Just as she’s reaching for the closet doorknob, Drew’s cell phone rings. It catches her standing half naked in a strange bedroom holding a doorknob in one hand and a watering can in the other. She fumbles for the phone in her skirt pocket.
“Hello?” Her face, reflected in the closet’s mirrored door, has flushed bright red.
It’s her father’s voice in her ear: “Drew? Is that you?” She can imagine him sitting at his spot in the darkened garage, on a stool at the worktable facing the window from which he can observe the sprinklers’ surge to life, the paperboy’s perfunctory toss, the commuters’ advent, and the thunk of mail being delivered, all with fatal, grueling monotony.
“Yeah. It’s me.” She feels her voice being sucked two thousand miles across the country to be held in his hand and pressed against his ear.
“Well, that’s good. I was beginning to get worried.” Drew puts the watering can down on the wood floor and pulls the closet door open. It’s dark inside and smells of heavy perfume. He continues: “So I only have two questions and I won’t take up too much of your time. One, did you remember to water the Lilien’s plants?”
“I’m here now, as a matter of fact.” She feels around until she finds the switch and flips on the light. What kind of person has a chandelier in their closet, she wants to know. The room is enormous—maybe the size of her entire apartment—and fitted with mahogany drawers and cubbies, like a yacht. Tom Lilien probably owns a yacht. He’s a successful lawyer in copyrights or patents or something like that, she can’t remember. He and her father went to high school together.
She runs her hand down the long line of fine suits on identical wooden hangars. Mr. Lilien had been wearing a suit like this when he took her out for dinner at Canter’s when she first arrived in Los Angeles. He had thrown his arm around her shoulder and told her if she ever needed anything… and let his voice trail off, leaving an endless list of unspoken possibilities. But she didn’t think he meant anything by it, nothing sexy that is.
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