"Unique and breathtaking and painful and broken and perfect . . . just like love. I'm still crying, yet all I want to do is settle down and read it again." Jodi Picoult
Joel has sworn off falling in love. But when he meets Callie, he can't help being drawn to her. In Callie, he sees a second chance at life. And in Joel, Callie discovers the kind of love she'd always hoped was real. They challenge each other to take chances, to laugh, and to trust that no matter how hard each falls, the other will be there to catch them.
But Joel has a secret. He dreams about the people he loves, and these dreams always come true. One night, Joel has the dream of Callie he's feared the most, and each must decide: Can Callie stay, knowing her fate? And if her days must be numbered, is there a life she is meant to live?
Told in Joel and Callie's voices, The Sight of You is a sweeping, romantic, and unforgettable American debut, about the bravery it takes to love, especially when we think we know how the story will end.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.50(d)|
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Joel, I'm so sorry. To see you again like that . . . Why did I get on the train? I should have waited for the next one. It wouldn't have mattered. I missed my stop anyway, and we were late for the wedding.
Because the whole way to London, I could only think of you, about what you might have written in the note you gave me. Then when I finally opened it, I stared at it for so long that by the time I next looked up, Blackfriars had come and gone.
There was an ocean of things I wanted-needed-to say to you too. But my mind just misfired when I saw you. Maybe I was scared of saying too much.
What if today was it, though, Joel? What if today was the last time I'll see your face, hear your voice?
Time's rushing by, and I know what's coming.
I wish I'd stayed. Just a few minutes more. I'm sorry.
It's one in the morning and I'm standing bare-chested at my living room window. The sky is still and blistered with stars, the moon a marble.
Any minute now, my neighbor Steve will leave the flat above mine. He'll head down to his car, the baby squirming furiously in her carrier. He takes Poppy for drives in the middle of the night, tries to soothe her to sleep with the rumble of tires and his playlist of farmyard-animal sounds.
Here it comes. The sleep-slackened tread of his feet on the stairs, Poppy whimpering. His trademark mishandling of our fractious front door. I watch as he approaches the car, flicks the lock, hesitates. He's confused, knows something's not right. But his brain's still catching up.
Eventually it clicks. He swears, puts a hand to his head. Makes two disbelieving laps of the vehicle.
Sorry, Steve-it's all four tires. Someone's definitely let them down. You're not going anywhere tonight.
For a moment he's a statue, lit up by the laboratory glow of the streetlight. Then something makes him stare straight into the window I'm looking out of.
I hold my nerve. As long as I stay still, it must be nearly impossible for him to see me. My blinds are shut, the flat silent and dark as a reptile resting. He can't know I have my eye pressed against a single slat. That I'm watching everything.
For a moment our gazes are soldered together before he looks away, shaking his head as Poppy treats the street to a timely scream.
A light springs on in the house opposite. Brightness strikes the darkened street, exasperation drifting down from the window. "Come on, mate!"
Steve lifts a hand, then turns to come back inside. I hear the two of them trail upstairs, Poppy wailing determinedly as they go. Steve's used to keeping strange hours, but Hayley will be trying to sleep. She's recently returned to her job at a prestigious London law firm, which means it matters if she nods off in meetings.
Still. My tasks for tonight are complete. I cross them off in my notebook, then sit down on the sofa, parting the blinds so I can look at the stars.
I reward myself with a shot of whisky, because that's what I do on special occasions. Then I make it a double and down it, fast.
Twenty minutes later, I'm ready to crash. I'm after a very specific kind of sleep, and everything I've done tonight should help me achieve it.
"He's ever so hot," says my eighty-something near-neighbor Iris, when I pitch up at her house a few hours later to walk her yellow Labrador, Rufus.
It's not yet eight in the morning, which might account for why I haven't got a clue who she's talking about. Her neighbor Bill, who pops round most mornings with a nugget of gossip or a weird little leaflet? The postman, who's just waved jauntily at us through the living room window?
Postmen. They're always either inanely cheerful or miserable as sin. Never a middle ground.
"He's been sleeping on the kitchen tiles to stay cool."
Of course. She's talking about the dog. This happens more often than I'd like: being too exhausted to make simple conversation with someone at least twice my age. "Good idea." I smile. "Might try it myself."
She shoots me a look. "That will hardly endear you to the ladies now, will it?"
Ah, the Ladies. Who are they, again? Iris seems convinced there's a queue of them somewhere, keen to put their lives on hold to hang out with a guy like me.
"Do you think he can cope?" she asks, gesturing at Rufus. "Out there, in this heat?"
I used to be a vet. I'm not anymore. But I think Iris takes comfort from my onetime credentials.
"It's cooler today," I assure her. She's right that it has been warm lately, since we're only just in September. "We'll go down to the boating lake, have a paddle."
She smiles. "You too?"
I shake my head. "Prefer to commit my public-order offenses after hours. More exciting that way."
She lights up like my lame jokes are the highlight of her day. "We're so fortunate to have you, aren't we, Rufus?"
To be fair, Iris is pretty awesome herself. She wears earrings shaped like fruit and has a Premium subscription to Spotify.
I bend down to clip on Rufus's lead as he eases to his feet. "He is still a touch on the heavy side, Iris. That won't be helping his heat tolerance. How's his diet going?"
She shrugs. "He can smell cheese from fifty paces, Joel. What can I say?"
I sigh. I've been lecturing Iris about Rufus's food for nearly eight years now. "What was our deal? I'd walk him, you'd take care of the rest."
"I know, I know." She starts to shoo us from the living room with her walking stick. "But I just can't resist the look on his face."
I've got three dogs in tow by the time I make it to the park. (I walk two others along with Rufus, for ex-clients who aren't too mobile. There's a fourth as well, a Great Dane called Bruno. But he's socially unhinged and formidably strong, so I take him out after dark.)
Though the air's freshened up overnight, I keep my promise to Iris about the boating lake. Unclipping the dogs' leads, I feel myself brighten as they canter like horses into the water.
I take a breath. Attempt to persuade myself again that what I did last night was right.
It had to be. Because here's the thing: almost my whole life, I've been having prophetic dreams. The kind of lucid, lifelike visions that startle me from sleep. They show me what's going to happen, days, weeks, years down the line. And the subjects, always, are the people I love.
The dreams come every week or so, the ratio of good to bad to neutral fairly even. But it's the dark premonitions I fear most: the accidents and illnesses, pain and misfortune. They're why I'm constantly edgy, always on high alert. Wondering when I might next have to reroute the course of fate, race to intervene in someone's best-laid plans.
Or, worse, save a life.
I track my canine charges from the bank of the lake, giving a group of fellow dog walkers a smile and a necessarily wide berth. They gather most mornings by the bridge, beckoning me over if I make the mistake of eye contact. I've kept my distance ever since the time they started swapping tips on sleeping well, their talk turning to home remedies and therapies, pills and routines. (I made my excuses and vanished. Haven't hung out with them since.)
The whole thing just cut a little deep. Because, in pursuit of a dreamless night, I've tried the lot. Diets, meditation, affirmations. Lavender and white noise. Milky drinks. Sleeping tablets with added side effects, essential oils. Exercise so punishing I'd have to stop to spew. Sporadic periods of hard boozing in my twenties, under the misguided notion I could alter my sleep cycles. But years of experimenting proved my cycles to be untouchable. And nothing I do has ever been able to change that.
Still, simple mathematics dictates that less sleep must equal fewer dreams. So, these days, I stay up till the small hours, aided by screen time and a pretty hard-core caffeine habit. Then I allow myself a short, sharp spell of rest. I've trained my mind to expect it: snapping out of slumber after just a few hours.
Which is why, now, I'm in urgent need of coffee. Whistling the dogs from the water, I head back toward the path along the river. On the road to my right, real life is grinding into gear. Rush-hour traffic, cyclists, commuters on foot, delivery vans. A discordant orchestra, tuning up for a standard weekday morning.
It makes me oddly nostalgic for normality. I've not got too much headspace at the moment for gainful employment, friendships, or health. The worry and lack of sleep leave me constantly knackered, distracted, jittery.
If only to prevent the whole thing from burying me, I live by some loose-ish rules: exercise daily, not too much booze, steer clear of love.
I've confessed the truth to just two people in my life. And the second time, I swore it would be the last. Which is why I can't tell Steve that last night, I was acting on a fevered premonition about Poppy. My goddaughter, whom I love like I do my own nieces. I saw the whole thing: Steve exhausted, forgetting to brake at the crossroads with Poppy in the back. I watched his car barrel into a lamppost at thirty miles an hour. In the aftermath of the accident, she had to be cut from the car.
So I took the necessary action. Which was worthy of that double whisky, if I do say so myself.
I put the dogs back on their leads and make for home. I'll need to avoid Steve, for a while at least. The longer I can keep my head down, the less likely he'll be to connect me to what happened last night.
Once I've dropped the dogs off, I'll seek out a café to hole up in, I think. A place where I can drink coffee quietly in a corner, anonymous and unobserved.
You can't tell me it's never happened to you before." Dot and I are wiping tables in the coffee shop after closing, exchanging theories on the customer who walked out without paying earlier. This is always my favorite time of day-winding down and trading stories, restoring the shine to the room. Beyond the window, the early-September air is warm and delicate as peach skin.
"Maybe it was an honest mistake," I say.
Dot pushes a hand through her crop of bleach-blond hair. "Seriously. How long have you worked here?"
"Eighteen months." It sounds more incredible every time I say it.
"Eighteen months, and you've not yet had a walkout." Dot shakes her head. "You must have the right kind of face."
"I'm sure he just forgot. I think Murphy distracted him."
Murphy's my dog, a black-and-tan crossbreed. Well, he's sort of mine. Anyway, he's living the dream being pet-in-residence at the coffee shop, because there's no end of people here willing to fuss him and sneak him illicit titbits.
Dot snorts. "The only thing that guy forgot was his wallet."
I'd never seen him before. Then again, I'd never seen a lot of today's customers before. The rival café at the top of the hill usually absorbs the commuter footfall of Eversford, the market town where I've lived my whole life. But it closed this morning without warning, and its regulars began drifting mutely in as soon as we opened, all pinstripes and aftershave and well-polished shoes.
But this customer was different. In fact, I'd be slightly embarrassed to admit just how much he stood out to me. He couldn't have been en route to any office-his dark hair was solely bedworthy, and he seemed saddled by exhaustion, like he'd had a rough night. At first he appeared distracted as I came to take his order, but when he finally turned his eyes to me, they gripped tight and didn't let go.
We exchanged no more than a couple of words, but I do recall that before he walked out without paying-and between bouts of scribbling in a notebook-he formed something of a silent bond with Murphy.
"I think he might have been a writer. He had a notebook with him."
Dot disagrees through her nose. "Of course-starving writer. Trust you to put a romantic spin on theft."
"Yes, but if it were up to you, we'd have one of those signs, like you get in petrol stations. If you do not have the means to pay . . ."
"Now, that is an excellent idea."
"It wasn't a suggestion."
"Maybe next time I'll floor him with my best roundhouse."
I don't doubt it would be good-Dot's recently taken up kickboxing, committing to it with an energy I envy. She's always doing the next thing, running wild through life like a creature uncaged.
By contrast, she thinks I've shrunk back from the world-that I've slunk into its corners, started blinking into bright light. She's probably right.
"No martial arts moves on the customers," I tell her. "Café policy."
"Anyway, there won't be a next time. I've memorized his face. If I see him in town, I'm demanding that tenner back."
"He only had a coffee."
Dot shrugs. "Call it our tax on eat-and-run."
I smile and move past her into the back office to print the order for tomorrow's delivery. I've been gone only a minute when I hear her calling out, "We're closed! Come back tomorrow!"
As I stick my head around the office doorway, I recognize the figure at the door. And so, it seems, does Murphy-he's sniffing the hinges expectantly, tail wagging.
"It's him," I say, feeling my stomach skitter slightly. Tall and lean, gray T-shirt, dark jeans. Skin that hints at a summer spent outside. "The guy who forgot to pay."
"Nice detective skills, Sherlock."
With a huff Dot unlocks the deadbolt and turns the key, cranking the door just a notch. I don't hear what he says but assume he's come to settle up as she's unhooking the chain now, opening the door to let him in. Murphy scoots backward as he enters, tail wagging, paws dancing.
"I walked out without paying earlier," he says gruffly, with disarming remorse. "Completely unintentional. Here." He passes Dot a twenty, rubs a hand through his hair, glances at me. His eyes are wide, dark as damp earth.