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.Instead, they discussed Zeke’s next exhibition, which he was still preparing in his mind, then Miles’s latest trip to the States, then the surreal movie Zeke had watched on some odd satellite channel at 3:00 a.m., and finally even the proposition that Zeke might take on an intern at the art gallery—partly to mentor the kid, and partly to have someone to maintain the intravenous line of espresso during exhibition work, as Zeke put it.“Bloody bizarre, isn’t it, that I could be telling someone what to do? Tutoring them?” Zeke looked as if he couldn’t decide whether to look scornful or self-satisfied.His eyes sparkled, whichever response he privately settled on.“It’s a good idea,” Carter said, settling back in his chair after the meal.“So it was Miles’s, I assume?”Zeke gave an ugly and insulting snort, but grinned.“Of course.Personally, I can’t think of anyone who’d put up with me for more than an hour, apart from you lot.Maybe this trainee will come equipped with ear defenders, plus an extra bouncy spring in their neck so they can follow my snap changes of decision without getting whiplash.” He paused, probably expecting to catch Carter enjoying the joke, then realized Carter wasn’t laughing.“Is that the problem with Red? He’s annoying you?”Carter started, and felt himself color.“No, not at all.We’ve met a couple of times at the youth center and… here, actually.We don’t have much free time at the moment, he’s working with his parents and Marie Atherton on a fundraising campaign for a new sports field for the center, and I’m… well, we’re still getting the place straight for the opening.It’s a busy time for me too.”“So?”“There’s no problem with Red.” Carter tried to pitch for the right kind of careless tone, but wasn’t sure he managed it.“He’s fine.He’s great.”Zeke gave an encouraging and rather forced smile.“Like I said.So?”“It’s me, really.He said I gave mixed messages.”“Yeah, and?”Carter stared at Zeke in some surprise.“You agree with him?”Zeke blinked hard.Carter knew that Zeke didn’t often think twice before speaking, but that was one sign of his best attempt.“Well.Yeah.”Carter bit back a snappy answer.“How come?”“Look.” Zeke sighed.“You’re looking at the king of mixed messages, right? When I first met Miles, I wanted to smack him in the mouth.Hard.But that was my problem, right? Nothing to do with him.”“What do you mean?”“Yeah, he was taking over my gallery, my life.But I was angry at the event, not the party planner, if you know what I mean.”“Sort of.” Despite himself, Carter smiled.“I hated life, I hated the fucking mess I’d made of it.I hated my grief over Jacky, the fact I couldn’t paint worth shit.I hated myself.I was in denial, man.”Carter opened his mouth to ask a question, then decided it was wiser to hold back when Zeke was on a conversational roll.He shut his mouth again quickly.Zeke laughed, as if he were fully aware of Carter’s caution.“In denial about thinking he was hot.Bloody hot! I’d have acted on it earlier if I hadn’t been so wrapped up in my own misery.If I hadn’t mixed up Miles the man with Miles the business.” He laughed again, more softly.“I never was much good at the objective professional bit, was I?”Carter reached across the table and put a hand on Zeke’s arm.“It wasn’t that kind of time.”Zeke shrugged, though not heavily enough to shake off Carter’s touch.“I’m just saying—even though I give mixed messages, I can recognize ’em as such.And they’re bloody frustrating, I know that.It’s taken me a long time to come clean with Miles—to know I don’t have to cover everything up with bravado and snark.That I can trust him.But it was worth it.”“Like Pride and Prejudice.”“Huh?”“It’s a book by Jane Austen—”“I know that!” Zeke rolled his eyes.“But… huh?”Carter grinned.“Miles was pride, you were prejudice.”“Guess so.So which one are you, Carter?”“I think… I’m both,” Carter said slowly.Even he could hear the mournful tone of his voice.“Why the hell would Red want someone like me?”Zeke seemed to go very quiet.If Carter hadn’t been so engrossed in his own worries, he might have been concerned.Then Zeke leaned on the table and stared Carter in the eyes.“Confession time, bro.I worshipped Jacky.”Carter frowned, puzzled at the apparent change of subject, immediately hurting for Zeke.“He was your brother, Zeke.”“No.He was just that kind of a guy.He brought out the extremes in people.”“I’m not sure I understand you.”“Face it, Carter, we both loved him.Hated him, sometimes.But above all, we worshipped him.And that’s where we fucked up our own lives.”Carter just stared [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]