Heather and I flew home that night. I had other cases this week and might as well get to work on those. Two of them were fast tracked for the Supreme Court. Michael and I were the action team of Brindle, Jackson, and Jones. Boston was quiet. The work soothed me, kept me busy, and my thoughts rarely shifted to Jordan because it wasn’t practical, we weren’t practical. It would be the same life with David all over again. I would lose him and it would hurt too much.
The doorman to my apartment helped me carry my things up, and he set the wrapped painting of Jordan’s cat next to the boxes of things I hadn’t opened. I didn’t open them in New York either. These boxes just moved with me, I wasn’t even sure what was in them.
I tore open the brown paper wrapping on the painting. Perseus stared back at me, his fur a bright purple and green. In the background, an Eleanor puckish scene like the one in the National Museum. I opened my suitcase, digging out the small Eleanor painting she had gifted me, setting the two together. My devastating past and the future I didn’t choose. I ran my fingers over the small oil painting of the family at the beach and with my other touched the acrylic covered canvas. Tears prickled my eyes and one by one they fell, clearing my head of the sadness, replacing it with… nothing.
I dropped my hands and gathered the paper off the floor, the tears still streaming. I crawled into bed and cried myself to sleep.
* * *
My office door opened just slightly and Heather’s strawberry blonde head peeked in. “Chuck and Silvia are waiting for you at the elevator for dinner.”
Both Chuck and Silvia waited for me, and they had tentative smiles on their faces. They had been married for at least thirty years. They never had children. Silvia once shared that they tried, but it wasn’t in the cards for them. They seemed happy but something was wrong, Silvia gave me hug, her arms wrapped tightly around me and when she released me, Chuck beamed.
“Two more wins on the scorecard champ. It’s only been three weeks since the last big win. Tonight we feast like kings… and queens.” He gave a boisterous laugh, holding open the elevator doors for us. He was right, we had won the last two cases, one on immigration and another on discrimination in the workplace. These tended to be my specialty now.
We got into the limo, Silvia and I sitting together, Chuck in the opposite seat facing us. The dark leather and dark wood paneling added to my grim mood. Yes, we’d won the cases, but I wasn’t exhilarated, not like I used to be after a win. Everything was hollow and empty.
The ride was filled with Chuck’s laughter, remembering when he was my age, the wins he and Silvia had. I listened as my mind wandered, watching the streets of Boston swoop by. I didn’t know these streets, hadn’t taken the time to walk them, enjoy them. I hadn’t made this place my home. It was just where I slept.
What had Chuck said, three weeks since our last big win? Had it been so long? Had it been so long since I’d seen Jordan? When we left, we didn’t exchange numbers. I could call the Willard and leave him a message or he could have called the Boston office. Neither of us did this. It was better this way. Sever the connection so that for the next few weeks the only feeling is that of the phantoms. They could have been. One weekend shouldn’t be causing so much pain but the memories of what had happened, the ghosts I allowed to float into the ether were joined by new ones. Jordan’s touch, his words, the way he looked at me when he teased. They were just memories that would soon dilute with the rest of my pain, my loneliness. This is what my life was supposed to be.
I looked up, and the car was silent, I’d drifted away in my own thoughts and both Silvia and Chuck were staring at me.
“Darling, are you okay?”
I didn’t know if I was, but I nodded, reassuring them that their star lawyer was fine. Just tired.
“We don’t have to go to dinner tonight. Let’s reschedule,” Silvia suggested.
“No.” I touched her arm and looked at Chuck. His face frowning as if I were someone he was concerned about. The thing was, they both were concerned. I saw it earlier at the elevator. When did this happen? When did they start to believe I was theirs to be concerned about? Maybe they always were concerned, and I just wasn’t paying attention. Too busy focusing on work. “Really, I’m fine.”
“Good.” Chuck cleared his throat, looking at both of them. “We have some business to talk about.”
Silvia took a deep breath next to me, there was tension in the air and it made me uncomfortable. Thank goodness they arrived at the restaurant. They were seated and drinks were ordered.
“When were you going to tell us you met Chief Justice Hendricks at a party before they released the decision?” Chuck looked at me, not accusatory but rather as if we had a secret. I never told him about my weekend with Jordan. Why would I? We kept things professional with the occasional dinners out to talk business. I supposed that’s a big business topic I omitted. What that what this dinner was about?
“I don’t know. I didn’t think it warranted a full-page ad, Chuck. I met him the same time I met Henry and Jimmy. A friend of mine is an artist, and he invited me to his art show in Georgetown. It was a really weird night, actually.” I let my words drift, not finishing my sentence. I thought about the other people I met this weekend, including Eleanor, Emery, and Joe. I liked them a lot. My mind drifted and if I let myself speculate further on this, I might admit I missed them. Not that I really knew any of them but, I wanted to get to. I realized I had room for them in my life.
“Katie, you aren’t leaving us, are you? We can give you a bigger percentage if you want?”
“What? No.” I stared at Silvia and Chuck, their frowns had returned. “The Chief Justice’s son was married to my friend’s sister… It was strange. Small world, really… all of it. I’m still trying to piece it together. That weekend was surreal.”
I wondered if they wanted to hear more about my friend Jordan, or maybe they already realized. It’s not like I shared much with them.
“As long as you are not leaving us. I’m okay piecing it all together for you.”
“If it included a bigger percentage. Don’t think I didn’t hear that.” I laughed.
“That’s why you are the best,” Chuck said.
I sipped my drink and looked at the two closest things I had to friends. Silvia and Chuck had known me a long time, they didn’t push me for my feelings or try to get me to talk about my family and yet, they were still frowning at me, concerned.