Tears On My Pillow
See Disclaimer et al in Part 1.
Dedication: to Natalie S., Julie, Lav & my Geoffrey, who reminds me so much of Larry Paul :o)
The last part is dedicated exclusively to Lav, who’s been waiting for this so long :o)
“Alisha Turner” is revenge on my 3rd grade art teacher *evil grin*
“Kelmer & Grant” is for Kathryn… she’ll understand:o)
P.S. I’ve been obsessed with the “Coyote Ugly” soundtrack lately. So forgive the rather weird choice of songs. “Beautiful” is from “Autumn in New York”, though. (I’m a soundtrack junkie!)
- - -
“The stars we put in place,
The dreams we didn’t waste,
The sorrows we embraced,
The world belonged to you and me;
The oceans that we crossed,
The innocence we’d lost,
The hurting at the end,
I’d go there again,
‘Cause it was…
Beautiful…” – “Beautiful” by Jennifer Paige
- - -
Kelmer & Grant seemed like an awfully dull place to work. It was full of the straight-laced “don’t sass me”-type women in dark suits and gray auras, and to Ally the men looked like potatoes – they all wobbled around in their dark, big suits, all bald, all mean-looking. How anyone could survive in that environment was beyond her.
Alisha Turner turned out to be a rather plain, unintelligent woman of about 40, dressed the same as the rest. Ally’s first impression of her was that she was trying to be noticed so hard she got the opposite effect momentarily. When she entered a room, she blended in with the gray walls so well no one even turned to look who had graced that room with their presence. Ironically, this very ordinary woman would later be regarded as the key figure in her love life.
As Ally sat at the conference table looking through the case files, she struggled to stay awake. The papers were all dotted with numbers – who owes who and how much, the attorney fees, the taxes, the salaries… Soon she began to feel dollar signs forming in her pupils. However, she looked quite interested, and handed them back to Turner with a smile as if this were the most interesting case Ally had ever had the pleasure of working on.
Ally agreed to take the papers down to the opposing counsel’s office since their fax had been down for several days, for fear that if she didn’t, she might have to sit through lunch with Turner and her sleazy co-counsel, which was more than Ally could handle.
Unfortunately, Turner caught up with her at the elevator and urged her to stay for lunch. Before Ally could object, she was tugged around the office and introduced to all of its inhabitants, and then tugged out to lunch.
Ally was hoping to receive sympathetic looks from all around, but practically everyone at the café seemed to be acquainted with Turner. Ally slouched down in the chair like a little girl misbehaving at dinner, exhausted, bored and unwilling to stay in the same room with these people.
“Ms. McBeal, you know, we’re so lucky to have you on our team! How do you like the, you know, case?” Turner seemed excited.
‘Thrillride…’ Ally thought. “Wonderful. Very interesting.” was what she said aloud with a smile confirming that.
“You know, I was just telling Mr. Ponter, you know, how right I was in, you know, choosing you…”
‘Yeah, definitely. And you know that you, you know, seem to use, you know, “you know”, too, you know, often…” Ally thought. Another smile was all she answered Turner with.
“And I was hesitant at first because, you know, you’ve worked with Mr. Paul before, and now he’s, you know, opposing counsel…” Turner kept picking at her salad.
Ally’s heart skipped a beat. She sat up straight in an instant. “Mr. – umm, WHAT?”
“Larry Paul. You know, from Detroit.” Turner answered calmly, not taking her eyes off the salad.
Ally’s mind raced. The last thing she needed right then was this… But still. She had a sudden urge to stomp over to his affiliate office and shove the case files in his face – she hadn’t been able to tell him that night how angry she was, and she’d have that chance now.
Ally quickly stood up, picked up the case file lying on the side of the table and grabbed Turner’s hand for a quick handshake (which caused her to drop her fork on the floor). “Well, thanks for lunch. I’d really better get going on those case files – wouldn’t wanna be late!”
With that Ally shot out the door.
- - -
“Nelle, what the hell was that?!” Richard stomped into Nelle’s office.
“What the hell was what?” calmly replied a very tired Nelle.
“Nelle, that client was probably the biggest cash cow to ever dookie its profits in this firm! And you just… How could you?!”
“The case was boring. I couldn’t do anything to win it, and I from the very beginning certainly couldn’t go to court with it, but you persuaded me to, despite my objections – and this is what you got.”
“NELLE!” Richard almost blew up. She was pointless to argue with. “Nelle, the law is SUPPOSED to be boring! It’s not MADE to be interesting, it’s made to bring MONEY. A lot of MONEY.”
“Well, I’m sorry, I can’t litigate like that. You should’ve taken up John if you wanted to win – he can turn anything wrong into a right.”
“JOHN!” Richard exclaimed, almost with relief, as John entered Nelle’s office. “John, please tell me Nelle made a mistake in court!”
“No, Richard, she didn’t.” John answered, annoyed. “How are you?” He turned to Nelle.
She nodded and mouthed “fine”.
Richard was on the brink of tears. “John, that was MONEY we were talking about! MONEY! Do you understand???!!!”
“Yes, Richard, I understand what money is…” John continued to look at Nelle. Something had changed. Through the past several days, he’d seen a spark in her eye. Now, the spark was gone. The secret was still between the two of them, but there was also something he felt he didn’t know.
“JOHN!!!” Richard clenched his teeth together. He turned around and stomped out, roaring in despair.
“So you’re fine?” He asked Nelle, barely noticing Richard. There was something breathtakingly beautiful about her, not in a glamorous way, but in a private way he felt only he knew…
“Yeah.” She pressed her lips together in a little smile that quickly faded.
Tears again pooled in her eyes. She looked away and blinked several times. John came up to her, careful not to seem invading.
Finally, she let go. She didn’t even notice how he picked her up into his arms and held her until she’d calmed down a bit. She placed her lips to his shoulder to muffle her own sobs, and the tears flowed freely than ever before.
This was Sub-Zero Nelle melting.
“Sssshhhh… It’s okay…” Asking her what happened was totally useless, not to mention rude.
“My… My doctor…” she started through sobs… “My doctor says it was a… spontaneous abortion…” the sobs increased.
He’d sensed something was wrong, but *this* never crossed his mind… He didn’t know how to express his sympathy, and wasn’t even sure if she would accept it. Whether an ice cube or a puddle, Nelle was still too strong to accept being on the receiving end of sympathetic glances.
They stood there like that for what seemed like ages. It was already getting dark, and Nelle had quieted down, but she still clung to his shoulder. He thought of them together… *back* together. He wanted it. Her. With him. Something had changed in her. Maybe it had to do with the pregnancy… and the loss. Her stubbornness had stayed, as did her confidence, her inner strength… But she also opened up a little. She let the wall down around her heart… This was partially the Nelle he had fallen in love with a long time ago, but partially this was a new person. He wanted to find out who this new Nelle was…
- - -
“May I help you, ma’am?” asked a petite woman sitting behind a desk.
Ally looked down. She was determined to walk out of that office with a little bit of dignity and confidence. But to walk out, you first have to walk in.
“Ma’am?” the secretary called out again to a dazed Ally.
“What? Oh, um, yes… I’m here to see La- errr, Mr. Paul…”
“Are you a client?”
“Uhhh… no. I’m… actually, I need to give him these.” Ally held up the files.
“I can take those…” the secretary stood up to take them, but Ally pulled them away.
“No. I need to *give* him these.” Ally said in her sweetest tone through clenched teeth.
“Certainly.” Answered the secretary, smiling back.
She went over to the first door on her left and opened it a bit before peering in. “Mr. Paul, there’s someone here to see you,” Ally heard her say. She couldn’t make out what he replied, but a moment later the secretary stepped aside, leaving the door open.
Ally took a deep breath. She took several steps, and felt her knees begin to tremble. She stopped for a while, caught her breath again and started walking again. She slowly pushed open the office door and…
… and there he was. White shirt, loosened tie. Reading glasses. Wearing the “smart is sexy” expression. He looked up.
Her heart stopped.
A very long moment passed in silence. Finally, he spoke up.
“Hi.” She smiled softly. There was nothing fake about this. They knew each other too damn well to play games and pretend as though nothing had happened. They had no choice to face reality, and go from there…
“You’re in town…?” she started, feeling a bit awkward after a long pause of looking into his eyes.
“Yeah, for quite some time… I… called you. Check your voicemail.”
“Oh.” Ally smiled again. ‘It would kill him to call me at home, wouldn’t it?’ she thought silently. Still, she was content they’d met again like this. “I actually… came by to give you these.” She placed the case files carefully on his desk. “The… um, Hartman case… Turner gave them to me… She told me…”
He stood up and took off his glasses.
“Yeah?” she looked down.
He lifted her chin with one finger. “You and I both know that’s not why you’re here…”
His eyes were now exactly the same as they had been that night. Dark yet soft, tantalizing and oh so sexy… She was determined to keep her cool, but this was something she didn’t expect at all… She kept thinking “No, no, don’t do this…”, hoping he would read her thoughts, but he only came closer.
“Um…” was all she could manage.
“Al-lee…” he replied with a smile.
She kept thinking she could give in any moment, unable to take this any longer.
Then he did the one thing that changed the whole situation…
He softly brushed her hair away from her right cheek.
Ally looked down.
“No.” she said out loud. “No. No. No. This is wrong. This is very wrong.”
“No, listen to me, for godsakes!” Ally was on the verge of tears. “We… we’ve already done this, and look where it’s put us!”
“Okay, now, can you listen to *me*?” Larry raised his voice on the last word, increasing Ally’s attention. “It’s put us exactly where we want to be, and where we *should* be… Ally…”
“You’re cheating on Jamie.”
“AND?! What if *I* were in Jamie’s place? Oh, wait, I WAS some time ago!”
“I never ONCE cheated on you, nor did I ever think of it!”
“Yeah… You wanna tell me you got back together with Jamie ONLY because of Sam, right? She wasn’t sexually attractive for you at all?”
“Ally, I’ve met hundreds of sexually attractive women, but it doesn’t mean I contemplate every time whether or not to cheat on my girlfriend! And may I make it a point that I waited to break things off completely with you before she & I…”
“Yeah… guilt treatment.” Ally looked down again.
“Ally, I don’t go around sleeping with people just because I feel like it, I’m terribly sorry to disappoint you!”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, too. I’m sorry I went to Detroit in the first place!”
“Ally, what the hell are you trying to pull?”
She didn’t know the answer to that one. She had started this fight, hoping to win, but it seemed like she was losing…
“I’m - ”
“You’re trying to justify what we did…”
“Would you just let me finish?!” Ally yelled, losing it completely. The more time passed, the closer they got to the inevitable – the truth.
He sealed his lips.
“I’m trying to make myself think that I regret it… and so do you.”
“Ally, I don’t regret a single moment I spent with you…”
Ally looked up. ‘Why is he making it impossible for me to be mad at him?’ she thought.
“Look,” he continued, “maybe it was the wrong time, or the wrong place, but what we did wasn’t wrong, I don’t care how much you want to convince yourself it was. And as for the real reason of your visit – doubtless, to slap me in the face with those files – I’m sorry, Ally, but I can’t undo my mistakes. However, I *can* prevent them from happening in the future…”
He took her hand and pulled her a bit closer. Ally felt her cheeks burning up. “Ally, listen to me…” he said in a lower, softer voice. “… if you trust me enough to start over, we can start over. If you don’t, we’ll part ways.”
Ally’s heart was beating like a mouse’s. “But if we start over, we *really* start over…” she finally managed to reply.
“Okay,” he replied in the same voice.
That was it. Past the limit. Ally was melting. This was too much.
“Do you want to try?” he asked.
Ally hesitated. This was a straightforward question, requiring a straightforward answer, which she was unable to produce at the moment.
“I… I don’t know.”
“Do you remember… that very first time you came into my office, looking for Tracy? If she’d informed you of the move, you would’ve never walked into my office… We would’ve never met…”
An hour ago Ally would’ve given anything for that. But now…
“… you would’ve never broken my heart…” Ally caught on calmly.
“Hey. Let’s not get into who did what, okay?”
“Your point is…?”
“My *point* is… that right now you’re given the green light. Go. If you wish we’d never met, you can turn around and walk out…”
She turned around and walked away…
… and stopped at the door.
“I won’t be able to forget you anyway…” she said, turning around. “So what’s the point?”
He came up closer, put his hands on her hips and looked into her eyes. Kissing first her cheek, then her neck, he tightened his grip on her and pressed her gently against the wall. Ally let out a half-moan, half-sigh. He put a finger on her lips with a “ssshhh”, and came up even closer to her. “Please let me love you…” he whispered into her ear. He knew what her answer would be. This was it. There was no turning back now.
His left hand reached to lock the door. He gently picked her up and carried her over to the couch. “I *knew* it had a purpose…” he said quietly. Ally smiled. That night, in Detroit, though it was utter ecstasy, they both felt as if they had a cloud hanging over them, and now… the cloud was gone. It was strangely relaxing; as if the entire world had floated away. They didn’t owe anyone any explanations. They didn’t have to make up excuses to be together. This was just the two of them in each other’s arms. He was so tender, so sweet, so…. great… She silently cursed herself for even considering the possibility of leaving.
The only problem was the secretary behind the not-so-thick door. But they kept the noise level down, muffling noises the secretary didn’t need to hear with kisses… By the time they were done, the couch held almost no sign of their “encounter”. The only thing that could easily give them away was a trace of her lip gloss on his white shirt, but that could be hidden behind a suit jacket. After they’d gone back to looking more or less like normal people who’d been engaging in nothing but a normal, though very long, conversation, he dragged her out to lunch – a place not far from his office was serving an incredible special, and they just couldn’t miss out. Plus, there was no one there at this time, when it was well past lunchtime, so they could have the luxury of being alone.
This was practically the Larry she’d always remembered. Always sweet, always funny, always sexy (no matter what he was wearing)… But what she was noticing more & more was that he was changing back into the Larry that had been taken from her. All throughout lunch, sitting across from him, she kept looking at his eyes… They were still the same. She then realized that they never really *changed* - it was just a matter of how she saw them…
She also realized that this was probably the only guy she’d never grow tired of… he was a bag of tricks, some complicated, some simple, but every time it was something new. He was always laughing, and always made her laugh. He was unbelievably easy to talk to, and could cover anything at all in a conversation. She was falling ass-over-tea-kettle for him, and he repayed her with the same.
Dessert was served at Ally’s. No secretary, unlimited space, lots of champagne, an unhooked phone… If there were a heaven on earth, it was definitely here. With him. What more could anyone ask for? :o)
Happiness has a price. They managed to pay it. Now they were enjoying the benefits.
“Underneath the starlight, starlight
There’s a magical feeling so right
It will steal your heart tonight
You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know, but you know that you
Can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You surrender your heart
Don’t you know, don’t you know that you
Can’t fight the moonlight
You can’t fight it…
It’s gonna get to your heart…” – LeAnn Rimes, “Can’t Fight The Moonlight”
- - - End of Part 3 - - -