“YOU don’t know her secret,” Win said to
“It’s bad?” I asked.
"Very," Win said.
“Then maybe I don’t want to
Two days before I learned the secret she’d kept buried for
a decade --- the seemingly personal secret that would not only
devastate the two of us but change the world forever --- Terese
Collins called me at five AM, pushing me from one quasi-erotic
dream into another. She simply said, “Come to
I had not heard her voice in, what, seven years maybe, and the
line had static and she didn’t bother with hello or any
preamble. I stirred and said, “Terese? Where are
“In a cozy hotel on the Left Bank. You’ll love it
here. There’s an Air France flight leaving tonight at
I sat up. Terese Collins. Imagery flooded in --- her
Class-B-felony bikini, that private sland, the sun-kissed beach,
her gaze that could melt teeth, her Class-B-felony bikini.
It’s worth mentioning the bikini twice.
“I can’t,” I said.
“Paris,” she said.
“Nearly a decade ago we ran away to an island as two lost
souls. I thought that we would never see each other again, but we
did. A few years later, she helped save my son’s life. And
then, poof, she was gone without a trace --- until now.
“Think about it,” she went on. “The City of
Lights. We could make love all night long.”
I managed a swallow. “Sure, yeah, but what would we do
during the day?”
“If remember correctly, you’d probably need to
“And vitamin E,” I said, smiling in spite of myself,
“I can’t Terese. I’m involved.”
“With the 9/11 widow?”
I wondered how she knew. “Yeah.”
“This wouldn’t be about her.”
“Sorry, but I think it would.”
“Are you in love?” she asked.
“Would it matter if I said yes?”
I switched hands. “What’s wrong, Terese?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I want to spend a romantic,
sensual, fantasy-filled weekend with you in Paris.”
Another swallow. “I haven’t heard from you in, what,
“I called,” I said. “Repeatedly.”
“I left messages. I wrote letters. I tried to find
“I know,” she said again.
There was silence. I don’t like silence.
“When you needed me,” she said, “really needed
me, I was there, wasn’t I?
“Come to Paris, Myron.”
“Just like that?”
“Where have you been all this time?”
“I will tell you everything when you get here.”
“I can’t. I’m involved with
That damn silence again.
“Do you remember when we met?”
It had been on the heels of the greatest disaster of my life. I
guess the same was true for her. We had both been pushed into
attending a charity event by well-meaning friends, and as soon as
we saw each other, it was as if our mutual misery were magnetic.
I’m not a big believer in the eyes being the windows of the
soul. I had known too many psychos who could fool you to rely on
such pseudo-science. But the sadness was so obvious in
Terese’s eyes. It emanated from her entire being really, and
that night, with my own life in ruins, I craved that.
Terese had a friend who owned a small Caribbean island not far
from Aruba. We ran off that very night and told no one where we
were going. We ended up spending three weeks there, making love,
barely talking, vanishing and tearing into each other because there
was nothing else.
“Of course, I remember,” I said.
“We both had been crushed. We never talked about it. But
we both knew.”
“Whatever crushed you,” Terese said, “you were
able to move past it. That’s natural. We recover. We get
damaged and then we rebuild.”
“I couldn’t rebuild. I don’t even think
I wanted to rebuild. I was shattered and maybe it was best to keep
me that way.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
Her voice was soft now. “I didn’t think --- check
that, I still don’t think --- that I would like to see what
my world would look like rebuilt. I don’t think I would like
She didn’t reply.
“I want to help,” I said.
“Maybe you can’t,” she said. “Maybe
there’s no point.”
“Forget I called, Myron. Take care of yourself.”
And then she was gone.
Excerpted from LONG LOST © Copyright 2010 by Harlan Coben.
Reprinted with permission by Dutton Adult. All rights reserved.