Yours Always

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Sunday comes and goes without a call or an email from Rafa

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Sunday comes and goes without a call or an email from Rafa. I go home, and the sun sets, the darkness matching my mood.

I don't eat, don't bathe, don't do anything but recline on my sofa with my phone in my hands, refreshing my email account for hours. I doze off and have fitful, sweaty dreams that involve car crashes and roses and parties where I know no one. When I wake up, I stare at the ring I took from Rafa's house. I'd slipped it on the ring finger of my left hand. What would it have been like to have worn it for more than a decade?

Every so often, I drink a glass of water and at least twice have dry-heaves.

Having the flu on top of everything else sucks.

Early Monday morning, I choke down a piece of wheat toast and orange juice. By the time I'm at the paper, I feel like hurling again. I stand in a bathroom stall at work, gasping. I notice that the toilet in the next stall is leaking water onto the tile floor. One more broken thing at the newspaper.

I don't think I've been this stressed out ever.

I still haven't heard from Rafa.

His two consultants walk into my office shortly after nine a.m. As far as I'm concerned, they're interchangeable, two youngish Cuban guys from Miami. I stare at them blankly.

"Justine, we had a call with Mr. Menendez this morning. He told us to contact a commercial real estate agent so we can begin the process of selling the building and finding new space for the paper," the one named Mario says.

I grimace. Rafael's talked to his consultants and not me. I try to summon anger but can't. Fatigue is eating at my body and mind, and all I want is my bed.

"We're also putting together the plan for taking the paper digital on the weekdays. Mr. Menendez says we shouldn't tell the staff about this move until we have a launch date," says the other, a wiry guy named Max.

I sigh. I'm hesitant to discuss my plan to ask Diana to be publisher because I haven't actually talked with her yet. Will she even want the job, with a newborn? My mind spins at warp speed.

"The next time you talk to Mr. Menendez, can you pass along a message? Tell him that I'm working on having Diana take over as publisher. And please tell him to call me. On my cell phone. Anytime, day or night." I try to sound stern, but instead my voice is weak.

The two consultants exchange a glance.

"What?" I nervously fiddle with the engagement ring on my left hand.

They shake their heads in tandem. "Nothing," one says.

"Did he tell you that he didn't want to talk to me?"

"Not exactly," the other says gently.

I grit my teeth and nod.

The men leave, and I sit in my office the rest of the day with the door closed, reading and rereading my email. I debate whether to send Rafa another note, but realize that I already seem too desperate for him.

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