Fifteen miles away, Rose Feller had a secret -- a secret currently splayed flat on his back and snoring, a secret who had somehow managed to dislodge her fitted sheet and kick three pillows to the floor.
Rose propped herself up on her elbow and considered her lover by the glow of the streetlights that filtered through her blinds, smiling a sweet, secret smile, a smile none of her colleagues at the law firm of Lewis, Dommel, and Fenick would have recognized. This was what she had always wanted, what she'd spent her whole life secretly dreaming of -- a man who looked at her like she was the only woman in the room, in the world, the only woman who'd ever existed. And he was so handsome, even better looking without his clothes than in them. She wondered if she could take a picture. But the noise would wake him up. And who could she show it to?
Instead, Rose let her eyes take a tour of his body -- his strong legs, his broad shoulders, his mouth, half-open, the better to snore with. Rose turned on her side, away from him, drew up the blanket tight under her chin, and smiled, remembering.
They'd been working late on the Veeder matter, which was so boring that Rose could have wept, except the partner on the case was Jim Danvers, and she was so in love with him that she would have spent a week reviewing documents if it meant she'd be close enough to him to smell the good wool of his suit, the scent of his cologne. It got to be eight-o'clock, and then it got to be nine, and finally they sealed the last of the pages into the messenger's pouch and he looked at her with his movie-star smile and said, "Do you want to get a bite to eat?"
They went to the bar in the basement of Le Bec-Fin, where a glass of wine turned into a bottle, where the crowd dwindled and the candles burned down until it was midnight and they were alone and the conversation stuttered to a stop. While Rose was trying to figure out what to say next -- something about sports maybe? -- Jim reached for her hand and murmured, "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" Rose shook her head because, really, she had no idea. Nobody had ever told her she was beautiful, except her father, once, and that didn't really count. When she looked in the mirror, she saw nothing but an ordinary girl, a plain Jane, a grown-up bookworm with a decent wardrobe -- size fourteen, brown hair and brown eyes, thick, straight eyebrows and a chin that jutted forward slightly as if to say, You and what army?
Except she'd always harbored the secret hope that someday, somebody would tell her that she was beautiful, a man who'd slide her hair out of its ponytail, slip her glasses off her face, and look at her like she was Helen of Troy. It was one of the main reasons she'd never gotten contacts. And so she'd leaned forward, every fiber of her being quivering, staring at Jim, waiting for more of the words she'd always wanted to hear. But Jim Danvers just grabbed her hand, paid the bill, and whisked her out the door, up to her apartment, where he'd pulled off her shoes, shucked her skirt, kissed his way from her neck down her belly, and spent forty-five minutes doing things to her that she'd only dreamed of (and seen once on Sex and the City).
She shivered deliciously, pulling the comforter up to her chin. reminding herself that this could be trouble. Sleeping with a colleague went against her personal code of ethics (an easy code to maintain, she admitted, because she'd never had a colleague who'd wanted to sleep with her). More problematic, though -- relationships between partners and associates were explicitly forbidden by firm rules. Both of them could be disciplined if anyone found out. He'd get in trouble. She'd probably be asked to leave. And she'd have to find another job, start all over again-another round of interviews, boring half-days spent reciting the same answers to the same questions: Have you always wanted to be a lawyer? What areas of the law appeal to you the most? What kind of practice do you see yourself developing? How would you fit in with this firm?
Copyright © 2002 by Jennifer Weiner.
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