provided him with a vital tether.
The hot breeze blew and they smiled at one another.
"Eden," he said.
"Muani," she corrected. "It's Muani here."
"Muani. This is pretty cool."
"Yes. It really is."
They found themselves then sitting side by side, backs to the same thick tree. Birdsong filled the air and the surf crashed on the shore below the hill. Eden felt the warm pressure of his hand in hers and she squeezed. Artie squeezed back.
The phone rang.
Eden woke with a frown knitting her brows. Dawn splashed across the foot of her bed. Outside the window was a golden morning, the sky brightening with each passing moment. The phone rang again and Eden sat up, the tangled mess of her dark curls falling down around her face, across her eyes. With the third ring, she stretched and yawned and blinked her eyes, coming fully awake at last. A sadness swept through her and she glanced around her elegant bedroom.
"Sorry," she whispered to the empty room.
Halfway into the fourth ring, she picked up the phone and lay back onto her pillow.
"It is awfully early," she said.
"I know, Eden, and I'm sorry if I woke you up."
She knew the voice right away. "Jack."
"Yeah. Listen, Molly and I are in New York in this little town called Fairbrook. It's off Route 87, a little north of —"
"I know where it is," she said, stifling another yawn. "I used to live not far from there."
There was a pause on the other end of the line before Jack went on. "You did? When was that?"
"Turn of the century. It was nice back then. I remember the Wild West Show came through in aught-one. That was something else. Truly a marvel, even by today's standards."
"Wow," Jack said, and she could tell by the tone of his voice that he meant it.
Eden smiled. Though she knew Jack's heart belonged to Molly, there were very few people in her life with whom she could speak so freely about her past. It was nice.
"Stories for another time, Jack. I suppose you're calling for Artie."
"Yes. If he's around. We're trying to track down a pack in this area and we could really use his help."
Eden flexed the fingers of her left hand. It still felt warm where Artie's ghost had touched her. The sensation was nice, but also bittersweet, for it was only in her dreams that she could see him, feel his touch, and she had a life to live. Her response to Jack then was tinged with sadness, for if Artie were to go she did not know how long he would be gone, how many dreams she would have without him. She would miss him. Still, in life, Jack and Molly had been the people Artie cared about more than anyone else in the world.
"I'll pass it on," she said. "Good luck."
Jack thanked her and they said their goodbyes. As Eden hung up the phone, she gazed again around the empty room, at the hand-painted Carnival masks and framed pages of hundred and fifty year old fashion magazines that hung on the walls. Antique perfume bottles lined her bureau, and a silk gown hung on the back of her door. Her things. Her place.
With a short, resigned sigh, she spoke to that room, to the ghost of a young man she had become quite fond of. His friends needed him, she said, and she explained where he could find them. For a moment, her hand tingled with warmth again and she felt a breeze caress her cheek though no window was open.
Then the room seemed even emptier than before.
The Blueberry Diner was a sight to behold. Though only the jutting flagpole of a sign was visible from the highway, the place was a stone's throw from the Hollingsworth exit ramp. With its vast, cracked parking lot lined with trucks and the row of windows along its face, the diner would have been interchangeable with hundreds of others if not for the paint job that gave the Blueberry its name. The entire building had been adorned with several coats of blueish-purple paint that gleamed wetly in the sun.
"Wow," Jack said in honest admiration as he pulled the Jeep into the lot. "That's blue all right."
"Oh, yes," Molly
S.C. Rosemary, S.N. Hawke