Today's Reading


The video was all wrong. This man was nobody I knew. He was too tall, heavier than my husband, but his black wool coat was exactly like the one that had disappeared from Olivier's office a couple of years ago during a consulting job. It had been a birthday gift from me, and he'd been upset about losing it. The man also wore a thick gray scarf just like the one Olivier wore. And his hair—same exact haircut, but where Olivier's hair was thick with gray-black waves
and curl, this man's was straight, dark. I could not see him close up, but I could see enough.

I enlarged the picture and saw the coat had a small tear on the left sleeve where Olivier had caught it in the door of our car. This was my husband's coat. Had this man taken it out of Olivier's office? Was he someone my husband worked with?

And the dog on the video. I knew my dog. It was Leo. And Leo was alive.

I looked at the video in wonder. So this was where Leo had been. This man had taken him. And the fury rose inside me.

And I saw everything I needed to know in how they walked together.

The body language of a dog, their energy—how they walk, the set of their ears, the way they hold their tail. This will tell you everything. Leo was turned away from the man, straining to get free. If you had ever seen Olivier and Leo walking together, you would know. Because Leo and Olivier, they were always in sync, almost a dance. With horses in dressage, they call it the float. Leo rising up on the balls of his feet, moving with a grace that made him look as if his feet barely touched the ground, completely in tune with Olivier's stride. Head turning from side to side, watchful, because Leo was always on the job.

I saw none of this on the video. I saw a stressed dog, who wanted to get free. Limping—that left-side psoas muscle giving him trouble. He had blackened burns on his skin. He had lost a lot of weight. But there was no doubt in my mind. This was my Very Good Boy.

I watched the video over and over, sick to my stomach, frozen in my heart, as anger surged so strong it made me tremble.

And I thought of my husband. How he had come to me the night that he died. I thought of crying softly in the plane on the way to France, turning my face to the window so no one could see.

Identifying Olivier's body had not traumatized me. I had shut out the world, turned my hearing aids off. The time I spent with him then was surreal, gentle and precious. Just the two of us. I remembered how the flesh on his chest and neck and the left side of his face had been scorched and burned.

How I had kissed my fingertips and touched that ravaged skin. The face so familiar, so different, so still. How I sat beside my husband, telling him over and over how much I loved him. Held his hand tight, knowing it was the last time. I had bent my head close to his shoulder, soaking him with my tears.

Why did I even have this slight flicker of hope that somehow...some way...he was still alive? I knew better. Whoever did this...I could not fathom such cruelty. Someone had sabotaged the plane. Olivier had been murdered. It was too hard to think about. I had no idea what I should do.

But Leo. Leo was alive. And I laughed and I cried. I was going to France. I was going to find my Leo. I was going to bring him home.


I arrived in Geneva thirty-seven hours later. I had called my big brother and his husband, left them a message. My brother and I ran a business together—forensic accounting, lucrative. I was behind with my clients, and I was going to be even more behind. I had brought my laptop. I made promises to my brother that I knew I wouldn't keep. It was not because I could not concentrate on the work. It was because I concentrated too well. It took me longer, much longer to do the work now, and I was missing deadlines. My brother did not understand that this was a good thing. He just knew that if I said I'd be done in a week...I wasn't. But I was strangely better than I'd ever been before. I could see the pathways of money being hidden and moved around as if I was following a throbbing neon trail. I had always been an intuitive forensic accountant, which is a rare thing. And now I saw everything. All the twisty little layers of deceit.

I exchanged money at the airport and was met at the curb outside baggage claim by Olivier's best friend, Eugene. We exchanged two bises, right cheek, left cheek. He took my hand in both of his and studied me. He was a sturdy man, thinning chestnut hair that flipped to one side, eyes very brown. Unshaven for about a week, which was four days more than I liked. People looked at me carefully since Olivier died. Searching out my grief.

'You are looking good, Junie. But I am worried about you now, with this weird thing going on. I watched that video you sent me, and so did Annette. No, this is not Olivier. This man with your dog—how can that happen?'

'You don't know who he is?'

He hesitated. Shrugged. 'It's best for you to talk to Laurent about this—you talk to him, OK?'

This excerpt is from the paperback edition.

Monday we begin the book Hard Country by Reavis Z. Wortham.

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