Page 88 of Coercion

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“No.”He leans in.“It’s secrets.”

“You are so fucking annoying.Nothing is even happening at this party.”

“Just a lot of furtive, lingering glances.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I’m having a good time.”He gets thislookon his face, and I can’t hold back from rolling my eyes.

“They’re not a story, Sin, for Christ’s sake.They’re just rich assholes.”

“That’s your sister-in-law you’re talking about.And I wouldn’t write a story about the Morellis.”

I almost fall for it.“You’d only write a story about the rivalry.”

“I’m just saying.People like that always have something to hide.”

“Has it ever occurred to you thatyou’repeople like that, Sinclair?”

He grins at me.“Not for a second.”

“Will!”Bristol bursts out of the crowd, gets up on tiptoe, and kisses my cheek.“You looked so good up there.I’m so proud of you.”

I take her arms and put them around my neck, then pull her close.“I’m nothing without you.Do you know that?”

“Mmm.I don’t think that scenario applies, Mr.Leblanc.You’re never going to be without me again.That means you’re everything, forever.”

“I love you, Ms.Anderson.”

“You won’t be able to call me that much longer,” she whispers.

“I’m still going to call you that when you’re bent over my—”

Bristol shuts me up with a tight, tight hug and a soft, sweet kiss.



I like open spaces.The bigger, the better.Ever jump off the side of a mountain attached to a parachute?For a second, before you pull the chute, you can’t feel anything but air.

That’s the stuff.

The rest of the trip down isn’t bad, either.Puts things in perspective.Things can’t weigh so much when they’re so far below that you can hardly see them.

Same can’t be said for the kind of work I do.All the best stories come from being up close and personal.Even the biggest cities in the world are collections of small places.Same goes for people’s lives.They’re made up of moments.Split-second decisions.All such small things, when you line them up.

For the big picture, you need to be able to step back and see it all.

That’s the catch.If a guy like me stands alone in the middle of a town square, somebody’s going to notice.A person who’s aware of an audience always changes.I’ve only met a couple of people who are exceptions to the rule.

The only way to get aroundthatis to make yourself less of a stranger.In my line of work, it can’t be one or the other.I always start out as a neutral observer, watching my subjects before they can watch me back.

Then I move in.I become familiar, but notclose.Never close.Bonds between people are dangerous things.I’d rather take my chances on jumping off cliffsides.

Honestly, I miss the fall.

I miss it more now that I have reasons to stay on the ground again.

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