It had been almost half an hour since Alec went back home and left her to ponder the matter. Nothing else occupied her mind except one question, was it worth it? She still could not figure out an answer to the question. He seemed sincere, but she was still afraid of fooling herself into thinking that it could work. It was not a simple question of whether he genuinely loved her or not anymore. It was not a matter of trust either. It was still there. It never entirely went away, but regaining what was lost of it would surely take time.
The ringing of the phone jolted her out of her deep thoughts with a start. Her heart pounded in her chest at the sudden intrusion of the loud sound of the device in the silence of the night. Almost on impulse, she got up and went to check on who was calling this late. As expected, it was Michaela.
“Hey there. You hungry?”
“Starving actually,” Lesly responded.
“Good. I have piping hot pizza with me. Do you wanna drop by or do you want me to come to your place?”
“You make the decision.”
“Is Lang still with you?” The redhead asked.
“No, he left a while ago.”
“Great. I can’t fish my keys out of my purse anyways. Open the door. I’ll be up in a sec.”
Lesly marched towards the apartment’s door, and sure enough, a few seconds later, she saw Michaela emerging out of one hallway corner and holding a big box of pizza. She walked in, placed the box on the counter and threw her purse on the floor. Max ran towards her and began rubbing his head against her leg instantly. The redhead sat in front of the friendly dog and began ruffling its head.
“How’s my big boy?” She spoke in a childlike manner.
“As well-behaved as ever,” Lesly responded as she grabbed two cans of diet coke from the fridge.
“He didn’t give you a hard time, did he?”
“Not at all.”
“Not even when Lang was here?” Michaela asked mischievously as she walked towards the counter and took a seat.
Lesly frowned when she noticed the look on Michaela’s face. It was obvious what she was trying to say, but she refused to engage her. The dark-haired woman grabbed some napkins, placed them on the counter, and took a seat right across from her friend.
She could feel Michaela’s gaze on her as she opened the box and placed a slice for her friend on a napkin. The redhead took it from her, but she continued to stare at her with the same mischievous smile plastered to her face.
“So I take it Max did not bother you at all while you and Lang were busy?”
Lesly’s response was firm, “I don’t wanna talk about this.”
“Come on, you never tell me anything,” Michaela whined.
Lesly gave her friend a look of exasperation, but she realized that she was fighting a losing battle, so she gave in. “You have three questions. Use them wisely.”
“I can do that,” Michaela grinned at finally having her way. “What was he doing that made you lose yourself like that?”
Lesly dropped the pizza slice on the cardboard box and covered her face with her hands. “I knew this was a bad idea.”
“Come on, don’t shut down on me now.”
“I’m not comfortable talking about this,” Lesly argued.
“You can’t blame me for being curious,” Michaela giggled. “We shared a wall throughout college. We were roommates for a while afterwards. You’ve never been this…articulate.”
Lesly frowned at Michaela’s choice of words, “The walls are paper-thin. You said it yourself many times before.”
“Nu-uh, that’s not it.”
Lesly rubbed her temples in frustration, “Exactly what kind of answer are you expecting so we could get this matter over and done?”
“Just tell me what happened. Come on, we rarely talk about these things.”
“You’ve dragged me into this discussion time and again!” Lesly exclaimed in disbelief.
“And each time, I had to force a drink or two into you to get you to talk. There’s a limit to how many times I can get you drunk so you could feel comfortable delving into the details.”
Lesly glared at her, but Michaela would not let go, “I have a bottle of scotch in my place if you want.”
“No, thank you,” Lesly muttered with a murderous look.
“You sure? You don’t have to go to your office in the morning, so it shouldn’t be a problem if we get drunk.”
“No,” the dark-haired woman established firmly.
“So what?” Lesly asked as she grabbed the pizza slice she dropped earlier and took a bite.
“How is he in bed?”
“You got an answer to that question already.”
“Yes, you did. You heard me loud and clear earlier today,” Lesly tried to maintain casually even though her face was turning red.
“I see,” Michaela’s smile deepened. The mischievous look on her face never went away. “You know it wouldn’t hurt if you say it like this, ‘Michaela, he’s the best sex I ever had.’”
Lesly covered her face in embarrassment, “Please stop!”
“Is he?” The redhead asked stubbornly.
Lesly glared at her. Michaela stared right back and waited patiently for a confirmation. Eventually, Lesly gave in, “Yes, he is. Can we stop talking about him now?”
“I’m not done yet.”
“For God’s sake, what do you want from me?”
“I want details.”
Michaela was not about to give up any time sooner. She continued to badger her friend, “How about I make this easier for you? I’ll ask you questions, and you’ll answer with a yes or a no.”
“No, we’re done.”
“Come on, two more questions. I’ll stop afterwards. I promise.”
Lesly began rubbing her temples in frustration, “I shouldn’t have answered your phone call.”
“Is he into kinky stuff?”
The question came out of nowhere and almost made Lesly spill her drink. “You’re not serious, are you?!”
“Just answer the question,” Michaela demanded with the same devilish look.
“No, he isn’t.”
“Weird! I thought that given his control issues like you mentioned, he would at least exhibit some similar tendencies in the bedroom.”
“He’s not like that,” Lesly rushed to deny.
Michaela noticed instantly how flushed Lesly’s face got, so she continued to corner her friend. “You mean to tell me he has no domineering side at all?”
“No, he doesn’t,” Lesly established firmly.
The redhead laughed at her friend’s miserable attempt to keep her from probing the matter. “Are you aware that you’re contradicting yourself?”
“You know what I mean. Now can you please drop it?”
Michaela shrugged, “Eh, I guess I have no other choice but to grill you the next time we get drunk.”
Lesly frowned, “Thanks for the warning. I’ll never get drunk around you.”
The redhead laughed and grabbed another slice of pizza. While the two continued to eat, Lesly’s phone began buzzing. Michaela immediately noticed Alec’s name and realized that he had sent her friend a message. Lesly read it silently. Her face showed no emotion whatsoever. Then she turned the screen off and placed the phone back on the counter.
This compelled Michaela to ask, “All jokes aside, Lesly, what’s gonna happen from this point onward? This is the second time now that you’ve slept with him since you two split up.”
Lesly sighed, “I honestly don’t know.”
“Are you back together?”
“So? Where are you two gonna go from here?”
Lesly gave her a straight reply, “He asked me for another chance and told me to think the matter through before I give him an answer.”
“I still don’t know if I can do that.”
“He loves you,” Michaela reminded her friend.
“I still love him, too, but that’s not the only issue here. He’s not the person I thought he was. What I found out about him, the questionable things he’s done…it’s too much to process.”
“He told you from the get-go that he does not do things by the book,” the redhead reminded.
“But I never thought it was this serious. I don’t know if I can turn a blind eye to what he’s doing. It is precisely because of that that I never asked his father for help.”
Lesly’s answer was exactly what Michaela suspected. Still, this was a matter that she firmly disagreed with her friend on. As such, she tried to reason with her, “You do realize that it’s because of what his father had done that you were kept safe back then? If he had played by the rules, you wouldn’t be alive.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“It must have been the same for him as well. What would you have him do? Play nice and risk getting killed? Even you couldn’t do it. You had to break a few rules, too.”
It was true, and it was not just a onetime thing. Even after she had found out how Alec managed to get things done, she still asked him for help. She had done so less than an hour ago and told him to see what he could do to make sure Brenan was going to get what he deserved this time.
Lesly rested her elbows on the counter and held her head in her hands. “I’m a hypocrite. I know,” she spoke in a low voice. “Still, it’s a question of degree. It scares me to know how far he’s willing to go.”
“Did you discuss it with him?”
“Not yet,” she shook her head. “Even if he were to assure me that he would never stoop so low, I don’t know if I can believe him after what happened. Maybe it’s better if we just spare each other the unnecessary heartache and go our separate ways now before things get too complicated.”
“Isn’t this what you said months ago before you decided to give this relationship a go?” Michaela asked.
Lesly winced, “And look where giving in got me.”
The redhead sighed and tried to reason with her friend once more, “Lesly, are you prepared to look at this moment weeks, months or even years from now and think that maybe you should’ve gone a different way? Are you absolutely certain that breaking up with him is a decision you’re not going to regret?”
“I don’t know.”
“Fine,” Michaela responded. She folded her hands over the counter and stared at her friend intently. “Say you take him up on his offer, what’s the worst that could happen? What are you most worried about?”
“I don’t know where to begin,” Lesly responded in a small voice. “There are so many things that I’m anxious about.”
“Like?” Michaela asked encouragingly.
“I feel like I don’t know him anymore. I don’t know what he’s after. I don’t know how far he’s willing to go to see it through.” Lesly sighed and carried on, “He told me he wouldn’t keep anything from me, but…”
When Lesly did not finish, Michaela tried to confirm, “You’re worried he might say what you want to hear and continue to keep you in the dark?”
Lesly nodded, “He tried to assure me he wouldn’t, but I don’t wanna get my hopes up... again.” She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. “I can’t believe how much of a fool I was for not figuring out that something was off the entire time I was with him.”
“You think you can’t trust him?”
“Fine, let’s assume he made it clear to you who he was from the get-go, would you have let him help?” Michaela asked.
“No,” she answered hesitantly. “I don’t think I would’ve even agreed to exchanging favors with him.”
“So he was right? You would have rejected any attempt on his part to help you out.”
“Yes,” she sighed, “but it’s not solely because he has a certain way of doing things.” She ran a hand through her thick locks and struggled to put her thoughts into words. “I wouldn’t have… felt comfortable being anywhere near him after the incident.”
Lesly gave Michaela an expectant gaze and hoped that her friend would realize the implications of her statement. Thankfully, Michaela understood perfectly well where Lesly’s reluctance was coming from. She held her hand and spoke gently, “I think he knows that too.”
Lesly winced at hearing Michaela confirm what she suspected, “He didn’t say it earlier, but I could see it in his eyes. If he had asked me straight up, I would’ve denied it, but he would’ve been able to tell that I lied.”
“But you don’t feel this way around him anymore, do you?”
The redhead stared at her friend intently and tried to discern the best possible way to put her worries to rest. She gave Lesly’s hand a reassuring squeeze and tried to phrase her words carefully, “Listen, I’m not gonna defend what he did. I do believe, however, that he genuinely felt responsible for what was happening to you a couple of months ago. That was why he thought that he could not tell you right away until he took care of the problem.”
Lesly became even more agitated, “I don’t want him to spend the rest of his life trying to make it up to me. It was my decision.”
“I know,” Michaela tried to reassure her friend. “Obviously, you both have a lot to discuss and waddle through. I’m not gonna tell you what to do, but seeing how there was no malicious intent behind what he had done, I would advise you to listen to what he has to say, take things slow and see where you two can go from there.”
Lesly sighed, “You think?”
“At least, you’ll be able to make an informed decision by then.”
The dark-haired woman smiled sadly, “I hope you’re right.”
“Please, I’m always right. You know that.”
Lesly finally laughed, “This right there is proof that that god complex doctors are usually accused of is beginning to manifest itself in you.”
Michaela grinned mischievously, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Lesly narrowed her eyes at her friend with a smile, “What responsibility? Fixing my love life?”
“Among other things,” the redhead winked. “I’d fix your sex life too, but after what I heard today, I don’t think you need my help.”
Lesly rolled her eyes, “Here we go again.”
Michaela laughed loudly as she grabbed her can of diet coke and stood up. “Well, I guess it’s time I go back home.”
“Yeah, I’m beat,” she muttered before she picked her purse off the floor and hooked a leash on Max’s collar. When she straightened up, she looked back at Lesly, “Just promise me one thing.”
“What is it?”
“Send the poor guy a reply to the text he sent you. Don’t keep him in limbo any more than necessary.”
Lesly was dumbfounded, “How on earth did you…?”
Michaela smiled deviously before she waved goodbye and took Max out with her.