He went downstairs to the hotel restaurant to get a bite to eat. Tom felt worn out and he hoped he’d be able to get a good night’s rest, preferably without the alcohol this time. The hostess led him to a booth and he ordered a burger and fries. It was just a few minutes before he was eating.
"Are you going to eat your pickle?”
Tom looked up at the blonde who was sliding into the booth opposite him. He was surprised to see Alli. “You can have it if you want.” He pushed his plate towards her so she could take it.
"Thanks.” She took the pickle and bit into it.
Tom was at a loss for what to say. “How is your ankle?”
"Better, thanks. I kept an ace bandage on it all day. The ice really helped last night.” She sounded as if this was a normal, everyday discussion she would have with him.
“Good.” He picked up his sandwich and took a bite. He chewed slowly. He kept glancing at her. She sat quietly chewing on the pickle. “What are you doing here, Alli? Isn’t this kind of... inappropriate considering the trial?”
“I’m pushing my luck.” She signaled for the waitress and ordered a small salad and coffee. “Don’t worry, I’m paying my own way.”
“Tom, I am sorry that Justin grilled you like that today...”
Ah, finally something he could sink his teeth into, he thought. “He was just doing his job. Get the scum buckets back out on the street. That was nice investigating work you did, by the way. Did he really have all that information about my cases or was some of it just lucky guesses?” He sounded cynical.
“I try to do my job thoroughly.” Alli sat back while the waitress poured her coffee and put the salad on the table. “I really can’t discuss the case. I just wanted to say that I had no idea who you were last night.” She chuckled. ”I guess I wasn’t as thorough as I thought. I never had your photo ID pulled.”
He couldn’t help but wonder if she would have smiled at him the way she did if she had known who he was the night before. “Well, I guess you were lucky that I wasn’t another Dunlop. Who knows who else is out there walking the streets after some smooth lawyer got him off?” Tom paused. “So what were you doing walking the streets so late last night anyway?”
“I had to interview a witness on another case. It had gone later than I expected and I knew the buses were going to stop running. I was hurrying and I tripped. There was nothing nefarious about it. Even though you seem determined to make it sound like I was, I don’t know, turning tricks or something.”
He didn’t want to admit that he had put all kinds of wrong interpretations to her presence at that hour. “Sorry. I am just naturally protective I guess. And naturally suspicious.”
“I said it last night. Thank you for being a genuinely nice guy.” She stared at her salad for a moment. “Last night, I was upset with myself for not giving you some kind of opening to stay in touch. You were a perfect stranger, and yet, I felt totally at ease with you.”
“Are you really coming on to me?” Tom almost laughed. But he couldn’t deny the attraction he felt for her the night before either. If she had given him any opening the night before, he would have jumped at it.
She looked at his eyes. He again noticed how green her eyes were, they were almost electric. “I guess if we had met under different circumstances, I would say yes. I just wanted to say that I am sorry you are hurting so much. If I had been able to make things easier on you today...”
He was very careful not to raise his voice. “You would have done the same. Like you said, you try to do your job thoroughly. Right now all you are interested in is winning. It doesn’t really matter who gets hurt does it?” He pushed his plate of uneaten food away and put a few dollars from his wallet on the table. “Thank you for the company. Good night.”
He got up from the table and walked out of the restaurant. Tom kept walking straight out of the hotel and into the night air. Last night, he had a fleeting thought about meeting up with the tall slender blonde with the twisted ankle and bright green eyes again. He just never thought he would see her in the courtroom today. It shook him to realize that he had more than just a simple physical reaction, he had more interest in this willowy blonde than just sexual. He liked talking with her even just for the few minutes they chatted the night before. He like the way she said his name. He liked the way her eyes lit up. He even liked the faint lilac smell she was surrounded by.
It unbalanced him because he hadn’t noticed or thought that much about a woman since Joyce. He had never looked at a woman the same way since Joyce had died. Tom enjoyed keeping company with women and he definitely enjoyed sex. But since Joyce, no one woman had ever stood out in his mind.
Years ago, his mother had said to him that Joyce had died, he didn’t. He had felt like giving up on life back then. Tom didn’t want to leave the house or see his friends, it was just too painful. The only one he ever let close to him was Cat. He didn’t want to talk to anyone else. He just wanted to build a wall around himself and keep the outside world away.
It hurt to admit it, but his mother was right. It had taken some coercing and the help of a few friends pushing him, but he’d dated since then and even had a few very satisfying relationships. He didn’t feel like he was cheating on Joyce. He was just trying to live. He briefly had thought about showing up on Alli’s doorstep sometime just to see where things might go. When he had left her apartment last night, he was amazed at how many of his senses felt alive again. But, after today...
"Tom!” He stopped and let her catch up to him. “If we had met under different circumstances, do you...”
He took her in his arms and kissed her. She kissed him back without hesitation. Finally, they stepped apart. “Does that answer your question?” order
Within the Law
by Chelle Cordero Save with the Bundled Pack Gift Pack of all three Chelle Cordero novels of 2008!
Great for gift-giving or to treasure yourself
20% Discount from Vanilla Heart Publishing ~~~~~~~~