Chapter Nine

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A light rain fell. She'd been parked at her desk in front of the large picture window analyzing dozens of prints all afternoon. But the weather, coupled with images of his face, made it difficult to keep her mind on her work and her eyes kept turning back to the city beyond the damp glass.

She could see them together, her arm linked through his as they strolled the quiet streets around the bistro. There was something behind his blue eyes that she still couldn't decipher. Despite his intelligent, quick wit, and genuine laugh, there was something about him that worried her. A disconnected sort of feeling. It went beyond the death of his wife. It was deeper. More intense. Something she often saw in herself. And something she longed to heal.

The kettle whistled, bringing her thoughts back in focus. She shoved the photos into a large folder and hustled into the kitchen. With cuppa in hand, she moved into her tiny living room and snuggled in on the sofa, thankful to spend the rainy Sunday afternoon in quiet solitude. She reached for her laptop, eager to see if she'd received her weekly update from Lucy. With a quick peek of her inbox, she sighed in disappointment, finding she had nothing from her. She checked her watch and quickly calculated the time difference. It was still early on West Coast--too early to call. She tapped the keyboard, composing a short message of greeting and concern, but eventually backspaced and deleted the email altogether. Against her better judgment, she reached for her cell and placed the call anyway.

"Hello?" A woman answered, almost out of breath.

"Lucy?"

"Claire?"

"How are you?"

"Fine."

"You sound like you just ran a marathon."

"Never a dull moment around here. How're you?"

"Fine, fine. Just checking email. I'm sorry to call so early. Thought I'd see how he's doing."

"Not much change, I'm afraid."

"Has he said anything?"

"No." The woman answered softly.

"Nothing? Not a word?" Claire pressed.

"All quiet on the western front." She repeated with a tone of defeat. "He's too proud to confide in me. You know that."

"Well, I won't keep you."

"I'll call you if there's any change. I promise." She whispered.

"I know you will."

"Hey how are things in London? How was Hamish's big shindig?"

"It was wonderful. He was man of the hour...in more ways than one."

The two women chatted for a few more minutes before ending their call. Claire sat on the couch, feeling helpless as she replayed their conversation. It was same exchange of information they'd shared each week since Claire's departure from the states. Her heart was no less heavy as she scrolled through the numbers on her phone, needing to hear the voice of love and understanding.

"Hello?" He answered.

"Hi Dad!" Claire did her best to try and sound upbeat.

"Good morning, Darling. Or should I say afternoon?"

"How are you feeling today?" She inquired.

"I feel wonderful. Fit as a fiddle."

"How's the back? And your knee?" She questioned, not fooled by his chipper tone.

"Not bothering me one bit."

"Dad?"

"What?"

"Don't lie to me."

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