Mercy was sitting on the ornamental concrete bench situated between two azalea bushes against the side of the garage, head tipped back against the siding, smoke pluming from his nostrils up into the air like dragon’s breath. His long legs were stretched out in front of him, hands relaxed on his thighs. The moon caught his profile, the ridge of his nose, turned it silver.
Ava kicked at the grass with the toes of her boots as she made her slow approach toward him. “Get lost on your way to the driveway?”
He didn’t answer, drawing on the cigarette and then holding it between bared teeth while he exhaled again, long streams of smoke leaving his nose. She found it wildly arousing, a delighted tremor starting in the pit of her stomach.
“I never could see it,” he said, eyes cast upward.
“That hunter guy you talked about. The one with the belt.”
“Orion.” She smiled as she remembered the night beside the James house, the stars the only witnesses to what had been so fierce and new between them. This moment now, bathed in starlight, felt plucked out of time, a hold on all the worry, a portal back to a simpler state.
“Yeah. Him. Is he up there now?”
Ava let her head fall back, scanning the bright pinpricks in the indigo velvet night sky. “There.” She pointed. “Those three stars are Orion’s belt. And those others make up the man himself.”
Mercy stared. She loved the way the pale light played on the strong, exposed lines of his throat.
“Do you see it?”
“Yeah.” His voice: faint and faraway.