Discovering the Truth
Usually Claire checked on Richard on weekends but she’d been mulling over Cliff’s questions all night and decided she needed to finalize in her mind why she was pouring her time and finances into Richard so next morning phoned to inquire if Cliff would be able to meet with her next evening. This time it would be her restaurant and her treat. At first Cliff protested at her paying but then realizing this was important to her agreed and rescheduled his appointments for the evening.
When they’d settled in at the restaurant and placed their order Claire spoke.
“Cliff, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I want to complete Richard’s rehabilitation and see he gets a job and I was wondering if you’d do this for me. Of course, I’ll continue to pay for it but will move further into the background, so he doesn’t see my involvement as a possibility of us getting together again. Would you do this for me?”
Cliff smiled. “Seems you’ve resolved the questions I asked last night. Good! Yes, I’ll be glad to help, and I have some news which may interest you and which I’d decided not to share until your feelings had clarified. Richard and another patient Rose Wiltshire have been giving each other support as they’ve worked their way through sessions together. Both are making progress and I feel each would be a tower of strength to the other when released. I was thinking about how I could break this to you wondering if that would be a disappointment. I don’t think either of them have a romantic attachment yet but with your permission I’d like to see this encouraged as it would be in the interests of both as they reintegrate into society. I have contacts that help employ those who’ve been released from addictions. I’ll share a list of possibilities with you next time you drop by the office and you can advise me what kind of work he could excel at.”
Tears of joy flooded Claire’s eyes. “Cliff you are a very compassionate man and I’m so lucky to have stumbled onto you professionally. Go ahead and encourage Richard and Rose to establish their relationship further if you feel that will enhance Richard’s chances of full recovery. I’m still very fond of him but thinking it over last evening fondness does not equate to the love we once shared together. I need to back away and let you handle it from here on.”
Now it was Cliff’s turn to look pleased with the outcome of their evening date.
“Claire I’ve got to get something off my chest, and I hope you still think well of me after I’ve said it. I’ve watched you pouring yourself into Richard’s rehabilitation for months and hoped you were not setting yourself up for disappointment. Those who go through this treatment don’t always make it as they struggle to intergrate back into society. But to be honest I was a little jealous of Richard. I wished you’d take the feelings I thought you had for him and direct them my way. I like your philosophy in life, your compassion, your fairness in your work. You are my ideal of what a woman could be, and I want more than a lawyer and client relationship with you Claire.”
Suddenly Cliff thought of how his outburst could wreck their long friendship not to mention his need for her legal talents in business and he felt wretched.
“I’m sorry!” He murmured shifting uncomfortably in his seat and averting his eyes in case she rejected him. ‘Maybe we should go, It’s getting late for you Claire.”
There was a long silence and eventually Cliff looked up. Claire had a surprised look on her face, and she was staring at some imaginary spot on the ceiling. She slowly lowered her eyes then turned to signal to the waiter who came quickly to their table. “Bring me the dessert menu!”
The waiter produced one quickly and Claire studied it. “The cherry pie looks delicious would you get us two servings. No hurry!” She dismissed the waiter and turned to Cliff studying his face carefully.
“Well now, you bought some clarity with your questions to me last evening and tonight things are becoming even clearer.” She resumed studying the roof in silence and pursed her lips getting ready to frame her words appropriately. Lawyers habit she thought. Think clearly, and only then speak. Cliff sat silent waiting for the outburst he expected.
Finally, Claire focused on him just as the dessert appeared. She reached over to her drink sipped it and put it down again.
“Cliff thank you for the huge compliment you just paid me. I think I’ve been visiting the rehab centre just as much to see you as to monitor Richard’s progress to be honest. I just realized that this evening after you made your speech.” She paused and smiled at him.
“I think we both need to think this through carefully. If I make a commitment to someone I need to know its not a rebound from sad experiences in the past but something genuine that will last. I’m going to take a week to think about what you said and then we need to talk it through and decide where we go from here. I hope this doesn’t alter your mind about helping Richard get re-established. That’s important to me”
Cliff was smiling as he tucked into his cherry pie. Claire had not said no so he’d redouble his efforts after a clumsy start this evening and win her over no matter how much time it took.
“I meant everything I said Claire, please give me a chance to demonstrate my love for you, I don’t care how long it takes you to make up your mind as long as you give me a chance.”
That evening after they’d returned to their homes neither of them slept much thinking about their chance meeting and discovering each other’s yearnings for a close relationship with someone they could spend the rest of the life with.
Next morning Claire woke with a feeling of peace she’d not experienced for a long time. It was early, but she picked up the phone and punched in Cliff’s cell phone number.
A tired voice answered the phone, “Claire, what can I do for you at this early hour?”
“Couldn’t wait a week to have our discussion Cliff. If you really meant what you said last evening then the answer from me would be yes to getting to know each other better. Are you free this evening?”
The tired voice vanished and was replaced by an urgency in Cliff’s voice. “I’ll be practicing all day getting down on my knees to ask you a very important question this evening Claire. I can hardly wait to see you.”
Claire replaced the phone it its cradle her heart racing. “And I’ll practice saying yes all day,” she said to the cat which responded with a purr.
© Copyright 2019 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved
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