loading...
Home > Nights in Rodanthe(8)

Nights in Rodanthe(8)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

When she left, Paul remembered cutting back on his schedule, thinking he needed time to sort things out. But months later, instead of going back to his regular routine, he cut back even more. He still ran regularly but found he no longer had any interest in reading the financial pages in the morning. For as long as he could remember, he’d needed only six hours of sleep a night; but strangely, the more he cut back on the pace of his previous life, the more hours he seemed to need to feel rested.

There were other, physical changes as well. For the first time in years, Paul felt the muscles in his shoulders relax. The lines in his face, grown deep over the years, were still prominent, but the intensity he once saw in his reflection had been replaced with a sort of weary melancholy. And though it was probably his imagination, it seemed as if his graying hair had finally stopped receding.

At one time, he had thought he had it all. He’d run and run, he’d reached the pinnacle of success; yet now, he realized he’d never taken his father’s advice. All his life, he’d been running away from something, not toward something, and in his heart, he knew it had all been in vain.

He was fifty-four and alone in the world, and as he stared at the vacant stretch of asphalt unfolding before him, he couldn’t help but wonder why on earth he’d run so hard.

Knowing he was close now, Paul settled in for the final leg of his journey. He was staying at a small bed-and-breakfast just off the highway, and when he reached the outskirts of Rodanthe, he took in his surroundings. Downtown, if you could call it that, consisted of various businesses that seemed to offer just about everything. The general store sold hardware and fishing gear as well as groceries; the gas station sold tires and auto parts as well as the services of a mechanic.

He had no reason to ask for directions, and a minute later, he pulled off the highway onto a short gravel drive, thinking the Inn at Rodanthe was more charming than he’d imagined it would be. It was an aging white Victorian with black shutters and a welcoming front porch. On the railings were potted pansies in full bloom, and an American flag fluttered in the wind.

He grabbed his gear and slung the bags over his shoulder, then walked up the steps and went inside. The floor was heart pine, scuffed by years of sandy feet, and without the formality of his former home. On his left, there was a cozy sitting room, brightly lit by two large windows framing the fireplace. He could smell fresh coffee and saw that a small platter of cookies had been set out for his arrival. On the right, he assumed he’d find the proprietor, and he went that way.

Though he saw a small desk where he was supposed to check in, no one was behind it. In the corner, he saw the room keys; the key chains were small statues of lighthouses. When he reached the desk, he rang the bell, requesting service.

He waited, then rang again, and this time he heard what sounded like a muffled cry coming from somewhere in the rear of the house. Leaving his gear, he stepped around the desk and pushed through a set of swinging doors that led to the kitchen. On the counter were three unpacked grocery bags.

The back door was open, beckoning him that way, and the porch creaked as he stepped outside. On the left, he saw a couple of rocking chairs and a small table between them; on the right, he saw the source of the noise.

She was standing in the corner; overlooking the ocean. Like him, she was wearing faded jeans, but she was enveloped by a thick turtleneck sweater. Her light brown hair was pinned back, a few loose tendrils whipping in the wind. He watched as she turned, startled at the sound of his boots on the porch. Behind her, a dozen terns rode the updrafts, and a coffee cup was perched on the railing.

Paul glanced away, then found his eyes drawn to her again. Even though she was crying, he could tell she was pretty, but there was something in the sad way she shifted her weight that let him know she didn’t realize it. And that, he would always think when looking back on this moment, had only served to make her even more appealing.

Four

Amanda looked across the table at her mother.

Adrienne had paused and was staring out the window again. The rain had stopped; beyond the glass, the sky was full of shadows. In the silence, Amanda could hear the refrigerator humming steadily.

“Why are you telling me this, Mom?”

“Because I think you need to hear it.”

“But why? I mean, who was he?”

Instead of answering, Adrienne reached for the bottle of wine. With deliberate motions, she opened it. After pouring herself a glass, she did the same for her daughter.

“You might need this,” she said.

“Mom?”

Adrienne slid the glass across the table.

“Do you remember when I went to Rodanthe? When Jean asked if I could watch the Inn?”

It took a moment before it clicked.

“Back when I was in high school, you mean?”

“Yes.”

When Adrienne began again, Amanda found herself reaching for her wine, wondering what this was all about.

Five

Standing near the railing on the back porch of the Inn on a gloomy Thursday afternoon, Adrienne let the coffee cup warm her hands as she stared at the ocean, noting that it was rougher than it had been an hour earlier. The water had taken on the color of iron, like the hull of an old battleship, and she could see tiny whitecaps stretching to the horizon.

Part of her wished she hadn’t come. She was watching the Inn for a friend, and she’d hoped it would be a respite of sorts, but now it seemed like a mistake. First, the weather wasn’t going to cooperate—all day, the radio had been warning of the big nor’easter heading this way—and she wasn’t looking forward to the possibility of losing power or having to hole up inside for a couple of days. But more than that, despite the angry skies, the beach brought back memories of too many family vacations, blissful days when she’d been content with the world.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology