A Heated Argument
Lesly firmly believed she thought the matter through. She was almost certain that having an honest discussion with Alec would save them both a lot of heartache. She was not prepared for what followed, though.
For the next few days, neither of them knew how to handle the other. They each hung to their views and stubbornly refused to meet the other halfway. The atmosphere became extremely tense and charged quite fast. There were days when the two would calmly try to reason with the other. However, there were also moments when things simmered over and resulted in a heated argument that would leave the two of them awfully drained by the time it ended. Eventually, they decided that avoiding each other was the best thing to do. However, their shared living situation made the decision emotionally and mentally taxing. There wasn’t a single day when they have not crossed each other. The mornings were particularly dreadful. It was a challenge to prepare breakfast in a small kitchen at around the same time every morning without bumping into each other. It was plain awkward at moments. The fact that Lesly was the one who usually bumped into him and that he had to silently hold her arm to keep her from losing her balance made it even more awkward.
At other times, hostile glares were exchanged without words. Of course, they insisted on not talking to one another because they both knew that if they did, they would be dragged through another hellish argument one more time, and that was not something they were ready to undertake so early in the morning. The car ride to work was a whole different problem altogether.
It was all too much, Lesly thought, not just for her but for him as well. She knew that the only reason he avoided her was because he was trying to give her some space before he approached her about the matter again. He told her he loved her one more time during an argument they had. He said that he could see that she had feelings for him, too. It was true. She did love him. Still, she refused to let him know simply because she firmly believed that it would further complicate the problem. For starters, she was not confident that he was indeed in love with her. In her mind, there was no logical reason why he would. There was nothing about her that was desirable at all aside from her pretty face. He might have simply confused physical attraction for love. If that was indeed the case, he would soon find out that she had nothing to offer at all. It would only be a matter of time before he grew tired of her just like her ex did. He would try to stick around out of guilt, but they would both be miserable. If that were to happen, it would completely shatter her because unlike her last relationship, she was actually in love with the guy this time. That was a highly possible outcome she was terrified to endure.
In her effort to find a way out of her current predicament, she spoke to Michaela. Her friend was more than sympathetic, but she soon began defending Alec. Michaela told her that he had given her no reason to doubt that his feelings towards her were indeed genuine. He had stuck around. He cared about her. He went to extreme lengths to keep her safe. His behavior was textbook definition of someone who was more than emotionally involved. Still, fear kept Lesly from seeing it this way. To her, he was just a decent guy who was trying to do the right thing. Even if he were indeed in love with her, it was not going to work out because of her intimacy issues.
Eventually, she broke down. She told Michaela that she could not stand staying with him any longer. It felt wrong on so many different levels. For one thing, living there made her feel that she was taking advantage of him. It was also difficult for her to keep him out of her mind. She was worried sick that if she stayed around him any longer, she would waver, give in and suffer the shocking realization that she was right all along and that she should have never fooled herself into believing that this could actually work. Michaela gave in. She told her friend that she could stay with her for as long as she needed until the matter was resolved. Lesly was relieved. There was only one problem left to take care of and that was to let Alec know that she was moving out.
Alec had driven her to work in silence like usual. They rarely spoke to each other during their car rides. He would be focused on the road, and she would distract herself from the awkward silence by checking work-related emails and responding to them. When they arrived to her office building, she attempted to leave the car without speaking to him. It was her intention to call him later and explain the situation. It would definitely be easier this way. However, she soon decided against it. She kept her vision focused on the road in front of her and told him what she was planning to do.
“Michaela is coming to pick me up later today.”
“Did you arrange it with her beforehand?” He asked while he kept his eyes fixed on the road as well.
“Yes, I’ll stay with her for a couple of days until I find my own place.”
He glanced at her then with confusion written all over his face. He thought she had an appointment scheduled and that she was more comfortable having Michaela drive her there. He knew about her therapy sessions even though she did not tell him. He thought that she simply wished for her best friend to take her there and he totally respected her need for some privacy. It never crossed his mind that she was planning on leaving all together.
“What on earth are you talking about?” He asked with frustration evident in his voice.
“This is no longer working, Alec. Surely you’re aware of that,” Lesly tried to reason.
He shut his eyes and sighed in annoyance, “Dear God not this again.”
“We’ll talk about it later,” She stubbornly announced as she grabbed her purse and opened the door.
“No, we will talk about it now,” he retorted angrily by reaching over to her side and shutting the door.
“In case you’ve forgotten, there’s still a maniac out there who is after you,” he tried to explain. His tone barley masked his frustration.
“I’ll be fine with Michaela.”
“And after that?”
“I’ll take every precaution measure necessary.”
“What sort of precautions?”
“I’ll figure it out on my own. You don’t have to worry about that.”
“When you’re being this idiotic, stubborn and suicidal, I’ve got no other choice but to worry now, do I?” He responded angrily.
Lesly glared back at him. She took a couple of deep breaths to keep her temper in check. Then she tried to reason with him calmly.
“I appreciate your concern, but you are not in any way, shape or form responsible for me. This is a matter that I will handle alone. You are not obligated in any way to concern yourself with it. Whatever happens to me from this point onward will solely be my responsibility.”
Alec went quiet. His expression became unreadable as he stared back at her, but she could tell from his deep even breaths that he was fighting the urge to yell some sense into her. He eventually shut his eyes and began rubbing his temples. His voice when he spoke to her next was low and hoarse from having to hold back.
“So basically in your mind, having to deal with this matter is much worse than having to deal with whomever is after you.”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” she responded.
“That’s exactly what you’re saying,” he shot back in exasperation.
They glared at each other for a moment. Lesly finally chose not to correct him. She grabbed her purse and kept her eyes fixed on the building as she spoke to him.
“I have to go now. I’ll text you Graham’s phone number later. You should give him a call.”
“And why would I do that?”
“He’ll help you with your case instead of me. He’s a former judge on the board of trustees in the organization. He’ll assist you with anything you need. I already talked to him. I’m sure you’ll find him more helpful than me,” she explained calmly.
“You’re really gonna go this far to avoid me?”
“I didn’t want to, but if there’s any hope that we would remain as colleagues, it’s better if we each stay out of the other’s way right now.”
“Are you through?” He asked without looking at her.
“You’ve been impossible these last couple of days.”
“Yes, not everything has to go your way.”
“You’re the one who won’t listen to reason. For God’s sake, you’d rather take your chances with a maniac than hear me out.”
“This is why I’m moving out. I can’t take this anymore.”
“Let’s not spin this into something that it isn’t. You’re moving out because you’re afraid, and ironically more so of having to admit your real feelings than deal with the actual threat to your life.”
“Do you hear yourself?”
“I do, and I must say I’ve grown rather tired of having to say the same thing over and again hoping that it would sink into that stubborn head of yours.”
“I’ve made my mind,” she muttered emphatically.
“And I would gladly respect your decision if I was certain that you were completely honest with yourself rather than trying to run away and get yourself killed in the process.”
“You know nothing.”
“I know something. I know you care about me just as much as I care about you. I know you have feelings for me.”
He tried to reach out for her hand, but when she pulled it away, he rested his hand hesitantly on the back of her seat. His eyes pleaded with hers again. His voice was barely above a whisper when he spoke.
“You said it to me last night, Lesly.”
She went silent, but the rage in her eyes spoke volumes.
“I can remind you if you’ve forgotten,” he added.
“I didn’t mean what I said,” her voice quivered.
“You meant it. I know you did.”
She shook her head. Anger filled her teary eyes at having her moment of weakness turned against her. He knew he ran the risk of driving her away, yet he could not keep himself from reminding her.
“You told me you did not want to lose me.”
“I didn’t mean it,” she reiterated quite emphatically.
Alec shut his eyes and took a calming breath. Then he tried again, “All I’m asking is that you be a little bit more honest with yourself before you make any drastic decisions.”
“You want honesty? Fine,” she said in a challenging tone. “I regret it, all of it. I regret what I said last night. I regret asking you for help. I regret agreeing to work with you. I regret every arrangement and every favor I asked you. I regret every minute I spent in your company. I regret knowing you.”
“Lesly…,” he tried to interrupt, but she was not done.
“Let me say this as clearly as possible. I don’t need your help. I don’t want it. I’m not a damsel in distress…”
“Nobody said that you are,” he interjected in exasperation.
Her voice came out loud and emphatic at being interrupted again, “I know how to keep myself out of trouble.”
“Do you?” He shot back in anger.
They both went silent as they glared at each other. She could see rage simmering in his eyes, yet he did a better job at keeping his composure. This added more fuel to the fire. Before realizing it, she found herself muttering in anger as she opened the door.
“Go to hell!”
Lesly Left the car, slammed the door shut and made her way towards the building. She knew without looking back that he was waiting for her to make sure that she had gotten in before he drove away. Her hands shakily reached for the sunglasses in her purse and she put them on. Her eyes had most likely turned red by now and she did not want anyone in the office to find out. It was not the first time that she had resorted to them in the last couple of days. Saying that she wore them because the light agitated her migraine headaches was a much simpler explanation than the truth.
When Lesly got to her office, she followed the usual routine. She pulled down the shades, dimmed down the computer screen and asked Stacey not to interrupt her unless it was absolutely necessary. For hours, Stacey stayed away from her office. She was used to it by now. Of course, the young woman was aware that Lesly’s request that she not be bothered was not because of a migraine like she claimed. She knew that something was wrong, but she was wise enough not to ask or inquire in any way.
Hours have passed, yet Lesly could not get anything done. Her mind was occupied with her frustrating situation and the cruel seriousness with which she tackled it earlier. Alec was hurt. She could see that. However, she firmly believed that it was necessary. It was better that they would both deal with the ordeal now before it grew into a bitter and more painful experience for the two of them.
Her brain wandered into the events of the night before. She could not believe that she broke down and said what she said. They were both caught in another heated argument. Feeling drained and defeated, she lost her composure. Her resolve momentarily crumbled, making it easier for him to get a response she hoped he would never draw out of her. The words they spoke to one another in that one moment of weakness were inked in her mind, never to be forgotten.
“That’s not fair,” she whispered with teary eyes in defeat.
“What you’re doing is not fair to me either.”
“You’re making this difficult,” her voice shook.
“It doesn’t have to be,” he spoke softly.
“I don’t wanna lose you.”
“You won’t. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not giving you up.”
Self-reproach fully consumed her at recalling the events of the night before. In an attempt to distract herself, Lesly decided to grab the one document she had been avoiding since she came to her office this morning. It was then that she noticed the note Stacey had left for her on her desk. She picked it up and discovered that Melissa from the DA’s office had given Stacey a call earlier this morning and requested that Lesly call her back regarding a testimony that she promised to help with. Melissa most probably wanted to set an appointment to meet with Lesly face to face. Lesly’s first thought was to grab her phone and text the woman because she did not feel like talking to anyone right now, but then she remembered that she never got Melissa’s phone number. This led Lesly to buzz Stacey and to ask her to arrange a meeting with Melissa. The moment the task was taken care of, Lesly tried to go back to examining the contents of the document she had her eyes on initially.
Stacey walked into her office a few minutes later with a look on her face that gave Lesly no assurance at all.
“Something wrong?” Lesly asked her young assistant.
“I tried to call Melissa’s office.”
“Nobody picked up.”
“Where’s the problem then?” Lesly asked in confusion.
“I called the office secretary, Debby. I have her personal phone number, and…”
Lesly waited for Stacey to finish, but when the young woman stopped, she got frustrated, “For God’s sake, Stacey, speak!”
“There’s been a shooting at the DA’s office.”