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“Leo, honey”

“Leo, honey,” she’s whispering. Down the hallway a booming knock. She sits up there on the low bed in the middle of the big dark room, the Duke beside her on his back, right leg lying on top of the blanket, splinted with thin sticks, wrapped in purple cloth. “I don’t,” he murmurs, eyes closed. Shirt buttons undone. His chest and forehead gleaming, his hair slick with sweat. “Don’t.” Again the pounding at the door.

Belting a short silk robe of whites and pale blues she walks down the dark hall to the white door rattling from another flurry of knocks. “Go away,” she says.

The pounding stops. “I would have words with His Grace,” says someone on the other side, his voice highly pitched, rich and gentle and smooth.

“He doesn’t want to see anyone,” she says. “Or have words.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to hear that from his lips. Not yours.”

“Go away,” she says. “Come back tomorrow.”

“Is he hurt?”

She opens her mouth to say something, stops. “No,” she says. “Why would you – ” The door shivers at a mighty blow, and another. “The password!” he cries, his voice no longer gentle. Another blow. She steps away, hands up, head down. “Duncan,” she says, “Duncan will be one man.”

“And Farquahr will be two!” The door bursts open. Stepping backward she stumbles and falls, clutching at her robe falling open slipping off one shoulder. His bare feet stride past, dark blue skirt rustling. His long black hair unbound. Past the pitted yellow tusk on the floor still shining with gold dust to kneel by the bed. She sits up against the wall, head in her hand, still clutching her robe.

He’s taken the Duke’s hand in his own. Raised it to his lips. His black hair slipping from his shoulder slithering down, obscuring the kiss. “Mooncalfe,” says His Grace.

Orlando murmurs something, not looking up from the Duke’s hand. “I don’t,” says the Duke, pulling his hand back. Orlando stands. Stoops over the Duke, black hair falling like a curtain again, but the Duke puts up his hand over his face, turning away. Orlando hangs there a moment, then straightens. Brushes his fingertips against his lips, presses them against His Grace’s bare chest. Turns and walks away.

“Whatever will you do?” he says, in the doorway, bathed in the ruddy light of the Coke machine.

“What?” she says.

“Wherever will you go? What was that place called? Devil’s Point? Would they still take you back, I wonder…”

“What are you talking about? What’s wrong with him?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” He turns then, to look at her, his face lost in shadow. “He no longer wants you, either.”

“Where were you?” she says. “Tonight.” She climbs to her feet, steps toward him. “He needed you and you weren’t there for him. Where were you?”

He lifts a hand, curls it in a loose fist and tilts the knuckles toward her. “You are brave,” he says, tightening his fist. Her eyes widen, her mouth opens, jaw working, curling into herself, shivering violently. He drops his hand and she lets out the breath she’s been holding, takes in a great shuddering drag of air, leaning against the wall. “What did you do to me?” she asks. “What did you do to me?” He closes the door gently between them.

Jo still in her black jeans, her black tank top, her mismatched Chuck Taylors lies on her side, facing the wall. It’s dark, the only light leaking up from the street below. Her eyes are not closed.

Ysabel snoring lightly lies on her belly, dark hair pillowed on one arm curled, one bare leg kicked out from under the blankets trailing off the futon onto the carpet. There by her shucked pants the black spear-haft stretching off to the head like a mirrored leaf under a spindly, wrought-iron chair. On the glass-topped table by a low bowl full of sunflower heads and little light-colored roses a plate, something long and dark on it in a puddle of something dark and thick, pierced through by a slender knife.

“I don’t know if I can keep doing this,” says Jo, to no one at all.

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