WE GOT TO the room after Jason had proved with his ID thaTHE was not a Summerland. They kept trying to check us into Keiths room. Jason got overly familiar looks from several of the female staff. One even tried to give him a note while I was holding his hand in the elevator.

We finally got to the room, tipped the bellperson, shut the door, locked it, and were alone. Jason leaned against the door.

The room was big, with two different conversation areas complete with couches and chairs. Large windows let in sunshine and a view of the mountains. There was even a four-seat table near one set of windows so you could eat and look out at the view. Big, roomy, but the dcor stopped me in my tracks. The couches and chairs were all deep purple and red, but their shapes were vaguely organic. The drapes were heavy as if the sunlight were fighting to get through, and there were paintings everywhere on the walls. Most of them were modern art, which is okay, I own some, but modern art isnt meant to be plastered on like wallpaper. It was all very artsy and sort of claustrophobic.

They call it the Gallery, Jason said. I looked at him. Hey, it was either this or the Swinging 60s. Its painted completely in pink.



The rooms lovely, I said.

Thank you, he said.

The bed was around the corner. There was a fainting couch near it. I sat down on the edge of the bed and took off the high heels. Maybe if I concentrated on the problem at hand, I wouldnt keep trying to figure out how many noses the picture in front of me had. What the hell was that all about? You begged me to leave the Summerlands alone, especially Chuck, and then you tweak his tail badly.

I know, Jason said. It was really stupid, and petty.

Why did you do it?

He loosened his tie and flung himself onto his back on the bed hard enough for me to bounce a little where I was sitting. I dont know.

Liar, I said.

He turned his head to look at me. Whats that supposed to mean?

It means you have some kind of history with these people.

They moved away when he became governor. I didnt know theyd come back here for the wedding. It must be a local girl. God, I pity her.

Yeah, I saw how the women on staff were looking at you, like as soon as I turn my back theyll pounce.

Keith looks like me, and I clean up well, but hes rich, and his dads rich. There always seem to be women who want to be close to rich men.

And now his dad is governor and about to make a run for president. I think thats adding to the Summerland appeal, I said.

Jason nodded, then sat up. He leaned his elbows on his knees and held his head. I should not have posed for the cameras like that. That was childish, but the twins were the bane of my childhood. We were always getting mistaken for each other, by teachers, girls, guys, strangers. Keith would deliberately do shit and get me blamed. He did the same thing to his brother, too, so I wasnt so special there.

Kelsey, right, the brother?


Is the brother any nicer?

Kelsey was in some of the plays with me. He was quieter, a little shy. As awkward with the girls as Keith was smooth.

Sounds like you like Kelsey.

I would have, if he hadnt been a Summerland and Keiths brother. You couldnt be friends with Kelsey unless Keith allowed it, and he hated me.


I got a few girls who had turned him down. I mean they turned him down, then slept with me, Anita. Think about that.

I did. They turned him down not because he wasnt cute, but because he personally was an asshole.

Yeah, and all his daddys money couldnt buy him the girls who knew whaTHE really was.

Jason got up and went to the mirror, started straightening his tie. I went to college in St. Louis, and he stayed near the state capital. But I heard rumors thaTHE had a couple of date-rape charges. Dropped, never saw court, but Id believe date rape for Keith. He never took no very well.

And his father is making a run to be president on a family conservative ticket, I said.

Thats probably why theyre in such a rush to get him married off.

Marriage doesnt cure you of being a bastard, I said.

He grinned at me. Nothing cures you of being a bastard. He came to me and held his hand out. I took it and let him get me on my feet. Lets go to the hospital.

I thought we might eat first.

He shook his head. If we start taking off more clothes for comfort Im going to want sex, and as you pointed out well get all messy. I desperately dont want to go to see him. So that means go now, get it over with.

I thought I was the jerk-the-bandage-off type, not you.

Maybe years of watching you be brave is rubbing off on me.

I was sort of embarrassed. Im not that brave. I nearly threw up on the plane.

Before I knew you, I thought brave was not being afraid. Youve taught me that bravery is being terrified and doing it anyway. He drew me closer into his arms, and because of the nearly identical height it had that intimacy that Micah could do. When you arent looking up, really, but at a man.

I studied his face, tried to see the fear he was talking about. I see more anger in you than fear, Jason.

Youre going to ignore the compliment and go straight to the business, arent you?

I shrugged, a little awkwardly, with my arms around his waist and his around me.

He closed the almost invisible distance wed been keeping between our bodies, so we touched from chest to groin and thigh. The closeness made me both uncomfortable and more comfortable. It felt good, and bothered me that it felt good. I never said I wasnt conflicted about my sexuality. What helped it not be that sexual was Jasons attitude. Hed gotten closer to comfort himself, not to start foreplay.

Jason gave a smile that was more a baring of teeth. Yeah, Im pissed. Im pissed that the Summerlands ruined my childhood and now are going to ruin my last visit with my dad. Im pissed at my dad. Pissed thaTHE wouldnt let my mom call me sooner. Hell, Im pissed at my mom for not calling me sooner, or my sisters. They could have called me, but they all sat around waiting for the big bully to give them permission.

Is he really a bully, or are you just pissed?

Jason hugged me, burying his face in my hair, as if to breathe me in. Youll meet him in a little bit. Judge for yourself. Ive hated him and tried to love him for so many years I cant see him clearly.

I hugged him back, then said, Let me put the heels back on. Do we call a cab?

Yeah, he said, and reached for the phone.