I sit in the still unfamiliar surroundings of my living room of my new apartment and play with the card that Peter gave me this afternoon in court. I agreed to meet him for a coffee although I really don't know what we have to tell each other. We had met briefly 10 years ago and my life is complicated enough at the moment so I have no desire to add any more to the already long list of stuff I have to deal with. I look around the room and sigh as I see the still unopened boxes standing around, waiting to get unpacked. Something I wanted to do tonight after leaving the office way too late where I spent hours with the files on the retrial.
But instead of turning my apartment finally in to a place I can start to feel at home, I sit on the couch and stare at this small piece of paper and think about if calling him is such a good idea. I was about to tear it up a few times but each time that tingling in my stomach that I am feeling since our hands touched earlier holds me back. I recognized him right away when he walked towards me and how could I not. I will never forget his eyes. They were the first I noticed in that packed club back then, the night before I went back to Georgetown from Christmas break at home. But it was also the night I said good bye to my friends and the city I had grown up in as my parents had moved to California.
I sensed him watching me but decided not to pay attention as I was there to have some fun with my friends not to flirt with a stranger I would never see again. But then I realized the sadness in his eyes and just smiled at him. Stacy, my best friend back then, noticed this and told me to go over to him. And I still don't know why I did it. I guess I just wanted to know why he looked so unhappy in a place full of cheerful people. I never learned why he thought he was bad company that night and I really didn't care as we spent the rest of the night dancing. It just felt right there in his arms and I wished we never had to stop.
When the lights went on reality hit me again and I was sad that I had to leave his arms. It had felt like I belonged there. But then I realized I would leave the following morning and what sense would it had made to tell him he could see me again as we would be several hundred miles apart a few hours later. So I listened to my head and told him not to walk me home. I still can see the disappointment in his eyes and the glimmer of hope as he asked me if he could see me again. I knew that if I had opened my mouth to speak my answer would have been yes. So I kept it shut and leaned in to kiss him briefly on the lips. I needed all that was left of my willpower to let go of his hands and walk away without looking back.
I wonder how often in later years I looked back at that night and wished I had acted differently. What would my life look like now? Would I also stand in the broken pieces of my marriage? I glance once more on the card that I still hold in my hand and can't make up my mind if I should call him when a knock on my door startles me. I glance at my watch for the time and walk towards the door. I check if the safety chain is in place before I open the door slowly.
"Hey sis!" my younger brother Owen greets me.
I unchain the door and let him in, not really in the mood for his company.
"Hi, Owen." I lead the way towards the living room. "Did I know you were coming over?"
"No, I just thought I'd check on you after your first day at the new job. So how was it?" he lets himself fall on the nearest armchair and watches me curiously.
"It was okay." I answer, not willing to go into the specifics of the day.
"Okay?" he eyes me, a disappointed look in his faces. "That's all I get? I want details, Alicia." He gets up again and walks into my kitchen, randomly opening cupboards.
"You looking for something?" I follow him and lean in the doorway, watching him.
"Wine, beer, tequila. I am not picky." he opens the fridge and eyes the contents. "Did you even unpack any glasses, yet?"
"Sure, I got around to the essentials." I pass him and open another cupboard to retrieve some wine glasses and motion him to follow me back to the living room. I put the glasses on the coffee table and realize I still carry Peter's card in my hand. I try to put it away without Owen noticing and push it under some magazines that lie on the table.
"Any particular reason you need alcohol?" I ask him while I go back to the kitchen to get the wine.
"Nope. Just toasting your first day at the new job." I hear him say but his tone is not convincing. I walk back to the couch and pour the wine, handing Owen a glass before I sit down next to him.
"Come on, Owen. I know you. You could've called to ask about my day. What's up?"
"I broke up with Steven." he stares at his glass before he takes a big gulp of the red liquid.
"I'm sorry, Owen." I can't hide my amusement about this as my brother and his boyfriend have an on/off relationship and I am quite sure they'll be back together by the weekend.
"This time it's really over, Alicia." he stares at me, an accusing look on his face about my mocking tone.
"Okay. I am really sorry." I nod and try to sound more serious now. "Do you want to talk about it?"
He shakes his head and grabs the bottle to refill his glass. He glances over to me, silently asking if I want more too but I just shake my head as I realize I haven't even had a sip from my wine.
"I'd rather hear more from your day. It must have been more than okay?" he peers over and I sigh at his attempt to change the topic again to my life.
"What do you want to know, Owen? It's still a law firm. So nothing fundamentally different than what I did in Baltimore. Clients, court and files. Isn't that what you always call it?" I smirk at him a little annoyed at his sudden interest for my work.
"Well, you could start by telling me what you hid under those magazines earlier." he looks innocently towards the table and takes another sip from his wine.
"I have no idea what you mean, Owen." I try to lie, but I already feel my cheeks burning and know that I am blushing. Why can I keep a poker face for anyone but my brother?
"You know that you can't lie to me, sis. So why do you always try?" he chuckles while he bends forward to push the magazines away. He grabs Peter's card before I even have a chance to interfere.
"Assistant State's Attorney Peter Florrick." he reads from the card and narrows his eyes when he looks at me again.
"I see you've been busy on your first day." he laughs and waves the card with his one hand.
"He is the prosecutor in the trial I am handling. So this is purely business, Owen." I try to fend him off when I realize that he noticed the handwriting on the backside. He stops his movements and turns the card over to read it.
"Purely professional?" he taunts me. "And why did he give you his home number, too? Spill it, sis. What's the story? Is he cute?" he places the card in front of me on the table.
"I don't know. He didn't add it...he just gave it to me like that." I try lying another time but the knowing smile of my brother tells me that my cheeks are burning up now and that he sees right through my dishonesty.
"You're lying again, sis. You know, the more you try to deny it the harder I will dig. So save us some time and just tell me the truth." he takes another sip from his wine and smiles intuitively at me.
"Okay I'll tell you." I sigh heavily in defeat and kick myself mentally for not being able to hide anything from my brother. "We had met a long time ago and he gave me his home number so we could go for a coffee some time." I finally admit and lean back into the cushions, taking a long sip from my wine at last.
"Interesting. So where do you know him from?" he smirks at me and I know he is in grilling mode now and won't stop until I give him something.
"Chicago, before we moved." I answer casually as I fold my legs beneath my body and take another sip from my glass.
"So you must be happy you ran into him again." he grabs the bottle and empties the remaining contents into his glass.
"Maybe, I didn't know him that well." I reach for the empty bottle and get up.
"Should I get another one? Or will you settle for water?" I tease him already knowing the answer when I see his fake shocked face and leave for the kitchen to get a second bottle of wine. When I return Owen is holding Peter's card in his hand again. He looks up and smiles mischievous at me as I sit down again.
"I know who this is!" he tells me exuberant.
"I doubt that." I chuckle because I am absolutely sure I never told him about that night I met Peter.
"Oh, I do, sis." he smiles widely at me. "This is the guy you danced with all night your last Christmas break here in Chicago before we moved to California." he puts the card back down and I feel a lump form in my throat as I remember when I told him.
That night after our parents had told us they would get a divorce we got drunk and I told Owen why I still hadn't married Will though I loved him and he had asked me already. I recall vividly now that I confided in him that I thought something was missing with Will and mentioned that jolt of electricity I had felt when Peter had touched me for the first time and that I couldn't shake the memory of that though I knew it was absurd as I would never see him again. Owen understood back then and called it 'love at first touch'. But he also called me crazy for just leaving him like that without at least giving myself a chance to see him again. He has no idea how often I have regretted making this decision on this cold January night back then. Ironically I've thought about it often in the last months while realizing my marriage was falling apart.
"Ok, your face speaks volumes right now." he tells me while opening the bottle. I sigh deeply and just nod.
"So call him." he says with emphasis, refilling my glass.
"No. What sense would it make?" I take the glass from him but just hold it in my hand. "I am in the middle of what looks like an ugly divorce with Will, I just started my new job and I am not even completely moved in here." I gesture towards the unopened boxes that occupy a large space in my living room.
"I can't handle this now." I nod towards the card that lies before me.
"Do you still love Will?" the smirk has left Owen's face and he looks at me with a serious glance in his eyes.
I sigh deeply as I slide further down the couch, letting my head rest at the back cushions closing my eyes and buying some time before I have to answer.
"Yes." I whisper as I open up my eyes.
"Then why are you divorcing him?" he shifts on the couch crossing his legs and faces me.
"You know all this, Owen." I try to end this discussion before it even starts, having no desire at all to talk about the downfall of my marriage now.
"No, sis. I don't. I don't know the reason you packed your life together and moved back here. I sensed you had problems but you never told me what triggered you to leave him."
"We just want different things from life and I couldn't take it anymore, Owen. His life is work and the firm. And I get that. He worked hard to get his dream working and I was glad helping him, but now that things are really good with the firm I thought we could finally start a family. But..." I pause as I think back at that big fight we had the night before I left him. I can still see the cold look in his eyes as he told me he doesn't want kids. Something broke inside me as I listened to his words that sounded so final in my ears and I just knew I had to end it. I couldn't go on like this. Waiting for my life to happen while he had found his and it was clear he hadn't factored me and my needs into it.
So I packed my things in the middle of the night and left. I thought I would feel better but I didn't. I still don't. And it gets all the more clearer that I haven't when I feel a tear slide down my cheek. I hurry to brush it away but Owen noticed it and places his arm around my shoulders pulling me into a hug.
"Are you sure you want to go through with the divorce as you clearly still love him?" he asks me in a caring voice. I just nod against his shoulder, the tears streaming down my face now. Owen lets me cry for a while until my tears have dried and I can breathe again. I lean back to look at him.
"I have to, Owen. We don't want the same things from life and I won't give up on my dream of a family. I can't! No matter how much I love him. I would end up hating him one day and he doesn't deserve that. He deserves someone who shares his dreams and clearly that's not me." I sniffle and wipe the tears from my face.
"And you deserve someone who shares yours, sis." he smiles at me and I manage to return it nodding lightly.
"Which brings us back to this card." he grabs it again from the table and holds it in front of me, grinning.
"No, Owen. I can't. I am not ready to even think about dating. Didn't you listen? I just told you I still love Will." I shake my head at him.
"Did you feel that electric jolt again when he touched you?" his voice is serious now.
I nod and right on cue the tingling feeling in my stomach overcomes me once more as I think back to the afternoon when Peter's and my hand touched.
"I don't think you should let that second chance on getting to know him pass you by, sis. How often do you get a second chance in life?" he hands me the card but I don't take it. Instead I just stare at it and let Owen's words run through my head.
"And how often does the memory of someone you only met once stay with you for years?" he adds, placing the card on my lap.
I close my eyes trying to clear my thoughts. Owen has a point but I am still not sure what to do.
"What do you have to lose, Alicia? You can only gain something from this. So call him and claim your second chance."