In what seemed to be the middle of the night, Emma jolted awake from a dream in which Troy stumbled once again into their room and stood at the foot of their bed—except this time it was her and Javier in it, and Troy looked down at them and said, “Get out.”
Eyes still half-closed, she felt certain Troy had been in the room again. The light was on in the bathroom, and she heard the buzzing of an electric razor.
Emma went to nudge Dave, but he wasn’t there. She got up, knocked on the bathroom door. No answer. She threw on a shirt and a pair of Dave’s boxers, and went to look for him.
What a strange and awful night! Frank’s arteries were blocked. He would be in the hospital a few more days, and Krysta was staying with him tonight. Poor, dear Dave. He had cried on the drive home, his head in her lap.
Tiptoeing over the carpet and then the cool slate tiles in the dining area, she made her way to the doorway of Frank’s bedroom. Rumi was curled into the corner of Frank’s bed, plush comforter tucked beneath her chin, and Dave sat next to her, one hand on the girl’s small shoulder as he read from a picture book. He spoke very quietly, but Emma could tell he was doing all the voices: his pitch rose and fell, and his brow furrowed and smoothed as the story progressed.
She went out to the balcony to wait for him and leaned over the railing. The tide was going out, and a couple strolled in a trail of moonlight on the sand below. They were dark silhouettes, holding hands.
The sliding door opened.
When Troy said, “Nice night,” she jumped.
His head and face were newly shaven—his scalp was pink and shiny and raw—and it gave him a bitter, menacing look. He leaned over the railing, too, and out of the corner of her eye, it appeared as though he was ducking his head to kiss her.
She backed away, mortified, but he just handed her a drink.
“Bourbon,” he said, “on the rocks.”
She felt like she hated him. She took a sip anyway, and the burn felt good and buttery. “Nice night,” she repeated. “Are you kidding?”
He clinked his glass against hers. “We’re all alive, aren’t we?”
She didn’t answer. Below them, the couple was running into the water with their clothes on.
“Crazy kids,” Troy said, chuckling. “You gonna say yes?”
Wow, she was tired. Nothing made sense. “Yes to what.”
Troy brought his face closer to hers, and she could see the thready, red veins in his cheeks. “Like you don’t know.” He pressed his finger against her fleshy upper arm, and he left it there for a beat. “My nephew wants to pop the question.”
Emma laughed haltingly, but Troy looked serious, and she felt her stomach turn. Had Dave and Troy talked about this while she was asleep? “That’s news—” she stopped. Though she was bewildered, she didn’t owe this man an answer, so she finished off her drink and turned to go in.
Troy said, “Things like what happened today kind of put things in perspective, know what I mean?”
Emma stopped, her sweaty fingertips leaving little smudges on the glass door. He could be talking about anything—Frank, his own wife and her boyfriend in Paris. Javier, maybe. She tugged open the door, and the cold air slipped out.
Dave was leaving Frank’s room, walking toward her. She smiled at him through the glass, and the way he looked—grateful, relieved—she thought maybe Troy was right, though it still didn’t make any sense.
Troy was at her back now, his hand on her shoulder, whispering in her ear: “What do you want, Emma?”
She didn’t know. Not this. And then Dave was out there with her. With them. He wrapped his arms around her waist. Troy shook the ice in his glass. “Don’t go,” Dave said into her hair, into her neck, and still Troy wouldn’t leave.