The following is the twenty-fourth of a series of excerpts from The Rowan Tree: A Novel by Robert W. Fuller. The complete novel is available in paperback, in various ebook formats including Kindle, and as an audiobook at Amazon, iTunes, and audible.com. If you enjoy The Rowan Tree, please write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your own blog! The author also welcomes your comments.
Marisol’s apartment was six blocks from Rowan’s. It had an airy living room and tiny bedroom. She had painted the living room creamy apricot and trimmed it in a pale lavender. She furnished it with a navy-blue loveseat, a second-hand armchair, and a small, antique coffee table. The only window faced south, over the roofs of the buildings opposite, toward the skyscrapers in lower Manhattan. At night, the silhouettes of the World Trade Center’s twin towers twinkled against a darkening sky.
Adam had come up from Princeton at her invitation to celebrate the end of his exams and the start of summer break. While she put the finishing touches on dinner, he curled up on the loveseat and dozed off to the sound of kitchen noises and soft music.
Before waking him, she changed into a filmy lilac skirt with matching tank leotard. When dinner was ready, she sat down on the edge of the loveseat and rubbed his chest.
“What are you wearing?” Adam said drowsily, gazing up at her.
“Oh, it’s inspired by the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty,” she said, rising and making a curtsey.
She spread a tablecloth on the floor of the living room and motioned for Adam to sit. She handed him a bottle of Chianti to open while she went to the kitchen to get the ratatouille from the oven.
“I’ve missed you,” she called out. “I’m so glad you’re here.” Before she joined him on the floor she changed the music.
“Layla,” she said. “Remember?” They listened as they ate.
When the song was over, she said, “Don’t you wish that no one had ever told us?”
“Ignorance was bliss, but we can’t forget what we know.”
“No one would have to know.”
“You mean sneak around? We’d never be able to keep it from our friends.”
Marisol moved behind him. “Adam…” she murmured, and began rubbing his shoulders. When he relaxed, she nuzzled his neck.
“I thought we weren’t going to do this anymore.”
“Just pretend I’m the Lilac Fairy.” When he didn’t move, she whispered, “You don’t want to?”
“It can’t be right.”
“So long as it’s between us, right and wrong are our business.”
“Rowan would hate me. The better I know him, the more that matters.”
“It’s not fair that the first time I fall in love, it’s ruled off-limits.”
“I love you too, Marisol, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re brother and sister.”
“Half…” Marisol insisted.
“I see you as family. I can’t get past that.”
Adam spun around and grabbed his sister’s wrists. “It’s incest, Marisol! That’s how everyone would see it.”
Stung by his outburst, she shrank back.
There hadn’t been a day since François had revealed his paternity that Adam hadn’t struggled with the implications. He put his arm around her and gave her shoulder a squeeze. “I want my life to count for something,” he said firmly.
“Well then stand up for us,” she shot back. “I intend to!”
“I’m sorry, Marisol, but this is a fight we can’t win.” He stood up, picked up his jacket, and started toward the door.
“No, Adam, no,” Marisol pleaded, tears flowing. She went to him and put her arms around his neck. “Please, come and sit down. I’m sorry.”
“Marisol, you’ve got to help me with this.” He opened the door and walked toward the elevator.
Marisol stood in her doorway, sobbing, until the elevator door closed. Then she went to the window and watched him walk away. He didn’t look back.
The next day, without telling anyone, Adam left for Paris.