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Home > Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(8)

Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(8)
Author: Gayle Forman

• • •

They ride on Wren’s bicycle, Allyson sidesaddle on the rack behind. (She thinks this might be her favorite thing about Amsterdam. She wants to import the tandem sidesaddle riding back home.) It is early evening when they arrive at the flower market, but a Saturday night, and bustling. Wolfgang is there, wrapping up a big bouquet of lilies.

When he looks up and sees them, he doesn’t seem the slightest bit surprised, even though Allyson is supposed to be in Croatia. He just winks. Allyson waits for the crowd to disperse and when there’s a break, she hugs him. The smell of him, tobacco and flowers, feels so good and familiar that it doesn’t make sense that she only met Wolfgang three days ago (except that it does).

“She found him!” Wren announces. “She found her Orlando.”

“I was under the impression she found what she was looking for already last night,” he says in that rumbly heavily accented voice.

Wolfgang looks at Allyson, a silent understanding passing between them. He is right. Last night, even when she’d thought Willem was a ghost she’d been chasing, she still felt like she’d found what she’d been looking for. Something harder to lose. Because it was connected to her. Because it was her.

“It turns out, I found us both,” Allyson tells Wolfgang.

“Double good news then,” he says.

“Double happiness,” Allyson says.

“That too,” Wolfgang says.

“We are going to see him perform Orlando again. Can you come?” Wren asks.

Wolfgang says that one night of Shakespeare is enough for him. And he has to shut down the stall tonight. But he’ll be free after ten.

“Then meet us after,” Allyson says. “A bunch of us are going for dinner. You should be there.”

She thinks of what Broodje said, the dinner like a banquet for the investor’s circle. Wolfgang should be there. So should Dee. And Professor Glenny. And Babs. And Kali and Jenn, her roommates last year. Maybe she’ll hold another investor’s dinner when she goes home.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Wolfgang says. “Now, would you like some flowers?”

• • •

At the amphitheater at Vondelpark, Allyson spots Broodje. He has saved several seats, up front this time. He is with a group of people, a guy even taller than Willem, a short-haired girl, another guy. He has brought a basket of food and several bottles of beer.

He kisses Allyson and Wren three times, cheek-cheek-cheek. And then he turns to the group. “Everyone. This is her. Lulu. Only she’s really Allyson. And this is her friend Wren.”

They all sort of stare at each other. The girl speaks first, sticking out her hand. “I’m Lien.”

“Allyson.”

“Wren.”

Lien stares at her. “You really do look like Louise Brooks.”

“Huh?” Wren says.

“The silent film actress,” Allyson explains. “My hair was like hers then. That’s why Willem called me Lulu.”

Lien looks at her, remembering that Louise Brooks movie Willem dragged them all to. She’d known then something was up with Willem. No one had believed her when she’d said he had fallen in love.

They believe her now.

• • •

W is having a hard time understanding.

After all the methodical work they put into it, calling all the American tour companies, finding the barge captain in Deauville, the charts of all the connections, this didn’t make sense. Willem going off to Mexico to look for her hadn’t made sense either. It would’ve been one thing had the girl visited a small town during a quiet time of year, but a resort area at Christmas? The odds were ridiculous. But at least that adhered to a logic. The Principle of Connectivity, albeit stretched very thin.

But he doesn’t understand this. All the looking they had done, and from what Broodje had said, the girl had done her own looking. But then she’d just happened upon him at the play last night? The play Willem was not even meant to be performing in? He’d been the understudy until last night.

It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any sense at all.

• • •

Backstage, Willem is thinking about accidents again. And things that seemingly don’t make sense, except they do. Like right out there in the fifth row. All of them, together. That makes sense.

He doesn’t see Kate yet, but she has texted that she and David will be there but must leave right after the play. David is catching a late flight back to London, and she’s seeing him to the airport.

Willem’s cast mates slap him on the back, offer congratulations from last night, and condolences for next week. He accepts them both.

Max is by his side, as always. She is the other understudy, for Rosalind, and Willem’s best friend in the cast. “You win some, you lose some. And sometimes you win and lose at the same time. Life’s a bloody cockup,” Max says.

“Is that Shakespeare?” Willem asks.

“Nah. Just me.”

“Sounds like the Universal Law of Equilibrium,” Willem says.

“The what?”

When Willem doesn’t answer right away, she says, “Sounds like a bunch of shite.”

“You’re probably right,” Willem agrees. And then he asks her if she’ll come out after the show.

“I’m still hungover from last night,” Max complains. “How many parties does one man need?”

“This is different,” Willem says.

“How is it different?” Max asks.

Max has become one of his closest friends these past months, and yet he hasn’t told her a thing. There is nothing to do now but to tell her everything.

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