To risk all

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Chapter 5

The return to reality on Monday morning wasn’t very relaxing. First, Clara’s phone kept ringing, making her unable to work on files which formed a very fragile tower on balance. Unfortunately, her boss Michele was back in the office and her mood seemed a little less aggressive. She probably had sex all weekend. It wasn’t a bad thing for the young woman to think such a thing: whenever Michele saw her lover, her mood changed radically. Since last week she had taken her bad mood on Clara, the young woman suspected that he had to cancel to be with his wife. Michele’s lover was a married man. And Clara suspected the reason why her boss was away last Friday.

Clara went out for lunch to join Mary, satisfied that more than half the stack of files had disappeared by her incredible fury. They dined together, chatting about everything before returning to work for the rest of the afternoon. On her return, the pile had unfortunately increased in height. Michele hadn’t gone out for a bite. The young woman was immediately on guard. She cast a glance and noticed that Michele was in a very advanced nervous state. She was talking on the phone but she hit her desk with the pen she held in her hand. Clara huddled in her chair, hoping that the storm would pass soon. She went back to work immediately. It wasn’t worth the shot to draw attention on her. She focused on data entry of cases she had to do. It would keep her occupied since the pile had grown considerably. She answered the phone when Michele came in a rush to her office, her briefcase in hand.

“I must leave for a meeting. See you tomorrow.”

Her boss was rushing through the hall, leaving no chance for her assistant to say a word. Clara was finally able to relax a bit. She couldn’t face Michele’s bad mood. She felt really relieved. She ended her day in a more relaxed way than it began. On her way home, she stopped to do some shopping. Her bags in her arms, she went to her apartment to store everything. She laid her stuff on the counter and sighed with relief. As she was placing her stuff, she listened the messages left on her answering machine. Unfortunately, there was nothing interesting on it. A gardening company offered their services to maintain her garden. It made her laugh. A guy who wanted to leave a message on the answering machine of a girl named Brenda. Realizing his mistake, he left something anyway.

“Shit…! I don’t have the right number… Hum… Sorry to have bothered you, but you have a very sexy voice. Bye!”

She made a sandwich before opening her computer to check her emails. She sighed at simple acknowledgments of resumes she sent the previous week. She was hoping for better news, but it was a start to know her resumes had indeed been received. It was still a step in the right direction. She frowned when she saw two alerts from the dating site. Oh… I forgot about that one. By curiosity, she opened one to see what it was. A man had left a message after consulting her profile. The second was about the same. No news from BBOY.

She went on her profile, even more curious to know who she managed to seduce. She grimaced when she was the photo of the first man. He was in his fifties and strangely resembled to the character named Penguin in Batman. The look wasn’t really very important for her, but there were still limits that shouldn’t be crossed! She refused to answer him. It was better not to give him hope. But the second wasn’t so bad. According to his profile, he was a little too sporty for her. However, even when she sent him a message. Then she looked at jobs. Unfortunately there was nothing there either. So she closed her computer and sat in front of the television. Head resting in her hand, she checked the channels. But she didn’t find anything interesting to watch. A sudden feeling of loneliness engulfed her abruptly. Normally, a small panic attack followed. She tried to control herself not to give it away as always. But she didn’t want it to happen again.

She switched off the TV before putting some music. She took her scrubbing brush and attacked the bathroom. Having sprinkled the tub cleaner, she made persistent efforts to clean up. When she was fully satisfied with this room, she went to the next one. The entire apartment was cleaned in a few hours. Everything was very clean and she was totally exhausted. She got to her bedroom and slipped under the sheets. She took the book that lay on the bedside table and began to relax a little. She was immersed in her reading before she finally fell asleep.


She switched her computer on to take a look at the jobs before leaving for work. She sent one resume and hastened to take the road. As usual, she stopped to buy a coffee. She met Thomas at the coffee shop. They greeted each other without saying anything more. Clara received a text message from Mary. She took her cell phone in her bag and looked at the screen, smiling.

I FOUND A GUY FOR YOU.

The young woman frowned. Not again…! I thought she understood the message, last time. Why her friend was on her case? She would have a serious discussion with Mary, explaining to her she didn’t want her help. Thomas looked at her, puzzled. She felt her cheeks turn red. She hastened to get to her office. Taking a pen, she consulted the messages on Michele’s voicemail. She almost choked with her sip of coffee when she heard a female voice asking to have a call back about an employee of her office. Was it a references request about her? She took the message, her heart pounding.

She entered Michele’s office to live the messages in the little box near the phone. She had other things to do right now than worrying about the message. She could do it another time. She still was relieved when Michele called her, warning her about her delay to get there in time. A traffic jam caused by some jerk who wanted to go faster than anyone had found embedded in a lamppost near a viaduct. Nice way to finish his run.

Since she would be alone for a while, she opened her email to send a message to Mary asking her not to help her. She thought her friend was against the idea of settling down, finding it a bit too romantic. So why trying to help? She sighed deeply after sending the message to Mary. Then she opened her mail, hoping to find an alert indicating that the handsome sportsman had replied. No, but three other men sent her messages. She had no time to take a look. She’ll do it once at home. It would be quieter to answer her messages, if they were interesting. She knew that her boss could happen without warning. She didn’t want to be caught so stupidly.

The woman withdrew her mailbox to start your day. A man walked toward her hesitantly. He wore a jacket under his arm and threw little uneasy glances around him. she watched him a moment before going to meet him.

“Hello”, she shouted. “Do you need help?”

He hesitated a moment before taking the envelope to look at the name of the person to whom he should give it. He raised his eyes again to her. The young woman waited for him to say something before finally watching the envelope itself. She could not see the recipient’s name.

“Who is it for?”

“Uh… That is… for Michele… I have to give it to Ms. Dudley.”

He suddenly seemed uncomfortable in his messenger role. She told him she was her assistant and asked him if he needed her signature. He handed her a sheet without taking is eyes of her. She thanked him by taking the envelope. He blinked – as if he just woke up from a trance – and wished her a very good day before leaving rapidly. She frowned, looking at him.

“What a weird guy…”

Shaking her head, she looked down at the return address before leaving the envelope on Michele’s desk. Returning to her office, she heard the ringing of her cell phone. She reached it into her purse, curious to know who could try to reach her while she was at work.

“Yes?”

“Good morning,” a female voice said, “I’m trying to reach Clara Jacob. Can I talk to her, please?”

She frowned, not recognizing the voice.

“Yes, it’s me. What can I do for you?”

The lady’s name was Bridget Powell and she worked for an investment business. Clara vaguely remembered having sent her resume to the agency last week, but she didn’t expect to have a follow-up over the phone so soon. Nodding more for herself, she concentrated on what the woman was telling her.

“You applied for this job and we would like to meet you.”

“Okay. When?”

“Tomorrow afternoon. Is that okay?”

She reached Michele’s agenda to see if she had a meeting scheduled outside the office for tomorrow. Unfortunately, her boss would be there. But she could always claim to have an appointment with her doctor.

“I think it won’t be a problem.”

“Awesome. I’ll give you some details regarding the job. The company is looking for an agent, full time and available now. The new employee will begin next week…”

Clara stiffened suddenly. Next week? She couldn’t leave her job without giving a notice before. Could she negotiate with the agency a date a little less closely? There was no guarantee she’ll get the job, but there were things she couldn’t do. The woman was still talking. But Clara wasn’t listening for a while. She had a contract with her current employer. She shook her head to bring order into her thoughts.

“Mrs. Jacob? Are you still there?”

“I’m here.”

“Is the offer still interest you?”

“Of course it is.”

“Oh! I forgot to mention that the basic salary is $10.00 per hour for approximately 40 hours per week. It might happen to work also during weekends.”

The young woman frowned again, scanning her memory. She didn’t remember that detail when she read the offer. Does the company have willfully deleted that detail to attract more candidates? Quite possible. Working on weekends wasn’t interested and the salary was much lower than what she earned currently. There was no way she left a job for a less advantageous one. It wasn’t like Michele had fired her. She might have some requirements to improve her situation.

“These details weren’t included in the job offer.”

“This is why I’m calling you,” Ms. Powell said. “And since this is a private company, the CEOs are negotiating a new insurance policy that hasn’t been accepted yet. Unfortunately.”

Clara’s heart palpitations slowed considerably. No reason to get excited after all. She thanked Ms. Powell for her phone call, but she preferred to remain where she worked. The woman tried to make her reconsider her decision, saying it was a great opportunity. Without any success. The offer wasn’t interesting now that she knew more details. She hung up, more disappointed she could have imagined. A salary reduction, no insurance and even working during weekends. She sighed deeply, seeking the courage to begin her day before Michele’s arrival. She had even forgotten the text message from Mary.

A deep disappointment had settled inside her and she couldn’t get rid of it. It was like dreaming about what was happening around her. She may have hoped too much from a simple phone call. She hadn’t made her decision for a long time, after all. But nothing seemed to work as she wished.

At lunchtime, it was pouring rain. She took something from the vending machine with a coffee before returning to her office. Her spirit was low. She wanted to curl up on the couch in her apartment and cry. Without explaining why, she suddenly felt so alone. Indirectly, she had failed in a part of her plain and she felt very demoralized by her first failure. Isolation was her only defense. Alone, nothing could reach her. Returning to her office, she cast a quick glance at her personal emails. Mary had replied, but it wasn’t a clear answer. Clara would have to leave that way until she talked with her friend. And she wasn’t in a very social mood. Details about the mystery man would have to wait for her recover.

She quietly returned home after work. Without knowing why, she was too restless to stay inside her apartment. She wasn’t feeling well so she decided to leave, unable to clean anything. She thought some fresh air would do her good. Outside, it was still warm and there were many people on the sidewalk. She dug her hands into her jacket’s pockets and started walking around strangers. She felt alone even in the crowd. She didn’t pay attention to anything other than the movement of her legs.

“Well,” a voice launched behind her, “you still haven’t changed your habits when you are upset.”

She froze, recognizing the voice of her ex-boyfriend David. She turned to him and looked at him stupidly, unable to do otherwise. He smiled. My God he’s still so attractive! Why didn’t he change to become a monster? She felt like an idiot. She forced herself to smile back before heading toward him. She didn’t know if it was a good thing for her to see him again, but she was happy. He looked so good! He held her in his arms to hug her. Without thinking, she kissed his cheek as if they were old friends. She missed him more than she thought. After all these years, she hadn’t managed to forget about him. He hugged her some more before leaving her, still smiling. He also seemed very happy to see her again.

“Tell me everything!” he shouted in a cheerful tone. “What have you been?”

“Oh! There’s nothing to say. And you? What are you doing in town? Toronto has become too boring for you?”

He laughed before replying that he was in town on business. He explained that his engineering firm had sent him to be assistant chief engineer at a conference. He moistened his lips. What an unexpected surprise! He nervously passed his hand in his hair and she could see something shining in one of his fingers of his left hand. Oh… A gold ring… He’s married… She tried to smile as he explained to her what the conference was. But she wasn’t listening, staring at the ring. Realizing that she was distracted, he asked her if everything was okay.

“You… you’re married? Congratulations.”

He looked down on his ring, laughing nervously.

“Yes. Since two years now.”

“Wow. I didn’t know you wanted to get seriously involved on day.”

“Me neither, but it just happened…”

Suddenly David seemed very uncomfortable by the young woman’s presence. He looked down at his shoes, sticking his hands a little more in his trousers’ pockets. She knew him enough to know what it meant: he wanted to be elsewhere. She couldn’t blame him for that. She bit her lower lip, looking for something to say to disappear quickly.

“I was out to get some milk,” she lied. “I’ve changed.”

He shook his head, not believing a single word she has said. She knew it well, but he didn’t answer. She was very grateful. Sighing, she wished him a great conference and turned away. He called her out.

“Would you lie to go out for a drink, someday?”

She weakly smiled at him.

“Of course. Someday.”

But he knew it would never happen. She still felt guilty about their breakup without really being able to explain it. She just had started working for Michele when he received an offer from a big engineering firm in Toronto. Two of his friends had to move there too and David asked her to follow him there. Of course, she had thought about it before refusing the offer. One of the conditions wasn’t really interesting for her: she couldn’t bear his friends and they planned to live together. Too charming. Her refusal had ended their relationship. At the time, she had fully understood the reason for him to leave. An opportunity like this wouldn’t stand a second time. It broke her heart, but she was doing well since. Currently, she preferred not to be alone with him.

Knowing she wanted to leave, he called her out again.

“How’s your family?”

“Good. Thank you.”

“And Victoria’s still beautiful as she used to be?”

“She’s getting married in a few weeks.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“Good! I’m happy for her. And you’re planning to attend with your boyfriend?”

The cliché that all bachelors hate being asked. But how to give an intelligent answer that seems casual at the same time? A mad desire to imagine a boyfriend or fiancé came through her mind, but she decided otherwise. It wasn’t worth the trouble to lie for so little. She simply replied that she would be alone. He seemed sorry to hear that. She just shrugged without saying anything. Why being sorry because she was single? It wasn’t a disease… She wished him again to have a great conference before turning back.

She went home as fast as she could. Her heart was pounding so hard in her chest. Should she call her friends for comfort? She remembered last time they had done it so she changed her mind. The memory of a terrible headache didn’t seduce her. But she had to calm down. Yes, she just had met her ex. So what? It didn’t change anything in her life. He had the right to leave Toronto when he wanted. And what about him being married? He could do whatever he wanted. They weren’t together since a long time so she hadn’t anything to say. She collapsed on the sofa.

But what was wrong with her? She had enough to ask herself questions she had no answer. She had a rough day and needed to rest a little. She closed her eyes. Her phone rang. Groping, she took it and answered without enthusiasm.

“Yes?”

“Oh!” Mary said on the other line. “I was hoping you’ll be home!”

“If you weren’t sure, why didn’t you try my cell phone first?”

“In case… Are you sitting somewhere comfortable?”

“Yes. What do you want?”

“Do you remember my message?”

Clara sat up, opening her eyes. Of course she remembered the message. Where was she going with that?

“The guy I spoke to you about really wants to meet you!”

The girl rubbed her eyes and sighed. Surely a guy who desperately wants to get laid. I asked her not to help me. Why she doesn’t understand that? She wasn’t in a discussion mood. Seeing David made her a little upset and she felt completely drained of all her energy. She said to Mary that they will talk about it some other time. But her friend didn’t seem to listen. She began to tell her about the guy without listening to Clara’s protests.

“He’s a new employee who works in the computer department. He’s very nice and while we were talking I learned that he was single. He’s perfect for you!”

“I’m tired, Mary. I don’t want to talk…”

“When do you want to meet him?”

“When pigs fly.”

“But I’m serious, Clara! When will you meet him?”

“Not tonight!”

“I wasn’t talking about tonight! But maybe tomorrow night would be better for you both.”

Clara sighed again. She doesn’t care about what I’m saying or what? She asked my opinion before deciding for me. I don’t want to meet him! But her friend meant well and she knew it. But it wasn’t worth the trouble to insist so much on the subject. Why Mary was pushing her so suddenly? It wasn’t as if the guy was going to disappear after midnight!

“I’ll keep you posted. Okay?”

“Promise? He can’t wait to meet you.”

“Remember the last blind-date that you organized for me. I’ll think about it and I’ll call you.”

“Don’t think for too long!”

“Bye Mary.”

She pressed the button to hang up the line. She didn’t like being depressed and that the others try to cheer her up by not leaving her alone. She didn’t have any illusions about her situation. She knew pretty well she wasn’t the only one who didn’t enjoy being depressed. She switched on her computer and looked at – as she did a little more regularly for some time – jobs. There were some very interesting offers. Again, she sent her resume without much hope. Then she consulted the alerts received from the dating site. Nothing really interesting. She glanced at a few profiles. There was something interesting to see. She always had a weakness for men with light-colored eyes and she was quite well served! One in particular caught her attention. She had seen him somewhere without being able to remember exactly where.

She went him a message. According to his profile, he wasn’t registered for very long. She had nothing to lose. He was really cute. She wondered why he was alone. Shaking her head, she closed her computer before settling herself on the cushions near the bay window. Her anguish has somewhat disappeared and she could concentrate on something else. She felt asleep, her head resting against the glass. When she opened her eyes again, the wall clock indicated midnight. She went to bed without taking the time to change.


She drank a long sip of iced tea, listening absently what Mary was telling her. She had hunted for her friend and she had located the perfect prey. Clara was hardly listening. If this guy was so great, why does Mary didn’t keep him for her? She was suspicious about all her friend was telling her. It doesn’t mean he’s perfect, Mary. She crossed her arms over her chest, waiting for her friend keep quiet a bit.

“He loves cinema and theater and has a beautiful way to express himself. He’s just too perfect!”

“So why not keeping him? We don’t always have the same taste for men. You know it, right?”

Mary grinned, taking her glass of water.

“I know, but you’re both compatible. It’s so obvious.”

“It’s like he’s a god for you.”

“It means nothing! It’s not me who wants to settle myself at all costs. It’s you, my dear.”

Clara shook vigorously her head.

“I never said that! Yes I’d like to meet someone, but not just anybody. I’m not desperate.”

“And what are your criteria?”

The girl shrugged her shoulders without being able to respond. She hadn’t really dwelled on this issue. She was able to feel comfortable with the man and remain herself. He was able to do so, not change personality when there were other people with them. She didn’t know what else to include. Many things should be considered! She thought about it for a moment.

“You”, she began, “how do you choose the guy you want to sleep with? What are you criteria for seduction?”

Mary put down her glass while moistening her lips. She had to think about the best answer for her. It’s not quantum physics, damn! Clara waited patiently while her friend gives her an answer.

“A mutual physical attraction. It’s the first thing that comes to mind.”

“But it’s too easy!”

“What do you want me to say? It’s the first criteria for me.”

“And when you had a real boyfriend? How did you choose?”

Her friend frowned and refused to give her an answer. Clara insisted on the question she had asked her. Why not just give an answer to content her? But Mary confined herself into innocence as if she hadn’t understood. Her attitude had changed drastically and Clara noticed. By asking the question, she had touched a very emotional spot of her. So she didn’t insist more on the subject.

“Well,” Mary said quietly, “when do you want to meet him?”

Clara pouted at her without answering. She either didn’t want to talk about that. She didn’t need help finding a man. In the past, she hadn’t needed anyone to meet David. What she could remember. It suddenly came back into her mind. He had a ring. He had already told me he was afraid to engage himself seriously.

“I… I met David,” Clara confessed.

“Me too,” Mary said.

Clara looked at her friend, surprised by what she had heard. Mary had met her ex-boyfriend? Why she didn’t mention that before? She wanted to surprise her? Clara ventured to ask her why she hadn’t told her when it happened. Mary merely shrugged her shoulders before emptying her glass of water. Obviously she didn’t want to answer the question. Clara sighed, keeping her eyes on her. How long since it happened? Was it intentional? There were so many questions that came in her mind and that she wanted to get answers. She rushed without thinking any further. She asked her friend how come she ran on David.

“And what difference does it make?” Mary replied. “I saw him, that’s all.”

“How long?”

“Oh…! I don’t remember… Maybe a few days ago. I ran into him downtown last week, I guess.”

Clara’s eyes widened. She had seen him last week? And now she mentioned it? The young woman didn’t understood why she reacted this way. Mary could meet everyone she wanted so why was it different because he was her ex-boyfriend? She had to calm down.

“I can’t remember where exactly”, Mary adds with a casual tone.

But Clara was very familiar with her friend to know she was testing her to provoke her. I was nothing too serious, but still. She took a deep breath.

“And you knew he was married?”

The young woman took a deep breath and forced herself to smile. She’s going a little too far. Don’t play her game! She grinned, shrugging her shoulders and avoiding looking at her.

“Yes, it came to the subject.”

“Nice ring, don’t you think? I’m sure his wife chose it. David never had much taste for jewelry.”

“Let’s change subject, please. Nothing else to say. I saw the ring and I have talked to him a little.”

“You’re the one who started! I thought you wanted to talk about him.”

“No… Look, I don’t know why I said that. I ran into him and I continued my way.”

“Do you still feel something for him?”

The young woman shook her head, sure of her answer. It disturbed her to see him again, but she didn’t feel anything for him. She realized it now. Perhaps some hint of jealousy for not being his wife, but she would be fine. She had never thought about marriage. She asked her friend what they had talked when they met each other. Not that it really bothers me, but it’s always nice to hear some details. Mary looked over the ceiling, searching inside her memory.

“You know, we didn’t have much to say when you were still with him.”

“And it hasn’t changed?”

Mary smiled, as if the answer to the question was so obvious. They giggled while toasting. They finished their meal, talking about everything. When they went to the cashier to pay their bills, Mary turned suddenly towards Clara.

“Would you like to join me at the Vertigo tonight?”

Clara frowned.

“What are you going to do there? I thought you hated that place.”

Mary looked up at the ceiling once again and sighed.

“Yes, but I’ll do it for Edward.”

“Since when?”

Mary waved vaguely with her head, explaining to her with an annoyed tone that he wanted to present his new conquest. Clara asked her what had happened with the last one.

“I think there was a big problem with her toes.”

“What a fine excuse!”

“You know him: everything could be a good reason to dump someone who becomes undesirable!”

Clara paid her bill while Mary put her credit card back into her purse. She asked her again if she could come with them that evening. The young woman hesitated to give her an answer. She didn’t like much the Vertigo because it was the appropriate place to hear all the stupid clichés available on the seduction market. Mary insisted again and Clara finally accepted without promise to stay there very long. Uttering a little cry of joy, Mary hastened to send a text message to Edward to warn him that Clara will be there with them.

They parted on the sidewalk to get back to their offices. While she kept her walking speed to get back to work, the same strange delivery man came to join her. He seemed more confident than last time. He offered her his best smile, handing her a package. She signed and thanked him.

“Have a great day,” he said with a big smile on his face.

She had a slight backward movement.

“Yes… You too…”

She raised her eyebrows without take her eyes off him. He’s a very strange man. She almost expected him to do something even stranger. Shaking her head, she went back to work. The foul temper of Michele didn’t seem to affect her today. She was beginning to get used to it. Her boyfriend would have probably dumped her. That would explain a lot…

On her way back home, she stopped at a Chinese restaurant near her place to buy a large quantity of fried rice she ate quietly in front of her computer while she consulted her emails. She was disappointed when she read the response from the cute guy: he found them incompatible. He’s not wrong on that one. She destroyed the message and launched a research. It was a shame to react that way. They might have some small similarities elsewhere. But she wasn’t the type of girls to hang on to a guy who wasn’t interested. There were a few that were not bad, but she stopped her from sending messages. She concentrated for a moment on the job offers. Nothing interesting there either. She closed her computer and turned the television on as she finished her meal.

Later, she prepared herself to go out. She placed her hair and slightly put some makeup. On her arrival at the Vertigo, Edward was talking to a tall redhead. The presentations were very brief: the redhead’s name was Rebecca and she worked as a model for an expensive boutique downtown. A very popular designer had made her his muse. Since then he drew and sewed all unaffordable items to sale in his shop. Clara remembered having heard the name somewhere.

Mary joined them, a glass in hand. At first glance, she was there way before Clara’s arrival. She told them about the acquaintance she had just done: a real Greek god directly from Olympus! Clara suspected something, but she was happy to have a conversation with another person with a certain degree of IQ. For her, Mary tried to initiate discussion with Rebecca but the only thing she was able to do is to make her smile just a little. At one point, the redhead lady laid a kiss on Edward’s cheek before telling him she absolutely had to greet someone. She withdrew from them in a slow way, as if she was counting her steps. Clara and Mary looked forward to giggle like two little girls. Edward was offended by their reaction. He folded his arms across his chest, telling them they were both jealous because Rebecca was a beautiful woman. They tried to stay serious and explain to him their point of view, but miserably failed and Mary laughed even more. Clara cleared her throat, suppressing a smile.

“You’re right”, she said with a quavering tone. “Rebecca is very pretty, but she doesn’t like you.”

He frowned, looking at his friends

“What do you mean?”

“She gives shit about you!” Mary replied. “It’s so obvious the way she behaves while you’re there.”

“Or even when she speaks to you.”

His gaze went to Clara to Mary before attempting to find Rebecca. She laughed with a guy sitting at the bar, one hand on his shoulder. Clara could see what he saw and felt sorry for him. He had perhaps hoped something serious with this girl. She knew that Edward was very sensitive. He seemed affected by what he just learned, as if it was a revelation. Mary realized it too.

“It’s not as if it was the woman of your life!” she threw. “She’s a slut, of course! I’m sure you can do much better!”

She tried to make him laugh, but it wasn’t really working. He apologized to them for the whole evening. The he rose and went directly to Rebecca. Clara bit her lower lip.

“Do you really think that he had no doubt?” she asked to her friend.

“I don’t know. He’ll never admit it, anyway. But one thing is sure: he was very proud to walk with her at his arm.”

“True.”

“Then you’re getting back home?”

Clara shrugged her shoulders, asking herself the same question. Does she want to lock herself back home watching television – o read a book – or stay there with her friends? A quick glance at her watch told her it was still early and no one would force her to drink. She shook her head and walked to the bar with Mary. Her friend ordered a new glass while Clara preferred something without alcohol.

“Do you have spotted someone interesting?” Clara asked.

Mary shrugged, looking around her.

“I haven’t really looked.”

“Rather surprising when it comes from you.”

Her friend gave her a masterful grimace and swallowed the rest of her glass. Clara smiled, looking around her. She loved to make fun of her best friend when she had the opportunity. It was only mockery, nothing too serious.

“I’m not hunting, if that’s what you want to know. It doesn’t interesting me. But you…”

Clara threw her head back, discouraged.

“Let go of me, please!”

“It’s not my fault it you’re the one looking for a man.”

“Not at all costs! So just stop.”

The young woman looked away and saw a man talking to three other guys. She looked more carefully at him before frowning. She had just remembered where she had already met him: the delivery guy. It was the same very strange guy that she had seen in the office twice. Without his uniform, he was kind of cute. Mary raised her eyebrows, wondering what her friend was looking at. A small smile was on her lips when she saw the four guys.

“Not bad”, she said, still smiling. “Do you know them?”

Clara shook her head.

“No. there was one who came to deliver something to the office, but I don’t know his name.”

“You didn’t ask his name?”

“No. He was on duty, and he was very odd when I saw him.”

Mary turned to her.

“How odd?”

Clara shrugged, unable to describe it properly. She remembered that he wasn’t looking directly at her. He was just bizarre the way he was acting. Mary watched them discreetly.

“What are you waiting to join him?”

Clara recoiled, horrified by the idea.

“It’s not because he’s acting funny me that means he would like to know me!”

“There are signs which could not be mistaken...”

They remained silent for several minutes. Edward joined them slowly, hands thrust into his pockets. He told them that Rebecca attended their “relationship” only because of the relations he could have for her career. He seemed even more depressed than when he had left them. Mary hugged him. Clara gently touched his arm, so sorry for him.

“Clara spoke to David,” Mary whispered in his ear.

Edward stiffened before turning to Clara, looking surprised. The young woman sighed, wishing to strangle Mary because she didn’t mind her own business. As always, for that matter.

“And you said what?”

“Nothing very interesting.”

“He’s married,” Mary replied, proud of her scoop.

“Married? And is she pretty? Because if you want to seduce him again, I can help you by stealing the wife.”

“No! I don’t know her and I don’t want to seduce him. Okay?”

“Too bad…” Edward sighed.

Still wondering why she had come to join her friends, Clara went to the bathroom. Having washed her hands, she came out a little too fast and crashed into someone coming out of men bathroom. It was the guy who delivered to her office. What a coincidence! She apologized, but he asked if he could buy her a drink. She smiled and shook her head.

“It’s okay”, she said. “It was my fault so I’m sorry.”

“I insist!”

“No, thank you. You can go back with your friends. Have a great evening…”

She turned, but he followed her like her shadow. He held out his hand to formally present himself. His name was Mark Borsch. His skin was warm and soft. He smiled with all his teeth, a little scary. Even when he’s not working, this guy is very strange. Must be he’s personality.

“I saw you today, didn’t I?”

She nodded, more and more suspicious.

“You are very pretty.”

“That’s nice of you…”

“If you don’t want a drink, can I invite you to dinner?”

She shook her head.

“I don’t think so, Mark. Have a great evening with your friends.”

She walked over her friends who were still talking to each other. They turned to her, question marks in their eyes. Clara told them what had happened with Mark near the toilet. Mary hastened to be mad at her for refusing Mark’s offer. She said she would have jumped on the occasion to know a little more about him.

“You said yourself he looks good. What’s the problem? Now it’s clear he’s interested in you.”

“But I’m not interested.”

Her friends seemed surprised to learn it. He may be cute, but it didn’t necessarily mean she wanted to date him. Clara remained at the Vertigo awhile before going back home. Her friends didn’t agree – as usual – but they didn’t insist. She opened her computer when she was alone in her apartment. She had received an alert. She visited the site to take look. A man – early thirties – dark hair and eyes, apparently tall – had sent her a little message that made her smile.

GOOD EVENING TO YOU, PRETTY GIRL. MAYBE IT’S A BIT CLICHÉ FROM ME, BUT I WANTED YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE VERY INTERESTING AND MYSTERIOUS. THE PHYSIC IS NOT THE 1ST THING I LOOK. I MUST SAY FOR YOU, I CAN MAKE AN EXCEPTION. I WOULD LIKE TO MEET YOU ONE DAY FOR A SUMPTUOUS DINNER. I HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON. ROB.

She bit her lower lip while observing the message. What a stud! She sighed deeply, wondering if she would meet him. The prospect of meeting one of these men physically made her very nervous. She knew it would happen one day or another, but no need to rush things! Clara hesitated a moment, wondering what she should answer him. Taking a deep breath, she began to write. Her message was short, but it implied a great deal.

THANK YOU FOR THE COMPLEMENTS. MAYBE WE WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO MEET ONE DAY. SEE YOU SOON. CLARA.

She licked her lips before sending the message. She was quite satisfied with what she had written. She thought he was handsome, but a little too sure of himself. And as long as he didn’t insist on meeting her, she could survive.

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