Belinda by Anne Rice

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By Anne Rice

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Some old Hollywood tale of Alex Clementine's came back, something about the silent film star Fatty Arbuckle accidentally injuring a young girl in this hotel, a bedroom scandal that wrecked his career, all before our time. Alex was probably telling that story now upstairs. Wouldn't miss that opportunity surely. A jam-packed cable car clanked at the taxis that barred its way. We darted in front of it. "Jeremy, you know you can lie down for a few minutes, prop up your feet, shut your eyes, then I'll get you some coffee.

And yet she'd been so delicate, so purely romantic in the way that she'd kissed, touched, let me touch her. No hint of guilt or old-fashioned shame or the defiance they can produce. No, none of that. I was going mad over it. I couldn't figure it out. Too fast it had all been. And then the short sleep afterwards with my arm around her. I had never figured on her slipping away. I hated myself and I was angry with her. Some rich kid she was, probably, skipping school; and now safe in her mansion in Pacific Heights telling some other brat on the phone about what she'd done.

No, she didn't quite fit here. And in the soft electric daylight of the crowded store she suggested an imaginary being, an hallucination. Something prophetic in that, though she was very real, more real perhaps than I ever was. I forced myself not to stare at her. I had to keep the pen going as the copies of Looking For Bettina were put into my hand, see the little upturned faces. " Yes, I do. " I'll try to. But this is number seven. Isn't it enough, perhaps? What do you think? " Real to me, what about you?

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