“She’s not that angry, Dex, but I’ll tell her you said that.” Matthew stayed with his son until he slept.
In the kitchen, Sung was telling Connie to arrive with the children before noon. “It’s a three hour drive, maybe more.” He’d be driving a BMW. Matthew would be breaking in his Mercedes.
From the bottom step of the kitchen stairs, Matthew took his place, standing opposite Connie seated at the table. They shared the briefest of smiles and Matthew’s mind shifted and panicked. As if a door opened showing Brooke in a gradual transition from passionate love to loyal affection—adolescence became adulthood.
He had always expected her to leave him. A girl like Brooke needs her own adventures. But afterwards, Matthew imagined she’d return, saying she had never stopped loving him.
It had never occurred to him that she might outgrow him. Terrified at the thought, he blinked and blinked as if he could change the channel.
Sung listed more scheduling. “Timing is everything.”
If Brooke ran off with different lovers, even for years, Matthew needed only to wait. But if he ended up her cherished first love and then benefactor—he would always be that.
He gripped the marble countertop behind him and attempted being reasonable. Brooke outgrowing him was not inevitable. Nobody could predict the future.
But Jesus Christ! His worst fear certainly fit the goddamm bill. Brooke had been—and still was—too young.
The abysmal equation was impossible to ignore: Matthew King could have whatever he wished throughout his entire life—except Brooke. Except Brooke was his only wish—throughout his entire life.
Sick at this, he grasped at weird alternatives. Like waking the dead. Who knows how many times that had happened?
But never had Matthew heard of an adult returning to her seventeen-year-old heart and mind. Nothing in existence grew younger.
Shivering, he hopped in place.
Connie asked, “What’s wrong, Matthew?”
“Nothing. I’m overdue for exercise.”
“Excellent,” Sung said.
After saying goodnight, Matthew sprinted toward the tower. She’d be there. But Sung was running behind him and calling. Slightly winded, Sung caught up and told Matthew—one final arrangement. He and Fletcher had won enthusiastic approval for Bond to play Hamlet in Fletcher’s twenty-fifth summer production in Woodstock.
Taking in the night sky, Matthew closed his eyes, trying to shut out the vision of Brooke in five years, twenty-two and more radiant and lively than anyone on earth. She was thanking him and tapping his hand. Because, bloody hell—what a time they had had!
Here he almost fucking screamed in Sung’s face. Instead, he managed, “It sounds farfetched.”
“Not at all. The fencing videos, then the initial movie trailers and you playing Hamlet in Woodstock. The very next day, September 10th, the promotional tour runs up until the premiere in November. Readiness Is All opens around the world Thanksgiving weekend. As the first credits fade and dramatic music concludes, we see: Otto’s double and James Bond overtaking Shakespeare in the Park. Whereupon James Bond presents lightning force, speed, precision, and flawless circular grace. Beginning,” Sung said. “tomorrow. Immaculate performance, Matthew.”
Sung bowed. Matthew ran.
Brooke wasn’t there.
Changing into gym shorts, he jacked up the resistance on his circuit machines. Increased effort might stop his thoughts. After two strenuous series, Matthew began ordinary calisthetnics. Midway through his twentieth push-up, he leaped to his feet as Brooke knocked and entered. Her hair windblown, her presence a miracle.
He stared at her but didn’t move. Instantly, thank God, Brooke was smiling up at him—dazzling. Balanced on his toes, she rose up on tiptoe to lick a bead of sweat near his ear.
(click here for the next episode)