A love story between a lawyer who once had a terrible fear of the dark and a handsome, young stranger..
I have a few ideas where I want to take this. But if someone should come along and like what they read, and decide they want to play around with this a little, please feel free to do so. As always, I hope you like my story.
Will Finley was my last appointment on Friday afternoon. He ambled into my little law office, clad in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, looking shy and awkward, and the least bit timid and bashful, like a little boy on his first date. Will was tall and lean and muscular, with spiky brown hair and the most beautiful brown eyes I'd ever seen. His strong jaw was covered with a day's worth of prickly stubble. He looked to be around the same age as me---I was twenty-five---maybe a year younger. But that was all right, I told myself; I'd dated younger men before. I quickly pushed the thought from my mind. He was here on business, I reminded myself.
He froze in the doorway for just one second. "Ms. Krakovski?" he asked in a slow, uncertain voice.
I nodded. "That's me," I replied in what I hoped was a gentle, reassuring tone. "And please call me Sarah."
"I'm Will Finley," he almost blurted out the words. The grin he offered me was cute and adorable and made him look totally irresistible.
I couldn't help but return his smile and I felt a faint blus burn like soft fire in my cheeks, as I said, "Please have a seat."
He folded his long body into the red leather chair in front of my mahogany desk. He looked uncomfortable sitting there, tense and uptight, like a child called into the principal's office for doing something naughty in class.
His inquisitve gaze strayed to the bright streaks of white at my temples, a totally unwanted and unfortunate bi-product of my brief but memorable confinement on the seventh floor of the General Hospital in Ellentown, and I cringed. I felt my entire body freeze in apprehension and dread. My little nervous breakdown, a year ago, had somehow managed to make its way into the back pages of the Morning Ledger. There'd been no picture, only several terse sentences. Apparently, my name had found its way to the back of his mind and remained there. If so, he was nice enough not to mention it. Handsome and a gentleman. In my book an unbeatable combination.
After a few uneasy seconds, I felt myself relax again, and I let that gentle, reassuring smile return to my face. Only this time, that smile was not only for him, it was for myself, as well.
"I have your letter." Reaching behind his narrow back, he produced the letter I'd sent him, which he'd folded in half, from his back pocket, and proffered it to me like a special gift.
"That's not necessary," I said. "If you'll just show me your driver's license and social security card to prove you are who you say you are, then we can get started."
"Sure. Not a problem."
His hand slipped behind his back again, and this time, he brought forth a black Velcro trifold wallet, which he carefully settled in his lap. There was a tiny tearing sound, as he pried open the wallet with his long, slender fingers. He extracted his driver's license, and a worn and faded social security card, which looked like it had gone through the washing machine a few timess. He leaned his lanky frame forward, just a little, and handed them to me, all prim and proper.
"Thank you." I jotted down his name and social security number on my trusty, yellow legal pad next to a closed folder on my otherwise immaculate desk, and slid the card back to him. I allowed myself a few extra seconds to admire the photograph on his license---he had such a hansome face---and returned that, too.
I took a deep breath. "Did you know Arlen Edelman?" I asked him.
"I knew of him. He owned about half of the buildings on the lower end of Main Street. I didn't know him personally, though."
"Oh, yes, you did."
"What?" he looked stunned.
I favored him with my most enigmatic smile. "When Arlen came in to codify his will, a year ago, he told me how, about ten years ago, when you were what---fifteen?"
So he was a year younger than me. Well, that was just fine.
"--Apparently, you held the door open for him at the IGA in Lazarus. He asked you if you were a Boy Scout."
"And I told him yes!" Will quickly and readily supplied the rest of the story, an excited, happy smile on his face. "I remember him now. A short, bald, heavyset guy. He wore a black suit and vest, and a bright red tie. And Coke-bottle glasses---and I mean literally. He had to walk with one of those aluminum canes with the three pronged feet at the bottom. So that was Arlen Edelman, huh?" he asked with a light touch of awe and wonder in his beautiful bass voice; he shook his head.
He said, "I'd seen him a few times when I was driving around downtown, and I saw his picture in the obit section of the Morning Ledger, last week. But I guess holding the door open for him was just one of those little things we do for other people without thinking and then forget all about it."
"Random acts of kindness," I said. "Arlen remembered. For him, it was quite a memorable moment. He felt that kindness had pretty much gone out of this world and that when a person committed an act of kindness, they should be rewarded. And he wanted to remember you."
I opened the file next to my legal pad, flipped to page three of Arlen Edelman's Last Will & Testament. I drew my finger down the page, planting the round tip of my fingernail beneath the printed amount of Arlen's bequest. "One hundred thousand dollars."
The amount of the bequest struck Will Finley like a solid shot to the solar plexus. Will's heavy eyebrows shot upward, his eyes widened in their sockets, and the fingers of both hands gripped the padded arms of his chair like an eagle's talons. His lips pantomimed the words. One hundred thousand dollars!
"Oh, wow," he managed to croak in a low, hoarse whisper.
After the initial shock finally wore off, he said, "But what about his wife?"
"She passed on a year ago."
"No living relatives at all?"
"Just a nephew on his wife's side. I contacted him before I contacted you. He has no problem at all with the money Arlen left you. He's receiving the lion's share of the estate, minus several substantial contributions to charity. He'll be comfortably well off for the rest of his life. For two lifetimes. Arlen was a very wealthy man."
"So I've heard," Will replied with a wry, little smile.
"Now I have to caution you. You won't be seeing any of that money for at least eighteen months. There's Federal and state probate. And on an estate this size, there's always at least a few claims made, although I haven't run across any yet. But it's only been a week since Arlen's death. If anything does develop, I'll be sure to let you know." I purposely let my voice trail away.
"That's cool. As long as I know it's coming to me someday."
He was happy, he was thrilled and excited to be receiving such a large sum of money. But he wasn't salivating like a starved dog or champing at the bit to get his hands on it like most of my clients.
"Do you have any questions?" I asked.
He shook his head. "None that I can think of," he said.
We sat and looked at each other. I really didn't want this session to end. Finally, he said, "Do I owe you anything?"
"I generally charge one hundred dollars an hour for my services," I said and smiled a little to soften the blow. Seeing his dismayed expression, I consulted my watch. "But seeing as you've only been here a half hour, I'll only charge you fifty."
That seemed to palliate him a bit. A little smile of relief crinkled his lips. His right hand reached behind his back again; for a moment, he appeared distraught. Then, with a sudden start, he realized his wallet was still lying in his lap. He picked it up, peered deep inside, and extracted two limp, rag-like twenty dollar bills, and offered them to me.
"I'm sorry, but that's all I have on me," he said and forlornly shook his head. "I came straight here from work. I haven't had a chance to get to the bank yet and cash my paycheck. I can quick run up to the Wells Fargo bank on the corner and be back with the other ten dollars---in about twenty minutes?" he asked hopefully.
"I'm sorry," I said, smiling a playful, teasing smile and shaking my head. "But the moment you walk out that door, I'm closing up shop for the day. It's been a long, hard week and I intend to howl at the moon a little tonight."
"I hear that," he said.
"I can send you a bill for the remainder," I suggested.
"Oh, no," he said. "When I owe, I owe. Are you open tomorrow?"
"Only a half day. 'Til noon."
"I'll drop by then with the other ten."
"That will be fine."
I deposited his money in the top drawer of my desk and scribbled a receipt. Will studied the little square of paper for a moment, as if he was attempting to analyze my handwriting. Then he folded the paper in half and stuffed it in his wallet. He finally put his wallet back in his pocket and patted it twice with the palm of his hand to make absolutely sure it was in there.
We sat and looked at each other for yet another long, awkward moment. The old grandfather's clock ticked loudly in its corner on the other side of the room. I thought I discerned a look of wistful longing in his eyes and I barely managed to stifle a sigh.
"Well, it was certainly a pleasure meeting you," I said and heard the words catch in my throat. I started to rise to my feet and he rose with me. I extended my right hand palm downward and he accepted it. His hand felt warm and firm and solid around mine.
"It was a pleasure meeting you, too. I'll be back tomorrow with the rest of money I owe you."
I stood behind my desk and watched him walk away with the slow, easy grace of a panther, admiring his long, lean body and square shoulders. He had a cute butt. In the outer office, I heard him and Nancy Schneck, my part-time secretary and legal assistant, exchange polite good-bye's. The front door opened and closed, and he was gone.
I gave myself another second or two, before I casually strolled into the outer office. Nancy looked up at me with her bright, eager face from where she sat at her desk, a few feet from the door. She smiled and said, "He's hot! I wouldn't mind spending the weekend with him."
"You're already married," I said. "He's mine."
"I figured as much," Nancy said and giggled.
"How much more work do you have there?" I asked.
"I still have to finish the revision to Lorraine Carlisle's will. Just another two pages."
"You can finish it tomorrow. Come on, get out of here. Go and have a wonderful night with your husband."
"What about you?"
"It's almost five o'clock and I'm famished. I thought I'd walk up the street and get a sandwich at the Subway shop."
"And he said he was going to the bank, which is right next door to Subway," Nancy said with a mocking, slightly accusing tone. "You're going after him, aren't you?"
"I am not!" I protested, trying my best to look and sound shocked and indignant. But I knew I wasn't kidding either of us. At the back of my mind, I thought to myself, yes, yes, I am going after him! My heart started to race and the blood flowed like wildfire through my veins. Ever since I was a young girl, I'd always loved the thrill and excitement of the chase. Getting caught by a man, however, was a completely different story, one I was never sure about. But who knew? After everything I'd been through in the last year, maybe this time, my dreams would come true. I hoped so. Will Finley was the man I wanted to help me feel safe in the dark.
"On second thought, why don't you take tomorrow off?" I said. "You can finish that on Monday."
"Are you sure?" Nancy asked.
"Yes," I said. "I'm sure."