It had been three weeks since Jennifer had had dinner with Adam at Lutece. She tried to put him out of her mind, but everything reminded her of Adam: A chance phrase, the back of a stranger's head, a tie similar to the one he had worn. There were many men who tried to date her. She was propositioned by clients, by attorneys she had opposed in court and by a night-court judge, but Jennifer wanted none of them. Lawyers invited her out for what was cynically referred to as "funch," but she was not interested. There was an independence about her that was a challenge to men.
Ken Bailey was always there, but that fact did nothing to assuage Jennifer's loneliness. There was only one person who could do that, damn him!
He telephoned on a Monday morning. "I thought I'd take a chance and see if you happened to be free for lunch today."
She was not. She said, "Of course I am."
Jennifer had sworn to herself that if Adam ever called her again she would be friendly yet distant, and courteous but definitely not available.
The moment she heard Adam's voice she forgot all those things and said, Of course I am.
The last thing in the world she should have said.
They had lunch at a small restaurant in Chinatown, and they talked steadily for two hours that seemed like two minutes. They talked about law and politics and the theater, and solved all the complex problems of the world. Adam was brilliant and incisive and fascinating. He was genuinely interested in what Jennifer was doing, and took a joyous pride in her successes. He has a right to, Jennifer thought. If not for him, I'd be back in Kelso, Washington.
When Jennifer returned to the office, Ken Bailey was waiting for her.
"Have a good lunch?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Is Adam Warner going to become a client?" His tone was too casual.
"No, Ken. We're just friends."
And it was true.
The following week, Adam invited Jennifer to have lunch in the private dining room of his law firm. Jennifer was impressed with the huge, modern complex of offices. Adam introduced her to various members of the firm, and Jennifer felt like a minor celebrity, for they seemed to know all about her. She met Stewart Needham, the senior partner. He was distantly polite to Jennifer, and she remembered that Adam was married to his niece.
Adam and Jennifer had lunch in the walnut-paneled dining room run by a chef and two waiters.
"This is where the partners bring their problems."
Jennifer wondered whether he was referring to her. It was hard for her to concentrate on the meal.
Jennifer thought about Adam all that afternoon. She knew she had to forget about him, had to stop seeing him. He belonged to another woman.
That night, Jennifer went with Ken Bailey to see Two by Two, the new Richard Rodgers show.
As they stepped into the lobby there was an excited buzz from the crowd, and Jennifer turned to see what was happening. A long, black limousine had pulled up to the curb and a man and woman were stepping out of the car.
"It's him!" a woman exclaimed, and people began to gather around the car. The burly chauffeur stepped aside and Jennifer saw Michael Moretti and his wife. It was Michael that the crowd focused on. He was a folk hero, handsome enough to be a movie star, daring enough to have captured everyone's imagination. Jennifer stood in the lobby watching as Michael Moretti and his wife made their way through the crowd. Michael passed within three feet of Jennifer, and for an instant their eyes met. Jennifer noticed that his eyes were so black that she could not see his pupils. A moment later he disappeared into the theater.
Jennifer was unable to enjoy the show. The sight of Michael Moretti had brought back a flood of fiercely humiliating memories. Jennifer asked Ken to take her home after the first act.
Adam telephoned Jennifer the next day and Jennifer steeled herself to refuse his invitation. Thank you, Adam, but I'm really very busy.
But all Adam said was, "I have to go out of the country for a while."
It was like a blow to the stomach. "How - how long will you be gone?"
"Just a few weeks. I'll give you a call when I get back."
"Fine," Jennifer said brightly. "Have a nice trip."
She felt as though someone had died. She visualized Adam on a beach in Rio, surrounded by half-naked girls, or in a penthouse in Mexico City, drinking margaritas with a nubile, dark-eyed beauty, or in a Swiss chalet making love to - Stop it! Jennifer told herself. She should have asked him where he was going. It was probably a business trip to some dreary place where he would have no time for women, perhaps the middle of some desert where he would be working twenty-four hours a day.
She should have broached the subject, very casually, of course. Will you be taking a long plane trip? Do you speak any foreign languages? If you get to Paris, bring me back some Vervaine tea. I suppose the shots must be painful. Are you taking your wife with you? Am I losing my mind?
Ken had come into her office and was staring at her. "You're talking to yourself. Are you okay?"
No! Jennifer wanted to shout. I need a doctor. I need a cold shower. I need Adam Warner.
She said, "I'm fine. Just a little tired."
"Why don't you get to bed early tonight?"
She wondered whether Adam would be going to bed early.
Father Ryan called. "I went to see Connie Garrett. She told me you've dropped by a few times."
"Yes." The visits were to assuage her feeling of guilt because she was unable to be of any help. It was frustrating.
Jennifer plunged herself into work, and still the weeks seemed to drag by. She was in court nearly every day and worked on briefs almost every night.
"Slow down. You're going to kill yourself," Ken advised her.
But Jennifer needed to exhaust herself physically and mentally. She did not want to have time to think. I'm a fool, she thought. An unadulterated fool.
It was four weeks before Adam called.
"I just got back," he said. The sound of his voice thrilled her. "Can we meet for lunch somewhere?"
"Yes. I'd enjoy that, Adam." She thought she had carried that off well. A simple Yes, I'd enjoy that, Adam.
"The Oak Room in the Plaza?"
It was the most businesslike, unromantic dining room in the world, filled with affluent middle-aged wheelers and dealers, stockbrokers and bankers. It had long been one of the few remaining bastions of privacy for men, and its doors had only recently been opened to women.
Jennifer arrived early and was seated. A few minutes later, Adam appeared. Jennifer watched the tall, lean figure moving toward her and her mouth suddenly went dry. He looked tanned, and Jennifer wondered if her fantasies about Adam on some girl-ridden beach had been true. He smiled at her and took her hand, and Jennifer knew in that moment that it did not matter what logic she used about Adam Warner or married men. She had no control over herself. It was as though someone else were guiding her, telling her what she should do, telling her what she must do. She could not explain what was happening to her, for she had never experienced anything like it. Call it chemistry, she thought. Call it karma, call it heaven. All Jennifer knew was that she wanted to be in Adam Warner's arms more than she had ever wanted anything in her life. Looking at him, she visualized his making love to her, holding her, his hard body on top of her, inside her, and she felt her face becoming red.
Adam said apologetically, "Sorry about the short notice. A client canceled a luncheon date."
Jennifer silently blessed the client.
"I brought you something," Adam said. It was a lovely green and gold silk scarf. "It's from Milan."
So that's where he had been. Italian girls. "It's beautiful, Adam. Thank you."
"Have you ever been to Milan?"
"No. I've seen pictures of the cathedral there. It's lovely."
"I'm not much of a sightseer. My theory is that if you've seen one church, you've seen them all."
Later, when Jennifer thought about that luncheon, she tried to remember what they had talked about, what they had eaten, who had stopped by the table to say hello to Adam, but all she could remember was the nearness of Adam, his touch, his looks. It was as though he had her in some kind of spell and she was mesmerized, helpless to break it.
At one point Jennifer thought, I know what to do. I'll make love with him. Once. It can't be as wonderful as my fantasies. Then I'll be able to get over him.
When their hands touched accidentally, it was like an electric charge between them. They sat there talking of everything and nothing, and their words had no meaning. They sat at the table, locked in an invisible embrace, caressing each other, making fierce love, naked and wanton. Neither of them had any idea what they were eating or what they were saying. There was a different, more demanding hunger in them and it kept mounting and mounting, until neither of them could stand it any longer.
In the middle of their luncheon, Adam put his hand over Jennifer's and said huskily, "Jennifer - "
She whispered, "Yes. Let's get out of here."
Jennifer waited in the busy, crowded lobby while Adam registered at the desk. They were given a room in the old section of the Plaza Hotel, overlooking 58th Street. They used the back bank of elevators, and it seemed to Jennifer that it took forever to reach their floor.
If Jennifer was unable to remember anything about the luncheon, she remembered everything about their room. Years later, she could recall the view, the color of the drapes and carpets, and each picture and piece of furniture. She could remember the sounds of the city, far below, that drifted into the room. The images of that afternoon were to stay with her the rest of her life. It was a magic, multicolored explosion in slow motion. It was having Adam undress her, it was Adam's strong, lean body in bed, his roughness and his gentleness. It was laughter and passion. Their hunger had built to a greed that had to be satisfied. The moment Adam began to make love to her, the words that flashed into Jennifer's mind were, I'm lost.
They made love again and again, and each time was an ecstasy that was almost unbearable.
Hours later, as they lay there quietly, Adam said, "I feel as though I'm alive for the first time in my life."
Jennifer gently stroked his chest and laughed aloud.
Adam looked at her quizzically. "What's so funny?"
"Do you know what I told myself? That if I went to bed with you once, I could get you out of my system."
He twisted around and looked down at her. "And - ?"
"I was wrong. I feel as though you're a part of me. At least" - she hesitated - "part of you is a part of me."
He knew what she was thinking.
"We'll work something out," Adam said. "Mary Beth is leaving Monday for Europe with her aunt for a month."