Disclaimers: The characters in this story are mine. This is a 'uber' story, set in today's timeline, and some of the characters may bear a more than a slight resemblance to certain other characters we all know, but which are not owned by me. Any similarity to real people is unintentional and purely coincidental. The location is Orlando, Florida. This story is character driven. As in my previous story, there once again is no plot. There is no violence, nobody is trying to kill anybody else, nobody is chasing anybody else, etc., etc. There may be some minor angst here, but nothing too traumatic. The backdrop is a law firm, and from first hand experience, law firms can be rather routine places to work. This story continues the tale of two people set in that environment whose lives are anything but routine.
Subtext Disclaimer: There is subtext, or maintext as the case may be, here. This story deals with the deep, profound love and devotion between two people who happen to be of the same gender. Although there are some scenes depicting the physical expression of that love, there are no graphic scenes here. If that is what you are looking for, you might want to read something else.
Continuing Story Disclaimer: This is the sequel to my first story "Undeniable" and picks up about one week after its conclusion. You may want to read the previous story prior to reading this one, otherwise it will probably not make much sense to you.
Feedback: This is my second attempt at fan fiction. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. Please feel free to let me know if there is something you especially liked or didn't like. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by KM
The courtroom was quiet as the presiding judge contemplated the arguments of both counsel. It was nearly noon, and all parties were increasingly anxious to break for a much-needed lunch recess. The early winter January day outside was bright and sunny, albeit a bit blustery for the normally mild Central Florida climate. Brilliant beams of sunlight filtered through the twenty-second floor large windows, bathing the court chambers in a golden glow as a subdued hush settled over the occupants of the state-of-the-art courtroom.
Judge Calloway glanced over at the plaintiff's table, noting the anticipatory stance of the lead attorney. Addressing the tall form who was patiently awaiting his response, he rubbed his fingers briskly against his forehead and queried the matter further. "Counsel, what relief would you seek, provided, of course, that I grant your motion to freeze the funds deposited by the defendant into the registry of this Court?"
The lead counsel allowed the corners of her mouth curl ever so slightly, sensing imminent victory. "Your Honor, should you grant our motion, we would then immediately seek an order releasing those funds directly to the plaintiff."
"On what basis?" Judge Calloway tapped his finger solidly on the dark wooden bench top.
Blue eyes shifted as the junior partner looked over toward her second chair associate. The dark head nodded almost imperceptibly, and the young associate handed over several bound sets of case law, statutes, and pertinent rules of procedure. "Your Honor, since a final judgment was entered against the defendant, he was required to post a bond, if he was so inclined, in order to continue operating his business pending appeal. Instead, the defendant chose to post cash rather than the required bond, which was clearly not contemplated by current law." The lead counsel approached the judge's bench and handed a set of bound materials to the trial clerk, then provided a copy to opposing counsel. "Your Honor, if I may direct your attention to tab four of the materials, the statute clearly requires and provides for the posting of a bond, not cash. Furthermore, in our original attempts to collect on the judgment, we determined that the defendant maintains very limited additional assets. Absent the cash posted with this Court, his remaining assets are clearly not enough to cover the amount of the judgment itself."
The judge slowly looked up from the proffered materials and focused on the plaintiff's lead attorney. "Am I to understand, counselor, that you are alleging that the defendant posted cash to the registry of this Court in order to shield his assets from garnishment or levy?"
Dark eyebrows shot up in disguised innocence. "We are certainly not alleging deliberate evasion on the part of the defendant, Your Honor. We are merely saying that the correct procedure as required by law was not followed, and that the deadline for doing so has long since passed."
The judge now turned his attention toward opposing counsel, clearly displeased by the defendant's apparent attempt at deception. Nevertheless, his words belied an implied warning. "Mr. Davis, the Court will assume that such a posting of cash, rather than a bond, was an inadvertent oversight of applicable law." He sat back in his over-sized leather chair for a moment, then proceeded. "All right. I'm granting Plaintiff's motion. The funds are frozen pending further hearing on disbursement. The parties may submit a proposed order, and the plaintiff has ten days to file a motion for release of the frozen funds. The defendant may oppose." Judge Calloway gave a frank look to defense counsel. "Mr. Davis, if the defendant opposes, there must be specific legal grounds for such opposition, otherwise, absent such legal showing, I will tell you now that there is no basis to maintain the funds in this Court's registry or to release them back to your client."
The defense counsel, sufficiently chastised, responded weakly. "We understand, Your Honor."
Finally, Judge Calloway gaveled the Court in recess and all occupants of the courtroom rose as he proceeded to exit through the small doorway behind his bench.
Back at counsel table, the young associate had been watching the proceedings with avid interest and considerable amazement. In her opinion, the junior partner had been absolutely brilliant, the lead counsel's tall, elegant frame emanating confidence throughout the entire proceeding. As the judge departed the courtroom, green eyes tracked over to fix on cool blue, a wide smile gracing the young associate's fair features. "That was great."
"Thanks." Jessica Harrison packed up her briefcase. "Do me a favor, will ya? Prepare a proposed order for today's hearing, then prepare draft motion to release those funds and let me see it."
"You got it." Robin Wilson gathered all remaining items from the counsel table and followed the junior partner the through the courtroom's dark wood double doors. "Hey, Jess. One thing I don't get. Why didn't you go after them on shielding their assets? You know they did it on purpose."
Jess stepped out into the long, now empty corridor. "Because I could get what I wanted without embarrassing the opposing counsel. I may very well be up against him in the future, and it's better not to have bad blood, if possible." She glanced over at Robin. "Always take the high road if you can help it. You'll get a reputation as an honorable lawyer. If you start out with a negative reputation, it's very hard to get rid of it."
The associate considered the sound advice and realized that Jess was teaching her things that strict book, and even practical experience could not. "I'll remember that. Thanks." As they approached the elevators, Robin's stomach, somehow sensing the noon hour, growled softly. "Um, Jess? Could we maybe get lunch before heading back?"
A wide, knowing smile was her response. "I suppose we could do that." The smile then turned a bit serious. "But, maybe we should eat separately. We're trying to be careful, remember?"
The young associate sighed in slight frustration. "I remember, but surely it can't hurt just this once. We're not even at the firm. No one will notice."
Jess, she is definitely your weakness. All things considered, the junior partner acquiesced much too easily on the matter. "I guess it'll be okay just this once. How about we go to that Italian restaurant across the street and get some pasta?"
Green eyes lit up. "Great." The elevator doors opened. "But, I'm buying."
Jess stepped into the elevator car. "You're buying? Any special reason?"
"It's part of our deal. I buy you lunch everyday." Robin suddenly blushed as she entered the elevator.
Jess stared at Robin and pushed the first floor button. Buy lunch everyday? Quizzical blue eyes regarded twinkling green. I don't get it.
Robin grinned, picking up on Jess's momentary confusion. "The other part of our deal is that you make sure my stomach is happy everyday." The associate felt herself blush all over again.
Stomach happy everyday? Jess was lost in contemplation as the doors to the elevator opened on the twelfth floor and a deputy sheriff stepped aboard. The older woman momentarily broke from her thoughts and noted the now very amused green eyes staring back at her. I still don't get it. Perhaps it was the surroundings, but for the life of her, Jess just couldn't pick up on whatever it was that Robin was subtly trying to say. Either that, or Jess was particularly dense that day. Pick one.
Robin stifled a giggle in continued amusement. I guess I have to spell it out for her. "Jess, I know how your appetite can get."
The junior partner considered the proffered clues. Lunch everyday. Stomach happy. Appetite. Dark eyebrows furrowed in thought. Nope, still don't get it. A blue eye peeked beneath her dark bangs. I still don't get .. Suddenly, both blue eyes grew very wide. Oh. Jess glanced over and around the deputy sheriff for a clear view of Robin who was now biting her lip to hide an obvious grin. Oh. The older woman felt a faint blush creep up her face despite the presence of an oblivious deputy sheriff. Oh boy. Azure eyes glared in Robin's direction. You are so absolutely dead.
The elevator doors opened on the first floor and all occupants exited the elevator car. The deputy sheriff headed toward the jury assembly room, while the young associate led the way into the vaulted lobby. "So, Jess, it's settled, then? I'm buying?"
The junior partner walked up beside the associate. "Yes, Robin. You're buying." A smirk. "After all, it's part of our deal, right?" Now, crystal blue eyes were the ones twinkling in clear amusement. "And I can assure you that I'll definitely uphold my end of our bargain later on."
Jess's tone of voice caused Robin to swallow involuntarily. Oh boy. I am definitely in trouble. And that particular thought was not entirely unappealing.
"Are you all set to move this weekend?" Jess fiddled with the edge of her napkin. "Need any help with anything?"
Robin smiled, knowing how hard it was for Jess just to sit back and not be involved. "Everything's set. The apartment movers are scheduled for Saturday." Pale eyebrows lifted slightly. "We won't be in your way while we're moving, will we?"
"Nope." A thought occurred to the older woman. "Um ..Robin, exactly how much stuff do you have?"
"Quite a lot." Robin replied seriously. "We may have to rearrange some things." The waiter brought their entrees and set them on the table in front of them.
"You don't need everything from your apartment, you know. I have everything we need."
"True." Robin continued. "But there's a certain fluffy sofa that I'm quite fond of." She grinned. "I guess I could put it in the spare room. Along with the TV. And my desk. And the dresser. And .."
Jess cut in. "Looks like that room's gonna be rather crowded." She expertly twirled her spaghetti on her fork, then took a bite.
The blonde head shook. "Actually, I've rented storage space at that mini-warehouse place down the street. I'm gonna put most of my stuff there."
"You know, Robin, you can have any room you want. If you want to move things around and have more space, we can do that."
The associate sipped her citrus tea. "Nope. The spare room's fine."
Jess set her fork down, then spoke in a very warm tone of voice. ""Hey. I mean this. I want you to feel comfortable. You can have the extra bathroom, which I never use, all to yourself, and you can take whatever bedroom you want. I realize that there may be times when we each want our privacy, and I really want for you to have a place all to yourself." She resumed eating, but didn't look up. "Especially if I might get on your nerves or something."
Robin smiled at the endearing sentiment. "Thanks. I'm sure I'll be quite comfortable in the spare room, but yes, I will take the hall bathroom." She took a bite of her ziti and regarded the taller woman. "I'm sure you won't get on my nerves, Jess." A green eye peered up somewhat shyly. "I might get on yours, though."
Robin wouldn't let the subject drop just yet. "You'll tell me, though, if I do, right?"
Jess squinted her eyes. The thought honestly never occurred to her. "Yes, I promise, if you promise to do the same."
"Yes." Robin was suddenly nervous. What if it turned out they couldn't get along together? Living with someone all the time, then working together all day could become overwhelming. What if it messes things up between us? Her expression was noticeably pensive.
"Hey, kiddo." Jess caught Robin's sudden change in demeanor. Second thoughts? Damn. "Everything okay?"
Robin nodded. "Yeah. Promise me something, Jess."
"Anything." Jess meant it.
"I know you're used to living by yourself. If you find that having me under foot is too much for you, and you'd rather I live somewhere else, say something to me right away, okay?" Green eyes focused squarely on blue. "I don't want to jeopardize things between us. I don't want to be in your way."
Jess listened intently, then strictly upon impulse, reached across the table and grasped Robin's hand. "I want you to hear me, and I want you to believe me." She took a breath, determined to explain what she had only recently realized, herself. "Living by myself was an empty existence. I know that now." The older woman smiled almost sadly. "I would absolutely love for you to be under foot. I'd cherish that." She fixed her gaze firmly on the younger woman's to convey the final insight. "You never, ever could be in my way, Robin. Never."
Robin felt the grip on her hand suddenly tighten, and she fought an unexpected tightness in her throat. "Thank you." She whispered, then steadied herself. "But you'll tell me just the same, right?"
Let me try it another way. "Let's make a deal." Jess rubbed her thumb back and forth over Robin's fingers. "If either of us has a problem with something the other one does or doesn't do, we'll tell each other right away. We won't sit on it or try to spare each other's feelings." She tilted her head to one side. "Will that work?"
"Yes." The younger woman smiled. "That'll work."
"Good." Jess released the smaller hand. "Now, let's finish eating and get back to the office. You have a lot of work to do this afternoon, kiddo."
Robin chuckled. "Right. Thanks to you." She grinned with undisguised affection. "I knew all along you just wanted me around to do your grunt work for you."
In a far corner of the Italian restaurant, Paul Franklin sat back in his seat and closely watched the interaction between the two women. Hand holding? He observed the warm smiles and affectionate glances with fascination, then arched a sandy brown eyebrow as an unspoken thought came to mind. How interesting.
Jess watched the apartment movers bring in a fifth cartload of boxes. "I thought you were putting most of your things in storage."
"I am." Robin directed the movers into the spare bedroom. "This is just the stuff I need."
The older woman followed Robin down the long hallway. "I have a spare closet in the office if you need more space." Jess was trying hard to be helpful.
"No, Jess." The two women entered the spare room. "There's enough space in here for my things. Thanks, though."
Just then, several movers brought in a full-sized frame, headboard, box spring and mattress and began setting up the bed against the room's opposite wall. Jess watched in riveted fashion, then narrowed her eyes. A bed? She needs a bed? Dark eyebrows raised almost comically. "Um ..Robin? You're not ..planning on using that, are you?"
The smaller woman turned to face Jess. "Using what?"
"That." Wary blue eyes stared at the now half assembled bed.
Robin followed Jess's gaze. "Oh. That." She held back a grin. "Only if I need to."
Only if she needs to? A slight pout. "Explain, please."
One of the movers assembling the bed gently cleared his throat, reminding Robin of his presence in the room. Green eyes promptly closed as an imminent blush made its way all the way to her ears. "Come with me." She led Jess out into the hallway, briefly debating whether to tease the older woman further, then had a bit of sympathy. She's so adorable when she pouts. "It's a day bed, Jess."
"A day bed?" There was still obviously a need for further clarification.
"Right. Just in case you might want to be alone to take a nap, or if I get sick or something."
Azure eyes peeked uncertainly beneath her dark bangs. "If you got sick, you wouldn't have to be by yourself. I'd take care of you."
A warm smile. "You did that once before."
Robin grasped Jess's hand and squeezed it. "Let's make a deal, okay?"
"I'm losing track of our deals, Robin." Jess quipped.
The smaller woman chuckled. "Well, if you forget, I'll remind you." She then became more serious. "Jess, I don't want to crowd you, so if you want to be alone, or if you need space, just let me know and I'll go in there." Robin motioned toward the spare room. "It would only be for those times." Jess had a blank look on her face, so Robin continued. "There might be some times when we each need our own space. Do you know what I mean?"
Jess nodded, but was otherwise silent.
She's really thrown by this. "But those times would be very rare."
That brought a small grin. "Very rare?"
"Right." Robin grinned back. "Hardly ever."
Hardly ever is good. "All right. Deal." Jess swung their still-joined hands playfully in front of her. "I really do want you to feel comfortable here, and have a place that's just for you to go to, if you need to do that sometimes." An eyebrow arched. "As long as it's not a permanent arrangement."
Green eyes twinkled. "No. It would be very temporary."
"Excuse me, ladies." A mover led the way through the narrow hallway carrying another piece of furniture.
"Um ..Robin?" Jess eyed the continuous stream of items making their way into the spare bedroom. "How much stuff do you have?"
"Just my bedroom furniture, a TV, alarm clock, lamp, stereo, bookshelf, and of course my clothes and some bath items." The younger woman smiled innocently. "Why?"
"No reason." Jess turned to head back into the living room. "Though I do believe most of that stuff will get rather dusty from disuse, don't you?"
Robin could feel the smirk on the older woman's face as she walked away, then raised a pale eyebrow in thought. She has a point.
Jess sat quietly at her desk, leaning back comfortably in her burgundy leather chair as she reflected on the past weekend's events. Moving events. The early morning winter sun now barely peeked its first rays above the horizon, casting red and orange glows along the downtown city skyline and offering a certain serenity in its wake. The Roberts & McDaniel office suite was quiet, no one yet appearing inside to begin the workday among the usual hustle and bustle of a busy law office. Jess enjoyed this time of day the most. It allowed for quiet contemplation and placing things in the proper perspective. She swiveled slightly in her chair and gazed out the floor to ceiling window at the rising sun, idly noting the golden yellow hues now bathing the masses of steel and concrete building towers directly in her view, and casting long, almost eerie shadows in the process. Moving day.
Muted sunlight reflected off a mirrored faux window on the tower next door, nearly hypnotizing her mind as she shifted her blue eyes to the building's granite columns, then finally to the high archways serving as a type of gateway to the city proper. A faint, almost imperceptible niggling inside her mind delicately made its presence known amidst the quiet stillness of the dawn's early morning. Moving day. What, indeed, had come over her that day? Robin had gotten moved in and settled okay. Jess remembered feeling at first exuberant that they were finally living together, then once Robin had moved her things into the spare room, Jess suddenly felt ..what? Distance? Insecurity? Uncertainty? It was that damn bed. Somehow, she hadn't counted on that. It was a bit symbolic, perhaps, that there was still an excuse not to be totally together, and it was rather silly at the same time because that wasn't at all what Robin had intended. But still ..
All things considered, it was immensely better now that Robin was living with her. Not that Robin hadn't practically been living with her before, but now ..now they both had the same address and the same telephone number and the same ..home. Hadn't Jess wanted that all along? Still, Robin seemed to want some distance. Or maybe it was just that they each needed different things. That's it. Robin appeared to need her own space, while Jess needed to be close. She let her gaze linger on the now backed-up interstate below and considered that idea further. The irony of the situation almost caused her to laugh out loud. She never before was one to need anything or anyone. Not since James, and that was such a long time ago. Now, it seemed that she needed Robin, and she needed her to be close ..very, very close. To be honest, it held such considerable appeal that any other alternative seemed almost unacceptable. She tapped a long finger absently against the side of the cherry wood desk. So, all right, she and Robin would have to work on the space thing. Fine. I can live with that. Not an insurmountable problem. Right? It crossed her mind that it was absolutely astounding that she was this attached to Robin ..a woman even ..a beautiful, loving, caring person. Jess arched an eyebrow. The love of my life.
She fiddled with the clasp of the bracelet Robin had given her for Christmas, finally unlatching it and slipping it off her wrist to inspect it further. She fingered the blue and white sapphires that glinted in the early morning sunlight, then flipped the band over to reveal the tiny inscription inside, reading it to herself all over again. Forever. Robin wanted that, after all, right? Didn't they both want that? Jess traced the word with the tip of her index finger. Forever. The niggling inside her mind now grew noticeably louder, and she finally acquiesced to the ever-increasing and unrelenting internal chatter.
'Well, what?' The alternate internal voice was not amused at the early morning intrusion.
What are you waiting for?
'You're going to have to be more specific, here. I'm not a mind-reader.' A small internal chuckle at the apparent joke.
Don't be coy. You got what you wanted. Now get on with it.
The alternate internal voice, as usual, attempted evasion. 'I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean.'
This is growing rather tedious. Your continued attempts at ignorance are wearing thin. However, if you need it spelled out for you, then fine.
'Get on with it then, will ya? I don't have all day, here, buddy.'
Fine. Robin's moved in.
'Brilliant.' The alternate internal voice dripped with sarcasm. 'Now, tell me something I don't already know.'
'You are obviously determined to drive me crazy today. I hate riddles. Time for what?'
Listen very closely. Robin's moved in. It's time to make the final commitment. Again, what are you waiting for?
'She just moved in, for Pete's sake. Give me a little time, here.' The alternate internal voice nearly pleaded.
You bought the ring, didn't you?
A moment's reflection. 'I bought the ring, yes, but I haven't decided whether it's appropriate to give it to her.'
Having second thoughts?
'Never.' The answer was firm.
Then, I repeat. What are you waiting for?
'It's a big step. People will notice. We'd have to explain. The firm could go against us.'
The alternate internal voice grew testy. 'Easy for you to say, buddy. It's not your job on the line.'
Does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things, isn't Robin worth losing everything?
A bit of uneasiness over the situation. 'She wouldn't want that. And what about her? All the questions, and her family's reaction.'
'I'm sorry. You're talking in riddles again. Did I mention that I hate that? The alternate internal voice was growing increasingly belligerent. Precisely what?'
They are all convenient excuses, aren't they? You seem to want to have it both ways. You want Robin to move in, you want her in your bed ..
'Hold it right there, buddy.' The alternate internal voice warned. 'I resent your implication.'
The truth hurts, doesn't it?
'It's not the truth.' The alternate internal voice insisted.
Call it what you want, then. The fact is, you want Robin right where she is, but you're afraid to make the ultimate commitment.
'I'm not afraid of that.'
Then what is it?
'I told you.' The alternate internal voice reiterated the same tired excuses. 'People will notice. Her family. The firm.'
You're stalling. All of that is irrelevant. Robin is worth everything and you know it. What are you really afraid of?
'I'm not answering that.' The alternate internal voice sought to dismiss the matter.
Don't avoid it. What are you really afraid of?
Is it the idea of a commitment in general?
Is it the idea of two women committed to each other for the rest of their lives?
The alternate internal voice hesitated just a bit. 'No.'
'Okay, I admit it's a little unconventional, but no.'
Is it Robin?
'Absolutely not.' The alternate internal voice was certain.
Then what is it? Rejection?
A long internal sigh. 'It's just that Robin might not want the outward acknowledgment of our relationship. She might not want the questions, the possible alienation by her family and others, and all the complications.'
Because of you.
'Yes.' The alternate internal voice replied somberly. 'Because of me.'
You're both grown-ups. You can handle it. She said forever. Don't you think she knows what that means?
'She said forever, but I believe she meant that she'll love me forever, not that she commits to me forever. There's a big difference, you know.'
Cut it out.
'I beg your pardon.' The alternate internal voice was now indignant.
Cut it out. What are you really afraid of? Go ahead. Spit it out.
The alternate internal voice became hostile. 'You're really starting to get on my nerves, here, buddy.'
Then, quit playing games. You're afraid of something. What is it?
Admit the truth.
'You want the truth? Fine. Here it is.' The alternate internal voice annunciated the next words very succinctly. 'She's not over him.'
So, we're back to David again, are we?
'Yes.' The alternate internal voice practically hissed the acknowledgment.
You're afraid she won't commit to you because deep down in her heart, she still loves him and she can't let go.
'Yes. Happy, now?' The alternate internal voice was extremely agitated. 'She can't even forgive God for taking him away. How could she just forget all that and commit to me?'
You're not giving her any credit. She's seeing Dr. Richmond. She'll work through that.
'Maybe, maybe not.'
Fine. What else?
'What else, what?' The alternate internal voice was deliberately obtuse, now thoroughly annoyed at the direction the internal conversation was taking.
Don't feign innocence yet again. What else are you afraid of?
'Damn it! You're bugging the hell out of me.'
Answer the question, please.
'Fine.' The alternate internal voice nearly spat out the response. 'Here is your answer. She might not commit to me because she wants to be free to eventually leave.'
I see. So, let's boil this down in a nutshell, shall we? You're afraid that Robin will reject your ring not necessarily because of all the potential questions, or because of her family, or even because of the firm's possible concerns, but because she still loves David, and once she understands that through her visits with Dr. Richmond, she will want to be free to leave you without the ties of commitment hanging in the way. Have I summarized that up accurately?
'Yes, O all-knowing mighty and powerful one. You've got that right.' The alternate internal voice snarled. 'Now, get the hell off my back!'
Easy, there. Just think about one last thing, all right?
The alternate internal voice momentarily calmed. 'Fine. What?'
What have you got to lose? And, what have you got to gain? It's worth the risk, isn't it?
Just think about it.
'Fine.' Long fingers traced the sapphires on the bracelet one more time before replacing the bangle on the owner's wrist, the owner, herself, suddenly very weary. 'Now, please just go away. I'm rather tired of this conversation.'
Later that same morning, Robin put the finishing touches on a Motion to Compel and stood up to give herself a quick stretch. Her fingers reflexively went to the diamond heart-shaped pendant around her neck, feeling the smooth solid gold channel band and beveled cut in-laid diamonds. Jess's heart. It was absolutely the most endearing gift Robin had ever received, and without a doubt, the most precious. Does she know? Robin took a moment to ponder the significance of the gift. Does she know how I treasure it? Another, deeper thought came to her. How exactly would Jess feel about a commitment? Not just a declaration of love, but a forever kind of commitment? Naturally, her mind took the next detour. The ring. It was true, Robin had bought the ring purely on impulse, not really considering the implications or complications of such a move. Her light brows creased as she contemplated the action further. If she gave Jess the ring, they'd be forced to go public with their relationship ..Well, only, of course, if Jess chose to wear it.
What to do. She tapped two fingers in staccato fashion on the desk top. There was a white elephant in the room and she knew it. Robin had only had one session with Dr. Richmond so far, and getting completely past the anguish of David's accident would take time. She only hoped she'd finally be able to let go of the overwhelming guilt. She shook her head. As if that were possible. Petite fingers ran briskly through her short blonde hair in slight frustration, the sparkling waters of the lake below capturing and then holding her now diverted attention. After many long moments of reflection, she finally concluded that she couldn't make a commitment to Jess, or expect one in return, while the issue was as yet unresolved. It wouldn't be fair. I'd drag her down with me. However, once that particular issue was off the table ..
What to do. Robin sat back down in her chair and crossed her feet at her ankles in front of her. There were no easy answers. The litany of issues ranging from public acknowledgment, to career risks, to family reactions, to overcoming her feelings of unworthiness ..if that was the appropriate word, abounded. And a label? Could she live with that? Wasn't Jess worth it? And for that matter, did it really matter what anyone else thought? Isn't a label just that? A label. Nothing more. Perhaps. The reality was, Robin loved Jess, the person, and the fact that Jess is also a woman did not in any way change that reality. Robin picked up her pen and bit the top lightly between her teeth, finally making her decision. Aside from the career risks, everything else was merely extraneous. Jess was worth everything, even a label.
So, what to do. What about that ring? If they could get past the firm's concerns, it would all boil down to timing. The ultimate question was, when would the right time be? That question, Robin discovered, had no easy answer.
A light knock at her partially open door caused her to snap her head up and turn away from her musings. "Come in."
Michelle Richards poked her head inside the doorway. "Hi. Got a minute?"
"Sure." Robin waved her inside. "What's up?"
Michelle sat down in the chair in front of the desk. "I was hoping you could cover an ex-parte hearing for me tomorrow. I've got a client conference that just came up, and I really need to get these out-of-state commissions appointed for a couple of depositions in Atlanta."
As Robin listened, her hand unconsciously tugged at the pendant necklace she wore. "Sure, just leave the papers with me. I'll take care of it tomorrow." She smiled.
"Great." The diamond pendant caught the senior associate's eye. "That's gorgeous." She pointed toward the necklace.
Robin swallowed. "Thanks."
"Is it new?"
I can do this. "Um ..yeah." Robin picked up her pen and twirled it lightly between her fingers, then quickly added. "It was a gift."
Michelle spent another moment appraising the diamond piece. "From ..someone special?" She glanced up at Robin expectantly.
"From a friend." That's technically true. The pen twirled faster.
Deciding not to pry, and since she had a lot more work to accomplish before the day was through, Michelle stood up to leave. "Well, whoever it is certainly has nice taste. It looks good on you." She turned toward the door. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot. What's the name of the apartments where you live? I'm thinking of getting a new place, and I remember you said once that the rent was pretty reasonable."
Robin opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out. The pen, however, tumbled helplessly to the floor. Be honest. "I ..um ..recently moved from there, but the name of the apartments is Heron's Cove." She casually retrieved her pen from underneath the desk.
Michelle smiled gratefully. "Thanks. So, where did you move?" The senior associate was merely making polite conversation.
I knew she was going to ask that. The pen, quite on its own, resumed its twirling. "I moved over to Jess's place. She offered, since she has such a big house, and I decided try it out. I get a lot more room for the money." Robin was quite proud of the plausible answer she'd concocted.
As expected, Michelle's eyes grew very wide. "Jessica Harrison? You moved there?"
A mental sigh. I need to get used to this. "Yeah. It works out well."
The senior associate grew pensive. "I don't know, Robin. I think you have to watch out. You know how difficult she can be sometimes. It seems she'd be hard to get along with."
The pen clattered lightly against the side of the desk. "I think it'll be fine, and I really do like the house." Robin forcibly grabbed her pen and set it down on her legal pad, then deftly brushed aside any further conversation on the matter. "So, when you have those papers ready for the hearing tomorrow, just drop them by." She offered a warm smile that belied her unease. "I'll take care of it."
"Okay. Thanks." And with that, Michelle exited the office, leaving Robin nervously sitting at her desk and wondering just how long she and Jess could keep up the charade.
Who are we kidding? People are going to find out.
In spite the fact that it was the first weeks of a typically dreary January, the work week was actually moving along quite nicely. It seemed that people needed to take their time and put the holidays solidly behind them before getting all geared up again and charging full-steam ahead into the busy business fray. It was now mid-week, and to her mild surprise, Jess had actually accomplished quite a bit, having made major progress on an appellate brief she'd been working on since before the holidays. In light of her good fortune, she decided to knock off work at a reasonably decent hour and head on home.
Giving in to an unusual and rare impulse, she stopped along the way and picked up some Chinese take-out, then pulled her silver Mercedes into the garage of The Ranch. She strolled inside the sprawling house and found Robin in the living room unpacking a small box left over from her recent move. "Hey, kiddo." The taller woman parked her briefcase in the foyer and set her Chinese take-out on the dining room table.
"Hi." Robin looked up. "You picked up something for dinner?" She stopped her unpacking and stepped over to the dining room table. "I'm starving."
A shocked expression. "Imagine that." Jess winked, then headed into the kitchen to retrieve the plates and utensils.
"Very funny." Robin called back, then curiously peeked inside one of the take-out bags. "So, what'd you get?"
Jess brought out the dinnerware and began unpacking the assorted food. "Chinese. A little moo goo gai pan and some mu shu pork."
Robin flipped open a container. "And?"
Blue eyes looked up. "And what?"
"What else did you get?"
"Um .." A blank look. "Egg rolls?"
Light eyebrows furrowed. "Okay. And?"
A considerably confused expression replaced the previous one. "Um ..won ton soup?" The older woman pulled out the soup in question.
"Oh." Robin opened another bag and peered curiously inside. "Hmmm."
"You wanted the egg drop?"
"Oh. No. Won ton's fine." The younger woman searched the bag further, then mumbled to no one in particular. "I thought for sure it'd be here."
"What?" Jess emptied the contents of the remaining bag. "Fortune cookies? They're right here." She produced several small packages of the referenced cookies for inspection.
"No." Perplexed green eyes studied blue. "I guess it's really not here." The younger woman seemed rather surprised at the revelation, then focused her attention on the displayed food. "Okay. I'll get the drinks. Is iced tea all right?"
"Sure." Jess watched with a close eye as Robin padded her way into the kitchen. Once the younger woman was safely out of sight, Jess quickly retrieved another bag from beneath a chair and pulled out a container, promptly dishing its contents onto her own plate.
After a moment, Robin returned with two glasses of iced tea and sat down at the table. "I think I'll try the mu shu pork, first." A delighted grin. "I really love making those little crepe thingys." She began unwrapping the pancakes, then spread ample amounts of mu shu sauce over them before adding the pork filling. In her subsequent attempt to reach for the fried rice, Robin caught sight of the older woman's plate. She abruptly stopped her motion in progress and fixed her gaze squarely on the plate's contents. "Um ..Jess?" Green eyes narrowed considerably. "What is that?"
Jess stopped mid-chew and looked up rather innocently. "Um ..what is what?"
A petite finger pointed at Jess's dinner. "That. On your plate."
Jess attempted to evade the question. "It's Chinese food, Robin." She resumed eating.
"I can see that." A blonde eyebrow arched in suspicion. I knew it was here. "Specifically, though, what is it?"
"It's just the food I bought." Jess gave the non-committal reply, then nonchalantly took another bite.
"Right." Robin paused to further assess the situation, her sea green eyes narrowing once again. "You .." Robin wagged a finger in Jess's direction. "Are very sneaky."
Innocent blue eyes peered back. "Sneaky?"
"Yes. You tried to sneak it in so I wouldn't notice, didn't you?"
The dark head shook vehemently. "No, I didn't."
"Don't bother denying it, Jess." A frank look. "I'm on to you."
Rats. Jess now knew she'd indeed been caught. "Okay, Robin, so maybe I did, but I had a really, really good reason."
Robin stifled a grin. "You did?"
"Yes." Jess took another bite. "Wanna hear it."
"Well .." A long, exaggerated sigh. "If you must." Robin proceeded to neatly roll her mu shu pancake, then took a bite.
"Okay. It's like this. I was standing at the take-out counter, minding my own business, when the order for guy standing behind me came out of the kitchen. It was just sitting there, and I saw it."
The younger woman listened with rapt attention. "You saw it?"
Robin took a another bite. "The shrimp?"
Jess blinked several times. "Yes."
"With the lobster sauce?"
Jess blinked once more. "Yes."
Robin took a sip of her tea. "And so you decided to get some, too."
"I see." Robin spooned some fried rice onto her plate, then dished out a small amount of moo goo gai pan. "I'm glad you admitted that." She patted Jess's arm sympathetically. "Do you feel that this is becoming a problem for you?" An unmistakable twinkle made its way to her eyes."
Jess gave Robin a bemused look, then debated whether to play along. Why not? "Well, I believe that there is a problem, yes."
A pale eyebrow rose, then quickly fell. "Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery."
"Well, it's not really my problem." Jess jabbed a succulent shrimp with her fork and lifted it off her plate. "See, there is a certain person who, as preposterous as it sounds, thinks that my ..shall we say ..fondness for a particular seafood-related item is some sort of fetish." She waved the tasty piece of shrimp in Robin's direction. "Of course, I totally disagree."
Robin ignored the shrimp in front of her nose and cocked her head slightly. "Go on."
"Well, naturally, since this person fails to grasp the finer points of my cuisine of choice, I'm forced to sneak meals of this particular seafood-related item whenever I can." Jess added a second delectable shrimp to her fork, then continued further. "I'm trying very, very hard to deal with this person's difficulty in accepting my completely normal, socially acceptable and perfectly reasonable fondness for this particular seafood-related item." Now, an aggrieved sigh. "Alas, I've finally come to the conclusion that the only solution to this unfortunate problem is to declare each and every day 'shrimp day'. I'm even considering making it a house rule." Jess finished her monologue by plopping the forkful of prized shrimp into her mouth with a deliberate flourish, ostensibly emphasizing her point.
All Robin could do was stare at Jess in true and utter disbelief. Things had apparently progressed much further than she had originally thought. "I have just one thing to say to you."
A dark eyebrow arched. "And what's that?"
"Well, I think we've already established that, Robin." Jess quipped. A long moment of silence followed, then blue eyes peeked hesitantly across the table. "Um ..want some?" Jess pointed at her plate, the peace offering clear.
Robin couldn't help but grin. "Well .." She considered the offer for what it was. "Perhaps just a taste."
"Okay. Here." The older woman scooted over closer to Robin and lifted a fork full of the now infamous shrimp with lobster sauce to the younger woman's mouth, watching with delight as Robin ate the proffered food. Maybe it was their proximity, but Jess couldn't resist leaning in closer and giving the sweet lips in front of her a quick kiss in the process.
"Mmmm. That was very good." Robin commented.
Jess beamed. "The shrimp?"
"No." An affectionate smile. "The kiss."
"Oh." The older woman considered the response, then offered to sweeten the deal with a little incentive. "There's more."
"More shrimp?" Robin was secretly enjoying the playfulness.
Jess shook her head. "More kisses." She leaned in for another, now lingering, kiss.
After a moment, Robin pulled back and stared into crystal blue eyes, finally deciding to wrap up her carefully crafted negotiations. "You know." She whispered. "I'd be inclined to agree with a house rule declaring every day 'shrimp day' if it were to also include the kisses."
Sensing imminent victory, Jess quickly accepted the counter-offer. "Deal." Not surprisingly, for the next several moments, the once-popular shrimp was all but forgotten.
The fire was softly blazing in the fireplace after dinner was finished, the yellow-orange flames flickering quietly and casting dim shadows around the darkened living room. Robin splayed her petite body out on top of the Oriental rug that lay just beyond the ceramic tile floor in front of the hearth, and gently rested her head on a large cushioned throw pillow for support. Green eyes silently watched the now glowing embers as the blaze steadily burned down. Jess approached the fireplace cautiously, carrying several large pieces of oak hardwood, and put a new log on the swiftly dying fire. The resulting crackling preceded a quick flare-up of new flames which danced robustly within the hearth, the reinvigorated blaze sending welcome waves of heat out into the spacious living area.
"Better?" Jess grabbed another throw pillow and stretched out on the floor beside Robin.
The long body curled snugly around the smaller frame. "Sometimes this house can be a little drafty when it's cold outside."
Robin turned her head toward Jess and grinned. "Did I just hear you admit that it was cold outside?"
The older woman realized her gaffe and rushed to correct. "I meant the house can be drafty when it is cool outside, Robin. That's what I meant."
The grin widened. "Right. Cool outside." The smaller body turned fully toward the fire. "Do you mind me hogging your living room like this?"
There was a small sigh as Jess realized that Robin still didn't consider the house her home. I guess it's just gonna take some time. She spoke her next words very softly. "For the record, kiddo, this is your living room, too, and you can do anything you want in it." A thought popped into her mind and she quickly amended her statement. "Well, anything within reason, of course." She grinned somewhat devilishly and snaked a long arm contentedly around the younger woman's waist.
Robin reveled in the resulting warmth. "I just don't want to be in your way."
Another small sigh. Let's set this straight once and for all. "Hey." A large hand reached over and gently turned Robin's face toward her own. "Look at me, sweetheart. In case I haven't communicated this very well, let me say it to you again. You are not in my way. You will never be in my way. And even if you were to be in my way, which you won't, I would not have a problem with it." She brushed Robin's cheek tenderly with her thumb and whispered. "You got that?"
The blonde head nodded in acknowledgment. "Got it."
"Good." With that, Jess changed the subject. "So, are you pretty much unpacked now?"
"Just about. I have one small box of knick-knacks, but I think I'll put that up in the spare closet. Otherwise, everything's unpacked."
Jess tightened her grip on the smaller woman's waist and cuddled up close. Robin seemed quieter than normal, and Jess had learned from previous experience that it usually meant that there was something on her mind. "Want to talk about it?"
Robin took a deep breath. "I always wonder how you know."
The taller woman propped herself up on one elbow and rested the side of her head in her hand. "I just know." Something registered in her mind as she stroked the blonde hair from Robin's eyes, and she finally understood. "You have another session with Dr. Richmond tomorrow."
That was non-committal. Robin hadn't talked about her first and only session, and Jess hadn't wanted to pry. "If you'd rather not talk about it, honey, it's okay. You don't have to, you know." Jess brushed her knuckles lightly against Robin's cheek.
The younger woman shifted to lay flat on her back and gazed into understanding eyes now turned an incredible shade of blue in the flickering firelight. "It's just that I'm going to have to talk about us with Dr. Richmond, and I guess I'm not used to discussing that with anyone."
"Does it bother you, talking about us?"
This is hard to explain. "A small hand reached for the larger one still resting on her waist and interlocked their fingers. "I worry what people will think when they know, then I realize that it's really silly to worry about it. Dr. Richmond is a therapist. She doesn't care personally about that."
The unspoken thought hung in the air between them until Jess finally put voice to it. "But others will care."
A somber nod. "Yes. Others will care."
Jess leaned in and kissed a blonde eyebrow, then whispered, her azure eyes reflecting an almost imperceptible hint of sadness. "Would it really matter to you if people knew?"
A long sigh, then an honest answer. "I don't know." And Robin really didn't know. She thought she knew, but now, she wasn't so sure. On the one hand, she really didn't want to have to sneak around and hide her relationship with Jess, and on the other hand, she knew the practical consequences of disclosing it. "It would hurt your career, and maybe both of ours. The firm wouldn't understand."
Okay. "Let me ask you something, and you don't have to answer it if you don't want to. If you took the career part away so it was not an issue, how would you feel if people knew about us?"
Robin thought about that. "I wouldn't like being the subject of comments or being labeled, but ultimately, if we didn't have to worry about the career aspect and the firm's reaction, I think I could handle it."
Jess proceeded cautiously. "So, provided there wasn't the career issue or the firm's concerns, you're saying you wouldn't mind a public acknowledgment?" The ring is a public acknowledgment.
Robin squeezed Jess's hand. "I decided something. People can know or not know. It doesn't matter, as long as I'm with you."
Jess asked the final question, mentally checking off all real and imagined obstacles. "What about your family?"
A heavy sigh. "I've also decided that although I'll have to deal with them, they don't control me or my life." Green eyes studied blue, a similar question now on Robin's mind. "What about you, Jess? How would you feel?"
The older woman stared into the fire, taking a moment to order her thoughts. "My mother knows and it's okay. I don't know how my brother and his wife would react, but like you said, they don't control me or my life." She paused for a second and snuggled closer to Robin, then resumed her previous train of thought. "As far as everyone else is concerned, what I do is none of their business. It's true, I wouldn't like being the subject of comments either, or being labeled, but they can say whatever they want. If they don't understand, so be it." Her voice softened to a whisper. "They couldn't possibly understand how I feel about you."
Robin nodded, but nevertheless had to ask. "You're saying that you would still want to be with me, even if people knew and even if they didn't understand?"
"Let me put it this way." Jess smiled near a petite ear. "Yes."
Okay. Robin then brought up a related topic. "Michelle came by my office today. She was admiring my necklace."
An eyebrow arched. "What did she say?"
"She liked it." Robin thought back to their conversation. "She asked who it was from." Now, Robin felt a bit guilty. "I didn't lie, but I told her it was from a friend."
Jess reflected on that. "That was the wise thing to do. We still have the firm's concerns to think about."
"Michelle also asked which apartments I live at. It seems she wants to find a new place, and she heard me talking once about how my rent was reasonable." Robin turned in Jess's embrace, repositioning herself so that her head now rested in the crook of the older woman's neck. "I told her that I moved in here."
"Oh. What was her reaction to that?"
"She was a bit surprised, but otherwise she didn't make too much of it. She did, of course, try to warn me that you could be a little hard to get along with." The smaller woman grinned against Jess's skin.
"Did she, now?"
"And did you agree with that assessment?" A blue eye peeked down at Robin.
"I didn't comment, but if I had to answer, I probably would have said that other than pertaining to certain culinary matters, and of course, animal-related footwear, you are quite easy to get along with." Green eyes peeked back.
"I see." Jess nuzzled against the blonde hair and breathed in the sweet scent. "We'll have to work on those matters, then. I think in time, you'll come around to my point of view."
Robin smirked. Not likely. She took on somewhat serious expression. "So, do you think it's all right that people know I'm living here?"
Jess trailed her fingers up and down Robin's shirtsleeve. "It's not exactly a secret, you know. Besides, it doesn't matter. We're roommates, after all, remember?"
That brought a decided grin. "Right. Roommates." The younger woman shifted and braced herself up on one arm, sea green eyes now dancing in the waning firelight. "You know, Jess." She drawled. "When I was moving in here last weekend, I'm pretty sure I scoped out the whole house and I still didn't see it."
Dark eyebrows knit together. "See what?"
"My present, of course."
Jess's mouth fell open. "Your .."
"Present." Robin supplied again. "You know, my birthday's next week."
Blue eyes focused steadily on green in a clear challenge. "And?"
"Nothing." Robin shrugged. "Have I told you about this sporty looking BMW that ..." She was effectively cut off by a large hand covering her mouth.
"I think you might have mentioned it a time or two, Robin." Jess removed her hand. "Let me just say that if I got you a present, and I'm not saying I did, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't hide it around here for you to find."
Green eyes twinkled. "Well, I guess you do have a point. A car really is too big to hide around here anyway, isn't it?"
Jess was utterly and truly charmed. A car indeed. "Come here." She reached up and pulled the younger woman down closer to her, claiming her lips in the process.
The two bodies were otherwise engaged for the remainder of the evening, as the fire finally burned its way down to barely glowing embers only to extinguish itself fully in the stillness of the night.
The day started out like any other day, with the usual deadlines to meet and minor crises to avert. Jess had just finished winding up a two-hour conference call with a rather difficult client when a light knock on the door drew her attention. "Come in."
Harry Roberts opened the heavy wood door and entered the well-appointed partner-sized office. "You got a minute, Jess?" He didn't wait for a reply, closing the door behind him and making himself comfortable in the chair next to the large floor to ceiling window.
"Sure, Harry. What's up?" The junior partner folded her hands on top of her cherry wood desk and waited.
Harry suddenly seemed a little uncomfortable. "Gee, I wish I'd gotten some coffee on the way over here." He gruffly mumbled the statement, obviously stalling a bit before proceeding with what brought him over to Jess's office.
A wary eyebrow arched. What's up, Harry? Jess picked up her telephone and called her secretary. "Angie, Mr. Roberts is in my office. Could you bring him a cup of coffee, please? Black." The junior partner looked to Harry for confirmation, and upon seeing the nod, hung up the phone and asked the previous question once again. "So, Harry, what's up?"
The head of the litigation department shifted in his seat, then decided to broach the subject quickly. "I hear you've taken on a tenant."
Jess mentally cringed. Shit. What's the damn problem? "Yes." She responded evenly. "A while back, Robin and I had discussed the possibility of her moving into the house, and she finally decided to do that." The junior partner felt the need to explain further. "The fact is, Harry, Robin's family is up north, and she is here by herself. You also know that I've had that whole house to myself all these years. It seemed a waste not to make full use of it. Robin and I talked about her moving in, and we decided we'd give it a try."
Harry's features softened. As Jess's mentor, he was well aware of her previous situation with James and remembered all too well the emotional damage done to one of his brightest attorneys by that no-good leech. He assumed his familiar mentor role. "That's fine, Jess. I certainly do understand. It's probably a good thing for Robin, as well. I know it can be difficult starting out in a strange city by yourself, and I'm sure you wouldn't mind the company in that big house of yours."
Although Harry didn't come right out and say it, Jess knew that he was being sympathetic. She smiled inwardly at his concern. In times past, Harry had been more of a father figure to her than a mentor. In fact, he was more of a father to her than her own father had been. She continued with her explanation. "Robin and I seem to work well together, which in my case, as you know, is saying a lot." She gave him a self-deprecating smile. "Considering that, we thought we could probably get along all right sharing the same house."
"You two have gotten close, haven't you?"
That question came out of the blue. Damn. Harry seemed amazingly perceptive all of a sudden. Stay calm. "We're friends, yes." Jess's voice betrayed none of her increasing anxiety.
Just then, Angie knocked on the door and opened it, bringing in with her Harry's cup of black coffee. She handed it to him, then subtly surveyed the situation inside the office. Her boss seemed a bit tense, and the head of litigation was a little uneasy, as well. Hmmm. Wonder what's going on. In her brief stay, Angie managed to glean that something quite interesting was indeed being discussed. She left the office and proceeded directly to her desk, immediately phoning her best friend, Betty, who just happened to serve as the secretary to none other than Harry Roberts. What's a day without a little minor gossip?
Back inside the office, Jess sensed that there was more to Harry's visit than just idle chit chat about the state of her housemates. "There isn't a problem, is there?" There better not be.
Harry took a long sip of his coffee, then very deliberately set the cup down on the corner of the cherry wood desk in front of him. He looked Jess squarely in the eye. "I want you to be careful." The tone of his voice carried a well-intentioned warning. "You are a partner. Robin is an associate. You are, in essence, her employer. She is your employee. If you two are friends and want to share a residence, that's fine, so long as it doesn't lead to a conflict of interest."
Jess straightened up in her burgundy leather chair. "What type of conflict of interest are we talking, here?"
Harry paused, then leaned forward slightly. "It would not be a good thing for this firm if there were undercurrents of favoritism. Robin does mostly your work. You review her performance. The management committee makes the final determination on retention, but it is based on the partners' reviews of the associate's overall work product and achievements." He took a moment to allow his comments sink in. "It's a fine line. I know you will make every effort to be objective when it comes to an associate's review and work load, personal friendships aside."
"I understand." And Jess absolutely did understand, all too well.
Harry continued. "With experience and training, Robin will be a very good attorney. She already is, and I'm betting that's due in large part to the interest you've shown in taking her under your wing. She will benefit from your experience, but she must also be given constructive feedback so she knows how to improve. I know you've been doing that, and it would be best to continue with that same approach, both to benefit Robin and to avoid any misimpression of favorable treatment." He smiled gently. "You're an excellent attorney, Jess, one of the best here, and I have every confidence in you and in your judgment on this matter."
The junior partner sat very still listening to Harry. When it boiled right down to it, he was really looking out for her, and his words were spoken with a fatherly concern she'd come to depend on throughout the years. He also was looking out for the firm, of that there was no doubt, and there was no mistaking the underlying, albeit subtly implied, warning. "I see your point, Harry. When it pertains to job performance, I guarantee that I will be completely objective."
"Good." Harry finished his coffee and stood up. "Now, how about you joining Barbara and me for dinner next week. Our treat." He paused, then added. "When you see Robin, ask her if she'd liked to come along, too, if she's free. My wife has told me on more than one occasion how much she enjoyed talking with both of you at the holiday party last month."
Jess smiled. "Thanks. I'd love to join you and Barbara. Let me mention it to Robin and see if she'll be free next week, then I'll get back to you on that."
"Great." With the conversation now concluded, Harry turned and left the junior partner's office, closing the door solidly behind him.
The tall form sank back into her leather chair as if a heavy weight now rested on her shoulders. Things were starting to close in. She knew they would. All along, she knew it would just be a matter of time. The trick always had been to beat the eventual odds. The fact that Harry, although never admitting it, was concerned with the appearance of her friendship with Robin spoke volumes. Suddenly, almost as an afterthought, something else made its way into her rational thinking. Something which caused even Jess to flinch as Harry's words echoed in her mind. You are Robin's employer. She is your employee. It's a fine line. Large hands now rested over repentant blue eyes, a profound weariness abruptly setting in. It all had become abundantly clear. Harry wanted to make sure that Jess didn't cross the line.
The problem was, she already had.
To Be Continued ..
© Copyright 01/10/2001
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