“Damn it, Raphael, please answer the phone.”
Mary stopped on the wet sand halfway through her three-mile run and speed dialed his number again. She’d called him twice last night after talking to Robby’s new therapist but he hadn’t called her back. It was now eight the next morning. Mary looked up as a grey osprey flew close overhead with a large sheepshead clamped in its talons. Yes, she thought, we’re both in a big hurry.
“Hello.” Raphael answered just before it went to voice mail. He sounded sleepy.
“Hey, I need to speak with you. It’s important.”
“I think you did enough damage this week.”
“This is work related,” she answered. “Why didn’t you call me back last night? I stayed up late waiting to hear from you.”
“How about because I was out for drinks with friends?”
Mary took a deep breath. “Tell me you’re not with someone this morning.”
“No, no hook ups Mary. Not that it is any of your business at this point. You wanted a break. A time out. Now, what’s so important that you have to wake me up on a Saturday morning after a piss poor week?”
“I’m not going to talk with you when you’re in a mood, Raphael. Meet me at Cafe de Paris in two hours.”
Mary waited a few seconds then added, “It’s important.”
Raphael was seated when Mary walked into the café. Despite how he sounded a couple of hours ago, he looked awake and dangerously sexy in his beige pullover with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of black jeans that Mary remembered well. She took a deep breath; this was a business meeting. She did a mental inventory of why she wanted that time out. He can be overbearing, bossy, possessive . . .
Raphael stood as Mary approached the table, ever the gentleman. His eyes widened as he took in her white halter dress. Good, she thought. At least I’ve got his attention.
He hesitated, then leaned forward to give Mary a quick kiss on the cheek. “You look too beautiful for someone in the middle of a work crisis.”
Mary blushed. “I’m sorry I woke you up.”
“That’s okay. You can wake me up anytime.” Raphael smiled. “Sit down and eat.”
Mary glanced at the steamy cup of café au lait and the large, buttery French croissant, her standard order at Café de Paris.
Looking at him, she knew he saw both her irritation that he ordered breakfast without checking with her, and her understanding that he knew what she wanted. He raised his eyebrows, inviting a comment. She made none.
“So tell me what’s up.”
Mary summarized Robby’s version of Mikayla’s plan plus Mikayla’s outburst during Girls Court.
“I can see why you are concerned. Mikayla is still tied to that jerk, Germaine, emotionally and otherwise. She could easily be in danger. I wish we had Joseph on board. He would have been able to handle things. Too bad he went over to the dark side.”
“I’ll check on that jerk, Germaine, too,” Raphael added. “I know he is in and out of the jail. Joseph said slime like that always goes free until we charge him with something that sticks. From what you tell me, Mikayla will never bring him down.”
They finished their breakfast in silence. Raphael took Mary’s hand and gently rubbed her wrist with his fingers.
“I miss you Mary. I miss waking up next to you. I miss calling you during the day to check in with you. I miss hearing you go on about all the kids. I MISS YOU.”
Mary dragged her eyes from Raphael’s hand on her wrist. She saw a vulnerability in his eyes not often present in the tough prosecutor.
“I miss you too. Perhaps Mikayla wasn’t the only reason I called you.”
“I have a feeling that you would have called Kristin first, if she was home, or Joseph, if he wasn’t locked up.” He looked sad.
“Maybe,” Mary admitted. “But I would have called you too, eventually.”
“I know I can come on too strong sometimes. Don’t confuse that for a lack of respect for you or your abilities, or,” he hesitated for a moment, “how I feel about you.”
Mary leaned into him. “Look, Raphael, I was angry and hurt when you were so dismissive of my opinion about Robby’s week days with his grandmother. I’m afraid to allow myself to be vulnerable with you. I’m afraid it will set me up to be hurt and lose part of my own identity. There are moments when you overwhelm me.”
“You’re afraid? You tore my heart out, Mary. I don’t know if I can go through that again. It hurt.”
“Are you saying that you don’t want to try again?”
“No. I’m saying I want you to commit to me. I want you to say that we are going to have differences, but we will work through them. I don’t want to have to fear that if I say the wrong thing or make a mistake that you’ll walk away. I want us to be important enough to fight for. I love you.”
Mary felt her heart stop and her jaw drop. He loves me? Her eyes filled up with tears. She took his hand and rubbed it against her cheek.
“You are important to me. We are important to me. I’ve been miserable all week without you. We have issues and boundaries to work out, but I want to work them out with you. I love you too, Raphael.”
Raphael pulled Mary to her feet and kissed her gently on her forehead, cheek and finally on her lips.
“So I guess I’m off relationship probation?” He grinned at her.
“Thank God,” she said, rubbing his cheek.
They stood in a quiet embrace for a few moments until the server came by to clear the table. They walked out to the parking lot holding hands.
“I’ll make some phone calls to the human trafficking squad about Mikayla. I know you usually have Saturday morning errands to run but can I come over this afternoon and we can finish talking and, well, whatever?”
“Yes, come over, stay for dinner.”
Raphael pushed Mary against her car. He held her tightly to him and kissed her passionately. Mary put her arms around his neck and kissed him back. All of the feelings she’d ignored this week came to the surface. They were both breathing heavily when the kiss was over.
She watched Raphael drive off. She thought back to Girls’ Court and Mikayla’s outburst. Indeed, the girl had hit the nail on the head. Having someone know you, what you like, how you’ll respond, that’s what makes life worthwhile. Someone who cares enough to know you. Raphael knew her. He knew her breakfast preference and he knew how to kiss her until she was breathless.
Sometimes he overwhelmed her. He was so sure, so in charge. There was no shortage of boundary lines that had to be drawn. Their relationship was complex because they were complex. Mary had thought it was over a few days ago. She had to give Raphael credit. He took a risk and laid his feelings bare. He trusted her with his vulnerability. And gave her the courage to trust him with hers.
She knew there were going to be arguments and tensions ahead. They had a long road to travel. But she was going to trust him with her heart.
Plus, she thought with a smile, their makeup sessions would be epic.