lifetime of men catering to all her needs? All the tension that the sex had temporarily extinguished came flooding back. I wondered what it would feel like to punch her as hard as I could in the back of the neck.
I dressed and slipped out of the room, not leaving a note. I felt better once I was on the cliff walk, enveloped in the cold mist, staring out toward the opaque ocean. I walked fast, concentrating on the slippery footing, trying not to think of the last time I had taken this route to the house. When I reached the end of the walk, I checked my watch, noting that it had taken a little over thirty minutes to reach my new home from the Kennewick Inn. I stood on the bluff, staring toward the rear of my house. I wasnât afraid of being spotted this time. I was a lord surveying my manor. I walked across the damp stretch of land, then looped around toward the front of the house through a stand of balsam firs. As I approached the driveway, I watched a truck pull away, and assumed I had just missed Brad. But as I came fully around the house, I saw his two-toned pickup truck, with him next to it, a cigarette jutting from his lips. He was punching a number into his cell phone, but stopped when he spotted me. He smiled and the cigarette bobbed up and down. I smiled back and walked toward him, hand outstretched.
It was time I got to know Brad Daggett.
I hadnât planned on falling in love, but who does? Eric Washburn was a junior, and president of a âliteraryâ fraternity at Mather called St. Dunstanâs, although I didnât know that at the time I met him. We met in the library. It was closing time on a frigid February night, and we were the last to leave, passing through the swinging glass doors together into an eye-watering wind. Eric offered me a cigarette, which I didnât accept, then lit his own, and asked me what direction I was going in. He walked me to Barnard Hall, a gesture that at the time seemed born entirely from gallantry, and not from more sinister motives. At my entryway, he invited me to a Thursday night party at St. Dunstanâs. I told him I would come. He wasnât particularly handsome; he had a long face and a high forehead, a bony nose and too-big ears, but was tall and slender, and his voice was deep and almost melodic. That night he was wearing a long, charcoal gray coat and a burgundy scarf that he had wrapped several times around his neck. I had heard of St. Dunstanâs, knew that it was the most elite society at a college that already had its share of prep-school snobbery, and I was very familiar with its location,the Manor, a stone and slate piece of Gothic Revival architecture that broached the northern edge of campus, where Mather spilled out into the urban wasteland of New Chesterâs streets. It was a beautiful building, its stonework gilded with carvings and gargoyles, its front door tall and arched, and its windows all of stained glass. It was the type of architecture that had attracted me to the college in the first place. Iâd looked at several places, but Mather, a two-hundred-year-old private college with just under a thousand students, had been the only place that felt right. With its gabled brick dorms, its archways, its elm-lined quad, it was like a campus stuck in some earlier time, the campus of a mystery novel set in the 1930s, where boys sang in barbershop quartets and girls in skirts walked briskly from class to class. To the deep dismay of my motherâwho had been lobbying for Oberlin, her own alma mater, since I was fiveâand the unsurprising indifference of my father, Iâd chosen Mather.
âLily,â Eric said, after inviting me to Dunstanâs, âwhatâs your family name?â
âOh, right. Youâre Kintner. I heard you were here.â The way heâd said it sounded a little rehearsed, as though heâd already known who I was.
âYou know my