A Different Blue Page 32

We drove back to the school, and Colby sat in sulky silence while we got my truck running. Until he decided to be sick, that is, and puked all over the passenger side of Mason's truck. Wilson just gritted his teeth and climbed back into the cab, rolling his window down with angry jerks.

“I'll follow you to Mason's house,” he bit out, as if the whole mess was my fault. I led the way in my truck, keeping Wilson in my rear-view mirror. When we reached Mason's, we hoisted him out of the truck and in through the basement door of his parents' house. There was no way we were getting him up the stairs to his apartment above the garage. He weighed close to 200 pounds, and it was all dead weight. We slung him onto the couch, and his arms flopped theatrically.

“Is he going to be all right?” I watched for his chest to rise.

Wilson slapped Mason's cheeks briskly.

“Mason? Mason? Come on, chap. Your girl is worried that I've killed you.” Mason moaned and shoved at Wilson's hands.

“See? He's brilliant. No harm done.” Wilson marched out of the house. Colby slumped down into the recliner and closed his eyes. The fun was all over. I pulled the basement door shut behind me and ran after Wilson. He lifted his cello out of the back of Mason's truck.

“His keys are on the dash, but I've locked the doors. It will serve him right if he doesn't have another set. I'm hoping it will slow him down if he and his chum decide to rescue anyone else tonight, or, even better, come looking for you.” He glowered at me briefly and transferred his cello into my truck. He climbed in the passenger side, and I slid behind the wheel, angry because he was angry. I peeled out of Mason's driveway, my temper flaring with the squeal of my wheels.

“It's not my fault you locked YOUR keys in YOUR car. That had nothing to do with me.”

“Please, just take me home. I smell like beer and pizza vomit. #16 – Blue has horrible taste in mates.”

“Are all Brits this miserable around midnight, or is it just you? And what did you do back there anyway? You are a school teacher and you play the cello! You are the biggest nerd I know. You are not supposed to know Kung Fu.”

Wilson scowled at me, apparently not appreciating the nerd comment.

“I honestly don't know what I did. It was pure luck. I just popped him in the jaw. He went down.” We were both silent, contemplating the odds. “It felt bloody amazing.”

Startled by his admission, my head snapped around and my eyes found his. I don't know who started laughing first. Maybe it was me, maybe it was him, but within seconds we were wheezing and howling with laughter. I could barely drive, I was laughing so hard. And it felt bloody amazing.

I ended up taking Wilson to his house to retrieve his keys and then running him back to the school to get his car. He lived in a big old monstrosity that he was remodeling. Most of the newer homes in the Vegas area were stucco, and you would be hard pressed to find a handful of homes that were bricked. But in Boulder City there was less rhyme and reason, more old than new, and less community planning.

Some older structures still dominated Buchanan Street, where Wilson's house was located. Wilson's home had been listed with the historical society until lack of funds made it impossible to maintain. Wilson told me it was a heap when he had purchased it a year before. I informed him it still was, smiling to take the sting out of my words. But I could see the appeal.

It was an enormous red brick, done up in a style that seemed more suited to a college campus back East than a neighborhood in a small desert town. Wilson said everything in England was old, and not just seventy years old, like this house, but hundreds and hundreds of years old. He didn't want to live in a home where there wasn't any history, and his home had as much history as you were going to find in a Western town. I should have known.

As we walked up the front steps, I noticed he had placed a small plaque by the door, the kind with gold lettering that usually states the home's address. It said Pemberley. That was all.

“You named your house Pemberley?” The name was familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

“It's a bit of a joke,” he sighed. “My sisters thought it would be funny. They had it made and Tiffa surprised me on my birthday. I keep telling myself I'll take it down, but . . .” His voice faded away and I let it go. I would have to google Pemberley when I had a chance, just to let myself in on the joke.

A great deal of work had been done on the interior. The front doors opened up into a foyer dominated by a wide set of stairs that curved up to the second floor. It was beautiful, but I think it was the dark, heavy wood that won me over. The floors matched the enormous mahogany banister that swept gracefully up to the second level, where it became a thick railing that made a wide circle beneath the vaulted ceiling.

There were two apartments completely finished, one on the second floor and one on the main level. Another was still under construction, due to be finished shortly, according to Wilson. The ground floor apartment was occupied by an old lady whom Wilson seemed rather fond of. I didn't meet her. It was past midnight, after all. Wilson lived in the other. I was curious to see what his digs looked like but hung back, wondering if he would want me to stay out. He was my teacher, and almost everything that had happened that night could cost him his job, or at least get him in trouble, though he had been an innocent victim to circumstance.

He seemed relieved that I didn't come inside but left the door open. I could see that the dark wood floors extended into his apartment, which he called his “flat.” The walls were painted a pale green. Two framed prints of African women carrying bowls on their heads hung in the long hallway leading into the rest of the space. Nice. I didn't know what I'd expected. Maybe shelves and shelves of books and a high backed velvet chair where Wilson could smoke a pipe, wearing a red smoking jacket while reading big dusty books.

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