An extraordinary contentment filled me suddenly. You are a Child of the Angels, I thought, and the angels are bringing Liona and her son, your son, to you.
I took a long walk around the Mission Inn, thinking what a perfect cool California day it was, passing all my favorite fountains and chapel doorways and patios and curios and other such things, and it was just time then for her to have come.
I returned to the far end of the walkway, near the doors to the lobby, and I waited for two likely people to start up the path and then pause under the low arched campanario with its many bells.
I couldn't have been there for longer than five minutes, pacing, looking around, checking my watch, moving in and out of the lobby now and then, when suddenly I realized that amid the steady flow of foot traffic along the path, there were two people standing right beneath the bells as I had asked those two people to do.
For a moment I thought my heart would stop.
I'd expected her to be pretty because she'd been pretty when she was a girl, but that had been the bud to this, the radiant flower, and I didn't want to do anything except stare at her, to drink in the woman she'd become.
She was only twenty-seven. Even I at twenty-eight knew that's not very old, but she had a womanly manner about her, and she was dressed in the most becoming and most finished way.
She wore a red suit, fitted at the waist and flaring over her narrow hips, with a short flared skirt that just covered her knees. Her pink blouse was open at her throat and there she wore a simple string of pearls. There was a tiny bit of pink handkerchief in her breast pocket, and her purse was patent leather pink, and so were her graceful high-heeled shoes.
What a picture she was in those clothes.
Her long full black hair was loose over her shoulders, with only some of it drawn back from her clear forehead and fixed perhaps with a barrette, the way she'd done it when she was a girl.
A sense came over me that I would remember her this way forever. It didn't matter what would happen next or hereafter. I would simply never forget the way she looked now, so gorgeous in red, with her full and girlish black hair.
In fact a passage came to me from a film, and it's one that many people love. It's from the film Citizen Kane, and an old man named Bernstein speaks the passage as he reflects on memory and how things can strike us that we see for no more than a few seconds. In his case, he's describing a young woman he once glimpsed on a passing ferryboat. "A white dress she had on," he says, "and she was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second and she didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month has not gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl."
Excerpted from Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice Copyright © 2010 by Anne Rice. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.