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Home > Nights in Rodanthe(13)

Nights in Rodanthe(13)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

The case had gone nowhere for a year. Once Robert Torrelson’s attorney received the autopsy report, had another surgeon review the videotape, and the attorneys from the insurance company and hospital started the process of filing motions to drag out the process and run up the costs, he’d painted a bleak picture of what his client was up against. Though they didn’t say so directly, the attorneys for the insurance company expected Robert Torrelson to eventually drop the suit.

It was like the few other cases that had been filed against Paul Flanner over the years, except for the fact that Paul had received a personal note from Robert Torrelson two months ago.

He didn’t need to bring it with him to recall what had been written.

Dear Dr. Flanner,

I would like to talk to you in person. This is very important to me.

Please.

Robert Torrelson

At the bottom of the letter, he’d left his address.

After reading it, Paul had showed it to the attorneys, and they’d urged him to ignore it. So had his former colleagues at the hospital. Just let it go, they’d said. Once this is over, we can set up a meeting with him if he still wants to talk.

But there was something in the simple plea above Robert Torrelson’s neatly scrawled signature that had gotten to Paul, and he’d decided not to listen to them.

To his mind, he’d ignored too many things already.

Paul put on his jacket, walked down the steps, and went out the front door, heading toward the car. From the front seat, he grabbed the leather pouch containing his passport and tickets, but instead of going back inside, he made his way around the side of the house.

On the beach side the wind grew cold, and Paul paused for a moment to zip his jacket. Pinching the leather pouch beneath his arm, he tucked his hands into his jacket and bowed his head, feeling the breeze nip at his cheeks.

The sky reminded him of those he’d seen in Baltimore before snowstorms that tinted the world into shades of washed-out gray. In the distance, he could see a pelican gliding low over the water, its wings unmoving, floating with the wind. He wondered where it would go when the storm hit full force.

Near the water, Paul stopped. The waves were rolling in from two different directions, sending up plumes as they collided. The air was moist and chilly. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the light in the kitchen of the Inn glowing yellow. Adrienne’s figure passed shadowlike by the window, then vanished from sight.

He would try to talk to Robert Torrelson tomorrow morning, he thought. The storm was expected to arrive in the afternoon and would probably last through most of the weekend, so he couldn’t do it then. Nor did he want to wait until Monday; his flight left on Tuesday afternoon out of Dulles, and he had to leave Rodanthe no later than nine. He didn’t want to run the risk of not speaking with him, and in light of the storm, one day was cutting it close. By Monday, power lines might be down, there might be flooding, or Robert Torrelson might be taking care of who knew what in the aftermath.

Paul had never been in Rodanthe before, but he didn’t think it would take more than a few minutes to find the house. The town, he figured, had no more than a few dozen streets, and he could walk the length of the town in less than half an hour.

After a few minutes on the sand, Paul turned and started making his way back toward the Inn. As he did, he caught a glimpse of Adrienne Willis in the window again.

Her smile, he thought. He liked her smile.

From the window, Adrienne found herself glancing at Paul Flanner as he made his way back from the beach.

She was unpacking the groceries, doing her best to put them in the right cupboards. Earlier in the afternoon, she’d bought the items that Jean had recommended, but now she wondered if she should have waited until Paul arrived to ask him if there was anything in particular that he wanted to eat.

His visit intrigued her. She knew from Jean that when he’d called six weeks ago, she’d said that she closed up after the New Year and wouldn’t open again until April; but he’d offered to pay double the room rate if she could stay open an extra week.

He wasn’t on vacation, she was sure of that. Not only because Rodanthe wasn’t a popular destination in winter, but because he didn’t strike her as the vacationing type. Nor was his demeanor when he’d checked in that of someone who’d come here to relax.

He hadn’t mentioned that he was visiting family, either, so that meant he was probably here for business. But that, too, didn’t make much sense. Other than fishing and tourism, there wasn’t much business in Rodanthe, and with the exception of those businesses that provided the necessities for those who lived here, most of them closed down for the winter anyway.

She was still trying to figure it out when she heard him coming up the back steps. She listened as he stomped the sand from his feet outside the door.

A moment later, the back door opened with a squeak, and Paul walked into the kitchen. As he shrugged off his jacket, she noticed that the tip of his nose had turned red.

“I think the storm’s getting close,” he said. “The temperature’s dropped at least ten degrees since this morning.”

Adrienne put a box of croutons into the cupboard and looked over her shoulder as she answered.

“I know. I had to turn the heater up. This isn’t the most energy efficient of homes. I could actually feel the wind coming in through the windows. Sorry you don’t have better weather.”

Paul rubbed his arms. “That’s the way it goes. Is the coffee still out? I think I could use a cup to warm up.”

“It might be a little stale by now. I’ll make a fresh pot. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

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