To risk all

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Chapter 7

She spent an enjoyable Saturday by herself. Unfortunately, everything was spoiled when she joined her lovely family for the wedding celebration of her beloved sister Victoria. Her parents tried to convince her brother to cancel his trip to attend the ceremony as best man. Of course, he refused.

“We have planned everything for a long time,” Sebastian simply said.

“A trip could be reported!” his mother insisted. “This is very important for your sister! At least you could make an effort!”

Sebastian shook vigorously his head.

“No way! Out vacations were scheduled before her stupid wedding was planned.”

“And your sister’s happiness?” his father replied. “That doesn’t mean anything to you?”

Clara suppressed a huge smile. She hated when her mother was like that with her because she always ended up feeling guilty. But coming from her father, it sounded weird. And such arguments had never worked with Sebastian. Although her parents attacked him with heart-breaking arguments, he never flinched. The young woman sighed deeply. How does he get out every time without even a single remorse? In addition, he was absolutely right to refuse to cancel his vacations for his big sister’s caprice. She planned a wedding before even know it her own family – her young brother, at least – would be able to attend. Victoria certainly expected that everyone will be happy for her.

“She planned everything while I did the same with my vacations. No way I’m canceling them!”

Victoria cleared her throat and replied:

“Exactly. The plan has changed.”

All eyes turned toward her. Even Clara didn’t expect it. Stunned, she watched her sister carefully, trying to find out if it was another tactic to destabilize everyone. Did she wanted to make Sebastian changed his mind?” Her face wore a serious expression. Her brother frowned, casting a quick glance at his boyfriend. Patrick shrugged while his father-in-law has question marks in his eyes. Her mother also seemed unaware of what was going on. Having captured the attention of her family, Victoria looked down, wringing her fingers like a little busted girl.

“We received a call from the priest… and we must advance the date of our wedding…”

“Advance the date?” Richard dropped in amazement.

“The time is already short…” her mother wailed. “Why should you go ahead with another date?”

The girl sighed.

“A group of soldiers was supposed to be married the same day, but the battalion has advanced their departure date. So they want to celebrate it before leaving the country… So I have to choose another date…”

“Oh… My poor darling…” her mother murmured, taking the hand of her daughter.

As if this was the worst news of the century! There are other people who need to make very important decisions every day. It is a marriage! She was careful not to make a comment. No one was paying attention to her and she preferred that way. She was happy to currently not existing. Sebastian shrugged and asked her if she had exchanged the date with the soldiers. Victoria shook her head, looking sorry. Patrick stuck his hands in his trouser pockets.

“They were getting married in only six months,” he simply said.

“Why not exchange date with them?” her father asked, looking at his daughter. “Less haste equal better preparation. No?”

“We are eager to get married, dad.”

She took her little girl’s voice, leading Clara to nausea. She simply couldn’t believe it! It would have been easier to exchange instead of advancing the date. It may complicate things for nothing! If the wedding would take place in six months, Richard and Sebastian could be there and nobody would be missing. But Victoria preferred to complicate the situation as possible. Her mother was touched by the little smile on the face of her eldest daughter. From the expression on Sebastian’s face, he would be sick.

“Good!” their mother launched. “We will do with this!”

Victoria began to clap her hands with joy, hopping.

“You’re the best mom!”

It was Clara’s turn to have a sudden urge to vomit. Her older sister could be such a butt kisser when she wanted! They hastened to gather everything they need for the wedding day in a very long list more or less complete. Richard and Sebastian didn’t participate in the conversation, discussing what they’ll do during their holidays. Once again, the young woman was still wondering why she had to sacrifice her Saturday night for them. She took the opportunity to leave. She didn’t want to stay. She decided to walk a little. The night was pleasant and she felt less depressed than most of the time she met her family. The only time she had their attention, they only blamed everything imaginable. Even things that weren’t true! She always came to think she was a loser with them.

Lost in her thoughts, she was surprised to come across Thomas. He didn’t seem to go very well. She smiled at him.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I live a few blocks from here. And you?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“I wanted to get fresh air.”

“So… Do you walk around with me?”

“Sure.”

They stayed out for a while. Clara didn’t really want to talk about anything. Just walking has her ideas got back into places. Thomas thrust his hands into his jeans’ pockets. Clara thought he was cute when he dressed normally. When she saw him at the office, he was always wearing suit and tie. There he was now, wearing a discreet patterned shirt and a dark colored jeans. He doesn’t look bad at all. How come I never seen that way before? She kept her comments for herself. His eyes were sad.

“Is everything okay?”

She knew the question was stupid. He bowed his head without answering. She sighed deeply. Even if he said nothing to her, she wasn’t completely stupid. She waited a moment, hoping he will eventually crack. And he finally did it.

“I… I met my ex-girlfriend today…”

“And how did it go?”

He shrugged and sighed. He hesitated before answering:

“At first she acted like she didn’t know me.”

She instantly regretted her question. Poor guy! He was right not to be happy and she understood a little better now. But he continued his explanation.

“She greeted me. And that’s it.”

“Don’t worry. It’s normal to be discomfort.”

“That I know. She wasn’t alone when I met her.”

She bit her lip.

“She didn’t want to go on forever talking to me. I... I couldn’t ask for an explanation. I wanted to, but…”

“You’ll have an opportunity to do so one day.”

“She wasn’t very happy to see me.”

The young woman didn’t know what to say to cheer him up. He had already struggling to recover from his breakup, but to have met her so soon didn’t do any good. They were silent for a moment, still walking without actually having a destination. A light breeze blew, making her shiver. She cast a glance at her watch. It was getting late. She stopped walking and sighed. Thomas turned to her, frowning.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders.

“Just a bit tired. I’m going home if it doesn’t bother you.”

He nodded.

“Okay.”

“I wish you a nice late evening anyway.”

She gave him a weak smile and he smiled back. With a small wave, she turned and went away when he called her out with an unconvinced voice. She turned back to him, intrigued. He walked toward her, his hands still deep in his pockets. He mumbled something she couldn’t manage to understand. She asked him to repeat. He sighed, looking in front of him before leaning towards her to kiss her. The young woman had to recoiled, asking him what he was doing. He mumbled again an answer that he refused to repeat.

“I don’t want you to imagine things”, she said.

“Sorry, I…”

She raised her hand, shaking her head.

“Forget it, okay? Forget it. Good night.”

She went away again when he managed to articulate a few words.

“You are very pretty.”

“Thank you.”

He stepped toward her and touched her cheek with his fingertips. He kissed her again. It has been a very long time since a man really kissed her. The blond guy didn’t really count because she didn’t remember a thing. She finally got back to her senses and put a hand on his chest to push him away gently.

“Thomas, I don’t want to.”

“I’m sorry…”

“You have some issues to solve before moving on… and you’re still in love with your ex-girlfriend.”

He bowed his head.

“And I don’t want to be used as a substitute to loneliness.”

She wouldn’t be abrupt with him, but he must understand what she wanted him to know the right way. She wished him a good weekend and she hastened to head back to her apartment. Why is this happening to me all the time? She knew that Thomas wasn’t in love with her. He only complimented her to be nice. He wanted to forget about his ex-girlfriend and he had decided to find a replacement despite what she had suggested. But the job didn’t interest her. She didn’t want to be used like that. It wasn’t okay and he had to heal before moving on to another relationship. A simple error from him, but the young woman couldn’t blame him. This kiss still made her shiver.

What a complicated situation! A co-worker… She could very well live with it. He kissed her, but it meant nothing for her. A simple mistake… Sighing, she fell on the sofa. She really was trying to convince herself that something like this would never happen again.


She put the coffee machine on before walking to the living room window. She rubbed her eyes, yawning, still numb with sleep. She didn’t sleep well last night. It was almost ten in the morning when she opened her eyes. Weird dreams had succeeded for some reason, awakening her every time. Then she turned and fell asleep again. She didn’t seem to have slept. She threw her head back and yawned again. She thought about Thomas. His lips on hers… She kept a pleasant memory, but it was all forgotten. He wasn’t in love with her and it wouldn’t happen again. But she was still a bit confused. He almost wanted her to believe he was. Yet she hadn’t given him what he wished.

She returned to the kitchen to make herself a coffee.

There would be some unease between them now. Could she live with it? She assumed so. He would probably avoid her on Monday morning. She shook her head, not wanting to think about it. She let herself fall heavily in front of her computer which she turned on without much interest. She raised an eyebrow she saw a warning from the dating site, telling her she had a new message.

She went to the site to read the new message. The cute guy had responded with a long message, asking her how she had been. He was going so far as asking her what had happened to her last week. He explained that she seemed very nice, but he wasn’t looking necessarily to meet a woman since he no longer believed in true love. He asked her if she still wanted to have a coffee with him just to talk. So the handsome guy wants to meet me… She didn’t know what to say. He spoke in a very direct way. He didn’t want to meet a woman and she understood why. The meeting market promised great love to all single persons, making them believe that being single was kind of a terrible disease.

The young woman wasn’t very comfortable with the idea of meeting physically a man. She was afraid of being disappointed or to disappoint the guy she met for the first time. Her last couples of blind-dates had been a little discouraged. But she knew she couldn’t hide forever. One day or another, she would have to take the plunge by taking a few risks.

“Let’s go.”

She thought for a moment what answer she would give him. She felt very nervous just thinking about it. She had to face the music sooner or later! She took a long sip of hot coffee while getting her ideas in order. Then she answered by telling him what happened lately – like he was interesting in her life! But he seemed to be a good guy so she doesn’t see why she would be afraid of him. She ended her message by saying she would be very happy to meet him. There were worse things than a first acquaintance and she knew it.

Once she pressed send, she immediately regretted it.

“Another waste of time…”

She finished her coffee and she poured herself a hot bubble bath. She brushed her teeth and watched her reflection a few seconds in the mirror, discouraged. She sighed, wincing. She took a clip and made a bun before slipping into the water up to her neck. She closed her eyes, not wanting to think about anything. She focused only on the silence in her apartment. Her Saturday hadn’t been so easy. She had been tricked by someone trying to help him with his problems. And she had dinner with her family. Very stressful!

What would she do with the rest of her day? She didn’t know, but nothing very interesting. Mary was probably lounging at home, waiting for a call from one of her conquests. And Edward would certainly not be capable of doing the slightest thing. She might be alone. It didn’t bother her at all.

After her bath, she put on a bathrobe and sat comfortably on the sofa to read along with a plate full of red and green grapes. Without realizing it, she was sleeping a few minutes later. She awoke suddenly when the plate fell to the ground. Fortunately, it was made of plastic. Except that there were now grapes everywhere. She sighed, cleaning everything up. Many had rolled under the sofa. She gathered all she could before taking the broom and dustpan to do the rest.

She returned to her computer, curious to know if the cute guy answered her. He did! And he suggested a meeting the same afternoon… She felt a wave of panic invade her entire body. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths to calm herself. It was only a proposition, not a request. But she hadn’t much to lose if she agreed to meet him. She noticed that the message had been sending only a few minutes ago. He could be online, waiting for her answer. Did he expect a positive response from her? She shook her head. You’re imagining things, my dear! If you think a man despairs just to meet you… Stop dreaming! Shrugging her shoulders, she asked if he had a specific place in mind.

Then she waited quietly.

She was waiting with some impatience for his response. But why was she doing that while she never behaved that way? She got up to drink some water. She wouldn’t become a pathetic woman who awaits the call from a man, or even an email… But she was doing the exact opposite. When she decided to close the computer, she received a response. He’s still online… She bit her lower lip while opening the message.

He proposed the Tapia Café downtown in about an hour. She knew where this café was. One hour to find something nice to put on and arrange her hair. I must prepare for my rendezvous. I’ve got a rendezvous! She was almost screaming. Her first real date and Mary had done absolutely nothing this time!

Once the invitation accepted, she ran to her room to prepare herself. She must dress appropriately, keep it simple. No cleavage on a first date, or he could think she was a tease. The bright colors were not appropriate either. The Look-At-Me style wasn’t her kind. She opted for neutral colors – black and powder blue – and dark colored jeans. Standing before the mirror, she wondered why she had agreed. Nervousness would perhaps make her say something stupid… or more… She was most likely to spill something on him or insult him… He could also change his mind and doesn’t show at all. Or quite simply to describe her to a friend who would judge whether she was worth it. He’ll perhaps simulate a conversation on the phone for emergency escape. She had also seen something in a movie where a girl hides when she sees the guy and she’s quick to sneak out of the restaurant because he wasn’t like the picture he had shown her. It could also happen to her!

What a shame!

She had given him her real name. Not the one she used on the site. She has to come back to reality. Then they described each other before completing their exchange. Now she wanted to die.

She went anyway to her rendezvous. She waited a moment before a coffee got cold by the minute. After half an hour, she lost hope of seeing him arrive. On the verge of tears because of the humiliation, she sighed deeply and rose from her chair to leave the café. She felt so ashamed to have expected something. She opened the door a little larger to allow a guy to get in. Once on the sidewalk, she decided to walk a bit to clear her head. At least she took the subway to get to her rendezvous. To find a parking space in this area wasn’t easy and it wouldn’t have been worth it just for a few minutes.

“Clara?” a voice said behind her. “Is it you?”

Surprised, she turned her head slightly. A tall guy approached her, breathless. She laid eyes on him, tired. She recognized the guy she had met on while leaving the café. He smiled shyly, uncomfortable with the situation. She only shook her head. He seemed relieved.

“Sorry for being late, but I had trouble finding a parking.”

She raised her eyebrows, not knowing whether she should believe him or not. Nothing proved to her that he told her the truth. He was always a little breathless. He must have run to join her. His story could be true. She accepted his apology, being careful not to replicate to him she had no proof of what he was saying. He asked her if she waited for him a bit too long. She wanted to lie to him so he will not feel guilty. But she said the truth anyway. He winced and apologized to her again. He cleared his throat and held out his hand. She frowned.

“Let’s start all over, okay?”

She shook his hand, forcing a smile.

“Okay.”

“Hello”, he said, returning her smile. “My name’s Gus, but my real name is Gabriel.”

“Pleasure to meet you. I’m Clara. Why the nickname Gus?”

He blushed slightly.

“Because I love gadgets. My friends gave me that nickname.”

He asked her if she can give him a second chance to rebuild a good first impression. It was the first time a guy asked her that. Again, she agreed. They returned to the café so he can redeem himself. They settled at a table to talk. He told her some stories to make her laugh. Then he spoke about his work and his friends. Gabriel had a lot of energy and enthusiasm when he talked of just about anything that concerned him in any way.

They drank several coffees while discussing about everything. He filled most of the conversation they had. In fact, Gabriel had a lot to tell him. She realized this soon enough. He seemed to love talking about himself, what he liked to do or not do. He was cute, but listening to him talking began to make her a little dizzy.

He loved a lot of sports: alpine skiing, rollerblading, mountain biking, hockey and American football. He was part of a baseball league during summer. The young woman didn’t remember all those details on his profile. These were things that really didn’t attract her. The sporty type had never got her attention. She let him talk for about two hours, sometimes preventing a yawn. She began to think he loved the sound of his voice. So she decided to let him talk. More time passed, she wore less attention to what he was saying.

And she finally had enough of listening. She looked at her watch and drawn a desolate face, trying to be convincing.

“Did you see what time it was?”

He stopped talking to watch his own watch.

“Some friends are expecting me for dinner and I’m running late.”

“Oh. I didn’t want to keep you too long.”

“Don’t worry about that. Thank you very much for coffee. Have a beautiful evening.”

“You too…”

She hurried out to catch the subway before it leaves the station without her. She refused to stay a minute longer with this guy. Returning to her quiet apartment was her dearest wish. She thought about taking a fresh look at Gabriel’s profile to know what else she missed. She didn’t recall any sport he talked about. She had to know.

When her computer was finally opened, she looked at his profile and there were no mention anywhere that he loved sports or practiced sports in his spare time. She was so far from being sporty. Her first rendezvous was therefore a failure.

She collapsed on the sofa, moaning. It was really wrong.


Focused on the refusal letter requested by Michele, she never left the screen to answer the phone.

“Michele Dudley’s office, Clara Jacob’s speaking. How can I help you?”

Her cell phone rang at the same time. She took the message while taking her cell from her bag. She answered her own call. Everyone knew perfectly well that she was at work during the day. Who could try to join her?

“Hello?” she said after pressing the button.

The number on the screen didn’t remind anything to her.

“Hello, I’m trying to reach Clara Jacob,” a female voice replied. “Is it possible to talk to her?”

“Of course. It’s me. Can I help you?”

“My name’s Bridget Marin and I’m calling from Pyramid Vision agency. We received your resume for a job offered in Human Resources. Are you still interested?”

“Yes…”

“This is a permanent and full-time job. Would you be available for an interview tomorrow in mid-afternoon?”

She remembered the job offered by the agency. It was a job as head of Human Resources. The employer didn’t ask for years of experience. So she sent her resume, hoping that her experience counts for something despite the diploma she didn’t have. Very slim hope, according to her.

“Around which time exactly?”

“Tomorrow at two o’clock. Is it okay? You think you can be there?”

She nodded before replying that she would be no problem. She still had the rights to have personal appointments.

“Do you know the address?”

“I remembered seeing it, but can you give it back to me again, please?”

She found a piece of paper to take notes of the address. The conversation ended with the usual things – a brief review of the tasks of the job she applied – and they hung up. She continued her work, waiting for the right time to tell her boss she has an appointment the next afternoon. When she told her, Michele didn’t even raise her eyes from the file she was looking at. She only nodded before asking for another folder.

“I’ll bring it,” Clara replied.

After leaving the office, she wondered if Michele had really heard her. Then she shrugged. It wasn’t her problem if paying attention to her assistant wasn’t part of the important tasks to do during the day. She returned to work, trying not to think too much about the next day.

Her return home was boring. The subway was crowded as every day and some people were just incredibly impatient because they had too many people around them. The silence of her apartment was very relaxing. She prepared tea while her computer was switched on. While she waited for the water to boil, she remembered a detail about her day: she hadn’t seen Thomas today. Had he avoided her? If she were him, she would have done the same.

The young woman consulted the messages received during the day on the dating site. Gabriel had sent her a little something, saying he wanted to see her again. She sighed and pressed the delete button. She had no intention of seeing him again. Not even in dreams! He may be cute, but it wouldn’t save him. She shouldn’t get discouraged. Except she didn’t feel very optimistic anymore.

Mary gave her a call later in the evening, asking her to join her once again. Edward’s mood hadn’t really improved. His bosses hadn’t fired him, but he felt that a tile would soon fall over his head. Clara accepted, making her promise not to argue with her when she would want to leave. She didn’t mention the interview for the next day. But she wouldn’t ruin her chances by getting back home a little too late. She was doing it for Edward. He needed them right now.

When she arrived at the pub, she noticed the large crowd for a Monday night. She spotted her friends and went to join them. Incidentally, she locked her eyes on a guy who was laughing with his friends. She was shocked: it was Gabriel! To her misfortune, he noticed her too and he smiled gently. Damn… She forced herself to smile back, but she didn’t linger any longer. Mary bombarded her with questions since she had seen her friend’s reaction.

“It’s not important” Clara said.

“You’re kidding, I hope!” Edward cried, raising his glass. “Let me tell you he’s coming right this way!”

Clara closed her eyes and sighed. She turned to him to greet him and could see Gabriel’s friends laughing while observing them. What a bunch of idiots! They look like teenagers going through puberty. She forced a smile. She wasn’t very happy to see him so quickly. He passed an arm around her shoulders while greeting Edward and Mary with a simple nod. The young woman felt compelled to make a little more formal presentations while hoping that her nightmare ends very quickly. Gabriel didn’t seem to be aware of the situation. He sat on a stool to begin the conversation with Clara’s friends. He’s just trying to be nice. That’s all. He will not spend the whole evening with you. She tried very hard to convince herself. He began to tell a bunch stupid stuff that interested nobody. She was relieved when Gabriel’s friends called him back to discuss something that really seemed to bother them. He went away and Clara took the opportunity to apologize to Edward and Mary.

“Oh shit!” Mary sighed while shaking her head. “He’s something!”

“Where did you find him?”

The young woman shook her head before touching her temples. She felt a migraine show up behind her eyes. She laid eyes on her friends and apologized again.

“It’s a long story, but I swear I didn’t know he would be here!”

“Did you sleep with him?” Mary asked her suddenly.

“No! Why?”

“He’s cute”, Mary added, crossing her arms. “Do it before dumping him. It may be worth the shot if it can prevent him from talking for ten minutes.”

“What a chatterbox!” Edward groaned.

“I know!”

“And don’t tell me that this is the man of your life,” Edward begged, “because THAT I will not be able to stand.”

She laughed. At least he seemed to look better than last Friday night. Maybe he was perhaps a little drunk again. She simply smiled at him and replied Gabriel wasn’t even an option. She didn’t really want to tell them all – just to mention about the dating site gave her cold sweat – but she promised a few words one day. For now, she wasn’t strong enough to relive her painful Sunday afternoon.

“But thank you for coming,” Edward said, smiling weakly at her.

She touched his arm.

“Anytime.”

“You are truly the best.”

“What would you do without us?” Mary asked, passing an arm around his shoulders.

He sincerely smiled.

“How about your meeting with your bosses?” Clara hastened to ask. “They were angry or…?”

He sighed, grinning.

“They think my job is overwhelming me! They believe I’m so overwhelmed that it’s why I made my mistake. So they want me to take a few days off – with a paycheck, of course – to get back to my senses!”

“Well take it as a reward,” Mary said.

“It’s much better than to be fired”, Clara added, touching his hand again. “It’s not a death sentence.”

He finally nodded.

“So I took the rest of the week off,” Edward sighed.

“Don’t forget to relax,” Clara lectured, smiling at him.

“Oh!” Edward threw. “Your knight returns for another round.”

“I came here to cheer you up”, Clara said. “But since you seem to feel much better, I’m going back home.”

“Or run away…” Mary mumbled, looking away.

Gabriel passed again one arm around her shoulders, telling them that his friends had just lost a bet about a type of alcohol on sale only in Mexico. Clara tried to keep herself calm by every way possible. He had a fantastic skill to invite himself! He didn’t see that they were deep in conversation? And besides, he didn’t even know her. They had seen each other only once and he did most of the conversation by himself! How could he believe one minute that she wanted him to be with her during this evening? To let him pay for a coffee meant nothing. Edward stood up and announced he was returning home to rest. He had many hours of extra sleep he needed to catch up. Mary wanted to go too. Clara was relieved that her friends fled like that to allow her to do the same. Mary went to the bathroom after Edward’s departure. Clara turned to Gabriel.

“I’ll go too. I’m tired and I have a big day tomorrow.”

He seemed disappointed for a very short time. Then he offered to accompany her to her car. She quickly shook her head.

“Don’t bother. I took the subway.”

“Such a pretty girl shouldn’t be alone outside…”

“Stop that. Good evening to you.”

She turned, but he grabbed her hand and drew her toward him. She had recoiled abruptly withdrawing her hand. He apologized before explaining that he really wanted to see her again very soon.

“It’s not going to be possible.”

“We could talk about this while I’m taking you to the station. What do you say, baby?”

Will he finally leave me alone? She reluctantly agreed, hoping he wouldn’t go too far. He went to warn his friends he was leaving and she ran into the bathroom to talk with Mary who was still there.

“Are you really going with him?”

“I’ll explain to him.”

Mary shook her head slightly, saying that although he was cute, he was an idiot. She shouldn’t mess around with him.

“I just want to go.”

“Okay, but be careful. Good night.”

“Bye.”

Once back in the main room, a scene quite cliché was offered to her. Gabriel was in front of her, and as she could see, and was talking to his friends who were laughing like crazy. Approaching a little more, she could now hear what he was saying to them. Especially of whom he was talking about. He boasted to be able to fuck all the women he wanted, whenever he wanted. He’s so pathetic. He’s just a pig. She knew that great speakers like him were just bragging with imaginary scenarios they were unable to achieve. Except that he was talking about her…

“I can’t help it: she’s crazy about me!”

A friend asked if she was good and Gabriel replied that she had insisted that he take her home. He said it meant a lot! She raised her eyebrows. What a jerk! She furiously crossed her arms on her chest. Nobody had seen her approach.

“You can bet I’ll sleep with that girl tonight! I’ll conclude this story before moving on to another!”

They all laughed before one of the guys gave a nudge to another, indicating the presence of the young woman behind Gabriel. His friends stopped laughing. From a small head movement, someone made a sign to Gabriel that Clara was behind him. She would have loved to see the look on his face right now! She didn’t care what he could tell. He only should be careful not to get caught lying. He turned slowly toward her, looking guilty. She wondered if it was because she just caught him.

“Carla…”

“My name’s Clara.”

“Listen, I… I… Is it a bit late to apologize…?”

“You know baseball, I think.”

He slowly nodded.

“So let’s just say you’re strike out now.”

“She just dumps you, man!”

She left the put without looking back. Her friend ran behind her, having seen all before leaving. She laughed, trying to catch her up. Clara asked her what she was still doing there.

“I thought you were gone.”

“And I would have missed that!”

The young woman’s curiosity claimed to be assuaged. Clara asked her friend what had happened after her departure.

“General laughter from his friends! You have humiliated him beautifully!”

“Is that all?”

“He tried to explain that what happen was planned, that you guys discussed about it. After, I laughed too hard to hear the rest.”

“What a jerk!”

They laughed, saying that Edward should have stayed a little longer to watch the final scene. Now Clara was sure to never hear from him again. She finally got rid of this guy!


The next day, the young woman felt enormous pressure on her stomach when she went to work. She tried not to look at the clock and work as if nothing had happened. The pressure intensified as the morning passed. She felt increasingly nervous about the idea of that interview later. It wasn’t like she was desperate for this job. She already had one, but sometimes she didn’t like it. Especially when Michele was acting like a psychopath…

At lunchtime, she finally met Thomas. He avoided her gaze as best as he could. She stood before him and greeted him, a huge smile on her lips. He tried to get away, but she again interposed herself between him and the hallway. He sighed, his shoulders sagging.

“Hello Thomas,” she said softly. “How are you?”

“Good and you?”

“You don’t have to avoid me every day.”

He frowned.

“I don’t see what you mean…”

“No need to be uncomfortable by what happened, okay?”

“You… you’re sure? I mean…”

“That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

“I… I meant it when I told you that you are beautiful… But I really believed…”

She smiled at him.

“You should talk to your ex-girlfriend. I don’t want to be mean, but you probably have many things to settle before moving on.”

He slowly shook his head. She asked him if he had left a message on her cell phone, but he shook his head again. He hadn’t tried to contact her since she left. Clara suggested that he do so to understand better the reason why she left and to move on. She didn’t know whether he would follow her advice, but he seemed to feel a little better now. She didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable with her. He thanked her for her advice and wished her a happy day.

She returned to her desk to finish a few things before her appointment. Michele had scarcely looked when she recalled having to leave during the afternoon.

Then came the time of the interview…

During the subway ride, she made a scenario on questions that may be asked. She knew that it didn’t fully reflected reality, but she tried to prepare herself for all possible eventualities. She remembered an interview that she had passed when she was a little younger. The manager asked her if she was ready to follow her boyfriend if he should leave town for work elsewhere. What kind of questions was that? Her private life was nobody else business and it shouldn’t be taken to select someone for a job. At the time, she was more surprised by the question to be offended. She vaguely remembered to have replied that it was nobody’s business. She felt so humiliated!

It was very important that she remained calm throughout the interview. The building of Pyramid Vision was pretty hard to miss: a huge pyramid sat just outside the main entrance. She passed the door, feeling her nervousness getting up. She went to the reception to announce she had an appointment at two o’clock. The receptionist looked down at her record to confirm.

“Ms. Martin is currently online. Sit down, please. She’ll be there in a moment.”

“Thank you.”

More or less controlling the knot that she now had in her stomach, she settled in an armchair near the receptionist. She took deep breaths to relax as much as possible. Panic would do her any good. Minutes later, a small brunette came to meet her, a huge smile on her lips.

“Clara Jacob, I presume.”

The young woman stood up, shaking her head.

“Yes.”

They shook hands.

“Hello!” the little woman joyfully threw. “I’m Bridget Marin. How are you doing?”

Do I really need to answer that stupid question? I’m about to be hysterical, but I’ll survive! She just returned her smile as she replied she was doing fine. She then returned the question.

“Top shape! Not too much trouble finding the place?”

“Easy.”

“Good! That’s great! Let’s go to my office. Follow me!”

The little woman seemed to have an uncommon energy. They headed toward a hallway where were lined ten doors evenly distributed on each side. They went into the fourth. Mr. Marin closed the door behind Clara before moving to her desk.

“I must say that your work experience is very interesting, despite the fact that you don’t have official training and qualification.”

“Thank you.”

But she still felt that her chances were dropping by the second. Since she hadn’t the diploma, why they called her? Usually, having the official diploma will plenty of chances. She hid her disappointment as best she could and decided to play the game until the end. She answered all questions and repeated her work experience she had acquired over the years. She even mentioned the interviews she had last week with future candidates. Bridget took notes in the file open before her. She also noticed a few things before giving a description of the position offered to her. Clara slightly listened, more or less attentive. She knew that her experience didn’t replace the diploma she didn’t have.

“Well that’s it!” Bridget told her. “I’ll contact you by the end of the week.”

“Thank you very much. Good afternoon.”

New handshake and the young woman returned to her desk to finish her day as best she could. She had very little hope. I think it was a good practice. She was glad that she could control her shakings and her chattering teeth. There has been a moment it didn’t happen to her. When she was very nervous, she was shaking like a leaf! Her teeth chattered as if she was cold. Even her voice was quavering as she spoke. All this nervousness just for a few minutes… She wondered if Ms. Marin would contact her for upcoming job opportunity. After all, she just opened a file in an employment agency. This little meeting wasn’t going to be a total waste of time.

She was back at her office a little over an hour after having left it. She went back to work.

At the end of the day, she took the subway’s direction when Thomas joined her.

“I left a message on her voicemail”, he said, hesitantly.

She smiled at him.

“Do you think she’ll call me back?”

“She knows where she can join you if she decides to do so. Don’t worry about it. You did your part.”

“And if she wants to talk? What can I say?”

She raised her eyebrows, observing him for a moment. Since when did she become the counselor of his love life? She couldn’t even find someone for herself! But he was obviously waiting for an answer from her… She nodded and said:

“Don’t beg her. That’s all I can say.”

“Okay…”

“Just tell her you’re trying to understand what happened so you can move forward. Forget the rhetoric. It doesn’t work. Threats either, for that matter.”

“Threats?”

“Yes. Threats like: If you don’t come back, I’ll kill myself.”

He smiled and shook his head. She never had been threatened by a man she wanted to dump. She had just heard this stuff in romantic movies where the character was very desperate. It never worked and it was even a little scary. Nobody died of a broken heart. He should also pay attention to the tone of his voice. He had to remain neutral, not to get excited. The anger would quickly make her flee. What else?

“Don’t leave her a dozen messages. One is enough.”

“Why? She’ll understand that I want to talk to her…”

“If she doesn’t answer the first message that you left, she certainly won’t do it for the twelfth! You have to be logical, Thomas.”

“Okay.”

“Remains neutral and natural. Don’t insist.”

“If she doesn’t call back?”

She licked her lips before replying that he unfortunately had to expect all possible situations. In this case, he would have to go on living without understanding what he had done or what had happened so she left him. She added in a soft voice:

“If she’s gone, she may not worth the trouble.”

He shrugged his shoulders without answering. She forced a smile and told him not to discourage himself. They wished each other a beautiful evening and she went in high speed to the subway station which had unfortunately just left the dock. She sighed, sinking on a bench near a mesh trash. She looked at her watch. About thirty minutes before the next, if there were no delays. She only had to be patient. She decided to listen to some music to help her waiting. She was still wondering why Thomas listened to her advices. Her own love life was a disaster on all points. She didn’t know anything. So why?

She quietly returned to her apartment. Her computer hasn’t been switched on all evening. She looked at the TV before taking a book to relax. A hot tea on the small table, she sat comfortably by the window. She completely emptied her mind to focus on the story of her book.

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