"I need to go by CVS."
"If you must know, a pregnancy test." I kept a straight face, and he blinked, taken aback. He squinted at me, trying to figure out if I was serious, and I kept my iron facade. For about four seconds. Then I burst out giggling.
"God - you are easy! I need headache medicine! But you, of all people, with your wanton women, should know to never ask a women what she needs at the drug store!"
He grinned. Reaching for his phone, he unlocked it and then pressed a number into the phone. "Jeff. We will be ready for pickup in about five minutes. Check the car for some Advil or Tylenol. If there's not any, go grab some. We'll see you in the valet area in a bit." He hung up the phone and returned to his steak.
"I could have picked up my own medicine."
"We are already short on time. They'll wonder what's been keeping you."
"Scared of Sheila?"
He grinned again, looking up from his steak. "Terrified. That woman is worst than my mother."
His steak was already half gone, and the remaining bit didn't have a chance. The man didn't believe in wasting time. Mimmo appeared at my side.
"Ms. Campbell. I've taken the liberty of wrapping a few of our house truffles, for your enjoyment later."
I nodded my thanks, and placed the small, exquisitely wrapped package into my purse. How does this man know my name?
"May I clear that for you?" He gestured to the plate with my remaining bit of steak on it.
He left, taking a few of our other plates with him. De Luca stood, shoveling a few more pieces of meat into his mouth, and then reached for my hand.
I stood quickly and grabbed my purse. "Shouldn't we wait for the check?"
"I have a house account. They know what to tip." He wiped his face with the cloth napkin and tilted his head, indicating that we should leave. I allowed him to lead me out, but pulled my hand free as we approached the front doors. A doorman held the door for us, and we exited into the hot summer air.
The town car sat in front, Jeff standing by it. He opened De Luca's door and sauntered around to mine. As he opened it, he handed me a small plastic bag. He gave me a casual smile and shut the door once I was fully inside. I peeked in the bag, and pulled out a small bottle of Advil and a bottled water. Sweet Salvation. My headache jumped up and down, cheering. I twisted open the bottle, popped three in my mouth, and sucked down half the bottle of water.
De Luca spent the ride back to the office on the phone, and I leaned back in the seat, the heavy food and wine making me sleepy. We were back in the garage before I knew it, and I glanced around before reaching for the handle.
"Relax." De Luca spoke from the other seat. He reached over and grabbed my knee, trying to reassure me, I think. I swatted his hand away.
"If Broward finds out I -"
"Do you always do as your told?"
I gave him a death glare that didn't waver his demeanor one bit. "Yes, I typically do."
"You should learn to bend the rules."
"You should learn to follow them!" I retorted, smiling a bit. "Good afternoon, Mr. De Luca. Thank you for the ridiculously expensive lunch."
"I enjoyed it."
I didn't know how to respond to that, and opened the car door. Jeff stood there, and I gave him a small smile and rushed to the elevators. I pressed the button and waited, glancing back at the black car. It stayed there, idling, Jeff once again in the drivers seat. The bell dinged and the door opened. Thankfully, the elevator was empty. I entered, press the button for the fourth floor, and leaned against the wall. I felt like I had missed a bullet, skipped across glowing coals, and then tied myself securely to the tracks of an incoming train. The bell dinged, sounding eerily like a far off train horn.
Rule 2: She is mine and not yours. Remember that.
Day 3 of No Broward loomed ahead of me and I woke up early in nervous anticipation. Knowing full well that I was headed straight to hell, I dressed for success in a navy Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress that hugged my ass perfectly and leather and gold Prada stilettos. I added a chunky gold necklace and put my hair up in a messy bun. Taking extra care with my makeup, I made sure that I looked amazing before trotting out of the house.
7:40am. I slide into my chair, turning on my computer and checking my voicemail. One from Broward.
"Julia - this is Kent. Just checking in to see how things are going. You must have already left for the evening. I sent you a few emails - give me a call if you have any questions. I will be in court all morning tomorrow, so try me in the afternoon if you need me."
I deleted the voicemail and stared at my computer's opening scripts, willing them to hurry. I wanted to take care of Broward's emails first, and then try and finish some of the legal research that I had been putting off. My phone rang.
Ancient Dorothy's voice creaked through the phone. "Julia, you have a delivery. Is it okay if I send it up?"
I checked my watch. 7:45am. Early delivery. "Yes Dorothy, thank you." I assumed it was FedEx bringing an 8am Express package. My computer finally loaded the login screen and I quickly entered my credentials. Scrolling through to my first email from Broward, I heard a light knock at my door.
A moderately attractive man stood in my doorway, in a grey suit and blue tie. He held a large arrangement of lilies and orchards. I squinted at the man, who looked familiar, and then it hit me. Billy, Ben, NO - Bob. From Monday night. Oh Jesus. This is bad.
"Bob!" I tried to interject some version of pleasure into my voice, but I think I missed the happy tone and ended up with more of a strangled croak.
"I hope it's all right that I stopped by. I remember you saying that you interned here, and I couldn't get through on the number you gave me and I sent you a friend request on Facebook and I stopped by yesterday but you were out…" his rushed speech faltered and I think he realized how desperate he sounded. "I just wanted to stop by and give you these." He took two steps forward and thrust the flowers into my desk space. I had no choice but to take them - the glass vase hung from his outstretched hands like it would slip through at any moment.
"Bob, these are beautiful. Thank you." I buried my face in the arrangement and sniffed, trying to think of what else to say. They WERE beautiful, and from the size of the arrangement, expensive.
"Would you want to go out some time? I know a great Italian place, just around the corner, not a far trek from here."