase, his hand gliding along the balcony railing. He appeared unaware of me—for now.

 

Relief flooded my system at the sight of him. He was doing okay. He was sober and sane … and ridiculously gorgeous in dark jeans and a fitted black T-shirt.

 

Ugh, I wanted to slap myself. Anger. You are angry with him. Green-eyed liar.

 

Matt’s gaze focused on me, finally. His face paled and he twisted away like he might turn to stone if he looked too long. And I stared at his back, which I had touched a hundred times.

 

Yes—I smoothed my hand up his spine months ago in a storage room in Flight of Ideas.

 

Before all this craziness.

 

When he was mine, and I was his.

 

Matt visibly regained control. He tousled his hair, cleared his throat, and turned to face me. “Hannah,” he said. “It’s great to see you.”

 

Great to see me? Matt stared at the wall beyond me—easy for him, because he towered over me. I fought the urge to grip his jaw and force him to look me in the eye.

 

He was clean shaven, another good sign. I studied the fine golden hair on his forearms, the veins atop his hands, and the soft, comfortable-looking flip-flops he wore.

 

“You look good,” he said, still staring at a point above my head.

 

“So do you,” I whispered.

 

His eyes lit up briefly and sought mine, then swerved away. God … my heart hurt. This poor beautiful fucked-up boy—I’d made him feel undesirable, made him doubt his incredible magnetism, with my stupid lie about Seth.

 

He draws people in without even trying. Puts them under a spell …

 

Seth was right about that.

 

“I need to go,” Matt said. “Things to do.”

 

He moved past me and I wanted to scream. Things … like what? Microwave dinners to make? Tears swarmed my eyes. Fuck. I was not becoming one of those weepy women.

 

I leaned against the railing and let him go. His sandals went slapping down the stairs behind me, the sound fading rapidly. I watched him cross the lobby far below. Black hair that should be blond. Broad shoulders I used to grip as he rode me. Not my Matt anymore.

 

Something less than Hannah proceeded to Pamela Wing’s office.

 

I knocked and she called, “Come in.”

 

I opened the door.

 

“Well, Hannah,” Pam said, not rising from her desk. She shifted her glasses down her nose and gazed at me over the frame. “Good to finally see you.”

 

My thoughts remained with Matt. How perfect that black shirt looked with his black hair. The subtle tawny tone to his skin. He’d gotten sun.

 

“Ms. Wing, I—”

 

Pam lifted a hand.