In the mornings, I went to the office. Having the simple routine and the company of the people at work was a small comfort. I spent most of the day trying to learn more about other computer fraud cases and comparing our situation to others. Most of the time, doing so only left me more anxious.
Alli knocked on my door in the midst of one of those moments. “Hey, you okay?”
I spun in my chair and faced her as she lowered into the seat across from me. “Sure. Just going through emails.”
“How are you feeling?”
I slid my finger along the edge of the desk. “That’s a loaded question, Alli.”
“Sorry. I meant physically.”
I shrugged. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
She nodded and didn’t speak for a while. “Have you been to see Blake?”
I shook my head wordlessly.
“Any particular reason?”
I couldn’t go an hour without thinking about Blake. We’d spent a month together, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and it hadn’t been nearly enough. I longed for his presence more than anyone else’s, and still I couldn’t bring myself to have Clay drive me to visit him when he’d specifically asked me to stay away.
“He doesn’t want me to.”
“When has that ever stopped you?”
Ignoring his wish had crossed my mind. Sometimes Blake didn’t know what was good for him, but a part of me was scared to see him so vulnerable too.
“I think I’m waiting,” I finally admitted.
“What are you waiting for?”
“It’s like I’m waiting for him to just come home. And when I realize that he’s not, I feel like I’m waiting until I can fix all of this somehow.”
“I understand why you feel that way, but we have no idea how long this process is going to take. No matter what’s happening in his case, you’re still married and in love. He needs you.”
“I know he does, and believe me, it’s killing me. The day of the hearing, he looked so hopeless. The only time I’ve ever seen that look in his eyes was after I was shot. He’s always so strong, so incredibly determined. But he couldn’t hide the fact that he thought I might die right there in front of him that day. If that’s how he feels, like there’s no hope, I don’t want to go see him until I can give him hope. And I don’t feel like I can do that yet.”
Sadness swept her features. “Any word from the police?”
I shook my head. “Gove called me and said they were ‘looking into it,’ but no word yet.”
She released a tired sigh. “Let me take you out to lunch.”
“I’m not really hungry.”
“Listen, I’d love to take you out and kill a few martinis, but you’re out of commission for a while. You should at least be able to indulge in some amazing food from time to time. I found this great little Indian place a few blocks away. Their naan is absolutely mouth-watering.”
My stomach offered a little rumble of assent. “Okay.”
A little over an hour later, thanks to a tasty lunch rich in carbohydrates, I was carrying a food baby along with our actual baby. I patted my stomach, which seemed silly and natural all at once. No one would know that I was pregnant, but I looked forward to the day when that wasn’t the case.
We were walking back toward our office when I ran into Risa walking out of a deli with another familiar face, my old friend Liz. Liz and I had been roommates my first year at Harvard, but after I’d moved, we’d grown apart. She’d been the one to refer Risa to me when I was looking to hire for Clozpin, but we hadn’t kept in touch since then.
Now the two women were standing in front of us, dressed in dark slacks and dressy tops. Bags that no doubt contained their lunches hung from their hands. Liz was the first to speak.
“Erica, how are you?” She came up to me and gave me an awkward hug.
“Fine, and you?”
“I’m great. Still crunching numbers at the investment firm, but whatever. At least I have company now.” She grinned and gestured to Risa, who stood tensely beside her.
I wasn’t sure how much Risa had briefed her on our falling out, but apparently it wasn’t enough. Risa had betrayed my trust and threatened my business, two offenses that were nearly unforgivable in my book. She’d attempted to make amends months ago, and a small part of me pitied her for making such terrible decisions when it came to inviting Max into her life, but she’d brought them on herself. I’d never be able to trust her again.
She seemed to be reading my thoughts when she spoke up. “I heard about Blake. How are you holding up?”