MEMORIES OF LOVE by Leslaureate
CHAPTER THREE" I'm so sorry Jessica, but there's really nothing else we can do short of filing a law suit," her attorney, Bridget Stevens, advised. They sat at a small round conference table in Bridget's bright office. The corner office caught the afternoon sun, washing the office with a glow. The sunrays bouncing off of Bridgets golden hair made her hair color seem lighter than it was already. The two had sat for the last half-hour reviewing the new round of Erin's requested revisions. As they discussed each request one by one, Jessica became angrier and more frustrated- frustrated at both the ridiculous nature of Erin's requests and her refusal to just agree to let go and move on with things. " So, what are all of the options again?" Jessica asked, her resolve beginning to break. She unconsciously rubbed her temples, attempting to quell the beginnings of a nagging headache. " Well, we can continue to play the back and forth game like we've been playing, but I don't think we'll get anywhere. She's just going to request other changes." " Have you spoken to her attorney about the constant changes and whether they'll ever stop?" " Yes, I have. Unfortunately she has no control over Erin anymore. Between you and me and the four walls, she has told me off of the record that most of the changes have been against her advise. She also inferred that she may withdraw from representing Erin any further. She seems as frustrated as we are." " Wonderful ...so even her own attorney can't help," Jessica exhaled, feeling defeated. " We do have other options Jess. We can play hard ball and say no more changes, take it or leave it." " And what happens if she says leave it?" " We file a lawsuit."
Jessica stared outside the window, taking in the words. "Great, that'll piss her off even more. She'll really harass me then."" Then we also need to enforce the restraining order. I have to say that you've been rather patient and lenient with her behavior so far Jess. I think the only way you're going to be over this is to start exercising your legal rights. If you enforce the restraining order and file suit, she may just give up. Her career will be on the line if this gets too public or if shes arrested for violating the restraining order. I don't think keeping the status quo and trying to resolve this situation amicably is going to get us anywhere. It certainly hasnt worked so far and knowing her attorneys lack of control, I think filing a lawsuit is the only way to proceed. But on the flip side, if it does become too public you can be effected as well. That, and just the typical high costs of litigation."
Jessica sat back into her chair and again exhaled deeply as she continued to stare out of the window, watching a sailboat float across the harbor. She knew her options were becoming more limited, but she feared Erin's reaction if she proceeded with a lawsuit. But she knew she had to do something. She couldn't continue to live as she had been, praying for an act of God for Erin to leave her alone. She ran her fingers through her hair, knowing she had to take action." Okay. You're right. Enough is enough," she sighed, leaning forward with her elbows resting on the table. "Give the ultimatum, file suit if necessary," she agreed, resigned. " All right. Are you also ready to enforce the restraining order?" " Yes. Do what you need to do, as will I. Ill document everytime she violates the order and will call the police if necessary." " Jess, I just need to know that you're also ok with the possible consequences of this becoming public record." " Yeh, I am. I'm out at work already and they've been very supportive so far. But I do hope it doesn't get much messier. It wouldn't be good to have their marketing/pr person in the public eye for something like this."
Bridget nodded her head in agreement, promising that she would do what she could to keep the matter as private as possible. She then explained her proposed course of action. Jessica left the office an hour later feeling whipped. Driving out of the parking structure, a wave of sadness swept over her. She wondered how something that seemed so wonderful to begin with could end so badly, and with such hate and animosity.
Arriving home, she changed clothes, fed Tasha, and prepared a quick dinner for herself. After washing the dishes she logged onto the Internet to check her messages and meet Cynthia for their rendezvous. As she checked her mail, the message box appeared on her screen.
GDGTCHK: Hi Jessica. How r u today?
SDLVR2: Tired. Very rough day. And u?
GDGTCHK: Fine. Was looking forward to our meeting. Is anything wrong?
SDLVR2: I was looking forward to it too. Long story as far as my day. If you don't mind, I'd rather not get into it right now.
Jessica didn't know whether she should be up-front and tell her new friend what was going on in her life or to keep it to herself for awhile for fear of scaring Cynthia away. She knew she had to be up-front and honest.
SDLVR2: It's just some old baggage that I can't seem to get rid of, but not out of my choice.
GDGTCHK: Ahhh ...I see. So would you rather skip chatting tonight?
Cynthia typed, hoping she sounded understanding. For some reason she felt sad and scared, her insecurities getting the better of her.
SDLVR2: No, I wouldn't. Id rather talk to you. :)
GDGTCHK: Well, good. :) How was your day otherwise?
SDLVR2: OK, & yours?
GDGTCHK: Great. Thought I'd be behind in a project but the subcontractor came through after a little intimidation by me... :)
SDLVR2: Intimidation huh? R u a bully? :)
GDGTCHK: LOL. Yeh, right. Only when I have to be professionally. Never personally.
SDLVR2: Whew! That's a relief. LOL. Thought maybe you could be a wife beater or something.
Despite trying to appear joking, Jessica was jittery, afraid that she could be
making a mistake. Given her meeting with her attorney and everything she had
been going through with Erin, she was anxious of even the remote thought of
the possibility of violence.
GDGTCHK: Hah! The only things I've ever struck are bugs and maybe a wall in my younger days when I was drunk. But never, ever another human being or an animal.
SDLVR2: Good! So I can check ax murderer and wife beater off of my list?
GDGTCHK: Yep. What list??
SDLVR2: Yeh, my list of undesirable and desirable traits in a friend or partner. Don't you have a list?
GDGTCHK: Well, not a formal list...
SDLVR2: K. Do you know what you want in a partner/relationship?
Jessica had paused before typing, not knowing whether she was being too personal too soon. > Better to know now, than be disappointed later,'she thought to herself. After she hit the send button, she again waited with trepidation for the response.
She typed after a few minutes without having received an answer..
GDGTCHK: I'm here. Just trying to type a response...
Cynthia had been surprised by the question. She sat pensively thinking of what she did want in a partner. > Funny', she thought, > Guess I never really thought about it in detail.'She began to type the attributes as they popped into her mind.
GDGTCHK: Let's see...intelligent; kind; loving; honest, humourous, but who can also be serious; employed/self-supporting; independent, but not too much so; attractive; loves sports, movies, theater. Umm...There's more, but those are some off of the top of my head... How about u?
SDLVR2: Those are good ones. Peaceful; calm; communicative; honest/truthful, with herself as well as others; someone who makes me feel safe; someone who's silly/playful, let's the little kid come out as well as the adult; someone who can communicate and talk things out and voice things before they become intolerable; someone who respects me and whom I can trust; definitely non-violent and non-volatile.
Cynthia read the words as they popped up on her screen and sensed
that her new friend must have recently experienced a great deal of pain. Waves
of both curiosity and compassion swept over her. She felt compelled to pursue
the question with Jessica.
GDGTCHK: Umm, Jessica, I don't mean to be too personal. And you don't have to answer. But have you recently been hurt in a relationship?
Jessica was surprised by the question. She didnt think she had been so transparent.
SDLVR2: Yeh, I was. And no, you're not being too personal... Hold on a sec...
Cynthia waited for what seemed to her like an eternity before Jessica sent her
SDLVR2: I was with a woman for 4 years, had the commitment ceremony, house, everything. Then I found out that she was cheating on me and I confronted her on it. She beat the crap out of me, and I left. That was about a year ago. But now she's refusing to agree on the property settlement. Looks like Im going to have to file suit...Thats my recent relationship history in a nutshell. Haven't scared you away have I?
GDGTCHK: No, not at all. I'm so sorry. No one should have to go through that.
Cynthia felt anger rise from deep inside of her. She couldn't comprehend how anyone could be so cruel to another, especially someone they claimed to love.
SDLVR2: Lessons learned. Victim's Assistance was great & I spent some time in therapy, so I've pretty much worked through it.
GDGTCHK: Glad to hear that. I can't even imagine being in a similar position.
SDLVR2: Thanks. How about you? What about your last relationship?
GDGTCHK: It's been a long time. 2 years. I've dated a bit, but nothing serious. Just haven't met anyone special. Just devoted my time to working & building & maintaining my business.
SDLVR2: But don't you get lonely?
Cynthia paused, contemplating the question.
GDGTCHK: Yeh, I guess sometimes. I have some very close friends that also keep me busy, but they're all in relationships, so I'm sure they get bored with me.
SDLVR2: LOL I know how that feels. My best friend recently became single, but I seem to be the proverbial 3rd wheel.
GDGTCHK: LOL! Me too!
SDLVR2: Hey, we've been yacking for over an hour. It's late there. U must be tired.
GDGTCHK: I am a little, but have enjoyed the conversation and company so much that I didn't even notice the time fly by!
SDLVR2: Me too. But I should let you get some rest. Talk to u soon?
GDGTCHK: Most definitely. I'll look for you tomorrow?
SDLVR2: Sounds great! Sleep well.
GDGTCHK: You too. Night.
Cynthia was still angry about the physical and emotional pain that Jessica suffered unnecessarily. It was inconceivable to her. She had heard about violent women, but had never went through such an ordeal, either first hand or through close friends. But a red flag also started to wave in her mind. If Jessica had recently experienced that type of break up and still had loose ends, Cynthia felt she should be cautious. "The woman is also 3000 miles away for goodness sake," she thought to herself. Despite the connection she felt with Jessica, she knew she had to try to take things slowly. "Better to err on the side of caution," she mumbled to herself, turning off the office light and walking toward her bedroom for what she hoped to be a good night's sleep free from her own demons.
* * *
After her conversation with Cynthia, Jessica felt too wired to attempt to lay in bed and read and relax. She saw that Jean was online and figured she would chat for awhile longer.
SDLVR2: Hi Jean! You busy?
CNTRYLVR: Nope. How r u doing Jessica?
SDLVR2: Just fine. How have you been? Sorry I haven't written back sooner.
CNTRYLVR: Been great! S'ok, I've been remiss myself. How's the response to your ad?
SDLVR2: Overwhelming. But most just to say that they liked the ad. Most others I could sense right away that I didn't want to get to know them better, even as friends.
CNTRYLVR: Well I feel honored that I'm one of the few. Just curious, but have you ever met anyone face 2 face yet? I mean someone you've met on line in general.
SDLVR2: No. Why? Have you?
CNTRYLVR: Yep. I was "talking" to someone for a few months in email and on the phone and she flew out to meet me. As soon as she got here I could sense something was wrong...
CNTRYLVR: ...she went home 2 days early.
SDLVR2: Oh my! L
CNTRYLVR: Yep. I was very hurt. She had led me on and even professed her love for me in an email, but within a day of actually meeting, BOOM! I got the I just want to be friends speech.
CNTRYLVR: Yep. Hey, do you have a pic?
SDLVR2: Yeh, I do.
CNTRYLVR: How about if we exchange them? Id like to put a face to words and a name. J
SDLVR2: Sure. I'll do it in the am.
CNTRYLVR: Great! So will I! So what else have you been up to?
SDLVR2: Not much, just work.
CNTRYLVR: See that baseball team of yours is coming to life. :)
SDLVR2: Yep, they are! It's been great! From last to second place in only 3 weeks! Pretty exciting.
The two spent the next hour or so talking about sports, movies, and teasing each other about things in general. As the conversation progressed, and despite the distance, Jessica felt a shift in the energy between her and her cyber companion. She felt that no matter what, she was in the process of making a very good friend.
* * *
Jessica continued to correspond and flirt with a few women who responded to her ad, but felt the greatest connection with the mysterious woman from D.C., Cynthia. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, the two emailed or chatted in Instant Messages almost daily, slowly getting to learn things about the other. Although Cynthia seemed to be open and share freely about herself, Jessica was intrigued about her new friend's elusiveness about her past in California. Curious, she ran a web search on her friend's name, only to find articles on Cynthia's professional accomplishments, including awards from local bar associations on the East Coast acknowledging how she improved their communities'law practice management. But she couldn't find any other personal information. The woman remained an enigma to her.
Jessica wondered what Cynthia looked like and how her voice sounded. Although she had an image in her mind from the mere description on paper, she wondered if it was reality or her imagination run rampant. In her mind she imagined a woman resembling a combination of Lucy Lawless, Angie Harmon, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. She also wondered what idiosyncratic mannerisms she may have. Without wanting to admit it to herself, her feelings toward Cynthia were deepening and she was becoming fascinated with her new cyber pal.
In the same time period, her friendship with Jean was blossoming. When she wasn't speaking with Cynthia on line, she was talking to Jean. The two had exchanged pictures and phone numbers and often spoke on the phone like two schoolgirls. Although they had not yet met face to face, they both agreed to only pursue a friendship as they were enjoying the platonic connection they each felt they had with the other.
Jean decided it was time the two met and offered to drive the 90 miles south to introduce herself in person. When the day to meet finally arrived, Jessica was nervous, butterflies tumbling in her stomach. She sat at a table in the coffeehouse, hoping Jean could follow the directions she gave and not get lost. She anxiously watched the door, hoping she would recognize Jean from the pictures they previously exchanged. Although they had both agreed to be friends, she followed the suggestions of others to meet for the first time at a public place. She had suggested first meeting for coffee, knowing that she would be too nervous to eat if they had met at a restaurant.
Jessica sipped her coffee and saw a woman with short brown hair, wearing a royal blue golf shirt and khaki golf shorts enter the doorway and pause, looking around the room for someone. As the woman scanned the room to Jessica's direction, her face lit up in a smile of recognition and she walked toward Jessica." Jessica?" The woman asked arriving at the table. " Jean?" Jessica responded, standing and holding out her hand, which Jean took into her own in a friendly shake. " > Tis me. Hold on a sec while I get something to drink. Need anything?" Jean said, releasing Jessica's hand and walking over to the counter after Jessica shook her head. She returned shortly carrying a large glass of iced tea. " How was the drive?" Jessica asked as her friend sat down in a chair across from her. " Great! Hardly any traffic at all. I left straight from the golf course as you can see," she laughed, pointing to her attire.
The two easily fell into conversation, Jessica's initial uneasiness quickly disappearing. After awhile, Jessica could feel her stomach grumble, hungry for food. Asking if Jean was also hungry, she suggested a restaurant down the street on the beach. The two leisurely walked the two blocks, pausing occasionally for Jessica to point out minor points of interest along the way. Beating the normal Saturday afternoon late breakfast rush, they were seated immediately. After placing their orders, Jean settled back into her chair, gazing out the window at the waves breaking on the beach." It's beautiful out there, isn't it?" Jean asked. " > Yeh, it is... We lucked out on the weather. The marine layer burned off early." " Yep...So, how are the cyber chicks going?" Jean asked smiling, leaning forward with her elbows on the table. "Meet any hot new ones?" " Nah. .," Jessica laughed, "Not getting very many new responses. I'm still corresponding with one though, other than you." " Ah, the one back east?" " Yep." " So have you spoken on the phone yet or exchanged pictures?" " No, we haven't... I don't know why, I just haven't asked or offered, nor has she," Jessica pondered. " Mmmm.... Maybe you should my friend. Just to make sure she is really a she."
Jessica laughed. "Oh I'm sure she is! I know it might sound crazy, like I was stalking her or something, but I did a web search on her and she is definitely a she."" Oooo... give me the details!" " Nothing much other than she does seem to be whom she claims to be. No dirt or pictures, sorry."
The waitress arrived with their food, placing the plate full of French toast covered with boysenberries and powdered sugar in front of Jean and the plate with bacon and a spinach omelet in front of Jessica." Oh my God! These portions are huge!" Jean exclaimed in wonder. "Well, you should probably take the next step and talk to her in real time before you get emotionally invested," she suggested, picking up her fork and knife and cutting into her French Toast. " Yeh, I should, "Jessica agreed, spreading salsa on her omelet. "You know what?" she asked, placing the spoon on her plate and looking over at her friend. " What's that?" Jean inquired curiously. " I'm really glad we finally met. I feel really comfortable talking with you," she stated sincerely. " Me too Jess. I'm very glad that we're becoming friends."
The two spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the beach, stopping in stores to laugh various tourist knick-knacks and admire or comment on some clothing. With the day slowly turning into night, they drove to Jessica's house in their separate vehicles. After eating an impromptu dinner, Jean left in the early evening, hoping to miss traffic to Orange County. Hugging each other before her departure, Jessica promised to soon reciprocate and make the drive to visit Jean.
Jessica rinsed and put the dinner dishes into the dishwasher and then settled down in front of her computer and logged onto the Internet. She thought about Jean's advice concerning Cynthia. Although she was new to the world of cyber-dating, based on everything she read and was told she knew that she and Cynthia should have exchanged pictures by that point. She also knew that her curiosity of what Cynthia looked like increased with every passing day. Seeing that Cynthia was also online, she knew it was time to take the next step and to speak to the woman in real time.
GDGTCHK: Hey Jess! How r u tonight?
Jessica saw the message pop onto her screen before she could type the first greeting.
SDLVR2: Great! How r u doing? Up past your bedtime?
GDGTCHK: Went to the movies with a friend and just started typing you an email.
SDLVR2: Want to finish it instead of IMing?
GDGTCHK: Nah, just started it. Was going to tell you I'm going to be out in San Diego in two weeks and wanted to know if you wanted to meet for coffee or dinner while I was out there.
SDLVR2: Really?! I'd love to! :) You must have been reading my mind
GDGTCHK: :) Great! Hows that?
SDLVR2: I was just thinking that Ive been talking to you for awhile now, but yet I have no clue what you really look like Do you have a picture you could send?
GDGTCHK: This is going to sound really bad, but although I have the technology, I don't have a pic to send. Sorry. I never really planned to meet someone online so I havent gotten one
Jessica felt a knot tighten in her stomach, a red flag instinctively go up in her
mind. She then saw the rest of Cynthias message pop onto the screen.
GDGTCHK: But I do have a phone number. (202) 555-2486. I agree we should talk on the phone, especially if were going to meet in real life.J
Within seconds of typing in her own phone number, Jessica heard her
phone ring." Hello," she answered, typing a response to a question from Cynthia. " I figured I should formally introduce myself if we're going to meet," she heard an unfamiliar silky voice. " Cynthia?!" Jessica asked surprised. " Yep, it's me. Surprise!" " It certainly is. I just typed something to you." " I know. I see," she laughed.
Jessica listened to the new voice. It seemed so familiar, but she didn't know from where. "Sorry, it's still weird for me to be talking to someone on the phone at the same time I'm talking to them online. Hold on a sec. Let me log off." Jessica exited the program and took the cordless phone with her as she walked into the living room and sat on the couch. "Well, I'm very surprised. But its a very pleasant one. It's nice to put a voice to words."" And you'll soon have a face to a voice... That is, if you want to meet," Cynthia tentatively commented, suddenly feeling very insecure. > Maybe this wasn't a good idea,'she thought to herself as she also logged off the computer and walked into the bedroom, laying down on her bed. " Of course I do!" Jessica assured without hesitation, perhaps a little too quickly she thought. "Just tell me when and where." " I'll be in San Diego in a week and a half, from late Tuesday night through Friday night. How about Thursday? I have meetings all day Wednesday through Thursday afternoon. But how about an early dinner? About fivish?" " Sure. That'll work for me. Do you have anywhere particular in mind?"
"If you like seafood, I was thinking of the Fish Peddlers Grill", Cynthia suggested.
"I love seafood and thats one of my favorite restaurants. It sounds perfect. There is one problem though," Jessica hesitated.
"Whats that?" Cynthia asked concerned.
"How will I know who you are?" she asked trying to visualize the image she had in her mind with the voice.
Cynthia released a laugh in relief. "Had me going there Ill get there a little early and get a table. When you get there just ask for me. Hows that?"
"Thatll work for me. You know, I do have a picture. I can email it to you if you want."
Cynthia briefly pondered the offer. "Nah, thatll put me at a distinct advantage in that Ill know what you look like, but not vice versa. We should have a level playing field," she laughed, "I am sorry about not having a picture handy. My friends arent into photo ops and any decent pictures of me are too old to be trustworthy. I dont think a picture of me when I was 5 will help."
"No, that probably wouldnt," Jessica giggled. "I do understand. If it wasnt for my best friend, Shawn, being a shutterbug, especially since she got her new digital camera, I wouldnt have any pictures of me either...So, should I look for a tall, dark, and beautiful woman in a business suit?" Jessica flirted.
Surprised by the comment, Cynthia blushed. "Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so Ill let you be the judge of that," she flirted back, "Ill probably be wearing chinos and a blazer. The meeting I have that afternoon is pretty casual."
"Then youll definitely have an advantage over me," Jessica pouted.
"And why is that?" Cynthia asked perplexed.
"Because Ill probably be in a business suit with hose and heels!"
Cynthia laughed at her new friends faux distress. "Hardly! Itll just mean that youll look better than I will!"
"Why thank you maam Cynthia?" she asked seriously.
"Im really glad you called and am very pleased that Ill have a chance to finally meet you. I have been trying to visualize you in my mind," she confessed.
"Im really glad too Jess. I honestly dont know why we havent exchanged numbers before. Ive really enjoyed talking to you online, but it seems to take forever to say something that only takes seconds speaking."
"I agree. See there you go reading my mind again!"
"Thats me, Madame Cynthia, master mind reader and computer trouble shooter!"
The two women laughed. They settled into a relaxed conversation, not realizing how quickly the time was passing. Realizing it was the wee hours of the morning in Cynthias time zone, they sleepily said their good-byes, both reiterating how each were very glad they finally spoke in real life.
Continued in Chapter Four
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