"I'm not disappointed," he half-snapped, "just surprised is all."
A black chuckle. "Life's full of surprises. I guess I wear a pretty effective mask."
"We've all got a mask or two, Abbie."
"Yeah? Do you?"
Her cursed himself for his own placating remark because her question unnerved him. Suddenly the room felt hot as a sauna. "I better go now, I'll talk to you later." He turned in the light, then started down the darker corridor.
She rushed up behind him. "Have some guts! Don't run away, answer the question!"
He bristled, gritting his teeth, then turned back to her. "Yeah, I've got a mask, too, Abbie."
"Then tell me."
He almost stuttered when he said, "No."
"Oh, that's just great! Just like what I was saying before. More bulls.h.i.+t. If you were for real, you'd tell me."
The cords in Fanshawe's neck stiffened.
"What's the matter, Stew?" she taunted. "Am I ruffling your feathers? Huh? Getting you hot under the collar? Why not be even up?"
"What gives you the right to stand there and make judgments about me, when you won't even-"
"I'm not making judgments!" he almost yelled.
"Sure you are! You and your rehab. You and your knight in s.h.i.+ning armor jive." She grinned. "Here you are making me feel like s.h.i.+t for the skeletons in my closet, but it sounds to me like you've got a few in your own."
"Maybe I do, but you don't need to know it."
She stepped closer. "Just make me squirm, huh? That's the deal? You can dump my blow down the f.u.c.king drain and preach to me about rehab, but the fact is, you got no idea what it's like." She inclined herself forward. "You ever been addicted, Stew? You ever get into you something that turned you into a slave?"
"Yes!" he barked.
"Are you kidding me? I can tell an ex-junkie when I see one, and you ain't it."
"It's something else!" he blurted.
"Well then why don't you tell me? Even the playing field. I told you my secret, it's only fair you tell me yours."
He knew she was right, but he just...couldn't...do it.
"That's good, that's a good little billionaire. You're a cliche, Stew. You're like these financial a.s.sholes in the papers every day, the type of guy who won't play a fair game. He'll only play the game that's fixed."
He jabbed a finger at her. "Now you're the one making judgments!"
She shrugged haughtily. "Then convince me. Prove it to me that you're for real. How can I trust you with my secret if you won't trust me with yours? All your money doesn't mean s.h.i.+t if you can't be real. For f.u.c.k's sake, I just told you I've wh.o.r.ed myself for my boyfriend in Nashua. Do you have any idea how it made me feel telling you that? Whenever he set up a big dope deal, I was the deal-sealer, Stew. Blow-jobs, gang-bangs-"
Her grin rose and fell as she nodded. "One time I f.u.c.ked a roomful of bagmen to
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