* * *
We made our way to the hotel my colleagues were staying at. Heather had prepared the suite for a small party and my phone was ringing nonstop. I handed my phone to Heather, and she tucked it away in her pocket.
“You deserve a small respite for one hour. That’s when everyone will come this direction.”
I nodded and went into the bedroom, closing the door. The room had a view of the mall and the surrounding museums. The National Gallery was a few blocks down. The Archives… I could walk all the way down to the Willard. George would be happy to see me. Maybe go into the Round Robin and see Jordan. He could pull me into his arms and… No, this can never happen again.
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in.” I said, and Michael peeked his head in.
“I’m sorry, Chuck called. He’s at the airport and wants to take you out to dinner tomorrow. Are you free?”
“Of course. Tell him to pick me up here.”
Michael nodded and closed the door. Chuck would want to stay out all night and probably want to do Karaoke with all the junior partners he would invite with him, hoping our win would inspire them. I would sneak out then and…
What would I do? I would go to bed and think about the next case and then the next. Then what?
I sat on the bed and sighed, my mind drifting off to Jordan. Imagining his muscular arms wrapped around me, celebrating the win. Quiet in his loft.
Heather opened the door. “Beverly and Wanda are here with the National LGBTQ+ Caucus. You told them to meet you at one. It’s five after.” I got up and straightened my skirt and jacket. They had funded the lawsuit when they heard about Obi and Paula. They were skilled organizers and helped to spur the organizers that showed up at the courthouse day after day. Probably did the parade yesterday around the reflecting pool.
Just then Obi and Paula burst through the door. “Did you see us on the news? We were awesome!” Obi said.
We all got up to hug each other. Then Chuck, my boss, came in the room. He was a large man and his presence filled the room.
“Congratulations everyone! Well done!” He spied me and held his arms out. “How’s my favorite partner?”
Michael herded the group into taxis and we reached Javier’s within minutes and were seated at a large round table, Michael, Chuck, Obi, Paula, and Wanda. Their eyes sparkling from the win. Chuck took charge ordering the best wine, everybody’s meals which would be gluttonous and wonderful. I enjoyed winning and of course the Fullerton case was important to me. I wore my mask of excitement, feigned the appropriate amount of lawyer confidence throughout the meal but, something—no, someone was missing.
Obi and Paula snuggled in with each other, their tired eyes closing and opening like young children who were about done with the day. They had each other to celebrate. They didn’t need Chuck or his congratulations because this meant more to them as well. It means they could start their family. This win meant others could start their families. It was a good thing-for them and other couples like them who wanted to help foster youth.
One after the other, people were at our table congratulating us on our success. Chuck laughed. “Get used to that. You’re famous now.”
I recognized two men sitting at the table near ours. They both got up and walked towards me. Henry and Jimmy wearing large grins. I stood up and met them halfway between our tables. Jimmy got up and hugged me tight. “Great job today. I knew you did well. Seven to two ruling. That’s impressive.”
Henry hugged me next. “Where’s Jordan tonight?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t…” I stopped talking. “I haven’t talked to him this afternoon.”
Henry frowned. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you guys hit if off.” Henry’s frown turned into concern. “I’m being too nosey. He’s my best friend. I just made an assumption.”
This was an uncomfortable conversation, “Henry, I don’t know what we are. I live in Boston and he’s here.”
“Is that all there is? Location isn’t an issue when love is involved.”
Jimmy interrupted. “Leave her alone, honey. It’s not like she dumped him or anything. They weren’t an item, yet.”
Jimmy patted my arm. “I’m still rooting for you two, but it will happen if it’s supposed to.” I nodded.
He kissed my cheek. “We will let you get back to your people.”
Henry did the same. “We are still watching you on the hill. I hear Hendricks might be retiring. You could do monumental work for us.” He hugged me one more time.
“Thanks, Henry. I’ll think about it.”
He smiled, and they returned to their table, which was filled with other people celebrating. They all raised their glasses to me. I waved at them and returned to my table.
“Was that Henry Schulman from Tennessee?” Chuck asked.
I turned and looked back at the table they were pointing and looking at us too.
“Yeah. I met them this weekend. It really was an interesting weekend, Chuck.”
“I can’t wait to hear about it.” He touched his nose like they did in the movie The Sting.
As we ate dinner, more people dropped by to say congratulations.