Meet Claudie

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Usually, if Claudie was up this late, she’d hear the last of the night’s cicadas, a chitter from passing bats, and the young frogs chirruping to one another down by the creek. But it’s too wet for that. Instead the wind sweeps through the wet trees, lashing them over and over like monster waves against shifting sand. The rain pounds on the sloped roof.

There are no lights here, no city bustle and chatter. Only a few people, Shelley and a couple of others, even know where Claudie is. Claudie tries not to imagine what her old friends are doing, what new bands they’re listening to, how their projects are going. She hasn’t thought about her former life for ages, but Lien brings all of the past rushing back.

This is the life Claudie chose and this is the life she would choose again, over and over. It’s the life she loves. She has a few friends, a job, the view, her music. She needs nothing more.

She looks out at the familiar darkness and listens to the rain. She evens out her breathing. After weeks of everything dragging, the night has raced by, and it’s late. But it’s hard to stay still. She’s wide awake.

There’s a stranger in the cabin, a stranger sleeping in Claudie’s bed. Sleep would come more easily if the stranger weren’t so appealing.

Even Claudie finds it can be lonely out here, far from anyone she knows. She hasn’t felt lonely tonight. The rain continues on and on. It pours over the house and the trees and the great wide world. It closes them in.

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