The Gilded Hour Page 166

“Or Tonino,” Jack added.

“He’ll come back to us when he’s ready,” she said, mostly to herself, and kept back the logical next thought: if that day ever comes. She could be sure of Sophie coming home one day, but Tonino was another matter.

“We’ll do our best for him,” Jack said. And that had to be comfort enough, because it was true.

Anna said, “This has always been my favorite and least favorite time of year. On the cusp between the light and dark. Dusk always strikes me as the wrong word.”

Jack rubbed his cheek against her temple. “It’s funny that you should say that. When I was young I couldn’t understand how it could be that light and color flooded the world even after the sun disappeared. Later when I understood the geometry of it, that the sun drops below the horizon by a few degrees—and still, it doesn’t seem like enough of an explanation. It’s more than light and color, and it lasts for such a short time. And here it is now, do you feel it?”

They sat in the trembling light, Anna cradled against Jack to feel the beat of his heart against her spine, separated by nothing more than a few inches of muscle and bone. Caught in the gloaming, suspended in the gilded hour, she saw herself in a landscape of years stretching into a horizon she had never dared imagine for herself.

When the light was gone and the first fireflies rose in the fields she said, “Thank you, Jack. Thank you for bringing me here to see this.”

The night came in gently, but even so the gooseflesh rose on her arms and she shivered in his arms.

“Time to go in,” he said.

Anna meant to agree, but instead she produced a great yawn.

With a laugh Jack lifted her to her feet, and then up into his arms. She relaxed against him, content to be carried in this time and place, watching his face as he brought her home, to the house where he had been raised and their family waited.

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