Prologue: Arrival

A man arrives in a new city, hoping to start a new life, but he's still haunted by memories of past loves.

An excerpt:

The highway curved left, curved right. Headlights revealed a ghostly white wall wherever he turned, but it continually receded as the car moved. He hated driving at night, especially on a strange highway, and he hated driving in fog at any time. His vision was too good, he sometimes thought; he was so accustomed to seeing clearly that even the smallest impediment to his field of sight seemed a terrible obstruction. To be surrounded by fog was almost unbearable. As he got closer to the coast, the white wall inched perceptibly nearer to the car. But at least that meant he was nearer to his destination, where he could at last sleep.

The object hurtled out of the white, a black round thing silhouetted rolling, a flying saucer crash-landed on its side, lights out, engine dead-he swerved right, onto the shoulder, and it went past, on the driver's side, almost within reach. A truck tire? Shaken, he stopped, flipped on the left turn signal, got out the right-hand door, and looked back into the white night. It had disappeared. He thought he heard a fog-muffled sound. The thing had probably lost momentum and wobbled off into the guard rail. He took out a cigarette but decided it would be safer to drive than to stand here, exposed to danger, in the fog. So he got back into the car.

Friday the Thirteenth. A hell of a day to drive to a new city, a new job, a new life. But at least he had avoided disaster. So far.

More important, to him, it was September thirteenth. A day of good omen, he hoped, Friday notwithstanding. It had been, once before. When, white robe parting to reveal a semi-round of white breast and (just barely) the pink nipple at the center, Debra had leaned back laughing on the kitchen chair and he had, finally, accepted the invitation that seemed merest chance until, later, she told him.

He was very tired. To keep himself awake, he began to sing.

"One two three four five six seven, I never learned to count a great amount."

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Next: The Beating Heart