By Laura Schiller
Based on the Stravaganza series
Copyright: Mary Hoffman
Vicky Mulholland stood in the doorway and watched the young boy sleep. It was dark, the only lights coming from the lamp in the corridor behind her and a pale moonbeam falling onto the wooden floor.
She looked around at the shadowy bookshelf, where Lucien's fantasy novels and books about Venice still stood; at the outline of Lucien's gray sweater flung over the chair, and at the open closet door containing a jumble of his clothes. The bed itself was a mound of blankets; she could just make out a head of black curls on the pillow.
Her breath caught in her throat. For a moment, she had been looking back in time as if down a long dark well, at a living, breathing image of the past. For a moment, she had thought Lucien was sleeping there, and the past two years had been nothing but a nightmare. But she was awake, and the boy in the bed was not the son she had lost.
He stirred and raised his head. "Vicky?" he whispered. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," she said, with a nervous little laugh. "It's all right. Sorry to wake you up."
She remembered, feeling silly, that in daylight the little bedroom would look quite different. Lucien's swim team trophies would be gone, along with his violin and music stand, replaced by prizes for fencing. The walls would be plastered with photographs of running horses, postcards of Renaissance paintings and a photo of the cathedral in Florence. And on the nightstand was a framed picture of Nicholas with his friend Georgia, stripey-haired and beaming, making bunny ears behind his head.
"Good night, Nicholas," said Vicky, tucking him in.
Good night, my son.