Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(7)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(7)
Author: Amy Harmon

“Ah–muh–lee?” I parroted, eyebrows quirked.

“Yeah. The new dancer. Amelie. Didn’t I say?”

“Nah. You didn’t. What is she, French?”

“Something like that,” Morg said, and I could see that he was trying not to laugh. “She lives close by and she walks, though. Lou complains about it, but it really is just around the block. I tell him it’ll do his fat ass some good.”

“Huh.” So that was the funny part. I would be walking the new girl home, and it was starting to snow. The French girl. Fine with me. I was too antsy to sleep anyway. I was considering hitting the speed bag until I could wear myself out enough to shut down for a few hours.

On cue, Justine and Lori appeared in the entryway between the lounge and the bar, winter coats belted, duffle bags in hand.

“Where’s Amelie?” Morgan asked, looking beyond them.

“She said she’d meet Lou out front,” Justine answered.

“Lou’s not in tonight. Tag is walking you out. Right, Boss?”

“Right, Morg.” I tamped down my irritation as Morgan laughed again and winked at the girls.

I escorted Justine and Lori to their vehicles in the back parking lot, watched as they pulled away, and then walked around to the front the building, opting not to go through the bar, eager to avoid Morg for the rest of the night. As I rounded the building, I could see the new girl waiting on the sidewalk, face tilted up, letting the fat flakes land on her cheeks as if she enjoyed the sensation. She waited for me, as if she weren’t in any hurry to get out of the cold, her hands wrapped around a long stick that, in the soft light spilling from the bar and the snow falling around her, made her look like a shepherdess in a Christmas pageant.

“Hello?” There was a question in her voice as I approached, and she slid her staff forward just a bit and nudged my foot as I halted. “Lou?”

“Lou’s sick, so I’ll be walking you home.” I answered slowly, flooded with shocked realization as she turned her face toward me. Her eyes were wide and fixed, and I felt a surprising pang from somewhere behind my heart. She had beautiful eyes. They were large and luminous, fringed by black lashes that swept her cheeks when she closed her eyes. But they were vacant, and looking in them made me inexplicably sad. So I looked away, studying her mouth and the straight dark hair that framed her face and spilled over her shoulders. Then she smiled, and the pang in my heart sliced through my chest once more and took my breath.

“Ah, the long pause. I always get those. My mom always said I was beautiful,” she said drily, “but just in case I’m not, will you promise to lie to me? I demand detailed lies regarding my appearance.” She said all this good-naturedly. No bitterness. Just acceptance. “So you pulled blind girl duty, huh? You don’t have to walk me home. I got here all by myself. But Morgan told me it’s the rule with all the girls. He said the boss insists.”

“He’s right. It’s a great neighborhood, but you and I both know it’s still pretty rough around the edges,” I responded, refusing to feel sheepish, refusing to apologize for staring.

She stuck out her hand and waited for me to grasp it.

“Well then, I’ll introduce myself. I’m Amelie. And I’m blind.” Her lips quirked, letting me know she was laughing as much at herself as at me. I reached out and wrapped her ungloved hand in my own. Her fingers were icy, and I didn’t release them immediately. So she wasn’t French, she was blind, and somehow Morg thought that was hysterically funny.

“Hello, Amelie. I’m David. And I’m not.”

She smiled again, and I found myself smiling too, the pang of sympathy I’d felt for her easing considerably. I didn’t know why I told her my name was David. No one called me David anymore. The name David always made me feel like I’d failed without even trying. It was my father’s name. And his father’s name. And his father before him. David Taggert was a name that carried weight. And I had felt that weight from an early age. Then my friends had started calling me Tag. Tag set me free. It allowed me to be young, free-spirited. Just the word itself brought to mind images of running away. “I’m Tag . . . you can’t catch me.”

“Your hands are calloused, David.”

It was an odd thing to comment on when shaking hands with someone for the first time, but Amelie curled her fingers against my palm, feeling the rough ridges that lined the base of my fingers like she was reading braille.

“Exercise?” she guessed.

“Uh, yeah. I’m a fighter.”

A slim eyebrow rose in question, but her fingers continued to trace my hand intimately. It felt good. And weird. The roof of my mouth started to tingle and my toes curled in my boots.

“The callouses are from the weights. Pull-ups. That sort of thing.” I sounded like an idiot. Like a dumb, Rocky wannabe. I might as well yell, “Yo, Adrian!”

“Do you enjoy it?”

“Fighting?” I asked, trying to keep up. She didn’t converse like the girls I knew. She was so direct. So blunt. But maybe she had to be. She didn’t have the luxury of learning through observance.

“Yes. Fighting. Do you enjoy it?” she clarified.

“Yeah. I do.”

“Why?” she asked.

“I’m big, strong, and angry,” I said honestly, smirking.

She laughed, and I expelled all the air I’d been holding since she’d held out her hand in greeting. Her laughter wasn’t girlish and high, tinkling and sweet. It was robust, healthy, the kind of laugh that came from her belly and had nothing to hide.

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