ALMOST, BUT ENOUGH
A story about the tv show, Cupid
Part Two of Five
by Steve 0yervidez
Claire Allen was in a good mood. She walked briskly down the sidewalk, humming to herself with satisfaction and enjoying the morning air. The crowds all around her walked past with far less enthusiasm, their shoulders huddled tight as they went drearily about their business. But Claire, on the other hand, felt elated. Her mood stood out like a beacon. She smiled and bounced on her toes, filled with the glow of waking up every morning in Frank's arms. Since they had been living together, nothing seemed to get her down any more. Or at least, so she would have thought.
Claire turned towards the shout coming from the other side of the street and moaned when she saw Trevor there, smiling at her. He boldly negotiated himself through all of the busy traffic that was flying past in either direction, making his way across the street to her. Ever since he had found out about her book him, and that she may have had other motivations for their friendship, the relationship between the two of them had been a little strained. But recently it had mended somewhat. Trevor seemed just as smug and happy as ever, even if the shadow of that rift still seemed to linger and whisper behind everything between them. He was basically his old self, always managing to press her buttons, shake her assumptions, and enjoy it all the while. Claire moaned a second time and tried to walk faster. She didn't feel like getting her cage rattled today, wanting desperately to keep her good mood.
Face beaming at having spotted her, Trevor fell into step beside Claire. He looked at her with amusement, trying to decide which crack to make first. His lips opened to speak, but she stopped him before he could.
"Trevor... don't." She raised a pre-emptive finger at him in warning.
Trevor smiled. "Usually the next words in that sentence after 'don't' are 'oh god', and 'don't stop...'. And a moan or two."
She gave him an annoyed glare, but Trevor ignored it as he walked beside her with his arms out to either side, enjoying the morning air. His face seemed to be brought alive by the early morning bustle of the crowded Chicago sidewalk. Trevor voice was full of enthusiasm as he continued.
"What a beautiful morning, Claire! Despite the fact that when you tell me 'don't' it usually means something far less fun. You'll have to be more specific. Don't what? Don't breathe? Don't talk, don't walk? Don't think? Don't live? Don't end every sentence with a question mark?"
"Hmm. Let me think, Trevor. Of all those choices, I'd have to choose... yes. Look, I don't have time to bicker, banter, and run today. I overslept this morning and I'm running behind."
Trevor took a peek. "And what a cute running behind it is...."
Claire rolled her eyes. "Why couldn't your delusional persona have been someone else from greek mythology, someone less annoying. Someone like, oh I don't know... Echo. At least she was mute."
"Not when you did it right. Besides, Echo wasn't mute. She could only repeat things other people told her."
Claire thought about it. "Even better."
He smiled. "Even better."
Claire paused in mid stride. "Stop that."
"Trev-..." He laughed when she started walking away from him again. Quickly he followed beside her. "Alright, I'll stop Claire. Echo was a looker though. No one ever said she needed to talk much to communicate."
"Wow, Trevor. It' nice to know that you have that...ONE, track in there." She tapped his head like it was hollow.
"Just trying to help out, Claire. Might as well show you a more accurate side of mythology."
"Yeah, since you've had the delusional side covered for years."
Trevor blinked at her. "Well, THAT didn't sound very therapeutic..."
Claire kept walking. "Would it help if I charged by the hour?"
"Only if you talk dirty." He put an imaginary phone to his ear as he walked beside her, lowering his voice to a husky whisper. "Claire? Is that you? What are you NOT wearing?"
A look of realization crossed Claire's face. "So you're the one making those phone calls! I knew I'd heard that voice somewhere. Now I know you're delusional."
"So tell me, Claire. Are you more the shy, coy at first, but ultimately yielding, talk dirty type or are you more the aggressive, whips and chains, barking orders, talk dirty type. Because I can go either way if you need me to. See, it's in the wrist, all in the wrist..." He swivelled his hands into mid-air as if to demonstrate a whipping motion.
She ignored him. "Actually, right at this moment, the only 'way' I'm interested in going is the way less 'Trevored'."
"Ouch." Trevor winced at the bad pun.
Reluctantly, Claire realized was forced to agree. "Sorry. Little off my game. Couldn't you find somebody else to harass? I saw a guy a couple of blocks back ranting about invisible rabbits. He might better appreciate the unique 'charm' your company provides. Could even turn out to be a sympathetic ear, well, considering... you know." Claire waved vaguely at Trevor as if his delusion were visible for all to see.
"You wound me Claire! That's the thanks I get for a kind good morning and a happy smile? How will I survive the rebukes, the humiliation, the onset of all those professionally authorized condemnations of shrink speak when shrinks speak! Leaving me to rot in shame as a useless hunk of new-made human by the berating tones of-"
Claire had heard enough. "How quickly you move from sympathetic to just... pathetic, Trevor. I really don't have time to let you ruin my good mood. I'm supposed to meet Frank this morning at my office and-"
"The frank-meister! Hard hammerin' Frank! Nailer extrordinaire! Another, ahem, early lunch? Another pre-quickie quickie? The way you two have been going at it, no wonder people are seeing rabbits. So how are things between you and Frank-in-further. Or should I say Frank in not far enough?"
"Things are going fine between us, Trevor. Unlike some other people on this sidewalk, Frank and I both realize when we're wanted."
Trevor raised his hands, innocently. "Don't blame me if you're not wanted. If you would just wear those see-through mini skirts I suggested-"
Claire shook her head, exasperated. "Trevor, can't you find some OTHER windmill to joust at today?"
"Not with the super superstructure you provide, Claire. I mean there's architecture, and then there's..." he looked her over, "... Architecture. But getting back to that wanted part. How are you wanted, Claire? Sitting? Standing? Sideways, upside down. Nightly. Bi-nightly. Just plain bi-"
"Trevor, you're in the gutter again..."
Trevor looked down as she continued a few steps ahead without him. He was standing in a puddle of water at the curb that he hadn't realized he had stepped into. He moved back onto the sidewalk with Claire, not missing a beat. "So the entire-" He shuddered as if it were a dirty word, "monogamy and moving in, living together thing is actually working out? What do you know. The odds take a holiday. That is if you can call that particular arrangement living..."
"Trevor, I thought you were all for true love and monogamy and all that. Is it so awful to be with just one person?"
"I didn't mean people in general, Claire, I meant Frank. He might find it a little rough living with you. Because you are so ,well.. so very you. We both know what you're motto is, Claire. Live and let-" He made strangling nosies as he grabbed his neck.
"Trevor, Frank's very happy. I'm very happy. Everyone's happy but you."
Trevor protested. "Hey, I'm happy! I'm happy I'm not living with either of you."
They had reached the front door of Claire's office building. She paused in front of it and smiled at him. "See? Hearing that, now I'm even happier."
Without another word she opened the door and went inside. Trevor stood there, feeling marginally rebuked. It only lasted for about half a second, until he smiled and followed her in.
Claire walked down the hallway to her office, trying to ignore Trevor following a few steps behind. It was harder than it seemed. As they both walked, every few steps someone else in the building seemed to call out to say hello to Trevor. He soaked up the attention he was getting like a pro.
Trevor called out. "Billy Bob bent-... wait, I mean Brent. Hey, how's it hanging? Ooh... sorry. Sore subject. But trust me, the pills will help. True love through better chemistry. It's a good thing. Hang on to that girlfriend of yours, that's one very understanding woman. Don't give up on her, man."
Another woman smiled at him as he walked past. "Hello, Trevor."
"Lisa! Moaning lisa! Hey, no need to thank me. Told you it would work out. My radar never fails. Just be thankful you two gals will never have the same problem as Billy Bob Bent back there."
Without turning to look, Claire blinked at the warm response Trevor was getting in her wake. Her shoulders stiffened subtly as she continued to walk. Everyone in the building seemed to love Trevor. Well, maybe not Dr. Frechette of course. Claire on the other hand had worked there for years. She had been outgoing, friendly. But she had never received any reception of the kind that Trevor was getting. Feeling self-conscious, she saw someone she recognized a few steps in front of her and she flashed him her best smile.
"Hello, Dr. Mitchell." she said politely.
The older gentleman smiled back. "Hello, Dr. Allen." Then suddenly his face lit up, looking past her.
"Trevor! There you are! I've been meaning to talk to you about something..." In his enthusiasm, Dr. Mitchell bumped Claire's shoulder as he pushed past to get to Trevor.
Claire paused, dropping her lower lip in annoyance. Clutching her books and bags more tightly to her, she continued stiffly towards her office, no longer in a good mood.
Behind her Trevor was surrounded. Several people stood on each side, all trying to get him to answer their questions all at once. He watched Claire leave with a smile. But instead of following he stayed where he was, deciding to revel in all the attention.
Jaclyn was already seated at her desk when Claire came up and dropped the things she was carrying onto it. She took a calming breath before speaking again. "A few blissful seconds of peace and quiet before the inevitable happens and Trevor follows. Jaclyn... I can't wait to go on this class reunion. An entire weekend away from Trevor."
Jaclyn's eyes sparkled with excitement, apparently only hearing the first part. "Trevor's coming?" she asked hopefully.
Wearily, Claire nodded. "Yeah. He's only a few steps behind me. He got mobbed by all his fans inside the building. Jaclyn... let me ask you something." Claire paused thinking about how to phrase her words. "Am I... not likeable or something? I mean, I've worked in this office for years and nothing. Zero adoration. Zilch. Trevor suddenly shows up and everyone is his best friend and biggest supporter! Except for Dr. Frechette of course. But then again, he hates anything that's breathing. I wouldn't be surprised if Trevor's still back there right now signing autographs." Annoyed, Claire began to pick up here things again.
Jaclyn nodded absently at Claire, not really listening, leaning over to try to see past her and down the hallway. "But you did say Trevor was coming, didn't you?"
Claire fixed her with a glare. "Not you too..."
Seeing Claire's annoyed expression, Jaclyn stretched her lower lip in a mock embarrassment she didn't really mean, still smiling.
"Sorry, Dr. Allen. I'm happy to see you too..."
"Right..." Claire said dryly, not believing it.
Jaclyn glanced subtly at the closed door to Claire's office. "But I think I know what will cheer you up. There's someone waiting in you're office that you'll be very happy to see. And who'll be happy to see you."
Claire's face brightened. "Oh. My visitor's arrived. Well at least I know someone in this office loves me more than they love Trevor." Smiling again, Claire walked towards her door to get Frank, happy that he at least would give her some much needed attention.
Claire spoke over her shoulder as she opened her office door. "Jaclyn, if you ever want to remember that someone loves you, then there's no better reinforcement than the love from your-"
Claire's face went blank as she opened the door and saw the woman waiting inside.
"-sister." Claire finished in a flat tone.
The woman inside the office smiled. She rose from Claire's couch and walked towards her. She was about Claire's age, but slightly shorter. Straight dark hair cascaded onto her shoulders. Her clothes were a simple, shabby chic of an inexpensive look that was expensive to pull off. Her face was round and pretty, with slightly pouty lips that men seemed to like. Her eyes were brown and friendly. A guitar (their father's influence), and some bags rested on the floor beside the couch as if she had just arrived in town. There was some resemblance to Claire, but not much. All in all she seemed to have a much more easy going manner about her. And though she wasn't as obviously beautiful as Claire was, it still made her deeply attractive.
The woman stepped slowly closer, picking up on Claire's disappointed face.
"It's good to see you too, Claire," she said sarcastically at Claire's less than enthusiastic response.
"Mara. What are you doing here?"
Claire looked angrily over at Jaclyn. Jaclyn had hoped to be happy at the reunion of the two sisters, but seeing Claire's reaction, she was now no longer sure she should be. Jaclyn ducked for cover behind the book she was reading, carefully peeking over it at the Claire's glare, and forcing a smile.
"Surprise...?" Jaclyn said cautiously, before getting out of her chair and retreating down the hall, leaving the two women alone.
Mara shook her head, pushing her soft brown hair from her eyes. "I should have known. Should have known this was the reaction I'd get..." She sighed and waited patiently.
Claire finally overcame the shock of seeing her sister appear out of nowhere inside her office and moved forward, putting her arms around Mara stiffly.
"Mara, it's good to see you..."
"Gee, thanks Claire. Now I feel all warm and fuzzy."
"No, I really mean it. God, how long has it been?"
Trevor was suddenly at Claire's shoulder as the two women hugged, answering her. "Only a few minutes, Claire. But don't go claiming me yet, Sparky. Besides, God is so formal. Mega supreme love deity of all time has a better ring to it, don't you think?"
As Mara came out of Claire's embrace, she studied the new arrival. He was handsome. Attractive in his own way. Mara watched with curiosity at how close the new man and Claire stood together, as she picked up on the familiarity between them. It was then that she realized Claire had mentioned this man before. She had to admit, he wasn't what her description had led her to expect. But not bad looking at all, she thought.
"Claire..." Mara prodded for an introduction. "I suppose this is... Frank?"
Claire blinked, uncomfortable that Mara had made that assumption.
"Umm, no, actually. No, this is... this is Trevor. He's a..." Claire nodded to herself, forcing the word out, "...a friend." By the tone of her voice, Claire wasn't very enthusiastic about that last point at the moment.
Mara's interest perked up. "You're kidding. Really? You mean you two aren't...?"
Trevor and Claire glanced at each other for a moment, before they both quickly shook their heads.
"No, not at all..." Claire sputtered.
"No," Trevor sighed, disappointed. "Not even a little..."
"Hmm." Mara smiled at Trevor with a new interest. She looked at him warmly. "Trevor. I'm Mara. Claire's sister."
Mara extended her hand to him in greeting, feeling her pulse quicken when he took it in his own.
"Sister?" Trevor looked quickly between their two faces. "Wow. What did old mom look like? Gorgeous must run in the family."
Mara nodded distractedly as she gazed at him. But she didn't let go of his hand.
Trevor found himself watching her too. He was surprised at how instantly attracted he was to her. She was beautiful. New, yet familiar. He couldn't explain it.
Claire noticed the way they were looking at each other. She stepped forward, pulling Trevor's hand back as she broke the long gaze between them. "So Mara. This is a surprise. I wasn't expecting to see you. Why are you in Chicago?"
Mara looked over at Claire for a brief moment, but kept her attention on Trevor. "Well, I knew our high school reunion was coming up and I heard you were leaving this weekend, so..."
Trevor's eyes fluttered at the unexpected news. "Wait. She's going where?"
Mara continued, eyes only for Trevor. "So I thought I'd fly to California with you and Frank. Spend some overdue quality time with the good sister. Umm, I mean, my good sister. Catch up on things, relive old times..."
Trevor was trying to catch up himself. "Claire, you're leaving to go to a reunion?"
Claire didn't hear, still annoyed at Mara. "You know you could have called me first..."
Mara rolled her eyes. "Same old anal retentive Claire..."
Claire exhaled angrily. "Wanting to know when you're going to be in Chicago isn't anal, Mara. I just would appreciate a little warning next time..."
Mara glared at her. "What, you need a warning just to see me?"
"That's not what I meant and you know it. I just mean that it wouldn't have killed you to call. If you're staying over with me, then I'll need more food, more towels, I'll need to get the spare bedroom ready..."
"Oh loosen up, Claire. Next time I'll type up a minute by minute itinerary just to make you happy."
Claire muttered to herself. "As if you know where you're going to be minute by minute, considering how you usually like to just 'wing it'..."
Trevor broke in before Mara could respond. "Wait. Did you say class reunion?"
Claire sighed and turned to him. "Yes Trevor. A class reunion. Frank and I are going to California to go to my high school class reunion. Mara was in the same graduating class I was."
Mara leaned towards Trevor. "Without as good a GPA, of course..."
Trying to absorb the news, Trevor looked back at Claire. "But, but... when? For how long?"
"Next weekend, Trevor. ALL weekend." She closed her eyes and savoured the thought of being away.
Trevor didn't share the sentiment. "But that's too long! Thanks for the warning Claire! Who am I going to find to chide and berate me for even coming close to having an inkling of fun on such short notice?"
Mara smiled and stepped closer. "Well, I could always volunteer to stay..." She bit her lower lip seductively as she thought about it.
Trevor was distracted as he continued, looking at Mara. "Claire, on second thought... I guess I wouldn't want to deprive... umm, to deprive you of the chance to relive some of those 'experimental' slumber parties you had with the girls again..."
Claire blinked as she looked back and forth at the warm gaze Trevor and Mara were sharing. She could see what was going on. She grabbed Mara by the arm, pulling her away from Trevor. As Claire led her away, it didn't break the gaze between them.
"Mara, could I talk to you for a moment?"
As the too women stepped to a discreet distance, Trevor smiled. Trying to seem casual, he reached out to lean a hand on the wall beside him but misjudged the distance, stumbling slightly before regaining his balance. He looked around, slightly embarrassed.
Claire lowered her voice as she whispered closely to her sister, trying unsuccessfully to get her attention off of Trevor. "Mara... Mara!"
Annoyed, Mara finally looked at her and whispered back. "What?"
"What do you think you're doing?"
Mara looked at Trevor again. "Who is he? Trevor, I mean. He's... kinda cute."
"Mara, don't even start..."
"Start what, Claire? Can't I be attracted to a man I just met?"
"Trevor's not a man. He's-"
"Looks like a man to me," Mara said with admiration.
"He's not, Mara. Trevor's a... he's..."
Mara looked at Claire, feeling she knew where this was going. "He's a what? Wait. Were you two once an item or something?" The thought of flustering Claire by hitting on an old boyfriend made her smile.
"Mara, that's not it."
"Well, he's..." Claire paused, uncomfortable. "He's a..." Claire didn't know if she should even say it.
Mara nodded slowly. "Wow, Claire. You almost completed a sentence that time."
"He's..." Claire finally lowered her voice to a secretive whisper. "Trevor's a patient."
"Oh..." Mara looked at Trevor with a flirty look in her eye, intrigued. "What's wrong with him?"
"He thinks he's the god of love..."
"Hmm." Mara looked at Trevor with new eyes. "That could have... possibilities."
"No, no, no Mara. Don't you dare 'hmm'. Don't even think about it. Trevor's not just some generic guy. He has a serious psychological delusion-"
Mara felt Claire was protesting her interest in Trevor a little too much. She looked into Claire's eyes. "Well, apparently he's not the only one."
"Mara, I only mean that he's not just another guy in a bar."
"Tell me, Claire. What's he like? What does he do, where does he work?"
Claire blinked. "He works in, in a... well, a bar."
Mara smiled. "Perfect then..."
"Mara..." Claire warned.
She could tell by Claire's expression that she was serious. Finally Mara sighed. "Fine. Fine. I'll be good. I promise."
Claire gave her a skeptical look. "You'd better..." She turned away.
As Claire walked back to Trevor, Mara smiled to herself.
"Very, very good." she whispered to herself, following.
"But Claire," Trevor called to her once she came near. "How am I going to manage a whole weekend by myself? I'll crumble into emotional cream of wheat! They'll end up putting a picture of Wilfred Brimley on my ass! You can't leave me here alone! I'll lose my shreds of shredded sanity with the sugar coating on one side! I'll..." Trevor shuddered, "... start feeling normal for once!"
Before Claire could answer, Mara stepped between them, sliding her arm under Trevor's as she led him away.
"So where were we, Trevor. Oh right. Something about you having an inkling of fun that I needed to help you with..." Mara smiled at him, completely ignoring Claire's glare and doing some serious flirting.
Behind them, Claire fumed where she stood.
Trevor looked over and noticed Claire's reaction, surprised. This was really bothering her. She suddenly saw Mara's flirting in a new light. Deciding to play along, he leaned closer to Mara, doing some flirting of his own. "So you and Claire are sisters."
"Sometimes I wonder..." Mara said.
"Mara, let me ask you something. Did you two ever take baths together as kids? Because if you ever decide to do it again, I'd be perfectly willing to add a third to the tub..."
Mara smiled at the thought, seeing Trevor play along. Carefully she grazed a finger up the side of his shoulder. "Aren't we the dirty one?"
Trevor laughed. "That's why I need the bath..." he said in a seductive tone.
"Hmm." Mara said nothing as she gazed at Trevor warmly.
It had the desired effect. Claire looked like she was about to bust a ventricle. Mara and Trevor finally laughed at the sight of her.
Trevor sounded amused. "Had you going there, Sparky."
"Yeah, lighten up sis," Mara said. "We were just jerking you around." She looked back at Trevor, speaking softly. "...mostly."
Claire ground her teeth as Trevor and Mara stepped away from each other. Hearing approaching footsteps, Claire turned and looked eagerly down the hallway, hoping to see Frank. It was only Jaclyn coming back carefully after finally deciding it was safe to return. Claire really wished it were Frank. Mara and Trevor made her feel like a third wheel. She did notice Jaclyn smiling as she looked down at a red rose in her hands.
"Umm, Jaclyn. Is that for me?" Claire asked hopefully.
Jaclyn seemed happy as she looked down at the rose. "No, it's... from Champ. He's, umm, trying to make sure I don't catch up on my flower debt to him."
Claire didn't understand. "Debt? What debt?"
"Umm... nothing." Jaclyn smiled as she thought about it. "Private thing." Jaclyn went to her desk and got out a phone book, looking for a listing of florists that delivered.
Claire nodded, but didn't understand. She looked over to find Mara and Trevor laughing and whispering again, standing close. She quickly went over to them.
"Mara, why don't you get your things and I'll take you over to my house to get you settled in."
"Oh." Mara said, caught off guard. "Ok. Sure." She went back into Claire's office to get her bags and guitar case. Claire waited beside Trevor.
Teasing her, Trevor leaned closer and looked into her face. "Umm, Claire. You're eyes are looking a little green today."
"Trevor, you would think that a man claiming to be the god of love couldn't find a way for his ego to get any bigger, but... there it is."
"Happy to oblige."
Mara came back out of the office carrying her things. "Ok, that's everything. Ready to go. Trevor, I was thinking. Maybe we can all get together tonight. Frank and Claire, you and me, all of us. What do you think?"
"Well, I'm working at Taggerty's tonight. But," he looked down at Mara's guitar case. "I might be able to convince Debbie to hold another open mike night. Maybe this time when can get Mike to hold still. Sort of pissed him off last time we tried to open him."
"Hmm. What do you know." Mara looked at Claire smugly. "All of us meeting in a bar. That'll be perfect. We'll see you then."
Lips tightening, Claire pushed Mara away down the hallway.
Trevor turned and watched them leave, smiling widely as he caught Mara's gaze one last time. Once they were out of sight, he turned to notice Jaclyn seated behind her desk, smiling as she watched him with a knowing eye.
Trevor motioned nervously behind him. "Umm, that's... that's Claire's sister."
Jaclyn looked back down at the florist listings in the phone book. "Probably just a graze, Trevor. You never know with flesh wounds like that."
"Jaclyn, what are you talking about?"
Jaclyn looked at him happily. "She's very cute. I think you like her, Trevor. Still, I know how hard it is to shoot yourself sometimes..."
As Jaclyn went back to her phone listings, Trevor turned and looked the way that Mara and Claire had gone. He thought about it and smiled, before walking away.