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I force my gaze from its elevated angle. Green-shaded lamps cast soft ellipses of light that define boundaries of territory at the communal reading tables. Spread out, by all means, but stay within the light of your own lamp. I sit at the end of one of dozens of tables placed in precise rows within the room.
The Woman in the Library PDF Book by Sulari Gentill
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My table is close enough to the centre of the hall that I can see green lamps and heads bent over books in all directions. The young woman next to me has divested her jacket to reveal full-sleeve tattoos on both arms. I’ve never been inked myself, but I’m fascinated. The story of her life etched on her skin… She’s like a walking book.
Patterns and portraits and words. Mantras of love and power. I wonder how much of it is fiction. What story would I tell if I had to wear it on my body? The woman is reading Freud. It occurs to me that a psychology student would make an excellent protagonist for a thriller. A student, not an expert. Experts are less relatable, removed from the reader by virtue of their status.
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I write “psychology student” onto the blank page of my notebook and surround it with a box. And so I hop onto the bus. God knows where it’s going—I just grabbed the first one that came along. Beneath the box I make some notes about her tattoos, being careful not to make it obvious that I am reading her ink. Across from me sits a young man in a Harvard Law sweatshirt.
He cuts a classic figure—broad shoulders, strong jaw, and a cleft chin—like he was drawn as the hero of an old cartoon. He’s been staring at the same page of the tome propped before him for at least ten minutes. Perhaps he’s committing it to memory…or perhaps he’s just trying to keep his eyes down and away from the young woman on my left.
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I wonder what they are to each other: lovers now estranged, or could it be that he is lovelorn and she indifferent? Or perhaps the other way round—is she stalking him? Watching him over the top of Freud? Might she suspect him of something? I’m still a little in awe every time I step into the chequerboard foyer of Carrington Square.
It’s one of those Victorian brownstones for which Back Bay is famous—a magnificent gabled exterior, renovated to perfection within. My one-bedroom apartment looks out over an internal courtyard featuring landscaped gardens and cast-iron fountains. It’s beautifully furnished and decorated—an address usually beyond the means of a humble writer.
In the sitting room, on either side of the marble fireplace, are built-in bookcases in which are stored the works of each of the previous Sinclair scholarship winners who were writers in residence here. The collection is both inspiring and terrifying. Wonderful novels in almost every genre, crafted in the year during which the writer lived in this apartment. The Woman in the Library PDF Book
In the fifty or so years the scholarship has been running, the apartment has no doubt been refurbished and redecorated several times, but these bookcases remain untouched, sacrosanct. The heart and purpose of this place—sometimes I fancy I can hear it beating. Perhaps it was the bookcases that stilled my pen in the beginning. I had thought that the words would come easily here.
A time and place to write—a dream bolstered by the endorsement of the award. And yet I’d felt unworthy, uncertain. I’d choked, and in the first month I’d deleted more than I wrote. But not today. Today I return from the library exhilarated. We had lingered in the Map Room for hours, Cain, Whit, Marigold, and I.
It was bizarre, four strangers who seemed to recognize each other, like we’d been friends before in a life forgotten. We talked about all manner of things, laughed about most of it, and poked fun at each other without restraint. It felt like being at home, and I breathed out completely for the first time since I stepped on that flight from Sydney The Woman in the Library PDF Book
Whit’s father approaches us in the visitors’ lounge where we’ve been for over an hour. He’s smiling, and so we are relieved even before he tells us that it was just a burst stitch and that Whit will be okay, though he’ll need to rest quietly to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Cain apologises for anything we might have done to make Whit exert himself too soon.
“He said he was laughing.” Frank Metters’s lips curve to one side. “He wouldn’t say why, but clearly it was one helluva punch line.” We say nothing. Metters loosens his tie. “Look, Whit’s not going to be able to see anyone for a while—” “I thought he was all right,” Marigold says. “Oh, he is. But Jean has swooped in to personally protect her boy.
She’s going to work from his room.” Metters’ face is sympathetic. “I wouldn’t bother trying to see him for a couple of days at least.” “You’re sure he’s all right?” Cain asks. “Whit? Oh, the boy is fine. And believe you me, his mother will make sure he doesn’t laugh for a couple of days.” “We’ll be on our way then.” Cain offers Metters his hand. The Woman in the Library PDF Book
Metters accepts the handshake and gives Cain his card. “If you’re worried about Whit, please call, and I’ll give you the latest.” It’s strange leaving without at least seeing Whit to say goodbye, but there’s no point setting up residence in the visitors’ lounge, and Frank Metters promises to pass on our good wishes.
It’s only about a half-hour’s walk to Carrington Square from Mass General, and so I decide to send Cain and Marigold off without me. “I’m sick of sitting.” “Are you sure it’s safe?” Marigold frowns. “Maybe I should walk with you.” “Don’t be silly. It’s three in the afternoon. I just want to walk and think about what I’m writing—get my head back in that space.”
Cain nods. “Good luck. Hope the bus stops for you.” For a flash, I’m confused, and then I realise that I’ve told him about my bus. I smile, pleased for some reason I can’t quite identify. Perhaps it’s merely knowing that he understands. “I’ll throw myself under it.” Cain’s brow rises. “I don’t want to be culturally insensitive, Freddie, but in America we just wait at the bus stop.” The Woman in the Library PDF Book Download
I snort and call him a hack. Marigold still seems troubled. She hugs me farewell as if I’m going to war, and that in itself gives me the giggles, which is a poor way of repaying her concern. Cain starts his Jeep and tells Marigold to get in. “We can follow her at a distance if you want,” he says, leaning across and opening the passenger door.
The detectives are standing by Joe’s desk when I arrive in the foyer. They begin by flashing their badges, introducing themselves as Detectives David Walker and Justine Dwyer. Walker is about fifty, buzz-cut grey hair, tall, broad, and bearded. Even in plainclothes he looks like he’s wearing a uniform. His partner is a brunette, and there’s an edge of style to the practicality of her pantsuit and low-heeled shoes.
She smiles when she says hello, and I can feel the knot in the pit of my stomach loosen a little. They are, as I suspected, here to ask me about the night Cain and I encountered Shaun Jacobs. I confirm locations and times, that I saw Boo attack Cain, and that Cain did not retaliate. I worry that they’ll ask who treated Cain’s wound, which will mean trouble for Mrs. Weinbaum, but they do not. The Woman in the Library PDF Book Download
They ask how long I’ve known Cain and the nature of our relationship. “I met Cain about a month ago at the library. We’re friends.” “And you were with Mr. McLeod until what time, Ms. Kincaid?” “He left at about half past ten the next morning.” I glance at Walker and read what he thinks in his face. “I didn’t want Cain to drive while there was a chance he might be concussed, so he stayed here the night.
I slept on the couch.” Detective Dwyer nods. “A sensible precaution.” “Mr. McLeod is a lucky man to have such thoughtful friends,” Walker says tersely. “Isn’t he?” I’m annoyed. Walker’s smile is not quite hidden by his facial hair. “I mean, there are not many folks who’d be comfortable having a man like Cain McLeod spending the night, whether or not he was concussed.”
I assume he’s trying to goad me, so I don’t give him the satisfaction of a response. Walker continues. “I mean, you’ve only known him a month, and the man did serve seven years.” “Serve?” I’m confused now. Dwyer glances sideways at her partner. I know they are noting my reaction. “Cain McLeod served seven years for murder.” I feel cold inside, and hot and flushed at the same time. The Woman in the Library PDF Book Download
“Are you sure?” It’s a ridiculous question to ask of the police, and I’m not even sure I’m asking anything. It’s more an expression of shock and disbelief. And then I remember that Cain changed his name. Perhaps this is some kind of misunderstanding. “You know Cain McLeod is not his real name—” “Yes, we do. Abel Manners changed his name to Cain McLeod when he was released.”
The decision to return to the library early the next morning is made in desperation and frustration. I need to work. Cain is still not picking up and, in the apartment, I’m tempted to try again repeatedly, to think about him and nothing else. When things get stuck, change the scene. And so I go back to where it all began, reset to a time before I met Whit and Marigold and Cain, before we heard a young woman die.
I cast my eyes upwards and anchor myself in the magnificent vaulted ceiling of the Reading Room, determined to make that my memory of this place. But Heroic Chin, Freud Girl, and Handsome Man look out at me from my own manuscript. Most of all Handsome Man. The bus is crowded now, so much so that I can’t see who’s driving it. The Woman in the Library PDF Book Free
Handsome Man sits in the back, behind Shaun Jacobs. Perhaps he is, as Whit says, innocent. Wrongly accused, wrongly convicted. God, I hope so. I remember what it was like to kiss him and, when I think about it, I believe completely that he is innocent. And in my manuscript he can be. Perhaps it’s time for my Handsome Man to diverge from his inspiration.
And yet I’m not ready to leave Cain behind, to remove him from my manuscript or my story. I step out at midday because I’m vexed and hungry. I don’t feel like going to the Map Room on my own, and so I head out in search of a pretzel vendor. The cold hits me like a wall the moment I leave the building. The temperature has plummeted in the time I’ve been inside. The clouds are a vague green colour.
He sits on the other end of the couch. “What do you want to know, Freddie? I’ll tell you anything.” I choose my words carefully. “Why did you kill your stepfather, Cain? I know you say you were defending yourself, but I’m not sure I understand how a boy of fifteen finds himself in a place where his only option is to kill a man.” Cain frowns. “It didn’t begin that night. The Woman in the Library PDF Book Free
In a way, it was years in the making. My stepfather had, as I told you, always wanted a large family. When he realised that wasn’t going to happen—that I was it—things changed. He became mean, brutal. By the time I was fourteen, I’d become the proverbial ‘clumsy kid’ who was always walking into doors and falling down stairs.”
He swallows. “I still loved him for the longest time. I tried, I really did. And then one day I couldn’t take any more, and I hit back. It was the world’s luckiest punch…or maybe the unluckiest, because it landed, and then…” He shakes his head. “I panicked. That’s when I ran.” “I don’t understand. You didn’t kill him?” I move closer to Cain. “Not then. Isaac convinced me to go back eventually.” Cain smiles faintly. “Said he couldn’t nursemaid me forever, and I’d never survive without him.