"I'm happy to report that the man I connected with turned not to be a fat,disgusting, slob like some of you feared."

"He got a job? And I don't mean flipping burgers neither." One woman asked.

"He does." Jackie replied. "A good one too at Ares."

Lester perked up hearing the name of his former employer. "Really? I wonder if I know him." Lester commented.

"Maybe.He works on securing big time contracts with governments and such to use Ares made weapons and such."

"No kidding? That's what I used to do."

"Oh,what a coincidence. His name is Lars. Do you know a Lars?"

"Huh,small world. Lars worked in the cubicle next to mine." Lester smiled. "He's a good guy. The only one at Ares that comes to see me since I've been fired."

"That's nice of him. Were you two good friends?"

"We were friendly. Until I got fired we never got together outside of work though. I think he's just pitying me." Lester admitted. "He's also the only one who didn't immediately assume my guilt or worse spread ridiculous rumors about me."

"Clearly he knows you well enough to be on your side." Someone offered.

"I suppose so." Lester conceded.

ɸ

Emma came to group tired and worn out from work. She wasn't even sure she wanted to be here tonight. The letter from her mother, however,lingered in the back of her mind and she felt like maybe she should talk to someone a little more supportive than Spoony about it. Even so, work had been extremely busy this afternoon and it took a toll on her. She was surprised when Jackie chose to sit next to her again this week, but remembered connecting with her during the car ride home the week prior. Clearly she felt they had a connection as well.They made small talk until, gratefully, Father Bishop called the group to order. She listened quietly, contributing to the conversation when she had something to add, until she offered to go next.

"Hello everyone." She began. "A couple days ago I received a letter from my mother. Well, I should say from my step father dictated to her so she could write it in her handwriting.

"What do you mean?" Jackie wondered.

"I can tell from the words chosen they are his. My mother doesn't write or talk like that. He likes to throw around big words and assumes everyone is too stupid to know what they mean. In reality he often uses them incorrectly or in ways that are technically correct but sound awkward." The room made noncommittal noises of understanding then she continued. "It's not the first time I've gotten one of these letters. In fact I get at least one every year."

"What do you do with them?" Someone asked.

"I throw them away. I have no interest in his fake apologies and veiled implications that I'm the one at fault in this mess."

"So what's the problem then?" Someone else asked.

"It got me thinking. She has my address. Why doesn't she ever write me a letter herself? Why do I only get letters when the oaf decides he wants to reach out and put me back under his thumb?"

"From the way you've described things in the past I'd guess he oppresses her so much she doesn't know what to say. She may even be scared he'll read your response before she can get to it." Father Bishop suggested.

"You're right about that." Emma agreed. "He would flip his shit if he found out she contacted me behind his back."

The others made noises best described as disgust.

"What about where she works? Could you send her something there?"

"Unfortunately she works from home so that's not an option. I appreciate the notion though." Emma countered.

"Have you ever considered forgiveness?" Father Bishop asked.

Emma laughed so hard she nearly snorted. "Forgiveness is your business Father. There won't be any of that for him. The day they put him in the ground I will be dancing on his grave."

"I'm with Emma on this one Father." Lester added.

"You both might want to work on that." The Father responded. "This goes for everyone. Life is much easier without the burden the burden of grudges." He looked around the room several of which nodded in agreement. "With that said it's time for us to wrap this up for the night. See you all next week."

Everyone got up and started to leave including Emma when she noticed Jackie talking to Lester while he helped stack chairs for Father Bishop.When she walked by she heard Jackie ask how long Lester had known Lars. Getting the down low on her new man friend." Emma thought. Outside Spoony surprised her waiting for her right in front of the building under the no parking sign like last time.

"What are you doing here?" She blurted out, quickly regretting her tone.

"We're going to dinner." Spoony replied coldly. "Get in."

"What's the occasion?" She asked as she opened the door.

"I was invited to a party of sorts by one of my cousins. I didn't want to be the only one to show without some arm candy." He ducked into the car and she followed.

"I can't go to a party dressed like this." She motioned toward her work clothes.

"There's some clothes in the back so you can make yourself presentable."

"Gee, thanks." She replied turning around and grabbing the clothes then beginning to change out of her uniform. She noticed Spoony leering at her as she stripped and scowled at him. "Eye's on the road." She ordered. Even so he continued to watch her while turning slightly so he could also see the road out of the corner of his eye. He didn't take his eye off her until she finished.

Sometime later they pulled up to an opulent home in one of the wealthier neighborhoods and parked the car in the expansive driveway next to all the other vehicles. They walked up the drive way and Spoony rang the doorbell.

A striking woman answered the door with a broad smile and a drink in her hand. "Welcome, welcome. Come on in. I'm the lady of the house. My name is Miranda."

ɸ

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