After a few days of forced leave from work, imposed by John, and the visit to the doctor in which he assured me that everything was perfect with the pregnancy, I returned to work, where I took over the new tasks. The job description had changed completely, but it was nothing unfamiliar to me, so I easily adapted from day one. The hardest part was assimilating all the information about everything that had been done before, and everything that needed to be done, because old North only worked with deadlines. I was absorbed in work; I almost didn't notice when my phone vibrated hard on the desk. It was Rebecca. It may have been guilt telepathy, or simply a pure coincidence, because I also intended to contact her today. We have not talked since his evening about his party, in which everything turned out disastrous. And it never occurred to me to announce her pregnancy, I had agreed with John that for the moment it would be good to keep this news for us.
John insisted on accompanying me to the baby's first ultrasound, and I could not deny it to him, in fact, I really needed him to be with me at the time. He cried when he saw the little bean growing in me, and I shared the same emotions with her. The symptoms had not yet completely appeared, and I felt better than ever, less with the state of drowsiness that suddenly seized me.
I picked up the phone, swiped my finger on the screen, and answered.
“Kate! I am so glad to hear from you. I thought you would not answer me after all that had happened. Are you still mad at me?” his voice was shy, almost breaking your soul in pity.
Taking a deep breath, I replied that It was gone, I had been upset, but it was over. After expressing her regret about the misunderstandings between me and John, that evening, she brought up little Noah and the custody case, informing me of all the details. She even mentioned to me that she found the church free on the date she and Mike had set for the wedding.
“But I would like to ask you a huge favor, because I trust your tastes and experience related to this job. It is just a small inconvenience, and I'm not sure if you'll want to accept it.”
Her crooked and honeyed voice, at the same time, anointed me, but it drove you crazy.
Turning my eyes, I immediately realized that this call was not one of courtesy, but one that involved a certain service.
“Sure! What it is?”
“We have to choose the wedding photographer, and I can't leave the hotel at all to meet you and hand you the file. I want you to look at some portfolios of some photographers and tell me which inspires you more confidence.”
“So, and what's the inconvenience? Do you want me to come get them from the hotel? I can be there in about half an hour.”
“Kate, promise not to angry at me!” talking jerkily between her teeth. “The portfolios are with Jake, and we can spare some time if you can meet him. I should choose one of them as soon as possible, because they are all in high demand, and I may not be able to find any more vacancies.”
“Please!” Becca had implore me, lengthening her vowels, like a child when insists on receiving what he wants.
Given my conversation with Jake in the park where I clarified certain things, and the fact that John is at the height of his happiness, ever since he found out he was going to be a dad, I thought there was no harm in doing so. I will meet Jake, just to pick up some portfolios. I was even a little curious to see him again and I knew that was not good at all, but I was trying to ignore her and repeat to myself that I was just doing Rebecca a service. Jubilantly, she dictated to me his phone number, which I wrote down on a post-it notes, which was broken into thousands of pieces later. I dialed the number, calling and he answered immediately .
“Jake Taylor on the phone!”
“Hi, Jake! It is me, Kate. Rebecca asked me to contact you.”
“Hi! What a pleasant surprise! Yes, for those portfolios. I tried to contact her all day, but I couldn't.”
“Would it be okay if we met in half an hour?” I asked him quickly hoping he say yes.
I knew I would have time then, because John was in a video conference with some Korean businessmen, and it took about a few hours for him not to realize they were missing.
“It's perfect! Do you have a specific place?” all around him could be heard all sorts of buzzing, phone calls and bustle. After I gave him the address of a small cafe where I was sure no one would know, I waited for time to pass, not being able to focus on work. I check my watch every five minutes, I try to turn my attention back to the files that were on the desk, but to no avail. Ten minutes before the meeting, I took my coat from the hanger and headed for the cafe, telling my secretary that I will go out for a walk. I decided to take a walk there, being quite close, without taking the car out of the parking lot. I was walking the streets of Manhattan, where people were rushing. Most of them were employed by various corporations, conscientiously carrying their briefcases. The shop windows were amazingly beautiful, decorated in the spirit of Christmas, and they seemed to compete to win a prize. Just as I was on the corner of Avenue 3 and E17 Street, the sound of bells scared me.
“Ho, Ho, Ho!! Merry Christmas” There was the loud voice of an old man, dressed as a Santa Claus.
“Make a wish, my child!” Looking to my left and right, I noticed that there was no one around. “Yes, you young lady!” pointing at me.
“Well...” not knowing what to say, I took a $ 10 bill from my pocket and threw it in the straw basket woven at his feet.
“Merry Christmas, Santa!”
“And your wish?” he looked at me, commanding with an arched eyebrow.
“ Maybe I already wished for something”.
“ Santa knows absolutely everything! “ then in a gentler tone he told me that everyone needs a fulfill a desire from time to time. He was right, we make wishes every day without realizing it. Small, insignificant but still desires. I nodded and started. Along the way, I could not decide on a single wish, they all mattered to me and I wanted them all to come true. Even when I arrived at the cafe, I couldn't decide on one, so I decided to leave it for later.
Jake was sitting at a table in the back, in a more secluded area offering privacy, and the light in the cafe was dim, which was perfect. It was not yet an hour when the cafe was populated. I noticed in the past that only a few tables were occupied, and those by people dressed in impeccable suits, discussing business.
“Hi, Kate!” He rose, excited and agitated from his chair, wanting to help me sit up.
“Hi, Jake! Do not bother, I can handle it on my own!”
“Of course!” Swallow the knot that was standing in his throat and sit back. “Are you feeling alright?” smiling shyly at me, he tried to hide his eyes so as not to notice. I could tell that his chivalrous gestures had pleasantly surprised me. He had given up his attitude of Don Juan the other day. I felt that we could become friends again, to some extent.
"Yes, very well, I might say!" I replied to his smile, staring at him. I wanted to know what his eyes were hiding, what secrets I could discover, but as soon as our eyes met, there were sparks that could have set fire to this cafe in a second. Nothing like this could happen, not even in a million years, and i hope he does not realize it, because it would have made an impossible situation. I was in love with John, and it will stay this way. Besides, I carry his baby in my womb, a child made of love. “Rebecca insisted on looking at some portfolios.” And as if he woke up from hypnosis, he startled and straightened my files.
“In my opinion,” he said, clearing his throat, “everyone there is a professional. It would be hard for me to choose.”
“ Hmm, I know what you're saying. But I have more interest in analyzing this, I could find my photographer right here.”
“Photographer? Why would you need a photographer?” and without intervening, he answered the question himself. “Sure! I apologize, your wedding is coming now that the baby has come.” “We don't have a wedding just because the baby came, but it was planned in advance.”
I wanted to clarify this aspect; I did not want to believe that John proposed to me out of obligation. Feeling in my tone a slight irritation, he raised both hands as a sign of surrender.
“I apologize, then! I did not know, or maybe it was mentioned to me, but I didn't care.” He shrugged, looking away at the cup of coffee he already had on the table, spinning it left and right. But now the situation is completely changed. He bit his lower lip, his hand running desperately through his rich, perfectly arranged hair. Just like that day in the park, he looks impeccable, overflowing with masculinity through all his pores, especially now, when he let his beard grow only to sting lightly with his spiky hair, leaving small scratches after a passionate kiss like the ones I had received often, which would only stimulate the pleasure even more.
"By the way, Jake!" Thank you for not spreading the word. I would like to keep this between me and John for now.”
“And me, of course!” Suddenly, the atmosphere had become extremely warm, and it seemed that he felt the same way, because in a rather attractive gesture, he left his jacket behind his shoulders, taking off his sleeves, his chest full of muscles and firm, it swells in the tightness of the shirt buttons.
I thanked the waiter who had come to take my order, telling him that I only wanted a berry tea. He nodded and left.
“How did your man took the news?” the last two words were said with discreetly hidden contempt.
“Like any man who wants to be a father. It no longer fit in the skin of joy. And to be honest, neither am I!”
Every time I talked to John about the baby, and that happened all the time, I gently stroked my belly and a smile formed on my lips.
“ Indeed, it is the most beautiful thing in the whole world, to give life!” he said dryly, and after a pause of a few seconds, he held out his hand to my hands above the file with Rebecca photographers. “I wish it was mine! Obviously,” leaning back, he released my hands, “now I have no chance. And you have no idea what regret lingers in my heart.”
The whole situation became embarrassing, I felt that I could not stay in his presence without hurting me, or better without letting him hurt me. Even without his will, he would still have occurred, thousands of feelings, memories came to my mind, like a spirit that had unfinished business and haunted the house where he lived.
“Jake, I should go. It is best for both of us!”
I took my coat and bag, but by the time I got up from my chair, he was already bent over the table, blocking me.
“Kate, don't leave! That is all I have left, to be able to talk to you. And damn it if I will allow to take that too.” If a few minutes earlier, his green eyes were as warm as green grass, brightly colored in a field in the middle of summer, they had now become glaciers.
“I'll ask you to stay a moment longer. I understand that I have not hidden from you what feelings I have for you, but if you no longer feel anything for me, at least for the sake of the past, let me be your friend. I want to be able to prove to you that I can be different.”
But it was not like he said, I had feelings. Damn them! I had only just realized this, and I was still processing it, but I will never admit it to him. If I must play his game, then so be it.
“What will this be used for?” I asked him skeptically because I did not like this friendship.
“We all need a friend from time to time, and I want you to know that I will always be there for you. I would not want to lose you again now that I have found you. But I found you in someone else's arms.
“You left. You ruined everything. I would never have done what you did, never.” I replied in a tone of pain. I wanted so badly to hold on to him, hit him, and then hide in his arms, and let myself be carried away by his love as I had done so many times.
“I hurt you terribly, but I'm glad you're fine now and that you had your man by your side to make you move on. You had the power to do that, but I could not. I had a lot of short-term relationships, because none of them offered me what you offered me. A good soul and unconditional love.”
His eyes were now in tears, and his face twisted in pain.
“Even if I accepted your offer, it would be a long-distance connection. I assume you will go back as soon as you finish the case you are dealing with.”
“It'll last, I'm convinced. Usually, such custody cases take months, even years. So, you will have me more than you thought.”
“But will you deal with other cases? I guess you cannot live years with the money you earn from just one case.”
“For me, money is not a problem. Others are more important, however, I inherited a few years ago, a fortune from an aunt I did not even know existed. Instead, she was always up to date with all my activities and decided that I was better able to manage her fortune.”
“I did not know!” I replied embarrassed by the whole discussion about money. It was not natural for us to talk about finances when we were a couple, but every time he paid for everything, from dinner at the restaurant to shopping in the mall, even though I had fought so many times to pay for myself.
“Anyway! How are you going to party Christmas?” He asked curiously, lengthening his words.”
“I was planning to invite Mike and Rebecca to our house for Christmas dinner. I know for sure they will be home, and they have no plans. Thus, it would be a perfect opportunity to tell them about the child.”
“It's a great idea. It means I should make other plans, because I should have been with them, so by exclusion I am not welcome in your house.” He had said it, almost laughing ironically, visibly upset.” By the way, I think your phone is ringing in your purse.”
I opened my purse and saw John’s name on the screen. The time flew with Jake and took longer than I expected it will.
“Excuse me! It's John, I have to go.”
“I understand!” He stood up at the same time as me, grabbing my hand, running his fingers over my fingers, staring into my eyes. His smell, which I could not forget, which disturbed my senses, made me shiver that made me forget everything and go back in time, without a specific date, but just to be in his arms again.
“Take care of yourself! And think about my offer.” He shouted behind me, raising his hands together under his chin in prayer.