Today's Reading

"Oh, yeah? Where from?"

"We're not supposed to talk about ourselves."

"It's Texas, right?"

"...I'm from Dallas."

I smile in satisfaction. I've always been good at accents. "I knew it."

"Ma'am?"

"It's Eleanor, I told you."

"Do you want to pray on your thoughts about..."

"Connor Smith?"

"I've found it helpful to pray on my anger. It soothes the soul."

Praying isn't going to help me get rid of Connor, though, which I knew when I came in here. But it was very hot out, and the worn marble church sitting on the corner of the piazza looked so cool and inviting, I couldn't help myself.

Once I was inside, I gazed around the incense-infused space and the mahogany-paneled walls. I was drawn to the small booth tucked into a corner. The confessional, I realized when I stepped past the bloodred velvet curtain. I'd always wondered what they were like. Turns out: small and stuffy. But before I could leave, there was a cough through the wall and a soothing voice suggested I unburden myself. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I don't know how to get out of this conversation.

"Eleanor? Are you in here?"

Oh, thank God.

Oh, um, I mean, thank you, God.

I pull back the curtain. My younger sister,5 Harper, is scuttling down the aisle with a worried expression on her beautiful face. She's wearing a white poplin dress that shows off her long, tanned limbs and complements her chestnut hair, which, like so many things, is one shade better than mine.6 She's wearing it braided and wound around her head, a look that suits her but would make me look like Princess Leia's less attractive sister.7, 8

"I'm here!" I wave my hand so she sees me.

Her face relaxes. Her eyes are a shade better than mine, too—a perfect cornflower blue framed with heavy, dark lashes. Mine are washed out, and my lashes are almost invisible without mascara.

"What are you doing in here, El?"

I step out of the booth. "Confessing my sins?"

"You haven't been gone long enough for that."

"Ha ha."

————————
5 She's a little over two years younger than me, which makes me thirty-five. Joy.

6 Think Evangeline Lilly in her 'Lost days,' not with that terrible haircut she had in the first Ant-Man or Quantumania.

7 Or Evangeline Lilly's less attractive sister—ha!

8 Okay, okay, I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Sometimes people say I look like Rachel Brosnahan when she's a brunette, but her Mrs. Maisel wardrobe is much more fabulous than anything I could pull off.

She plucks a piece of lint from my navy dress. It's made of the same material as hers, light as a feather. She found it for me on a shopping trip to New York. Besides being my sister, she's the best personal assistant anyone could ask for.

I wish she didn't resent me for it so much, and I'm terrified she's going to leave me at the end of this trip. She hasn't said it explicitly, but she's dropped enough hints about me doing more stuff 'on my own' that it's clear where she's headed.

Away from me.

"You don't need to do that," I say, catching her hand.

Do I even need to tell you that her manicure is a perfect ballet pink, while I've long stopped bothering with getting my nails done? No, right? You've got the picture.

"We need to get going," Harper says.

"What's next?"

"The Colosseum."

"Must we?"

"They want us to get some shots there to start hyping Roman Holiday Gone Wrong."

"I haven't agreed to that title."

"Regardless."
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...