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Got your six support dogs into the ring, huh?"
Lucky barked and wagged.
"Hey, it's the only show in town," Lucky sd.
"Life, _mon ami_. You might as well get into the spirit of things. The race of man is about to start."
"But I have an appointment with an American senator. I have to be there at eleven-thirty."
"Oh, is that so? I hope you didn't miss the start. It was the most electrifying event of the century."
"That's it. I'm going to miss the start. I'll call the senator and cancel the meeting."
"That's too bad. It'll be in the news. You'll have to see it. _Por favor._ "
"Why should I give a damn about a silly race of man?"
"They're more fun to watch than the horses, even though they only last a few minutes. Besides, you're a racing fan, _n'est-ce pas_? All these millions have to run somewhere. They all have to be born, right?"
"What are you getting at, Lucky?"
"I'm only saying that your appointment is too important to miss. They might have found out about you, and canceled your meeting."
"No. That would be too drastic."
"They might put you in the basement. Or worse."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying, if you're as important as you think, it's only a matter of time before they figure out who you are."
"I know nothing about the assassination. I've been away."
"That's another way they can cancel your appointment."
"You don't know that."
"Well, what I _do_ know is that you're in danger. You won't feel like a real winner when you go in and sit down for this meeting."
"I can't sit there and not go in."
"Then just call them and tell them you'll see them another time."
"That won't work. You know they have my home number."
"Why not use the one from your room?"
"I don't have any papers that could be photocopied."
"Then make a copy. If you're really in danger, they may already be watching your home."
"Are you threatening me?"
"Oh, not _at all_ , but I'm telling you that if you're not careful, you could be in trouble."
"I'm _not_ in trouble, Lucky. What's going on here?"
"No more games, Lucky. I want you to come to the meeting."
"Are you coming, too?"
"If you wish. Why do you want me to come?"
"It'll seem crazy if I say I just came by to see you."
"No, it won't. I promise."
He sighed. "I can't make the meeting, and I've got to be there. Otherwise they'll think I know more than I do."
"All right." I was beginning to wonder if he really did know. He looked worried.
"Will you come in, too?"
"No, I can't. I'll meet you in the hotel in half an hour."
"Okay. That gives us time to go over everything and make sure you really don't have to go."
"I know I won't have to."
"I'll meet you in the lobby of the hotel. It'll be crowded."
"Oh." I thought about how I could get to the hotel so I wouldn't have to walk down the street past the clinic where the clinic was. I couldn't say I had just happened upon the hotel. I would have to pick out one of the many cars there and jump in, say I was going to the bank and had just happened to take the wrong road. I could say I was lost, and was trying to find my way back to the road to my home, that I had seen a sign for the hotel on the right, and had walked in, and had forgotten about the route I took to the hotel.
"Oh," I sd. "All right. I'll be there. I'll look for you when I get in the lobby."
He drove away, leaving me alone on the lawn.
My first meeting with him lasted a full two hours. I hadn't expected the meeting to be so exhausting, but it was.
It didn't get any easier.
"Is there anything else you'd like me to know?" he asked.
"Would you like me to be here when you get back?"
"All right. Good-bye."
I lay back on the chse, the phone in my hand, but I didn't pick it up.
I could pick it up when I got home, call him, say I was just checking in, make it look like I had just come home.
No, I wouldn't. I was tired of seeing him, and I was not going to make things easier for him by calling him after lying there while he drove away.
Besides, he already knew where I was staying. He could come to the house tomorrow and find me.
Or he could come to me.
I wanted him to come to me, didn't I? I had told him I wanted him to come to me. And after that night, after how I'd touched his skin, after he'd touched mine, it wasn't only me who wanted him to come to me. He needed to come to me, too.
I didn't know what I wanted, but I knew I wanted him to come to me.
It was going to be okay, though. I knew it was going to be okay. I had to.
I had to because it was the only thing I could do.
I had to.
And this time, I had no doubt I'd be ready for him.
I don't know how I would have been able to sleep that night if it weren't for what I did next.
I had taken a shower and put on a long cotton nightgown I'd bought a few years ago that I loved because it was the one thing I didn't need to be naked in. I slipped it over my head and pulled it down to cover my breasts and my thighs. I stepped out of the bathroom and went to my closet, where I found one of my old nighties and a robe.
I put on the nightie and pulled the robe over my nightgown. Then I sat down at my desk and stared at the walls. I looked at the pictures of my family and the pictures of my friends and tried to think of where I was going to go to escape. But every place that came to mind seemed to have too many memories.
I wasn't sure I wanted to forget about Max, but I knew I had to.
It would have been easy to go home. To go home to my father and forget about Max and never speak of him agn.
But I didn't want to do that.
I wanted to forget. But I also wanted to remember. And I knew that I had to do both.