The ring of my cell phone startles me and I look up from the file I am reading. I search my desk for the device and once I have located it I check the display who's calling me.
"Hey, Owen?" I greet my brother.
"Where are you? I've been waiting in front of your door for half an hour already." I can hear he's annoyed and I glance at my watch, my eyes widen in shock as I see how late it already is.
"I am sorry, Owen. I got held up at work." I lie and I really hope he's not able to tell through the phone. The truth is I totally forgot time reading the case file I just got this morning after I got back from court earlier.
"I will be home in 20 minutes. Don't leave." I tell him, already packing my stuff together with one hand.
"I won't. But hurry. You told me not to be late to drop off Dad's gift, 'cause you have a date later. Will you tell Peter too that you got held up at work?" he teases me and I realize he caught me again.
"See you in a bit. Bye!" I am not dignifying his tease with a real answer and hang up on him, tossing the phone in to my bag.
"Are you in a hurry, Alicia?" Diane's voice startles me again and I look to the door.
"Hi Diane!" I smile at her. "A little. My brother is waiting for me." I put my bag down on my desk as she walks into the room, closing the door behind her.
"I won't take long." she smiles at me and sits down in the chair in front of the desk.
I also sit down and watch her, hoping she's not bringing news that will interfere with my plans for the weekend.
"I just came to tell you we are very pleased with your performance in the last two months. Really good work, Alicia."
"Thank you, Diane. I really like working here." I smile relieved at her.
"And we are glad to have you. I know Chicago courts work a little differently than the ones in Baltimore but you adjusted quickly." she rises from her chair smiling approvingly at me.
"I see you got the Schmidt file. You'll be my second chair on this. Stern passed that over to me as it collides with another trial and the client insists on a name partner to handle this. Did you read it yet?" her gaze lingers on the open file on my desk.
"Yes, I did. And I look forward to working with you." I smile at her and try to hide the excitement that I can finally see her and work with her in court.
"We'll get on it as soon as you'll be back from your long weekend." she stands at the door and I search her face for any disapproval that I am taking two days off the following week. But her features show no judgement.
"I'll take the file with me, Diane. I will be fully prepared on Wednesday." I tell her in a tone that hopefully hides my insecurity about the situation and I briefly think about calling off the trip I have planned.
"Don't!" her face lights up in a small smile. "I guess you have plans already. Enjoy your weekend, Alicia."
"Thanks." I manage to tell her while she is already halfway through the door and I watch her leaving. I still have trouble figuring her out. But maybe working with her on that case will help me unveil some of her mysteries. But I don't have time to dwell on this thoughts now, so I grab my bag and coat and reach for the light switch of my desk lamp when I see Diane entering my office once again.
"I forgot something. The State's Attorney's office changed the prosecutor on the case. It'll be Peter Florrick instead of Matan Brody. So I am looking forward to see you handle him as you did so well the last time." she chuckles and I release a quiet sigh.
"But now go home and have a pleasant vacation." she smiles at me and turns to leave.
"Diane!" I call after her.
"Yes, Alicia?" she stops in the doorway and watches me inquiring.
"If Peter Florrick is the prosecutor I can't be your second chair on this case." I cast my glance down as I feel her surprised gaze.
"May I ask why?" she steps into the office fully and closes the door again.
"There could be a conflict of interest as we are sort of...dating." I keep my eyes down as I admit it in a low voice.
"Sort of dating?" I peer up again, not sure if I really heard a hint of amusement in Diane's tone. But she flashes me a half-smile as I look at her.
"Are you dating or not?" now I am pretty sure I can see a smirk in her eyes.
"Yes, we are dating for over a month now." I smile at the thought that it's been nearly two months already and thinking of the weekend I will spend with my dad I already miss him.
"Well, I am sorry I have to find a replacement for you now. But I am happy for you, Alicia, if he's the reason you smiled more during the last weeks." the expression on her face tells me she really means it.
"He is." I smile widely now and nod, feeling relieved she is taking it well.
"I kept a close look on you as I know your story and honestly I was worried when you started here. I am glad you're happy." her tone gets more serious now but she still smiles at me.
"But now, get out of here." she opens the door again and steps back holding it.
"Enjoy your weekend and remember my door is always open for you."
"Thank you, Diane." I smile grateful as I pass her to finally leave the office.
I hurry to my car and speed on the way to my apartment, highly aware that Peter will be at my door in under an hour. I hope I can have my brother out of there by then. It is not that I don't want my brother and Peter to meet as they actually have already and to my surprise got along quite well.
I silently thank my brother not for the first time for giving me the final push I needed to call Peter and go out with him. Once again I think what already could be if I had not left him standing in the street back then. But I don't linger at the 'what if' too long as I enjoy the present too much. Since our first dinner we have been seeing more and more of each other. But not just dinners. He also finds a way to combine our getting to know each other with me rediscovering the city of my youth. I chuckle when I remember how he took me to a basketball game on our third date. Chicago Bulls vs. NY Knicks. Though I really don't care for basketball or any sport in general it was cute how he took the time to try and explain the rules to me. And just thinking about seeing him cheer for his team and the joy in his face when the Bulls won was worth being there. I still feel the butterflies in my stomach each time I see him and we still exchange sparks, as we came to call it jokingly.
I finally arrive at my apartment and my brother greets me angrily getting up from the floor in front of my door.
"About time, sis. I was about to strike roots here." he follows me inside and places a badly wrapped package on my hallway table.
"Is that for Dad?" I ask him eyeing the package disapprovingly.
He just nods and walks into the living room, letting himself fall on the couch and reaches for the remote.
I follow him, checking my watch. I really need him out of here or I will never be ready in time for Peter to pick me up.
"What do you think you are doing, Owen?" I hope he can hear my annoyance.
"Hanging!" he doesn't even look at me while he switches through the channels.
"I really can't have you hang here right now. I need to get ready for my date. So could you please leave?" I walk over to him and snatch the remote from his hands, shutting the TV off.
"Are you mad?" he raises an eyebrow at me but stays put on the couch.
"A little, yes." I sigh and toss the remote on the couch again.
"I'm mad at you for not coming with me to Dad's birthday. And I still don't understand why." I let myself fall on the couch beside him.
"Well, sis. You know that me and Richard don't get along that well. And I thought you needed some time alone with him. You always were his fave, so..." he doesn't finish his sentence but I know he is right. The relationship between the two was always complicated and even more so after Owen admitted that he was gay. So Owen stays away from him as often as possible, kind of like I do with our mother.
"Could you please stop calling him Richard? You know I don't like that. He is our Dad and not your pal." I get up again and walk towards the smaller hallway leading to my bedroom.
"Well, you know why I don't call him Dad. What are you doing?" he shouts after me.
"Taking a shower. I have given up on trying to get you to leave." I call outside before closing the bathroom door.
"Can I do your make up, sis? Could be fun." I hear him tease from the other side of the door as I step under the shower.
"No way!" I yell back and remember that one time when we were kids and Owen found our mother's make up. I really don't think his abilities in this area have improved since then.
A few minutes later I step out of the shower. I really have to hurry now so I grab my hairdryer and walk outside into the bedroom in my bathrobe to find my brother lying on my bed.
"Up, Owen! I am not joking." I snap at him and he knows I mean it as he gets up immediately and sits down on the armchair in the corner.
"Sorry, I forgot you'll need this later tonight." he smirks at me and I need a second to fully realize what he means.
"No...yes...that really is none of your business!" I finally manage to tell him while I stare at the floor.
"Don't tell me you haven't slept with him, yet?" I can see the disbelieve in Owen's eyes as I peer up again. This time I try not to lie or deny anything and simply shake my head softly.
"Well, this explains the unopened box of condoms in your nightstand." he states a big grin on his face.
"Owen!" is all I manage as I am too shocked for words that he really looked around my drawers while I was in the shower.
"Sorry, sis! But I was bored and looking for something to read." he pouts at me as he knows all too well that I always have to laugh when he does that. It has been that way since we've been kids. And this time is no exception as I start giggling right away.
"I am really sorry, sis. Won't happen again. Promise!" he tells me in a low voice as soon as I stopped laughing.
"I'm counting on it, Owen." I try giving him my mad, big sister stare but I fail miserably judging from the smirk I see on his face.
"But back to the main topic here, sis. You can't be serious. You really have been doing nothing but holding hands for...how long are you dating him now?"
"Nearly two months now. And what I have been doing with Peter is really none of your business. We are taking it slow and I really like that." I sit down on my bed and play with the hairdryer that I still hold in my hands.
"Is it really both of you who are taking things slow or is it just you?" he stares at me and I can hear the curiosity in his voice.
"We never really talked about it. And I certainly don't want to talk about it with you." I stand up and plug the hairdryer into the socket to start drying my hair.
"Well, I guess talking will bring you nowhere near these condoms, Alicia." he chuckles and I know he is right. Not about the hand holding. We have kissed, of course and spent hours on the couch cuddling while watching movies but afterwards he either drives me home or leaves. I didn't really think about it before Owen pointed it out to me. Maybe Peter is waiting for some kind of sign from me it is okay to go further.
"You still feel married, Alicia. That's your problem." Owen's soft-spoken words bring me back from my thoughts and I put the hairdryer down to sit back down on the bed.
"Getting rid of your wedding ring is not enough, Alicia." I nod as I peer down on my left hand where I wore my engagement and wedding ring for the last six years.
"Do you want to sleep with him?" Owen has left his seat in the corner and sits down next to me. "Or did you buy the condoms for decoration purposes only?" he slightly teases me again and I have to smile at his joke.
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to, sis. Just do what feels right for you." he smiles at me and squeezes my shoulder lightly.
"And now you better get ready. You can't greet him like this." he laughs and right on cue the doorbell rings.
"No, I can't. That's why you have to open now and entertain Peter until I'm ready. Go!" I point towards the door and watch him seriously.
"Okay." he grumbles while walking towards the door. "Can I tell Peter about the condoms?" he mumbles under his breath as soon as he thinks I can no longer hear him.
"Don't you dare!" I call after him and throw a pillow at him that hits him in the back.
"Ouch!" he cries out and turns walking back in my direction while picking up the pillow from the floor. He stops in the door frame and throws it back at me but I can duck and it flies over me and lands on the bed.
"This calls for payback, sis." he tells me before leaving again, closing the door behind him.
For a split second I think about going after him but then I remember I will run into Peter and so I just get up to finally dry my hair and get ready. I really don't want to keep the two men alone too long. God knows what Owen will tell Peter while I'm in here. So I hurry and leave my bedroom only 20 minutes later.
I walk in to the living room and they sit on the couch and from what I can see Owen is telling Peter a story which seems to have his full attention.
"...and my Dad comes back out finally with the right tool to adjust the bicycle seat and can't believe his eyes when he sees Alicia driving around without someone holding her." I hear my brother and I close my eyes and sigh as I recognize the story of how I learnt how to ride a bike. I should've known that he would tell some childhood embarrassments. As I open my eyes again I see that Owen has lost Peter's attention and he has noticed I entered the room. His face lights up as he stands up and walks over to me.
"Hey!" he leans in and kisses me softly on the cheek. I am somewhat surprised he doesn't kiss me properly but I guess it's because Owen is observing our every move and he confirms my suspicion as he whispers "You look stunning!" into my ear. I feel his breath on my cheek and a small sigh escapes me from the tingling sensation his lips have left on my skin.
"Thanks for that cute story of your beautiful sister as a kid but you will have to tell me the end some other time, Owen." he turns towards my brother.
"You're welcome, Peter." my brother smiles at him as he turns back to me and reaches for my hand.
I nod and squeeze his hand before I look at my brother who still sits on the couch like this is his apartment and not mine.
"Owen, we are leaving." I try to encourage him to get up.
"I know, have fun and have her home by midnight, Peter!" he chuckles and I roll my eyes at him.
"Can I raid your bookshelf, sis? I have to observe on two exams tomorrow and this will be boring. Pleeeaaaseee?" he looks pleadingly at me and I shake my head at him laughing softly.
"Sure, but don't leave a mess!" I finally steer Peter towards the door and grab my coat and purse in passing.
"Lock up the door with the spare key when you're done, okay?" I call over my shoulder while leaving the apartment.
"Of course! Have fun and don't do anything I wouldn't do!" he shouts after us as I close the door. I roll my eyes again and walk towards Peter who waits at the elevator.
"I am sorry for my brother. I hope he didn't torture you with those stories." I smile apologetically at him.
"No, not at all. It was cute and I like your brother." he reaches for my hand again.
"Well, but he's not here now. So can I get a real kiss now?" I pout and peer upwards into his eyes which twinkle in amusement at me before he leans in and covers my lips with his. I let go of his hand and slide one around his waist while I let the other one wander upwards his arm and neck to pull him closer to me. I feel his hands wander over my back as I tease his bottom lip with my tongue to deepen the kiss further. I sigh into the kiss as his hand reaches the line of my dress and his fingers touch the bare skin at my neck. Suddenly I have no idea why I hesitated with my answer earlier. This feels right and for a brief second I want to go back inside, throw my brother out of the apartment and put those condoms to good use. We break for air and just stand there our foreheads touching, both panting heavily.
"You know your brother is probably watching through the viewer in the door." Peter whispers softly.
"I don't care." I murmur before placing another soft kiss on his lips.