Interview with Adrien English
He is very drunk.
Preoccupied, tired, maybe a little lonely, he has let me refill his glass — ply him with liquor — in a way he ordinarily would not. It’s not good for him, for one thing — not with that tricky heart of his. And he knows he has a tendency to…rock himself in the waters. So he’s generally careful.
He’s generally careful about most things, and yet…yet he keeps getting involved in murder. And with the wrong men.
You can tell a lot about a guy when he drinks. Adrien English is not a sloppy drunk. In fact, he gets more careful. Very serious — owlish, even. But his dark hair falls untidily into his blue eyes, and he has this little trick of watching me from under his lashes. He’s not flirting, exactly…
He’s better looking than I expected. Better looking than he thinks — a lot better looking than he thinks. And yet it’s hard to put my finger on what it is. The eyes are lovely, of course. Nice nose. Stubborn chin. Mouth is a little too sensitive. Maybe it’s just the trick of good bone structure. He needs a haircut but his hands are clean, well-cared for.
I start with that.
“How are things going with Guy? You’re still seeing him, right?”
He cocks a brow. I think he imagines it makes him look sardonic, but somehow it emphasizes the fact that his collar is undone one button too far, and his hair keeps falling in his eyes.
“Have you been talking to my mother?” he asks — he’s amused. Mostly.
“No. I just know at the end of The Hell You Say things were moving in that direction.”
“Ah.” He sips his fifth Italian margarita. “Things are good. Guy is…good.”
It’s my turn to raise an eyebrow. “What about all that occult stuff he’s into?”
He levels a long blue look at me and offers a kind of smirk. “Five fold kiss,” he says succinctly.
I have no idea what he’s talking about.
“So you’re happy?”
“Of course.” There must be something in his drink, the way he’s staring into those amber depths. “Everything is great. Everything is…going very well. We’re expanding the bookstore. And I just sold the film rights to my first book to Paul Kane’s production company.” He rubs his forehead — yes, he’s going to have one hell of a headache tomorrow morning. “Everything’s coming together. Natalie is working at Cloak and Dagger –”
I interrupt what is beginning to sound like rambling. “Do you ever hear from Angus?”
“Not so far…”
“How are you adjusting to Lisa’s remarriage? Do you like being part of a big family?”
“Oh my God!” he says, and that’s the first absolutely unguarded response he’s given. “Oh. My. God.” He raises his head and stares at me like…words fail him.
“It’s not going well?” Now that I didn’t expect. “But they all like you. They care –”
“Believe me,” he says. “I know.”
I have to bite my lip to keep a straight face. “Well, I think they’re good for you.”
He just gives me a long, dark long.
“I think you need more people in your life,” I insist. “Maybe even a cat.”
“Every bookstore needs a cat.”
He rolls his eyes, and now he’s ignoring me. I study his profile. Yes, that is one stubborn chin.
You can tell guys who’ve grown up with money. Even though he’s just wearing Levis and a simple white tailored shirt, he has this…air. It’s more than grooming. It’s more than the well-worn Bruno Magli loafers or the Omega watch. I don’t think he realizes how much he’s been pampered, protected — not really.
“What is it about you that seems to attract murder and violence?” I ask.
“Me?” Now I have his full astonished attention. “If you’ll notice –” he’s enunciating very carefully “I haven’t been involved in a murder since — in nearly two years. Coincidence? I think not.”
“You don’t think you’re bad luck or suffering from Jessica Fletcher Syndrome or something like that?”
He’s giving me a hard, un-Adrien stare. “Why don’t you ask me what you really came here to ask me?” he says quietly.
It’s my turn to look away. When I glance back, he’s still watching me — I’m apparently having more trouble with this than he is.
“All right. Did you read my interview with Jake Riordan?”
His mouth twists. “Yeah. So?”
“What do you think?”
“What is there to think?”
“Do you think Jake’s happy with the choices he’s made?”
“How the hell should I know?”
“Are you happy with the choices he’s made?”
He opens his mouth, then closes it. Gives me a wry smile. All at once he seems a lot more sober. “He had to make the choices that were right for him, and I’m all right with that.”
“Do you think if Jake came out, you could forgive him?”
“There’s nothing to forgive.”
“Do you think if Jake came out, you could have a future together?”
He says flatly, “That will never happen. Jake will never come out.”
“But if he did –”
Impatiently, he says, “I don’t want to talk theoretical bullshit. He won’t. He can’t. It’s moot. There’s no point talking about it. There’s no point thinking about it.”
“All right, already.”
He grimaces, tosses off the rest of his margarita.
“Do you still love Jake?” I ask softly.
“No.” He doesn’t hesitate, he meets my eyes. He shakes his head.
“But you did? Once?”
His smile is a little bitter as he rises not quite steadily from the table. “Probably,” he says. “It was a long time ago.”
Find out more about the series of Adrien English Mysteries here.