Dancefloor Dust

Chapter 23

"So, you said something about an offer?" I can't keep my curiosity back any longer after we have ordered our coffee. It has taken a few minutes before I really grasped Elsbeth's words from the elevator as I was still occupied with Stern's revelation about the pictures. But now that they've sunken in I can't wait to hear what Elsbeth has to tell me.

"Yes. I talked to Jake and we made a few calls and it seems Owen is not blinded by his brotherly love for you. From what we heard about you, you're quite the shark yourself, Alicia, and we'd like to hire you part-time. We know that this will mostly mean office work and little court, but we figured with Grace you might prefer it that way." she smiles and for a moment I am speechless as this is exactly what I had hoped to find. A part-time job that would still allow me to spend time with my little girl.

"And to be honest, it's as much as we can afford right now." she adds and winks at me.

"That's fantastic, Elsbeth. Thank you so much." I beam at her happily.

"Really? I'm so glad." she returns my smile.

"When can I start?" I ask enthusiastically, really eager to begin as I realize how much I miss my job.

"As soon as you have sorted out the day care for Grace. I have some names of nannies I can give you. And you need to catch up on family law so you can be a help to Jake too." she tells me and I nod in agreement, already planning a trip to the library on my way home.

"We will mail you the contract and then you should come to the office in a few days and we can talk details, okay?" she goes on just as the waitress arrives with our coffees.

"Sure, I need to see Jake anyhow about the DNA test results." I reach for my cup and take a sip.

"Oh, right. How did it go with Grace's father?" she also reaches for her coffee.

"Good." I just say as the memory of Peter's visit a few days back appear in front of my inner eye.

"Jake called me, telling me Peter has already submitted the sample to the lab and we should get the results sometime next week. Then he will go further with having Will removed from the birth certificate and file my divorce." I state, realizing it gets easier to talk about it.

"Good. Allow me my curiosity, Alicia, but will you put the real father on the birth certificate? If so, he'll have certain rights to Grace, you know that, right?"

"I know and I have thought about it during the last days but haven't come to a conclusion yet." I admit, lowering my cup.

"Well, maybe he doesn't want to assume fatherhood anyway."

"Oh, I'm sure he will do it. He wants to be there for Grace and I believe him. Peter is a good guy and he's never given me any grief about the way I broke up with him and he's helped Owen so much." I sigh, slowly realizing I arrived at a point where I might consider allowing Peter in Grace's life and consequently in mine again as well.

"Peter?" Elsbeth raises an eyebrow at me.

"Peter Florrick, the ASA, is Grace's Dad?" she asks, but a knowing smile plays on her lips.

"Yeah, didn't I mention that?"

"No, but to be honest I suspected it. He was so eager to help Owen, but I somehow got the feeling it was out of more than just the friendship to your brother." she states.

"And he is a nice guy, so tall." she adds absent-mindedly as she raises her cup again for another sip.

"Well, on another matter. Do you have any news on the search of the college campus? Owen is dying for some information." I change the subject, totally ignoring her last comment.

"No, I'm sorry. That ASA is giving me a really hard time. He ignores my calls and yesterday when I met him in court, he just told me they weren't ready to give out any information yet. I'm furious about it but I've reached my limit here, sorry." she hangs her head.

"Well, then we will have to wait. As thin as Owen's patience is already, he'll have to." I nod though I can't hide my disappointment.

"Maybe Peter could help here, too? Can't Owen give him a call? He might have heard something from his colleague." she exclaims.

"Yeah, maybe." I agree, my mind rotating around Peter again with the simple mentioning of his name.

"Oh, my god, is that really the time?" Elsbeth suddenly calls out, jerking me from my thoughts as she reaches for my arm to take a closer look at my watch.

"I'm sorry Alicia, but I have to go. I'm so late for a meeting with a client. I'll email you the contact info for the nannies. Take care." she shoots from her seat, shortly rummages through her purse and tosses some money on the table before she lifts her various other bags that she always carries with her and is out the door after she flashed me another smile. I chuckle briefly, knowing it will be a challenge to work with her, but one I look forward to.

It's been a week since the police searched the college again and yet I have to receive some news on the investigation. I talked to Elsbeth yesterday but she is still hitting a dead-end with the ASA. She suggested once more to ask Peter for help, but I still hesitate to call him. He has already done so much for me and I don't want to strain our friendship for this too much. But I keep catching myself staring at the phone and once today I have been close to dialing his number. I reach for a book on the coffee table trying to distract myself from my own thoughts that keep on circling around the insecurity of my future, but today it won't work.

"Screw it!" I mutter to myself as I reach for the phone and dial Peter's office number.

"Florrick." he answers after two rings.

"Hey, Peter. Owen here. How are you?" I greet him casually, trying to keep my nervousness at bay.

"Hi Owen. I'm good. Busy actually, so what can I do for you?" he answers curtly.

"Oh, I hope I'm not disturbing you." I say carefully, contemplating to cut the call short without even voicing my request.

"No, actually my lunch break is overdue, so I just closed the file." he chuckles, sounding a little more relaxed now. "So what's up, Owen?"

"Just checking in on how you are doing." I tell him, leaning back in my seat.

"Good. How about you? Any news on your case?" he asks and I sigh silently as he jumps right to my reason for calling.

"No, unfortunately nothing. Your colleague refuses to tell Elsbeth anything. You didn't, by any chance, hear anything?" I ask cautiously.

"No, I'm sorry, Owen." he sighs and my hope sinks. "The drug cases get handled by only a few ASA's and they have strict orders not to share anything about their investigations. This drug stuff is high on our radar at the moment, the SA is up for reelection in a few months." he adds but it doesn't help to make me feel better.

"I know, it's just that all this waiting really wears me down. It's been months now and though I am not even found guilty I feel detached from my life. All I do is sit around, waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever does. I feel like being in prison already." I start to vent and it feels good to finally voice it.

"I get it, Owen. I can imagine how frustrating this must be." he sympathizes.

"I doubt you can." I snap at him, regretting it immediately.

"I'm really sorry, Owen." he says and I can hear the helplessness in his tone.

"No, I am sorry for barking at you like that." I apologize. "I shouldn't start alienating the last friends I have left."

"It's okay, Owen. Nothing to be sorry for." he says and I can hear the smile in his voice.

"Thanks, Peter." I reply.

"Don't worry, Owen. I think if they hadn't found anything in the college they'd gone further with your case. Actually I think it is a good sign you haven't heard anything yet. Just be patient." he tries cheering me up.

"I guess." I sigh.

"Can I ask you something else?" I wonder in a low voice.


"Do you know if Alicia already heard something about the DNA test?" I ask slowly.

"No, at least not that I know of. But it's been only a few days, Peter." he replies and I nod, not realizing he can't see me.

"You're not worried about the result, right?" he challenges me in a skeptical voice.

"No,…well a bit." I admit.

"But why? You don't have doubts all of a sudden, do you?" I can hear the surprise in Owen's voice.

"I don't know. I think a little doubt always stayed with me but I ignored it. But now that I'm close to know for certain I'm getting scared that Will is her father after all, that his vasectomy didn't take or he had it reversed again." I sigh, resting my forehead in my palm.

"Don't you think he would've told us that right away in the hospital when I spilled the beans on his secret?" he says and I know he has a point, but the insecurity stays with me.

"True, but still, what if the procedure didn't work? Did you know that a vasectomy isn't always 100% effective?" I counter him.

"Don't tell me you did research on this?" Owen exclaims and I can hear a little amusement in his tone.

"Well, maybe." I confirm, feeling a little stupid about it now.

"I get that you're insecure, Peter, but believe me, the result is only a formality. You are Grace's Dad." he reassures me.

"You're probably right and I'm overreacting, but…" I trail off, sighing and run one hand through my hair.

"But what?" he asks me inquiring.

"I'm still not sure Alicia wants me in Grace's life. When I saw her last week she promised to call me about when I could see Grace again and I believed her but now I'm no longer sure she really meant it. If it wasn't only to keep me calm so I'd do the DNA test." I declare what is going on in my mind since I left Alicia last week. I'm burying myself in work, trying not to think about it during the day and for the most time I succeed until I get home at night and the silence in my apartment seems to suffocate me.

"Don't think like that, Peter. All Alicia thinks about now is preventing Will from claiming custody for Grace. That should be your concern as well. I'm sure she meant what she said and will call you. She just has a lot on her mind right now, figuring out the day care for Grace, so she can start with her new job." he explains, trying to calm me down.

"New job?" I ask astonished.

"Yeah, she was offered a part-time job with Elsbeth's firm. But she won't leave Grace with me all the time, telling me I'll be back working in no time. And she's looking for an apartment as well, saying she can't crash with me forever." he chuckles, but it sounds forced.

"Well, that's good." I state, really happy that Alicia is getting her life back in order.

"Yeah, it is. So, just be patient. I'm sure she will call you as soon as some of this stuff is resolved. She really liked the present you sent over for Grace, especially the blanket."

"That's great. I'm happy she liked it." I smile. "I'd love to do more, Owen, like supporting her financially. Could you tell her that?" I add, stressing my last words.

"How about you tell her that when she calls you? I'm sure she wants to hear it directly from you." he offers and I can hear the smile in his tone.

"Maybe you're right." I agree.

"Well, thanks for the talk, Peter. I'll let you go back to work now. Maybe we can meet for a drink next weekend?" he suggests.

"Sure. Let's talk again during the week, okay?" I reply, really liking the idea as it will give me a break from hiding behind my work.

"Okay, bye Peter." he ends the conversation and I hang up the phone after saying good bye myself. I check my watch and get up from my desk to get a sandwich at one of the carts outside the courthouse. I just step out of the building when my cell in my suit pocket rings. I reach for it while I keep on walking and check the caller-ID. I stop my movements as I read the name on the display. My first impulse is ignoring it but finally I draw a deep breath and answer.

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