Recovery, Relapse, Relationship (part 13)

(Continued from the last post. Click here to catch the whole story from the beginning.)

I brought a bottle of wine to dinner that evening, as a peace offering. Ted and Clydene were obviously starting to work things out, and that made me happy. I apologized to Ted, and he clearly was uncomfortable with that. I think he wanted to apologize to me, because he looked apologetic, sheepish almost, but maybe he didn’t know how. We discussed the weather, television, politics, anything but what had originally brought us together. This was shortly after Sam Baedes had been promoted to chief, and the memory of Lando Benitez was still fresh in my mind. I discovered that Ted, being a criminal defense lawyer, had a unique view into how the system worked. And hidden well under layer upon layer of tough outer skin, I also discovered, he had a heart, a big heart made of pure gold. But that’s a different story.

I didn’t immediately tell Clyde about my parents. But we started meeting for lunch, just us two girls, whenever she met with Ange. As she shared her feelings and realizations, each prompted a memory of my own, which I shared with her. At first, I didn’t want to, having learned comfort in keeping it all to myself. And Clyde never pressured me. But I saw how Clyde struggled to talk out her feelings, and I knew how healthy it could be, and so I fought to return the favor. She listened as happily as she talked. Over time, I told her the whole story, and she seemed to understand perfectly. It felt good, liberating, to talk things out with her.

I knew I had changed, when found myself saying, “When I was little, and my father got stressed out, he would ask me, ‘Can I have a hug?’ and I would be so glad to give him a hug. I miss hugging my dad.”

Needless to say, Clyde and I became close. She invited me over for the occasional dinner. I started to feel self-conscious about having dinner so often over at their house, but Clyde was an excellent cook and a gracious hostess, and she always threw a wonderful dinner. They started inviting other friends over, too, and throwing proper dinner parties, which, I gathered, they had always talked about but never actually tried.

At one of these dinner parties, while Clyde was in the kitchen and the other guests were using the facilities, I noticed Ted staring at me longingly across the dining room table. I didn’t know what to make of it, and he was making me a little uncomfortable. Then he said, “I admire the skill with which you empathize with others,” in that haughty tone which only Ted has really ever mastered. While I was still trying to figure out what he meant by that, he said, “Thank you for being Clyde’s friend. I don’t think she would have made it otherwise.” And I saw in his eyes the adoration for his bride that I had seen that first awful morning, when I had first met him. Only this time, it wasn’t mixed with guilt or defensiveness.

“You may not realize,” I answered him, “how lucky she is to have a husband who feels as deep a love as you do for her.”

He scoffed, as if it were meaningless, or maybe even offensive.

“Hey.” I smiled. “It matters to her, okay?”

“Okay,” he said. And I could swear I saw just the faintest peek of a grin behind his otherwise stoic expression.

(The end.)

This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoyed this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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