Foreign Language Editions
Sully’s Tavern was a half flight of stairs below street
level, just off Bushnell Park, and though it was a favorite haunt
of trial lawyers, Jane hadn’t been there for over a year.
She felt Matthew’s hand at the small of her back as she descended
into the familiar, dimly-lit haven. Matt guided her to one
of the booths and her black skirt slid smoothly over the leather
The music playing in the background was too subtle for her to
place. She glanced around. Less than half the seats around them
were occupied. She tented her hands on the clean, cool tabletop
and waited until Matt was seated, too.
“It’s so quiet,” she
“Yeah. It’s weird to be here
on a Monday.”
In the past they’d frequented Sully’s
at the end of the work week. A bunch of them would descend on
the place from Brandstrom and Norton--not just the partners,
but all the lawyers and some admin staff, too. On Fridays the
tavern was packed, the music loud and raunchy.
“It feels like a different place.”
“Too quiet?” Matt half rose. “We
could go somewhere else.”
“This is fine.” The truth was, she would feel uncomfortable
wherever they went, because she hadn’t been in a social situation
with him for a very long time.
She’d avoided Sully’s this
past year in order to avoid him. In
her heart she knew the reasons for his divorce had nothing
to do with her. Yet, her conscience demanded that
she keep her distance while he was going through the process
of ending his marriage. Just knowing how she felt about him—and that her feelings
had the potential to become much deeper if she let them—had
been reason enough.
A server came and they placed their orders. Jane felt better with
a drink in her hands. She swirled the glass and watched the ice
cubes jostle in the translucent amber liquid.
Sometimes, when she was playing dangerous “what-if” games
with herself, she wondered what would have happened if she and
Matt had met each other much earlier—before Gillian. She
was pretty sure he found her attractive. And she knew he
liked her. So was she crazy to think they might have ended up together?
Yes. She had only to look at the two failed relationships in her
past for her answer.
“You’re avoiding eye contact.” Matthew
She lifted her head, glad he couldn’t possibly know what
she’d been thinking about. She tried to maintain eye contact,
but eventually she had to blink. The blue of his eyes was such
a piercing shade. “You should be a judge. You would be impossible
to lie to.”
“Is that what you’re planning
She smiled. “No. But, come on and
admit it. Being alone like this. It must feel as strange to you
as it does to me.”
All amusement drained from his expression. “I don’t
want it to feel that way, Jane. I want us to be able to work
together. To be friends.”
She swallowed. It didn’t sound like much. And yet, it was. “It’s
difficult not to remember the last time we were...”
Now Matt looked positively grim. He finished
her sentence for her. “The last time we were alone in a
public place together?”
“I’m so sorry about that, Jane. I can’t
tell you how sorry.”
His regret was deeply sincere and it only
made her respect him more. It hadn’t been his fault. It hadn’t been either
of their fault. On the afternoon of their fateful last lunch together,
they’d been discussing business, a case that was before the
court, when Gillian Gray had found them.
Jane could still picture the surprise on
The gallant way he had immediately stood, looking for a chair
so his wife could join them.
In those first seconds he hadn’t noticed the fury on Gillian’s
face. But Jane had. Because it had been directed at her.
“What are you doing with my husband?”
Nothing, Jane had been about to
say. But before she could utter a word, Gillian Gray
had grabbed a goblet from the table and had hurled the white wine
Jane would never forget the shock. The intense humiliation.
“Madam.” A server had been at her elbow almost immediately,
leading her to the woman’s washroom. Behind her, she’d
heard Matthew speaking to his wife. Are you crazy?
Not the right thing to say. Gillian had
raged at him, she’d
really let him have it. At the door to the Ladies, Jane had
paused, unable to stop listening until Gillian-- finally out
of foul words and insane accusations--turned on her heel and
marched out of the restaurant.
From across the room Jane had met Matthew’s gaze. She’d
seen the abject apology in his eyes, before he’d raced after
Now she couldn’t believe she was across the table from him
again. She still wasn’t sure this was wise. He might be an
unmarried man in a legal sense, but he would never be ‘available’ where
she was concerned.
“I should have apologized at the time,” Matthew said. “But
I was afraid it would only feed the gossip at the office
if anyone saw me talking to you.”
“I understand. I imagine you had enough to handle at home.” Jane
had heard about Gillian’s subsequent obsessive calls to the
office. If she couldn’t reach her husband, she would yell
at the poor receptionist. A few weeks later, word got out
that Matthew had spent the night sleeping in his office, on the
Soon after came the announcement that Matthew and Gillian Gray
A year later, the divorce was final...
“Enough about the past,” Matthew said decisively. “What
about now? Are you dating anyone?”
The question was thrown in as if meant very casually, but it seemed
to Jane that his eyes burned intently as he waited for her response.
“Not at the moment.” She met a lot of men in her line
of work, so there were always opportunities for dating. But none
of the men she’d gone out with this year had held her interest.
They all fell short when compared to Matt.
The truth was, she couldn’t remember any man affecting her
the way Matthew did. Not even her first love when she was in university,
or the man she’d almost married five years ago. She felt
like a nervous teenager on a date right now, instead of a
competent professional sharing a drink with a colleague.
“We haven’t discussed the case yet,” she
“We didn’t come here to discuss
“No, Jane, I want—"
He stopped talking when his Blackberry buzzed loudly. It was the
most obnoxious sound Jane had ever heard.
“It’s my son,” Matt said, rising from his seat
as he spoke. “I have to take this. Can you give me a minute?”
“Sure.” Her lips felt stiff,
but she forced a smile, averting her gaze rather than watch him
walk away from the table.
She couldn’t help but think back
to that other time, over a year ago. The interruption this time
was far less dramatic, but it was an equally effective reminder
that where Matthew Gray was concerned, she had to watch her every
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