“What is this?”
“It’s an Old Fashioned with my twist to it.” We clinked our glasses together, and I took a sip. The whiskey hit my tongue like a cool fire. As it traveled down my throat, a warmth crept over my entire body. I looked up to Jordan.
“I like the way you enjoy the drinks I make you. You take time to enjoy the first sip, not rushing.”
“You’ve probably figured out I don’t rush anything.” I took another sip and pointed to the couch facing the window. We both sat down near enough but yet, there was some distance between us. Like the painting had thrown us apart, and yet, it was the thing that drew us together.
“Your show was beautiful, Jordan.” I reached for his hand. “You captured things I had forgotten about.”
“I’m sorry.” He pushed my hair behind my shoulder, his long fingers grazing my neck.
I let my lips form into a semi-smile. “No, it was therapeutic. After so many years, I should be able to face it. Right?” I took another sip, unsure if I was right. The cool fire relaxed my body, the stress flaking off thought by thought.
“I had trouble facing it all. I was selfish in LA. I made good money in real estate, living a lifestyle that some would envy, but in hindsight, it was a waste.”
“How do you define waste?” My hand tightening on his.
“I wasn’t saving anyone. I was buying and selling properties.” He sighed. “I didn’t help people, that’s for sure. My only goal was to make money.”
“You didn’t lead an evil life stealing baby’s candy or anything.” I laughed. “You didn’t pillage and rape the land? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Now that you’ve had a huge life-altering event, you changed your priorities.” I sighed. If the earthquake hadn’t happened, would I still be pursuing my career? I took another sip. “Hell, I didn’t expect I’d be here right now. I assumed I’d be in LA with David and Emily. She’d be almost eight by now.”
I hadn’t thought about that.
I had always pushed that idea deep down so it would never come. I had imagined if I had said something like this a few years ago, I might be in the corner sobbing, but not now. It still hurt. My heart ached for David, the loving and passionate relationship we had. I missed Emily’s laugh and even her cry. Today, it was easier to think about them.
Jordan observed me. He took a sip of his drink, then put it down.
“You never talk about your family.” He paused. “Is it hard for you to talk about?”
“It was until today. I was always afraid to talk about it. I knew if I did, the pain I’d been hiding would bubble up. I’ve been afraid of the pain. It was easier to push it down. I focused on my work rather than myself.”
His fingers trailed along my cheek, down my neck. I would be satisfied if that’s all that I had for the rest of my life. I closed my eyes and focused on that sensation, focused on his touch, letting the fire build.
“You’ve been unbalanced in your life, Katie. You’ve done wonderful things for so many people, but you haven’t taken the time to do anything for yourself. When I first met you, you were determined to push everyone away. You stay on this side of town so you don’t become close to your colleagues. When I asked you out, I bet you thought about saying no to me last night. The first time I asked, I saw it. I did the same thing. That’s why I only asked once. I figured each month, I would see you and that would be enough. When you were ready, then I would ask for myself. But you were already giving so much of yourself that I couldn’t bear to ask you for one more thing.”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean you would ask me for one more thing? You just asked me out.” Asking someone on a date was a simple thing.
“You fight for people’s rights at the highest court. Those people need you and have been fighting for years to have their day in court. You make their struggles livable. You help fight for them. I couldn’t ask you for your time because of what you did for me was minuscule in the big picture.”
My brain must’ve been fuzzy from the alcohol. I was much quicker than this.
“Spending time with you is nice, you help me relax. All I’d be doing this weekend is thinking about the decision on Monday and my other cases I have pending.” I finished the drink in my hand and set it down on the table. “The sad part of my life is that I’m already prepared for those cases. Over prepared. The time I would spend ongoing over them again is just me wasting time. I’m good enough that I don’t need to do that.”
Jordan smiled when I said that. “You don’t lack in confidence.”
“It’s a gift. It’s necessary to be competitive. You met Cameron.” I laughed.
“Yes, I see why you stay on this side of town.”
“It’s my respite from the sharks. I need a break from their bites.” I leaned in, pressed my face into the warm skin of his neck. “I used to think I stayed here because I felt a part of the history, but it was more.” He bit his bottom lip in concentration as if he was deciding something and was struggling with it.
“I’d better go, Katie. It’s been a long day. I’m sorry that I’ve stayed so late.” Jordan said.
He got up off the couch, and I followed him. He stopped in front of the door and looked down at me.