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44

We retraced our steps until we were down inside the aqueducts, across the gangplanks and outside the door. Elena knocked. Nothing happened. She knocked again. Her eyebrows knitted together. She looked down at her watch, then took hold of the knocker and rapped once more. Still nothing.

Should we call someone? I asked. Like my father?

She shook her head. There is no service down here.

Of course. I should have thought of that.

Finally, Elena shrugged. I usually dont just go in she said, her voice trailing off.

Elena grasped the knocker and turned it to the right. The door clicked and popped open just a little-not enough to see what lay behind it.

Elena gestured at the door, then nodded at me. Go ahead, she said.

Go ahead, I repeated inanely. This was the moment Id been fantasizing about since that night in Chicago when the man in the garage saved me, when Id heard those words, Youre okay now, Boo.

Okay, I said, remembering.

My aunt stepped aside, and I pushed the door. It was made of heavy iron but it glided smoothly.

Behind the door was an office, a dark, wooden desk in the center, bookshelves along the wall to my left. I scanned them quickly, seeing a hodgepodge collection-psychology texts, books on the Mafia, current thrillers, tall leather tomes that looked like ledgers.

But there was no one in the room. I was about to turn to Elena when a book caught my eye. I took a few steps and touched the spine. Poems & Prayers for the Very Young, a copy of the book my father used to read to me.

I closed my eyes, and I could hear his voice: I wake in the morning early; And always, the very first thing; I poke up my head and I sit up in bed; and I sing and I sing and I sing.

When my father read that book to me in bed-Close your eyes, Boo, and just listen-I understood it. And yet when he was gone, the poem seemed to be about some other girl. I couldnt imagine that I would want to wake up and sing ever again. For a long time, I didnt even want to wake up.

I opened my eyes now. I was about to say something to Elena, but something beyond her caught my attention.

Thats when I saw the blood.


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