Disclaimers – See Part 1
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Part 3 —
“Good morning, everyone!” Karen proclaimed as she entered the office suite. Startled faces looked up amongst themselves in total disbelief. Jason, one of the younger attorneys opened his eyes. Cathy, the receptionist, was also surprised. “Did she win any cases lately? Or did she win the lottery!” One of the law clerks standing near-by said “Maybe she got laid last night!” They all laughed, including one of the senior attorneys who overheard the last comment.
Karen dated men to cover appearances. She went out with Richard Capanelli, one of the younger senior attorneys, a couple of times, but he had been unable to get anywhere with her. She later told him that she just didn't want to have any type of relationship with anyone at work, and that if he didn't think they could go out on a friendly basis maybe they should just stopped going out all together. Karen knew exactly the effect of those words on men. Men did not want a friendly relationship with her. She was gorgeous, and they simply wanted her, all of her, in every which way possible. Karen knew how to brush off the type.
To any other men she dated, outside of the work environment, she would just tell them that she could not be in a relationship at this time in her life because her career simply did not allow her the time. Then she would go on to say how she thought relationships required time and nurturing, if they were going to be successful, and that whenever she got into one she wanted to give it her all to make it work. This reasoning gave her a lot of credit in their eyes and, in some cases, some remained hopeful that sometime in the future when she was more established, she would reconsider them.
The main thing with Karen was that her first tactic was deterrence. Because she always turned everyone off immediately, she sometimes came across as cold and calculative. For those that were looking for a challenge and got through that first barrier, she had developed all those other tactical lies. The net result was that some people thought that Karen was simply a cold, sexy bitch, a sexy career woman with no time for husband or children, or a cute overachiever who would settle down when she was good and ready.
All and all, Karen kept men at a distance, but close enough to make everyone believe that she was hot and interested. As for the women, the ones in the office were a total no-no, and for that matter anyone in the legal field. She was very careful professionally. She had studied the field and was very much aware of who played in what camp and guarded herself well. Some had come on to her, either directly or through innuendos, as they dared to test the waters, but as she was resolved to keep business and pleasure apart, she played it safe and stayed away. Most of them didn't appeal to her in the least, anyways. Others were, simply, trouble.
As a consequence of her own resolve, Karen's universe was difficult to navigate. Love affairs and adventures were only available when she was away from home. While at home, work was the main pastime. Life was lonely. Sure there was Jean Paul and Melanie, but Jean Paul was always traveling around the country on professional gigs, and Melanie was always too busy with her career.
Melanie was her good friend. She had known Melanie since their days at graduate school. They became friends through a sorority. Karen had just come from England and was working on her MBA. Melanie was in starting Med. school. Melanie was also gay.
Some time later, they met up in New York . Melanie was a resident at Mt. Sinai and Karen was working on a law degree at Columbia . The bond between these women was mainly intellectual. Both were extremely bright in their respective fields and had great admiration for each other. However there was never anything between them other than a good friendship. There had never been that chemistry to alter the friendship.
Melanie knew that Karen was a catch, but also knew that it would take a very special person to capture her heart. That person had eluded reality as of yet. Karen was not a regular person, so she was looking for someone like her. Someone out of the ordinary.
As Karen approached her office she greeted her administrative assistant, Maggie. “Hi Maggie, how is it going?” “Is anything wrong?” Maggie was not used to such a cheery tone from Karen, especially in the morning. Maggie thought that Karen was a great boss and got along with her very well. Mainly, it was because Maggie worked very hard and was always on top of things.
When Karen had a date she was sure to let Maggie know. That way she made sure that the word got out. Not that Maggie was a gossip, there were strict rules of confidentiality, but Maggie liked her boss and liked to talk about her love life. Of course, this was a ‘make belief' life since there was no real love life to talk about. “Nope, nothing's wrong. As a matter of fact, everything is very fine.” Why is everything so fine today? Is it her? Oh God, it's her! She just makes me feel happy.
After she met with some clients and had her lunch, Karen went back to her office. She looked in her pocketbook and found Addy's business card. She immediately copied the information to the address book in her computer. She opened her e-mail folder and began to draft an e-mail to Addy. ‘ Hi, just wanted to let you know that bumping into you today made my day a very happy one …..' She stopped to think . What the hell I'm I doing? She'll think I'm a freak if I send her this e-mail? I'll scare her shitless and I'll never hear from her again. She then deleted the e-mail and busied herself with work. She had a lot of work pending on her desk.
On Wednesday afternoon, she couldn't resist anymore. She had this need to talk to Addy. She couldn't understand it. Unsure, she picked up the phone. She was nervous. What is wrong with me? What the hell am I doing? She dialed Addy's office number.
The phone rang once, “General Counsel's Office, Adriana Marcos speaking.” Karen was petrified when she heard the voice. She had expected the phone to ring longer, most people let the phone ring two or three times….she also expected maybe to get her voice mailbox, but not, there she was on the very first ring! Who the hell picks up the phone on the first ring! Isn't that why we have voice mail?
“Hu..hi, um it's me, ah, Karen Larsen” “Oh, Hi Karen, how nice to hear from you!” She sounded all cheery and sweet. Adriana always seemed so much in control. Karen was like that too, except when she was near Addy, then she felt retarded.
“I'm sorry, I feel like I'm mumbling here, I was, um, busy doing something, um, when I dialed and then I was sort of expecting to get your voice mail and was, umm, sort of surprised when you picked up.”
Addy smiled, “Would you like me to hang up so that you can talk to my voice mail?”
Karen chuckled. “Funny! That would be silly, wouldn't it?”
Addy grinned. “So, you'll talk to me?” She said it in an amusing tone that made Karen smile. “What's going on?”
“I was just checking to see if we were still good for Friday?”
“Well, it's only Wednesday, but I think everything is okay.”
“Yeah, I know, but I just wanted to make sure.” Addy noticed a bit of anxiety in Karen's voice. Is she trying to cancel in a polite way? Maybe she hast a better offer? Maybe she just realized that having lunch with me will be boring?
“Well, I'm still good, but I would totally understand if you need to cancel. We can have lunch any other time, really.”
“Oh God, no, that's not it at all!” Karen sounded genuinely alarmed. “I would never cancel on you.” Not while there is one neuron of sanity in my head! “I'm sort of the planning type of person and always like to make sure that my schedule makes sense.” Oh God that is so lame!
“Well, I'm pretty easy going and flexible, so don't ever think that you are tight down to any arrangement with me. I may sound disappointed, but I'm not going to blacklist you or anything like that.” Addy laughed.
“Good, sometimes my schedule gets kind of crazy.” How could it when I, apparently, plan it to the last second?! I sound like a nutcase!
“Fine, so we are good, then.”
“Yeah.” Addy couldn't help feeling good and smiled. At this point, there was a lingering silence, there was no more to say, but Karen didn't say goodbye or anything and Addy didn't want to cut her off just like that.
Addy, bit her lip to stop the grin. “Hey, I was just thinking of going to Starbucks to get some coffee, do you want to join me there?” She raised her brows waiting for the answer wondering if her hunch was right.
“Yeah, sure?” Karen swallowed hard not having expected this spontaneous invitation.
“Are you sure, if you can't, I totally understand.”
“NO! I can, I was just thinking….which Starbucks?” Let's pick one half the distance for both of us. Does the one on Vermont Avenue sound good to you?” “Sure.” “Okay, I'll see you there in a bit.”
“WAIT!” Karen almost yelled in panic. “What?”
“You don't have my cell number?” “Do I need to call you or something?”
“No, but what if you can't make it or something?”
Addy smiled, finding the situation weird. “Okay, let me have it then.”
“Let me have yours, that way I can call you and you'll have mine.”
Addy though this was interesting. She wants my number. Addy gave her the number. “Let me call you now so that you can have mine.”
“Okay, bye.” No sooner had she said bye, her cell phone vibrated. Addy nodded and smiled. “Yeeeesss?”
Karen smiled when she heard the greeting. “It's me!”
Addy grinned, of course it's you silly! Karen sounded so cute, so endearing. “Yeah. Hey, stay away from behind the door, don't want to crash into you again!”
Karen smiled. “Funny! See you in a bit.”
Addy was a go getter. Whenever she said she was doing something, it was imminent, it was already happening. That's why when she got to Starbucks and saw Karen outside waiting for her, she figured Karen must have run there. I'll have to ask her about that some other time. As she got closer they were both smiling.
“You know, you are going to have to take me shopping where you shop…. You always have the nicest outfits! I always feel like I'm in rags. I hate to shop!”
“I'd love to go shopping with you. I hate shopping also. I just try to get as much stuff as I can when I go to minimize the trips. I'm sure that shopping with someone has to be a lot more fun than going by myself.” There it is, just what I thought. She's lonely. Karen opened the door and held it open for Addy.
“Do you really want me to call you when I go shopping next time?”
“Sure, I'll go if I can. My weekend calendar is usually pretty full, but I need time to myself, so, I'll make time.” They ordered and sat down to drink their coffees.
“I'm glad you were able to get away for coffee. Sometimes, I need to get out of the office and do something else. How's your day going?” “This is the only break I've had today. I didn't even have lunch!” “Don't you get hungry?” “Yeah, but I just munch on stuff I have at the office and sort of kill any hunger.” They talked for a little bit and Addy announced that she had to leave. “As much as I'd like to stay here with you and chat for the rest of the afternoon, I have to go back before they send a search party for me.”
Karen was just staring at her, and again felt disappointed when Addy announced her departure.
“You are quiet. Are you okay? You always give me this feeling that you want to say something and there's never enough time. I don't know, it's a weird feeling.”
“I'm okay. It's true, whenever we've met there hasn't been an opportunity for a long conversation. We'll have to fix that. I sometimes become quiet when I'm enjoying the company. I'm sorry if that made you uncomfortable.”
Addy looked at her with a wondering look. “No, it doesn't make me uncomfortable, now that I know.” She got up to leave and Karen jumped up too.
“Are you sure you are okay?” “Yeah, I'm sorry….I keep saying that don't I?” Addy smiled.
“You intrigue me Karen. I'm looking forward to lunch on Friday.”
“Me too.” They smiled at each other as they walked away. I intrigue her?
On Friday, Addy arrived early to the restaurant. She had given some thought to the Karen issue. She concluded that Karen was lonely and that she needed a friend. She also thought that Karen was refreshing and that she was going to definitely give this friendship an opportunity. She also needed a friend. All her good friends were far away, and although, the kids kept her busy, at times she wished she had a friend to talk to and do things with. Luke always seemed to be doing his own thing with friends from work. She was most of the time on her own.
When Karen arrived and found those big brown eyes smiling at her, she was charged with energy. “Hi, have you been here long? I'm sorry if I kept you waiting.”
“Nope, not really. I decided I was going to beat you here today since you beat me to Starbucks and lunch the other day!”
Karen smiled as she sat down. “Well, let's order and then talk, okay?”
Addy grinned. “Looks like someone is really in charge today!”
“Oh..sorry, I didn't meant to!” Addy rested her chin on her right hand, her elbow resting on the table and with a huge grin looked at Karen, still holding her gaze. “No problem. I like a woman in charge.”
Karen smiled and could not hold her gaze mainly because she thought she would jump this woman if she, of course, survived the heart attack she was about to have. Karen was nervous. Is she flirting with me? I feel like 17 when I'm around her!
Addy was not flirting. She was just being the adoring, sweet person she was. She simply decided to relax and allow herself the time to get to know this woman. So at this point she was operating on her comfort zone. There was no guarding. It was just who she was.
“So, what's going on with you?”
Karen smiled. “Not much, but if I recall we were going to talk about you and your job, right?”
“Uggh! Do we have to? Here's the deal. I was thinking that although, we've met several times, I barely know anything about you. Soooo, if you want me to come clean about my job and all the crap in my life, you better spill something about you right here right now, or you are getting nothing from me!”
Karen felt a jolt, when she heard Addy's demand. “So, is that how it's going to be?! Talk about a woman in charge!” The waiter came and they ordered.
Addy then pointed a finger at her “Spill!” She placed both elbows on the table, cupped her head with both her hands and leaned a bit into the table in full attention to whatever Karen was about to say.
Karen smiled, mesmerized. “What do you want to know about me?”
“Family, places you've lived, schools, interests, what you like and don't….”
“Okay, let's see…born in Scotland , went to Catholic school there, then went to college.”
“You want to hear my curriculum vitae ?”
“Yes. I promise to stay awake.”
Karen couldn't believe this woman's directness, but she loved it and she loved the endearing way in which she was determined to squeeze all the details of her life.
Karen was so amused, she couldn't stop talking. “Business degree from Oxford , Masters from Harvard and law degree from Columbia .”
“Pardon et moi! I had no idea that I was in the company of genius!”
Karen blushed and smiled sweetly. She also liked the French jargon, not everyone in the ‘hood' had that degree of sophistication.
“My expertise is corporate finances, and to avoid further questioning, I will add that I'm dam good at it, and that I get paid accordingly.”
“I'm relived! Now that I know that you won't have to pawn a kidney to pay for lunch!
Karen had to laugh again at Addy's witty remark. Both women were enjoying their mutual bantering.
“What about family?” “My family is in Scotland .”
“Siblings?” “No, I'm an only child.”
“Parents?” “Gone. My dad passed away three years ago and my mother died when I was 10.”
“Oh, I'm sorry I asked, it didn't occur….how stupid of me, I'm really sorry I asked.” As she said these, Addy gently placed her hand on Karen's and squeezed it. Karen felt the warmth of that hand and every muscle in her body tensed. Addy noticed that her touch had affected the woman. Karen looked up and saw genuine concern in this woman's face.
“It's okay. It happened so long ago.” As Addy pulled her hand away Karen couldn't help feeling the disappointment of loosing that warmth. Oh God! Addy noticed again. What is wrong with her?
“What made you come to the U.S. ” “I needed space, I needed to get away and be on my own to grow up and I couldn't do it so close to the family, so I left.”
“This is the family in Scotland ?”
“I really don't get along with them very well. They sort of tolerate me, and I guess they are thankful they don't have to deal with me.”
“Why? You don't look ‘scary'?” Addy was probing.
“I don't know. They are too into themselves. After my mother died, it was my father and Aunt Charlotte who raised me. Aunt Charlotte would take me in during the summers and the Holidays. The others are really not my cup of tea.”
“How very English!” “Oh, God, I must sound pathetic. I didn't mean it that way!” They both laughed.
“No, it's cute, I love your accent.” Karen wanted to change the attention from her to Addy.
“Now it's your turn. Tell me about you.”
I came from Spain . I lived in Florida then in California , also Catholic school and Berkeley. Then Georgetown Law. Married young, I guess that has been established. Luke is a software engineer. I have two great kids and here I am. My kids are my whole life.
“So, you wanted to know about my job….I hate it. The people are nice, it's just the work. I research and prepare legal memoranda. It's boring and all I write is always rewritten. Not because it's wrong, but maybe simply because I didn't use the same word my boss would use! It's frustrating because you ultimately get the feeling that no matter how hard you try or what you do….you just will NEVER get it right! So, that's why I hate it.”
“Wow, is that the general feeling?”
“Yes, people have a harder or better time depending only on how well they are able to cope with all the shit, pardon my French.”
Karen loved her liveliness. “Oh…and why am I there? Well because I have a mortgage and at 40 there aren't many jobs paying what I make, that's why. So, now you know about one of my sink holes.” Karen was very serious. “Is there more than one?”
Addy looked up in a somewhat estate of panic. It was a slip of the tongue that made her make that statement and she was hoping that Karen wouldn't notice, but she did. Karen was very perceptive.
“Yes, but we are only talking about my work today, right? I don't want you to run out of the restaurant if I go on and on! We have to leave some issues for the next lunch, right?”
She gave Karen a knowing smile, and she looked out the window, as if trying to discharge her thoughts in another direction. I need to make a mental note about what else is bothering her. Just then their food came.
Karen continued to look at her. “Just for your information, I don't plan to run anywhere.” Addy felt Karen's intense gaze. Those eyes piercing through her.
“You may live to regret that!” “I have the strangest feeling I won't.”
Addy had a serious look. Her look was disconcerting, it made Karen uneasy. As sweet as that face was, its intensity when serious was nerve wrecking. Addy kept looking at her as if trying to reach the depth of her soul. She must have reached it because Karen was hypnotized.
Addy serious look turned into sweet smile. Wanting to change the subject, Karen complimented the food. “This food calls for some wine, let's order some.”
“You should know that I have low alcohol tolerance, you might have to walk me to my office!”
“I'd walk with you to hell and back, if necessary!” She bit her lip and looked down when she realized what she had said and how it might have sounded.
“In that case, order whatever you think appropriate to pair with our food.” Karen smiled. “Is red okay with you?” “I love red.” “Me too. Cabernet Franc okay with you? ” “Love it. Have you tried any from Virginia ? The grape goes very well there. I like to support the local artesian wines.” “Let's see if they have any here on the list.” The waiter came and Karen placed her order.
When the waiter left Addy couldn't help repeat Karen's words. “To hell and back, huh?” Karen was trying to hide her nervousness, but she was doing a very poor job. Addy thought she looked so cute, and came to her rescue. She was resting her chin on the palm of her hand. “Karen Larsen, I think I like you.” Karen looked at her in complete surprise and smiled.
Addy saw how her eyes lit up. She was fiddling with her napkin nervously. “Good, because I like you too.” Holly crap! I can't believe I said that!
Karen wanted to switch the focus of the conversation to Addy. “What part of Spain are you from?” “ Madrid , but I lived up north in Asturias for a long time.”
“So you are familiar with the weather of Cantabria?”
“Oh yes, hated it too, gloomy days 363 days of the year! Where you ever there?”
Karen grinned. “Yes, I visited Oviedo a few times with my aunt Charlotte. She had friends there. I can't believe you thought I'd be bored with you. Do you know how many acquaintances or friends I have that I can mention the weather of Cantabria and they'd understand what the hell I'm talking about?”
“Karen, I never said I was boring! Hell, I'm not, au contraire, my friend! I'm fun. I just thought that I may not be the kind of person you would be interested in.”
“And just what type of person would that be?”
Addy smiled. “Look, I just happened to catch your disappointment when I told you that I was married and had kids.” Oh shit! What do I say now? How could she read me so well? How could she know? Karen was petrified again.
Addy gave her a knowing look. “I told you to be careful with those eyes, I can read them!” Addy smiled.
Karen clenched her jaw to contain her panicky smile. “Well in that case, I'm just gonna have to be upfront with you and leave no room for wondering.”
Now it was Addy who was serious. Oh God, what is she going to say!
Karen noticed the change in her face, and grinned. She knew she was in control now. “For your information, and let's make it clear. You said that I intrigued you, well the feeling is mutual, I find you very intriguing. There I said it!”
Addy smiled. “That's it? That's your great revelation?”
Karen chuckled. “What? Were you looking for more? Ms. Marcos, something tells me that there's more to you than meets the eye!”
Addy was quiet, and trying to contain that smile. I love the way she thinks she's challenging me!
Karen continued, she was on a roll. “For your information, I intend to dig until I find out whatever there is to know about you.”
Addy had a preoccupied look on her face, but she was an expert breaking the ice. “There might be a lot of dirt to remove!”
“Oh, I expect more than dirt, maybe granite!”
“It takes a lot to break through granite…”
“I'm good at braking things. I'm also good at putting them back, and I can also read eyes, Ms. Marcos.”
Addy chuckled and looked down. She bit the inside of her mouth. “Good luck!”
Karen enjoyed the look on Addy's face and the effect of her words. She was enjoying the conversation. This woman exhilarated her in so many ways. It's not a matter of luck, it's a matter of perseverance. Wasn't that your message?!
Addy smiled still looking down as if not wanting to give something away with her eyes.
“Should we drink to drilling through granite!”
“Sure, why not?!” They looked at each other. There was promise somewhere there, and it felt good.
They continued to talk just about anything and before they knew it lunch was over and they were heading out the door. Addy seemed to always have something to say or ask. Karen was totally fascinated with her endless topics of conversation. One thing was for sure, one would not be bored around this lady.
“Are you sure you don't want me to walk you over to your office?”
“No, I'm fine. It's usually the second glass of wine that gets me in trouble.”
“I'll keep that I mind, if I ever need to get you in a ‘good mood.'” Addy smirked at the comment. “No matter what you say, I'd like to walk you there, just for my peace of mind.”
Addy looked at her in disbelief. “Who are you and why are you so nice to me? She kept that innocent cute smile on her face.
“Please?” Karen fanned her eye lashes like a little kid.
“Those eyes work miracles for you, don't they?”
Karen grinned. If I could work a miracle, I know which one I'd work!
Addy's chocolate brown eyes looked at her with pleasure. “Okay, but if you do, I will embarrass you by hanging on to your arm, so that I won't fall!” Having said that she hooked her arm around Karen's and leaned close into her. Karen could not belief the charm and the sweetness in this woman. When she felt Addy's grip, she got such a warm feeling all over her. It felt so odd. Karen never liked anyone holding her. Until now. This just felt so darn good. She couldn't believe how good it felt to have this woman holding and leaning so cozily into her.
“Addy, it takes more than that to embarrass me! As a matter of fact, I'm actually flattered to find myself in such nice company.”
“I love how you pronounce my name. That Scottish accent is charming.”
Karen chuckled. “You just don't keep anything to yourself, do you? You are something else, you know? Half the time I don't know how to reply to you!”
“I think you are doing pretty well.”
“I hope so, I feel like an idiot most of the time when I talk to you.”
“That's because you are trying to hard to make a good impression. I don't know why! Here's how it is, so that you can be at ease…” She stopped walking. “You've already made a good impression, Okay? You heard my job whine and paid for my lunch. Let's see what else?” Addy started to use her fingers as if counting. “I also said I like you, complimented your eyes, your academic accomplishments, your Scottish accent…what else can I possibly say or do to make you feel at ease?” She raised her other hand and pointed her finger at Karen. “And….don't forget that you are my girlfriend at the gym! So, you should be very relaxed when you are with me!”
Karen chuckled. “You are unbelievable!”
Addy chuckled. They continued to walk arm in arm. “Have I frightened you enough by now!”
“Nope. Have I?” Karen thought to clear that now that she had the opportunity.
Addy looked at her. “To be honest, you have, a little bit.”
Karen grinned. “Why? I'm sorry. I can't help smile. I'm just wondering ‘what could you possibly say now to further surprise me?'”
Addy smiled. “How about this….sometime I get this feeling that I've known you forever, is that weird?”
Karen looked at her. “No it's actually not. I feel the same way. That's why sometimes I find myself looking at you oddly. Sometimes, or I should say, most of the times, I can't believe how good it feels to be with you.” Oh my God! Did I just said what I think I said? Karen was obviously blushing.
Addy smiled. “Me too.”
“Really?” Karen was astonished at the revelation.
“Scary, huh?” They got to Addy's building.
“We must talk more about your work situation. Maybe I can help you find something else.” “You are a resilient woman, aren't you? I can see that you are determined to do something with me!” I know exactly what I would do with you!
“Yes, if I can, I will. Didn't I already say I like you?” Addy looked at her.
“Yes, you did.” Karen was blushing again. “Can I call you on Monday?”
Addy thought it was so cute the way this very confident woman turn to mush on the simplest of compliments or comment from her.
“You can call me any time you want to. Thanks for lunch. The next one's on me, okay?”
“Okay.” Addy entered her building feeling a little weird. Karen made her happy, in such a strange way.
“Good afternoon everyone,” Karen said as she entered her office suite. Again, startled faces looked up and at each other and unanimously wondered what has gotten into her? Maggie, her administrative assistant came in and asked her if everything was okay. Karen replied in the affirmative. Very interesting. Maggie followed her. “Have we met someone interesting lately? You seem very cheerful lately.” Karen couldn't help grinning and jokingly said “Go away woman, work, work!” Maggie left laughing. Karen started to think if she could do anything to help Addy's job situation.
To be continued in Part 4
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