Home > Nights in Rodanthe(12)

Nights in Rodanthe(12)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

With the exception of the furniture, pretty much everything was tinted various shades of blue: The throw rug on the floor was the color of robin’s eggs, the comforter and curtains were navy, the lamp on the end table was somewhere in between and shiny, like the paint on a new car. Though the chest of drawers and the end table were eggshell, they’d been decorated with scenes of the ocean beneath summer skies. Even the phone was blue, which gave it the appearance of a toy.

“What do you think?”

“It’s definitely blue,” he said.

“Do you want to see the other rooms?”

Paul set the duffel bags on the floor as he looked out the window.

“No, this will be fine. Is it okay if I open the window, though? It’s kind of stuffy in here.”

“Go ahead.”

Paul crossed the room, flipped the latch, and lifted the pane. Because the home had been painted so many times over the years, the window caught after about an inch. As Paul struggled to raise it further, Adrienne could see the wiry muscles of his forearms knot and flex.

She cleared her throat.

“I guess you should know it’s my first time watching the Inn,” she said. “I’ve been here lots of times, but always when Jean was here, so if something’s not right, don’t think twice about telling me.”

Paul turned around. With his back to the glass, his features were lost in shadows.

“I’m not worried,” he said. “I’m not too picky these days.”

Adrienne smiled as she pulled the key from the door. “Okay, things you should know. Jean told me to go over these. There’s a wall heater beneath the window, and all you have to do is turn it on. There’s only two settings, and in the beginning it’ll make a clicking noise, but it’ll stop after a few minutes. There are fresh towels in the bathroom; if you need more, just let me know. And even though it seems to take forever, the hot water does eventually come out of the nozzle. I promise.”

Adrienne caught a glimpse of Paul’s smile as she went on.

“And unless we get someone else this weekend—and I’m not expecting anyone else with the storm unless they get stranded,” she said, “we can eat whenever you’d like. Normally, Jean serves breakfast at eight and dinner is at seven, but if you’re busy then, just let me know and we can eat whenever. Or I can make you something that you could take with you.”


She paused, her mind searching for anything else to say.

“Oh, one more thing. Before you use the phone, you should know it’s only set up to make local calls. If you want to dial long distance, you’ll have to use a calling card or call collect, and you’ll have to go through the operator.”


She hesitated in the doorway. “Anything else you need to know?”

“I think that just about covers it. Except, of course, for the obvious.”

“What’s that?”

“You haven’t told me your name yet.”

She set the key on the chest of drawers beside the door and smiled. “I’m Adrienne. Adrienne Willis.”

Paul crossed the room, and surprising her, he offered his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Adrienne.”


Paul had come to Rodanthe at the request of Robert Torrelson, and as he unpacked a few items from the duffel bag and placed them in the drawers, he wondered again what Robert wanted to say to him or if he expected Paul to do most of the talking.

Jill Torrelson had come to him because she had a meningioma. A benign cyst, it wasn’t a life-threatening ailment, but it was unsightly, to say the least. The meningioma was on the right side of her face, extending from the bridge of her nose and over the cheek, forming a bulbous purple mass, punctuated by scars where it had ulcerated over the years. Paul had operated on dozens of patients with meningiomas, and he’d received many letters from those who had undergone the operation, expressing how thankful they were for what he’d done.

He’d gone over it a thousand times, and he still didn’t know why she’d died. Nor, it seemed, could science provide the answer. The autopsy on Jill was inconclusive, and the cause of death had not been determined. At first, they assumed she’d had an embolism of some sort, but they could find no evidence of it. After that, they focused on the idea that she’d had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia or postsurgical medication, but those were eventually ruled out as well. So was negligence on Paul’s part; the surgery had gone off without a hitch, and a close examination by the coroner had found nothing out of the ordinary with the procedure or anything that might have been even tangentially responsible for her death.

The videotape had confirmed it. Because the meningioma was considered typical, the procedure had been videotaped by the hospital for potential use in instruction by the faculty. Afterward, it had been reviewed by the surgical board of the hospital and three additional surgeons from out of state. Again, nothing was found to be amiss.

There were some medical conditions mentioned in the report. Jill Torrelson was overweight and her arteries had thickened; in time, she may have needed a coronary bypass. She had diabetes and, as a lifelong smoker, the beginnings of emphysema, though again, neither of these conditions seemed life-threatening at present, and neither adequately explained what had happened.

Jill Torrelson, it seemed, had died for no reason at all, as if God had simply called her home.

Like so many others in his situation, Robert Torrelson had filed a wrongful-death suit. The lawsuit named Paul, the hospital, and the anesthesiologist as defendants. Paul, like most surgeons, was covered by malpractice insurance. As was customary, he was instructed not to speak to Robert Torrelson without an attorney present and even then only if he was being deposed and Robert Torrelson happened to be in the room.

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