Chapter Twelve

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She was just about to make her way down the hall for a second cup of coffee when a familiar bing echoed inside her quiet office, announcing the arrival of an instant message. Claire stopped and turned her head toward the laptop on her desk. Good Lord! Can't you even wait until I'm fully awake? She glanced at the clock on the wall, shaking her head with a smile. It was just after eight. But she knew that Molly would hound her all morning long, begging for the particulars of the previous evening. She rested her hand on the doorknob of her corner office in hesitation. She quickly drained the final drops of coffee and returned to her desk, eager to silence the never-ending inquisitive nature of her best friend.


good morning, ms. wise.

so i'm Ms. Wise this a.m.? i don't know if that's a good thing or not. and what's up with this boring, utilitarian font of yours?

i was just on my way down to grab a cup of coffee.

your first or your second?

if you must know, my 2nd.

of course i MUST know. i must know everything. back up and start at the beginning. right when you opened the door and saw him standing there.

we had a very nice evening.

a nice evening?



that's what i said.

that's it?


you know i hate nice. such a loathsome little word. for god sake, claire, can't you come up with something better than nice?

like what?

do i have to spell it out?

if it makes you feel better.

so you're just gonna leave me hanging? no play-by-play? not even a mention of what happened between you?


claire?! stop it. i don't have all day!

neither do i. i have a conference call in a few minutes. time to refill my cup and be on my way.

you wouldn't...

bye, love!

She logged off just as her cell phone rang, making her laugh out loud. It took her a moment to dig it from the bottom of her purse and she shook her head when she saw Molly's name on the tiny screen. She's nothing if not persistent.

"Yes?" Claire answered coolly.

"Just what the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Being aloof?"

"Wrong. You're being a tight-lipped, little snot."

"Flattery will get you nowhere, Molly."

"Riddle me this. Did he spend the night or not?

"No he did not."

"What?" Molly yelled.

"He politely kissed my hand at the door and exited my flat about one o'clock."

"You're kidding, right?"

"The truth hurts."

"Really? On the hand?"

"He was a perfect gentleman."

"Damn him!"

"If it makes you feel better, I did get a lengthy foot massage and some first rate cuddling out of the deal."

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