How the light gets in th.., p.1
How the Light Gets In: The Cracks Duet Book Two, p.1L.H. Cosway
How the Light Gets In
The Cracks Duet Book Two
Copyright © 2018 L.H. Cosway
All rights reserved.
Cover design by RBA Designs.
Editing by Marion Archer at Making Manuscripts.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
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L.H. Cosway’s Hearts Series
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There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”
Eleven years later
Manhattan, New York City, 2017
“Ms. Jackson” by OutKast pumped in my ears.
I bobbed my head as I mixed a cosmo, while my co-worker, Danni, shot me a grin from the other end of the bar. The crowds pulsated on the dance floor and hands clutching crumpled bills vied for my attention.
It was just another Saturday at FEST, the nightclub my aunt Yvonne managed. I’d been working here for two months, ever since I moved from Dublin to New York, and I had to say, even if the work was exhausting, the tips were phenomenal. You didn’t get tips like these in Ireland.
Not unless you worked at a strip club.
And I wasn’t talking about mixing drinks at the bar of said strip club.
There was also an energy to this city I hadn’t anticipated. It really didn’t sleep. There always seemed to be something happening. Any hour of the day or night you could find a comedy gig, or an interactive theatre show, or even a doga class. That’s right, yoga for dogs. Whatever floated your boat, you could find it here.
I never expected to end up in a place like this. In all honesty, I thought I’d stay in Dublin forever. Like, forever-ever. When you lived from pay check to pay check, life came with its limitations. But then Yvonne offered to set me up with a job, not to mention let me stay in her apartment. How could I say no to that?
When Gran was still alive, I would’ve flat-out declined, but she passed away last year. I didn’t have anything to stay put for anymore, and it was an odd feeling. For so long I had an excuse not to leave, then I had none.
So I took the leap.
“What’s your name, gorgeous?” a suit asked from the other side of the bar. The first few buttons of his shirt were undone, his tie loose and his grin even looser.
“Name’s Evelyn, what can I get you?” I replied, professional smile in place. I wasn’t a big fan of being hit on by punters, but such was life when you worked a bar. Some nights I wondered if I should take one home, let them warm my bed for a while, but I always thought better of it. I wasn’t made for one-night stands. Mostly because I fell in love too easily. A charming smile and a well-placed compliment and I was handing over the keys.
During most of my twenties, my misguided, empty heart constantly looked for a person to fill it. Now I was coming to learn that the only one who could repair my heart was me. I had to find happiness within myself before I found it with someone else.
I wasn’t there yet, but I was working on it.
“I love your accent. I’ll take a whiskey sour, on the rocks. Don’t think I’ve seen you here before. You new?”
I nodded as I put his drink together and did my best to be heard over the music. “Yeah, been here a couple of weeks.”
“Really? Do you like New York?”
“Yeah. It’s a great place to live. Expensive, but great.”
“Well, if you ever need anyone to show you around, give me a call,” he said and handed me a business card. I took it without even looking at the name and slipped it in my pocket to dispose of later.
“Sure. That’ll be eleven dollars,” I replied and handed him his drink.
He took a sip, slid me a twenty, then disappeared back into the fray of the nightclub.
“That accent of yours gets all the best tips,” Danni said, an annoyed slant to her mouth.
“That’s just because nobody can tell where I’m from. I’m ninety-nine per cent convinced all Americans think Irish people talk like Leprechauns.”
Danni chuckled. “Don’t be so xenophobic.”
“You’re the xenophobic ones.”
“You’re both goddamn xenophobic,” said Ger, the third bartender on shift tonight. “Now get back to work. I’m drowning here.”
I shot him an apologetic look and hustled to take more drink orders. By the time my shift was done, I was ready to keel over and expire, but again, I loved it. I loved the electricity of the city, the never-ending customers at the bar, the loud, deafening music, and the sheer exhaustion you felt at the end.
You could say positivity was my New Year’s resolution. Whatever my situation in life, I was determined to make the best of it. When I was young, cheeriness was my default setting, but then life had its way with me.
After I lost Sam I could never see the sun, even when it was beaming in the sky.
Now my goal was to leave the darkness behind.
It’s what he would’ve wanted.
I was chomping at the bit for a nice, hot shower and at least ten hours of sleep as I rode the subway to my aunt’s apartment in Brooklyn. It wasn’t the safest method of transportation, but since driving wasn’t an option it was my only choice. Although Yvonne and I worked in Manhattan, it didn’t afford us the luxury to actually live there.
Anyway, I had a bottle of pepper spray in my bag and a rape whistle in case I ran into trouble. It was almost five a.m. by the time I got home, took my long-awaited shower, and crawled into bed in my knickers and T-shirt. I didn’t wake until a little after one, but I’d slept like the dead and was deliciously rested.
I could hear Beethoven playing in the living room. Yvonne must’ve been home, enjoying her day off. Since she was management, my aunt usually finished work around the same time I started, so we didn’t cross paths too often. It was good in the sense that we both got our alone time in the apartment, because it wasn’t exactly what you’d call spacious.
This also meant I hadn’t seen her for a couple days. We shared the odd text message, or Post-It note stuck to the fridge, but that was it. I could smell her signature roast chicken cooking in the oven, and the scent made my mouth water.
That was the problem with working until three or four in the morning, you always ended up eating lunch for breakfast.
Needing to pee, I pulled on some shorts and wandered down the hallway toward the bathroom, stopping when I heard Yvonne had company. A deep, masculine voice replied to something she said and I frowned. It wasn’t like Yvonne to have men over. In fact, she was one of those rare fish who’d always been quite happy to stay single. Her work was her lover.
She must’ve heard me emerge from my room because she called out, “Evelyn, are you up?”
Usually, I’d just call back
As though consciously punctuating the significance of the moment, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 arrived at its pinnacle point. I saw a giant wave crashing into the ocean, a volcano erupting rivulets of molten lava from its lofty peak, the sharp crack of lightning in the sky, as I came face to face with a pair of dark blue eyes I hadn’t seen in almost eight years.
As I live and fucking breathe.
Actually, strike that, I wasn’t breathing. The sight of him rendered my lungs incapable of normal function. Then I remembered I was wearing the crumpled T-shirt I’d slept in and a pair of shorts that left little to the imagination. I was also sporting gorgeous bedhead. As a result, self-consciousness kicked in.
Then I remembered this was a man who’d seen me in every possible guise, from the good, to the bad, to the ugly, and I knew any level of vanity was pointless.
“Evelyn,” he said, standing. He sounded so different, so mature and grown-up. The last time I saw him he was twenty-two. He’d returned to Dublin for a fleeting visit. Now he’d be thirty.
His throat bobbed as he swallowed and ran a hand through his hair. I wondered if he felt as off-kilter as I did.
“Oh Ev, we’ve both been so busy with work this last week I didn’t even get to tell you. I bumped into Dylan the other day. What a small world it is,” Yvonne said, while Dylan’s gaze never left me. Those wise, astute eyes took all of me in, from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. Old memories stirred, of a time when he could own me with a look like this one.
“He has his own perfume boutique downtown now. Can you believe it?” Yvonne continued as she looked at Dylan. “You’ve come a long way from St Mary’s Villas, that’s for sure.”
He owned his own perfume franchise, actually, but no way was I admitting I’d followed his career. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never actually smelled any of his products. Half of it was due to fear. I didn’t want to remember him, how close we’d once been, because scent had a way of plunging you into the past.
The other half was the fact that his success made me feel like a failure. I knew it was silly, especially since I was the one who told him to go fulfil his dreams all those years ago, but a part of me felt overwhelmed by all he’d achieved.
Probably because I hadn’t really achieved anything myself.
“We all have,” said Dylan, eyes coming back to me again. “Yvonne invited me over for lunch to catch up. I hope you don’t mind.”
I waved him away. “Not at all. Sorry I’m not dressed. I work nights. It’s good to see you though.” My words came out in a rush, and his features warmed.
“It’s good to see you, too, Evelyn.”
I smiled awkwardly and fiddled with the hem of my T-shirt. Heat claimed my face and chest. His attention dipped to my bare thighs for a second, then he sat back down on the couch and crossed a leg over his knee. “I can’t wait to hear all about what you’ve been up to these days.”
That was funny, because all I could think about was our past. It was a time I’d never truly moved on from. Dylan left because he had to, but also because he thought he was bad luck. He felt to blame for what happened to Sam, and I suspected he’d never gotten over that guilt.
His stare fixed on me and there was a long moment where the two of us just . . . looked at each other.
Here was a man who had once been a boy, who had once stolen my heart, who had once been my whole entire world. Now we were virtual strangers.
Sure, I’d followed his career, but it wasn’t like he gave interviews or maintained a social media presence. Dylan O’Dea was far too mysterious for all that. But I had read articles and stories in the news. They weren’t top stories by any means, which was why Yvonne was vaguely in the dark as to his success, but they were still there.
And like the glutton for punishment that I was, I’d sought them out, eager for any piece of insight. It was a pointless activity, of course. It wasn’t like I ever planned to find him.
“Well, I’ll let you two catch up while I go check on the roast,” said my aunt.
Oh, Yvonne, for someone so tuned in you are completely oblivious sometimes.
She went. I turned and headed for the drinks cabinet. God knew this occasion called for one.
“What will you have?” I asked as I picked up bottles and pretended to read the labels.
“Whiskey is good,” Dylan replied, and I nodded, still not facing him.
I poured his drink, plus one for myself, then turned to hand it over. His eyes travelled up my body as I approached. “The years have been good to you, Ev. You look incredible.”
I arched a brow. “I look like I just stepped out of bed.”
His voice went husky. “Like I said—”
“What are you even doing here?” I kept quiet so my aunt couldn’t hear.
He frowned. “Yvonne invited me.”
“You didn’t have to say yes.”
He gave me an oh, come on look. “Nobody can say no to your aunt, Ev. You know that.”
He was right. Yvonne’s friendly demeanour was impossible to resist, just like mine had been once upon a time. Now I was a world-weary grump with a perennial dark cloud over my head. In fact, a lot of the world-weariness was Dylan’s doing. Wait, no, that was the old me. I was taking my positive mojo back, the one I had when I was a girl.
“No, not many people can say no to Yvonne,” I agreed and went to take a seat on the armchair. I folded my legs up under me, the ones Dylan’s eyes kept wandering back to, and sipped my drink.
Yikes, whiskey was not a good idea first thing in the morning. Or afternoon.
I set it down and eyed Dylan in his designer suit. It was a far cry from the jeans and work shirts he used to wear at St Mary’s. But I guess he was a big-shot business tycoon now. He had to look the part.
“You achieved everything you always wanted,” I said.
He took a sip and lifted a shoulder. “You could say that.”
“Such modesty. If your eighteen-year-old self could see you now he’d be jumping for joy.”
Dylan shifted his position on the sofa, his stare intense as he asked, “You think so?”
My breath caught. It wasn’t so much the question, but how he said it. How he looked at me while he was saying it. A simmering heat worked its way up my body.
“The chicken is looking scrumdiddlyumtious,” Yvonne announced, interrupting the moment.
I looked away from Dylan, frazzled by how strongly I reacted to him. We were only making casual chit-chat, and yet, his eyes alone laid me bare. I needed to get out of there. Standing, I made my way toward my bedroom.
“Can you, um, put a plate in the oven for me? I’m not feeling so well.”
Yvonne frowned in concern. “Oh no, do you think it’s the flu? I heard it’s going around.”
“I’m not sure. Maybe. It was good seeing you, Dylan, but I should really go. I don’t want you to catch anything.” My words were rushed.
Dylan stood, about to say something, but I left before he could. I shut myself away in my room, but I was far too restless to get back into bed. A run felt like a good idea, so I changed into a hoodie and some tracksuit pants. I wasn’t normally one for exercise, but I needed to do something to expel this pent-up tension.
“Oh, Ev,” said Yvonne when I re-emerged. “Are you feeling better?”
“No, but I’m gonna go for a run. See if it clears my head,” I replied and glanced at Dylan very briefly. He wore a stern frown that said he knew my game. I was avoiding spending any more time with him, but what did he expect when he just showed up out of the blue like this? At least give a girl some warning.
Once I was out of the building, I felt like I could breathe again. My mind raced through memories, while my body raced through the streets of Brooklyn. I really did love it he
I paused for breath when I got as far as the Brooklyn Bridge and gazed at Manhattan’s skyline. I leaned back against a railing and took a swig from my water bottle.
I can only see my dreams clearly when I look through you first.
A phantom voice echoed in my head, one from another lifetime. Dylan always said romantic things to me, stuff you’d never expect from a teenage boy. It was one of the reasons I fell for him so hard. He was an old soul, and so intelligent. He spoke in ways that set my seventeen-year-old heart aflutter.
“Hey, you got the time?” another jogger asked as he passed me by.
I pulled out my phone to check the screen. “Almost two.”
“Thanks,” he replied and kept going.
It was a welcome interruption, since it cut me off from wandering too deep into memories. All that would achieve was nostalgia, and nostalgia was a dangerous game when the person at the centre of it suddenly reappeared in your life.
I jogged to the apartment, figuring Dylan had to be gone by now. It had been over an hour since I left. When I walked inside, Yvonne was in the kitchen cleaning up.
“That was incredibly rude of you, Evelyn,” she said, not making eye contact. It was something she did when she was really pissed. Her voice went all stern, but she never looked you in the eye.
“Yvonne, I haven’t seen Dylan in a really long time, and the way things ended between us . . .” I ran a hand over my mussed ponytail. “How did you expect me to react?”
How the Light Gets In: The Cracks Duet Book Two by L.H. Cosway / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes