Chapter 88: Never Did Run Smooth
He had told me I couldn’t be there for them both.
I was going to prove him wrong.
He certainly wasn’t making it easy for me, seeing as he wanted as little as possible to do with me, but I would express my support in the ways available to me, and for the moment, that was by walking the extra mile in trying to make his job easier.
Because he’d caught me in here on Monday morning and I did not desire another round of that dreadful scenario, I was quite stressed this time around, so I hurried to organise the files on his desk while remaining hyperaware of the time. Eyeing the clock on his wall, I noted that it was twenty to eight, and with the exception of this past Monday, he usually arrived at eight.
Suddenly, just when I was nearly done, someone gripped the handle. My entire body froze as my gaze dashed to the door, but to my relief it was only Elisabeth.
“Oh, my God, Ellie,” I groaned and touched my chest. I hadn’t realised my heart had been sprinting a mile until now.
With pursed lips, she eyed me ruefully. “Sorry. I was just wondering whether you need something from the shop. I’m heading out to buy something for my throat. It’s terribly sore.”
“You do sound a bit ill, but I’m all right, thanks.” I continued organising the files, but paused when I realised she wasn’t leaving. Looking up again, I met her eyes with curiosity in mine. “Was there anything else, love?” I gently asked.
Her lips peeled back from her teeth with her charming smile. “You’re Wonder Woman.”
I scoffed. “Really, Ellie, that’s you.”
“No, really. Ever since he came back, you’ve been working double to make sure his head stays above the surface. I mean how long have you worked on all that?” She motioned toward the desk between us. “Far more than your contract demands, that’s for certain.”
“Only till half past twelve last night. And I don’t mind. Work’s a welcome distraction. It takes my mind off…” I looked away from her, “everything else.”
“Cara,” she sounded maternal now, “is work all you’re doing these days?”
I shook my head and continued with the files. “No, I’m spending time with Robby as well.”
I’d told her just about everything about Robby and William, because Andy had told Violet, and Violet had told Elisabeth, so everyone I knew best in this office were already aware. Therefore, I wanted my side of the story to be heard as well, and not just William’s. What I wasn’t sure of was whether John was aware. I sincerely hoped he wasn’t. I had every intention of fixing things with William, and I remained hopeful we’d be together in the end, so naturally, I didn’t want John to know we’d broken up, especially if it was only going to be temporary.
“You need to take some time off for yourself as well though, Cara. You can’t just be serving everyone around you.”
“Appreciate the advice, Ellie, but I know what I’m doing. I’m hurt, yes, but this isn’t me trying to escape the pain. This is me trying to prove to both men that there’s enough of me to go around.” I frowned. “Did I really just say that? God…”
Her snort of a laugh soon filled my ears. “It’s true though!”
I couldn’t fight back my small smile. “You know what I meant.”
“I admire your perseverance,” she said with a firm nod of her head. “And your determination. Hopefully, he’s not blind to it.”
“I don’t think he is,” I murmured, “but it may not be enough. Time will tell.”
“I’ll be cheering you on for as long as it takes.”
“Thanks, Ellie. I appreciate your support.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to it, then. Back soon. If you remember needing anything from the shop, send me a text.”
Five minutes after she’d gone, I considered myself finished and scurried out of his office. It was a quarter to eight now, and I’d only just descended into my chair when I saw from the corner of my eye that someone stepped out of the lift. Turning my head, I locked eyes with Andy. My lips were moving to return his warm smile when another person exited the lift behind him, and the sight of him soon prevented my smile from reaching full bloom. Instead, I quickly averted my eyes and puffed out a breath of relief.
That had been a close call. Had I remained in his office for a minute longer, he would have seen me walk out of it.
I had expected him to ignore me like he had yesterday morning, but to my surprise, he approached my desk, so after collecting some courage, I dared a glance in his direction, and what I saw left me speechless.
I could not utter a single sound when his handsome right hand placed a Starbucks flat white on my desk.
“Good morning, love,” he greeted and shocked me with his endearment. He hadn’t called me that in far too long. Hopefully soon, he would once again upgrade it to the version I loved the most: ‘my love’.
Since my eyes were fixed on the coffee, I couldn’t see the smile on his face, but I had heard it clear as day in his voice.
“You’re here early,” he continued when I failed to speak.
I still couldn’t bring myself to respond, because there was black ink on the cup of coffee, and the suspense of it was beckoning my undivided attention.
The course of true love never did run smooth, I read, and I did not fail to catch the reference, nor could I stop myself from staring. Was this actually happening or was it only a mere dream?
Seemingly amused, he demanded my attention by having a seat on my desk, successfully blocking the lovely cup of coffee from my view. Instead, I saw only his beige suit.
Once I actually paid mind to the fabric, I realised that it wasn’t just a beige suit, but actually one of my favourites on him, and I vaguely remembered having told him that once. My gaze roamed across it, slowly sliding up to his face where I found his winsome smile, and I did not fail to notice that the light colour of his attire enhanced the hypnotic effect of his eyes.
My heart tingled at the view.
“Did you forget your tongue this morning?” he eventually asked.
I turned pink immediately. Alas, that only increased his amusement, and I could tell because his smile turned into a face-splitting grin while a familiar gleam entered his arresting orbs.
“Just my brain, I think,” I finally managed to reply.
That made him laugh, and soundly, too. I hardly recognised him. He did not at all resemble the brooding man I’d seen at work yesterday.
“Have you slept?” I brought myself to ask, because I saw it as the only reasonable explanation for his seemingly good mood.
He chuckled and lifted his own cup of coffee to his tempting mouth for a quick sip. When the lid touched his lips, I found myself envying a piece of plastic. I wanted to be on the receiving end of those lips.
“For a solid eight hours, as it happens.”
I blinked from surprise. That was longer than myself. “I’m glad. Nightmares subsiding, then?”
“Perhaps. For the moment, at least.”
“Should you be drinking coffee? I thought your therapist told you to avoid caffeine.”
“Who said I’m drinking caffeine?”
He passed me a wink. “Indeed. I’m going for the placebo effect.”
A snicker snuck out of me. “Isn’t the whole point of the placebo effect that the consumer is unaware?”
He cocked his head from side to side. “I’m experimenting. Who knows? Perhaps my subconscious will associate the flavour with a heightened focus and sense of being awake, since that’s the effect it’s had in the past.”
“How Freudian of you. I see Dr Fielder is really rubbing off.”
He chewed on his lower lip in what looked like an attempt to hide his grin. “He’s a brilliant man,” he claimed. “You’d like him.”
“I’m sure I would.”
He dropped his gaze to the cup in his hand. “Truth is, I just bloody love the flavour.”
“I guessed as much.”
“Though, I must admit, nothing beats Cara and raspberry.”
I exhaled at such volume that he might as well have punched the air out of me. All at once, erotic images of handcuffs, lingerie and raspberry sorbet blended with memories of his beautiful and naked body claiming mine. They marched through my mind so vividly, in fact, that I failed to notice reality anymore. The only thing I remained conscious of was how hot my cheeks suddenly became as I stared susceptibly into his eyes.
“I’ve got to get to work,” he stretched from my desk and tucked his free hand into his pocket. “Enjoy your coffee. Once you’ve drained it, let me know whether you think it’s a placebo or not.”
Disbelieving laughter spilled from my mouth. He could be devilishly witty. “You cheeky bastard. You’re playing tricks on my mind.”
His responding smirk matched his devilish wit. “You know I can’t resist an opportunity to tease you.”
God, how I loved him. This was the man I’d fallen for.
“Anyway,” he continued and turned on his heel, “suppose I’ll see you for lunch.”
Since I was entirely preoccupied with gushing over him, I forgot about the stuff I’d left on his desk, so when I gazed after him, I was sincerely admiring his character and not looking to witness his reaction. I was only reminded of the state of his desk when he opened the door to his office and reached an abrupt halt in the doorway. With haste, I steered my eyes to my bag to bring my laptop out, but I couldn’t resist stealing a glance in his direction when I opened it on my desk.
Immediately, he arrested my eyes. “You didn’t need to do that,” he told me across the room, earning us a few glances from our colleagues.
In response, I grabbed around my cup of coffee and raised it. “Neither did you.”
He chuckled. “That’s hardly comparable.”
“I’m not sure I agree. That would depend on our motive, wouldn’t it?”
I could of course be wrong, but I considered this coffee a sign that he was motivated to fix our problems. Likewise, my efforts to help him out were inspired by the very same motivation.
His head tilted, and after watching me through narrowed eyes for a beat, he shook his head to himself and stepped into his office with a smile on his face.
I hadn’t realised I was wearing the same version until Elisabeth returned and pointed it out.
“That’s a lovely smile you’re wearing.”
I looked over to her as it transformed into a grin and deliberately raised my cup of coffee between our faces so she could read the writing.
Her lips parted and her eyes widened. “Is that from him?”
“William’s got a way with words, be it as Mr Shakespeare or Mr Night.”
“See!” she whispered harshly. “I told you he’d come around.”
“He’s on his way there, at least.”
“This is brilliant,” she stated and nodded repeatedly to herself. “This is absolutely brilliant. This has made my day. My week!”
I laughed. Knowing how empathic she was, I truly believed her when she said that.
I had just sat down for lunch in the cafeteria with Elisabeth when I lifted my gaze from my plate to browse the room. I hadn’t seen Violet all day, and it raised my concern. Was she ill? That wasn’t like her. In all honesty, I hadn’t thought an invincible force like Violet could fall victim to such a mortal condition in the first place.
“Do you know if Violet’s ill?” I asked Elisabeth.
“She’s working from home today.”
“Oh. Any particular reason?”
“Yeah. She’s left for a trip to France with Clive. She’s returning on Sunday.”
I offered her my undivided attention. “With Clive? Why hasn’t she told me?”
I liked to think Violet was my friend now, so the idea that she wouldn’t inform me of this was slightly disappointing.
She chuckled. “Because they spontaneously decided it last night.”
“Oh. Well, that’s romantic. Do you know where about in France?”
“Paris, she said.”
“Oh, I love Paris. Most beautiful city in the world in my opinion.”
“I quite like Rome as well.”
I stiffened upon the mention. I’d never been to Rome, but I’d been supposed to go there with William next week. That trip was surely cancelled.
The reminder inspired me to think of Alex and Ivy, since we’d been supposed to join them for Corsica. I wondered how they were doing and whether it would be appropriate for me to send Ivy a message. I quite liked the girl – so much, in fact, that I could see myself becoming her genuine friend one day, but I quickly discarded the idea. Seeing as she was William’s best mate’s girlfriend, she was essentially William’s territory, and I’d already meddled enough with it. I’d demanded my share of Jason, and to some extent Andy, Elisabeth and Violet as well. Out of respect, I therefore decided not to interfere with his relationship to Ivy and Alex.
“I’ve never been to Rome,” I replied.
“Then you must go. It’s a historic gem.”
“It’s on my list.”
“Good. I went there with Brian just last year. I think I put on three pounds during that long weekend. All that ice cream and pizza… Well, let’s just say I’ve got no self-discipline to speak of when it comes to food, and Brian is no better.”
“Then I’ll make sure to put on five when I go.”
She arched a brow at me. “You look like one of those women who can eat as much as they like without putting on any weight.”
I shook my head. “My metabolism is quite good, but I can put on weight if I’m not careful. I’m just lucky with the area, because I gain the weight on my bum and thighs before anywhere else.”
“Lucky. For me, it’s the belly.”
I shrugged, and that was the end of that conversation.
I was busy both gobbling down and digging into my pasta salad when a familiar presence halted by my side, “Mind if I join you?”
With cheeks full of food, I raised my head to regard the man of my dreams, and I instantaneously flushed when our eyes locked. He wanted to sit here? At my table?
Scanning the room, I found Andy seated with Matthew as well as a few other colleagues a few tables away, and I wondered why he hadn’t approached them instead.
“You know, I just recalled,” Elisabeth said and grabbed her plate and bottle of diet coke, “I’ve got a few things to tell Andy.”
Since her intention was glaringly apparent, I directed my sceptical gaze to hers and was about to argue when William beat me to it.
“No, you don’t,” he said, “but I know what you’re doing, and I appreciate it.”
She released an awkward “Heh,” before she excused herself with, “Sorry. I’m not very good at this.”
“You’re rather shit, actually,” William said before a charmed chuckle slipped out of him. “But then that’s also why you’re adorable.”
She grinned up at him. “Enjoy your lunch, sweethearts.”
I was still processing what had happened when he reclined into the chair she’d vacated opposite of mine.
“Is it any good?” he asked and pointed to my salad. Seeing his plate, I noted he’d went for the same dish.
“Delicious, per usual.”
“I saw they had pizza. I had expected you to go for that option.”
“I’ve been eating pizza far too much lately. The Chinese make a good point. You can have too much of a good thing.”
“Too much of a good thing is bad?”
“Everything in moderation,” I confirmed.
“Is that your view on love as well?”
I paused chewing and frowned at him. “What?”
His responding smile puzzled me. “Only joking. Now, about the placebo effect.”
It was my turn to smile. “I believe you drugged me.”
“With myself? That’s what I aspire to be. Your personal drug.”
I pointed my fork at him. “You’re in a flirtatious mood today.”
“Depends on the target. I haven’t flirted with Andy much.”
He laughed, so I continued, “I’m sure he’s proper jealous of me right now.”
Turning his handsome head, he located his best mate across his shoulder, and once their eyes met, I saw them nod at each other for a fond acknowledgement.
“I’m sure he is,” he eventually replied, “but that’s his problem. Not mine.”
“Is that how I should treat your jealousy? Your problem, not mine?”
That silenced him for some time. “Witty remark.”
“You set that trap yourself, kind sir.”
“I did. But since I intend to take your joke seriously: yes, you should treat it that way, because it is my problem to deal with. At least the way things are now.”
I hadn’t expected that answer, so I had no idea what to respond with. All I could do was look at him, nonplussed.
“Has your sister come back to London yet?” he asked then, and the change of subject was something I welcomed.
I beamed to myself. “Yes. She arrived on Saturday last week. She’s still severely jet-lagged, however, so she’s walking around resembling a zombie.”
“Bring her boyfriend with her?”
“Chase? He couldn’t come. Had plans with his family.”
“That’s unfortunate. Have you met him?”
I shook my head. “Only on FaceTime. He seems like a decent lad, though, from what she tells me.”
“Good.” He swallowed a mouthful before he asked, “Have you told her about us?”
Since I was hopeful that we could fix our issues, I hadn’t told my parents anything, but I had indeed told Phoebe every last detail, and to be honest, I was certain that her presence in London was the only thing keeping me sane. Her support was irreplaceable, because she knew me better than anyone, and I found comfort in her current anger toward William, because I couldn’t find it in me to be angry with him myself.
She was biased in her anger, that was for certain, but both her and I were aware of that. However, I needed her to be biased, and I needed her to be angry with him, because if she took that role, I was free to be the more objective party. Whenever she unleashed her fury, using spiteful words while she spat his name as though it were an abomination, I could see the mistakes in her arguments. I could see things from William’s side and defend his perspectives.
That was paramount, because if I hadn’t had that option, I might’ve been conquered by bitterness and failed to see hope for – or even desire for – a solution.
Jason had done his best to support me through my heartache, but the truth was that whenever I looked into his eyes, I’d see the striking resemblance to his brother’s pair, and that had been truly unbearable sometimes. There was also the fact to consider that I didn’t take any pleasure from revealing to him how hurt I was, because I despised placing him in that spot between his brother and myself, so it simply seemed wrong to cry to him. He’d look at me and see pain in my eyes, pain that his own brother had inflicted upon me, and I didn’t want to enable the conflict that stirred in him.
“Yes,” I finally replied.
“Then I expect she hates me.”
“I’m her sister, and she doesn’t know you. Obviously she’ll take my side.”
“It’s not obvious. My own brother has taken yours. Another argument is that some people are able to stay objective even in the most trying circumstances.”
“Jason hasn’t taken my side.”
“Perhaps not in life in general, but in this particular disagreement, he has.”
I shook my head. “Jason knows me. Phoebe doesn’t know you.”
“Is she coming on Friday?”
Suspecting where he was headed, I tensed. “Yes. Are you?”
His eyes scrutinised me for so long that I was further perturbed. “Do you want me to?” he countered.
Uncertain of what to make of the potential, I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Robby will be there.”
His eyes frosted, revealing that his guard was up. “I’m aware.”
“Jason told you?”
“Andy and Alex did.”
“I asked you a question, Cara.”
“I asked one first.”
“You don’t like your own medicine?”
Blatantly unimpressed, his left eyebrow arched before he reached for his fork to have another bite of his salad.
I sighed and folded my hands beneath the table. “I do want you to come, but I’m scared you’ll lose your head like you’ve done every other time. Your record isn’t exactly flawless when it comes to him.”
“In my defence, I was rather drunk that night.”
“That’s no excuse.”
“It’s an excuse, but I’ll agree it’s not a good one. In any case, I can’t drink alcohol these days, so I’ll stay sober. That should somewhat expand my threshold.”
I glared at him. “’Somewhat’ may not be enough, Will.”
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, Cara, then yeah, it will be. However, I can’t guarantee I’ll stay reined if he kisses you.”
I rolled my eyes in my despair of him. “He won’t, Will. He’s not like that. We’re not like that. It’s purely platonic, for the last time.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
I swallowed again. “So you’re coming, then?”
“Yes, of course I’m coming. It’s my brother’s birthday.”
I reeled in a nervous breath. This would certainly require some mental preparation on my part. This would either turn out really well, or really bad.
“Please don’t fuck this up, Will.”
He took me by complete surprise when he mirrored my nervous behaviour. “I won’t.”
His blatant nervousness increased my own, but I wondered if I read it correctly. Was he the healthy type of nervous, in which he understood the gravity of the situation and was therefore intimidated by what was at stake, or was he the unhealthy type of nervous, in which he was acting on bold courage rather than wisdom?
Regardless his reasons, I reckoned it would be lucrative to take preventive measures, so I looked away from him while I pondered over ways to do it. It occurred to me that while his jealousy was his own, there had to exist a way in which I could help him battle it. Reassurance, for instance, would be a good place to start.
“If you see anything on Friday,” I murmured, “that makes you uncomfortable – between me and Robby – I’d appreciate it if you told me so that I can stop it.”
He paused chewing and lifted his gaze to regard me with what I recognised as a blend of awe and wonder.
“You have my word.”
“Your jealousy might be yours, Will, and the pain of it individual, but we can’t deny that my actions partake in provoking it. Of that I am certain. So while you need to kill it at the root, I’ll help you as best I can until you find it.”
He cleared his throat and looked anywhere but at me, and that behaviour inspired me to think that my words had actually reached him.
Because he appeared to be overwhelmed, I was not surprised that he veered from the subject, “Even if your sister might hate me for the moment, I’m looking forward to meeting her.”
“She is angry with you for breaking up with me, Will, but that’s not likely to prevent her from liking you as a person.”
He exhaled flustered. “I sincerely hope it won’t. Her approval would mean a lot to me.”
“Then don’t lose your head and you’ll have it.”
I fiddled with my fingers in my lap. “I’m nervous,” I admitted.
“So am I,” he mumbled.
“We’ll just have to communicate.”
“For Jason, too. Ruining his birthday is out of the question.”
He frowned at me. “For Jason, certainly, but for us, too. Ruining our chance at fixing our relationship is also out of the question.”
My heart leapt to my throat. He’d finally said it, word for word. The relief of hearing it was so overwhelming that I could do nothing but stare at him.
Noting my stunned reaction, he sighed to himself and leaned forward to arrest my eyes. “Cara, there’s a lot I’ve got to tell you, but I’m not ready just yet. It’s all so tentative that you’ll need to give me a bit more time to sort out my thoughts. But I’d like to start with sharing a small piece, and that is that I’m currently speaking to Dr Fielder about my issues, and he’s helping me treat them. I can’t guarantee that it will work, but I can guarantee that I’ll try my hardest.
“To get you back is all I want. But you’re right that we can’t be together as things are now, because I’ll turn our relationship into something toxic, and neither of us deserve that.”
My breath hitched in my throat. For the first time in weeks, true hope shined in the horizon. He was speaking to his therapist about his issues? I could hardly believe it. Ever since he ended us I’d felt that I was the only one truly fighting for our relationship. To hear that he had joined the battle and was now fighting alongside me was all I could have wished for.
“Will, are you really?”
“William, thank you,” my voice trembled.
His smile was gentle. “Anything for you, Cara.”
“You do realise that these are terrible for your health, right?” I walked over to her desk to blow out the cinnamon scented candle.
“Cara!” she moaned.
I opened the window to exchange air with the outside. “I refuse to be in a room where I’ve got to inhale toxins like that. Scented candles are not only bad for your brain, but for your lungs and your nervous system as well. Living in a city like London – ergo a place with bloody polluted air – should be enough of a problem. I’ll avoid inhaling shit whenever I can.”
“You’re so bossy,” she muttered and dragged her duvet over her head. “Why don’t you just move to the country if you hate the air of a metropolis so much? You never belonged in the city anyway.”
I walked over to her bed to climb in. “Because living in a city makes me feel more anonymous. In small towns, everyone knows everyone. I can’t stand the idea of that.”
She ripped her duvet off her face to glare at me, and I had to smile at the view. My sister could be quite the little brat.
“Why would you prefer to be more anonymous?” she asked.
“I fuck up a lot.”
Laugher burst out of her mouth, and the sound of it left a grin on mine.
“Please,” she argued, “I’m the fuck-up in this family.”
I snorted. “No, you’re not.”
“Excuse me, Miss Achiever, you’ve left huge shoes for me to fill all my life.”
“That’s not true.”
“But it is.”
I steered my eyes to her teddy bear, namely Mr Teddy. “Missed this chap, have you?” I grabbed around him to rub him in her face, but she pushed him harshly away.
“Cara, I’m seriously jet-lagged. You need to sod off.”
“Napping through the entire day isn’t going to cure your jet-lag. You need to pull an all-dayer.”
She snickered before she echoed, “All-dayer.”
“And dinner’s ready.”
“That’ll be my breakfast. What’s on the menu?”
“Dad’s king prawn dish.”
She looked about to drool all over herself. “I’ll be right down.”
I was heading for the door when she asked, “How was work today?”
Immediately, the joy of interacting with her was replaced with slight misery over my situation with William. While there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel now, it didn’t help the fact that I regretted our current circumstance.
“Better than expected.” I glanced at her across my shoulder.
She sat up with a look of scepticism. “Is he behaving any better?”
“No abrasive comments?”
“Not today. And like I told you, his abrasive comments say more about his… state, for lack of a better word, than anything else – where they stem from, I mean. He’s obviously in a lot of pain, so I forgive it. I always tell him whenever he crosses the line, but I won’t hold a grudge for it. And he was kind today. Even sweet, actually.”
She paid me a soft smile. “Holding grudges was never in your nature.”
I shook my head. “No, it really isn’t.”
“Is he coming on Friday?”
“Yeah. He told me just today.”
“I expected he would, since it’s his brother’s birthday. I look forward to meeting him. Can’t promise I won’t chastise him though, if I see him mistreat you.”
“Phoebe, don’t,” I commanded firmly. “I can handle him perfectly well on my own. You don’t know him like I do. You can’t see the extent of his pain in his comments. All you’ll hear is spitefulness. All I hear is a broken and confused man who doesn’t know how to handle the situation.
“And I don’t want you two getting off on the wrong foot. My intention is to fix things and get him back. You getting involved will only make unnecessary drama out of it, and it’ll be awkward between you once we do manage to fix things.”
“But he’s so dumb.”
An involuntary chuckle leapt out of my mouth. “He’s not dumb. He’s in pain, and he doesn’t know what to do with it.”
“Ergo, he’s dumb.”
“That’s the lazy way to look at it, Phoebs. It’s more complicated than that. More nuanced.”
She rolled her eyes. “You know I know that, too. I only get protective of you. This is the first time you’ve been in love. Ever!” She waved her arms in the air. “I don’t want your first experience with it to be shit!”
“And I love you for that, but the way to prevent it from being shit is by me acting mature, constructive and tolerant. He’s improving, Phoebe. I hardly recognised him today. He was almost himself. That’s most important. To expect him to be able to get over his issues in the blink of an eye would be unreasonable. These things require time, and until he’s managed, I’m prepared to wait.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
I gulped. “Then we’ve got no future together, but at least we tried.”
“Then you ought to go for Jason. I love him so much. He’s brilliant.”
I chuckled in despair of her. “Stop pairing me with Jason in your ridiculous fantasies. It’s not going to happen... And imagine if it did. William would disown the both of us.”
“Yeah…” She wrinkled her nose. “I suppose Jason is permanently off limits now. Unless William falls in love with someone else and can find it in him to be cool with you and Jason being together after that.”
“It’s not going to happen, Phoebe. Either it’s going to be Will, or nobody. I don’t want anyone else. But I won’t take him as he is now either.”
“You sound very wise.”
“I’m trying to be.”
“Bit naïve, because there are plenty of brilliant men out there, but you’re in love, so I’ll forgive you for being blind to the other fish in the sea.”
She was climbing out of her bed when I revealed, “He told me today that he’s speaking to his therapist about his issues. Don’t tell anyone, but that should give you an indication of how much he wants us to work, even if his prior behaviour would imply otherwise.”
She froze with her eyes glued to mine. “Is he?”
“Well that’s ten quick and solid stars in my book.”
I chuckled. “Yeah. He’s truly making an effort.”
“Cara!” Mum called from downstairs. “Is she up yet?”
“Yes!” Phoebe replied on my behalf.
“Then come down already! Food’s turning cold.”
I focused on my sister again. “I’ll tell you the details after dinner, once we’ve got privacy.”
“Do. Are you sleeping here tonight?”
I smiled. “Yes.”
“But I won’t stay awake with you till four in the morning.”
“Killjoy. Always the responsible one,” she sulked.
“I’m an adult now. I’ve got work.”
Her eyes narrowed to eye me accusingly while she gripped her hips. “Have you ever really been a child, though?”
“Depends on how you would define a child.”
She rolled her eyes, and while she walked past me, muttered under her breath, “Ever the lawyer.”