Trevor walked down the hallway towards Claire's office. It was late morning, and he saw Jaclyn already sitting behind the reception desk. Trevor rushed playfully over to her as Jaclyn heard him approaching and looked up with a smile. Trevor bounded over to her desk, leaning across it.
"It's the incredible, edible Jackie-Ohhh! The girl so nice, no others suffice. The face so fine I wish she were mine! How are you this beautiful morning, Jaclyn?"
"Trevor! Hi... I'm fine-"
Jaclyn laughed, speaking happily. "I missed you the last few days, Trevor." She looked away and smiled enigmatically to herself, obviously a little preoccupied with something besides Trevor.
Trevor noticed her expression and gave her a look. He couldn't put his finger on it, but Jaclyn seemed different somehow. The smile on her face wasn't because she had missed him. Trevor wondered what that smile was really for, but he pushed his curiosity aside. He looked soberly over at Claire's closed office door. Turning back to Jaclyn, he lowered his voice.
"I heard about Frank and Claire. I heard that they're breaking up and he's moving out of her apartment." Trevor's voice sounded concerned. "How's she doing?"
Jaclyn seemed worried too. "Not so good. Frank's moving all his stuff out this afternoon. Claire's already invited me over to her house while he's there for a little emotional support. I think it's going to be rough for her."
Trevor nodded, wondering if Claire was angry at him somehow, wondering why Claire hadn't asked for him to come over too. He was usually there to help her with things like this. Trevor looked over at Jaclyn, and paused. There was no mistaking it now. Even with her concern for what Claire was going through, Jaclyn couldn't keep that tiny, happy glint from her eye. He'd have to ask her about it later. Right now he wanted to see Claire, and find out how she was doing. He took a few quiet steps towards her door, before Jaclyn called out a warning.
"Trevor, you shouldn't go in there," Jaclyn rose from her seat, gathering some files together. "Claire really doesn't want to see anyone right now."
Jaclyn came out from behind the desk, carrying the files she needed to deliver across the building. Trevor stepped towards her to argue his case, but was distracted again by that same, small smile on her face. A smile she couldn't hide. As she walked past him, he decided he couldn't wait any more, his curiosity getting the best off him.
Trevor called out. "Jaclyn, there's something different about you today..."
Jaclyn turned to him and smiled, lifting an eyebrow at him, but saying nothing. Trevor bounced a finger at her, considering.
"I don't know exactly what it is, but... Wait," Trevor snapped his fingers. "You had sex! Didn't you? By the gods... that's it! "
Jaclyn blushed happily, a little embarrassed he had come to that conclusion.
Trevor was stunned, ecstatic. "I can't believe it! When did it happen? Where did it happen? Admit it, you had sex, Jaclyn. I see it in your face! I can tell you had sex at least once while we were away!"
Jaclyn chuckled and shook her head. She pretended to be engrossed in her files as she smiled and walked away. "Don't be ridiculous, Trevor," she answered calmly. "It was a lot more than once..."
Trevor was speechless, stuttering for words as she walked off, leaving him in the hallway. He smiled and watched her leave. He would have to ask her about it later. Exhaling, he made his way over to Claire's door. Without a second thought, he slowly opened it and slipped in.
As he shut the door behind him, Trevor looked around the interior of her office. Claire was standing behind her desk, looking dejectedly out the window. There was a quiet, sad expression on her face as she looked blankly down at the street below. Trevor's smile faded when he saw her, sensing her mood.
Claire looked over, and sighed when she saw him entering. "I guess I should have known that in your case my closed door would be too subtle a hint..."
Slowly, Trevor walked towards her, his voice soft. "I'm happy to see you too, Claire. I heard about what happened. How are you feeling?"
It took her a moment to respond. "I'm ok, Trevor."
He looked at her sad expression, taking it in. "That's a hell of an ok..."
"No. I really am, Trevor. I mean... I will be." Claire lowered her eyes, before turning to look back out the window.
Her office was quiet again, silence stretching between them. Trevor nodded, trying to lighten up the mood. "That was an eventful trip, wasn't it?"
"Yes it was," she said softly, not looking at him.
He forced out a laugh. "You must have really been a cutie back in high school, Claire. It was sort of cool finding out about your past from all your friends. Finding out what the younger version of you was like. I wish I could have known you back then. Amazing how much things change over time..."
Claire looked down, but said nothing.
Trevor continued, trying to cheer her up. "Hey, at least you ended up winning that 'most changed' award after all, right? Glad I could help with that. Still there were other parts of the trip I won't forget any time soon. Like... when it comes to seeing Allen sisters naked, guess I'm two for three..."
"You haven't seen me naked, Trevor."
Trevor teased her. "I really like that heart shaped birthmark on the back of your upper thigh. It brings a tingle to a love god's heart..."
That did make Claire turn around and look at him. She almost smiled. "How did you...?"
Trevor didn't answer, smiling silently. He was about to explain when she suddenly thought better of it.
Claire raised her hand, stopping him. "Never mind, Trevor. I don't think I really want to know."
The light moment between them faded all too quickly. Claire turned her head and the office was silent again. She stood on the other side of the room, by the wall as she looked out the window. Her face was mournful, solemn, a sadness hiding beneath her features. Trevor was in front of her desk, standing a few feet away as he watched her. There was an awkward, silent, space between them, as they stood so far apart.
Trevor realized his efforts weren't working. "Claire, I'm not trying to... to make this any harder... I'm just trying to cheer you up a little..."
"I know." Claire looked at him kindly. "I know that, Trevor. Thank's for trying, but I don't think that you can. This isn't something you can just... joke away. I have to get through this on my own. I'm all on my own, right now. And right now, all I want is to be left alone for awhile. Ok?"
Trevor pulled back for a moment, before he nodded soberly. "Sure..."
"Thank you, Trevor..." Claire said softly.
Without another word, she turned and looked out the window again, her expression just as sad as it had been.
Trevor looked at her for a long time. He could feel what he felt for her. What he couldn't tell her.
He whispered to himself. "If only you weren't mortal..."
Claire turned to him. "what did you just say?"
Trevor was about to try to cheer her up again, but stopped himself as he watched her turn away. She was staring blankly outside, as if he wasn't even there any more. Trevor nodded to himself, realizing he wouldn't be able to do anything to help her right now. He turned and quietly stepped away. After one lingering glance back at her, he finally left her office. The door shut softly behind him, leaving her alone. Claire didn't notice he was gone.
Outside in the hallway, Trevor took a breath. He hated seeing Claire this way, hated not seeing her smile, or her eyes filled with that caring, hopeful spirit she had. He hated not hearing the wry comments she was constantly throwing at him. Strange he would miss that, but he did. This wasn't like her. As he began to walk away from her office, his mind began to work over some possibilities. He had to do something to make her feel better. He had to find someone for Claire. Someone to make her happy. Sure, when he had set her up with Alex it hadn't worked out, but the next person he found for her would. He knew it. He had to find someone to help her get over Frank. Surely there was someone in this city he could set her up with.
Trevor continued to walk, distracted while his mind worked through some potential candidates he had filed away in his head. Finally he sighed. No... none of them seemed her type. He knew she would hate them. He had to find someone more like her. Someone with all the same common interests, with the same common experiences that Claire was always talking about for matching up couples. As much as he hated her checklist approach to romance, he knew it was what Claire wanted. The problem was that someone like that didn't just fall crashing out of the sky and into your--
Trevor crashed into a man unexpectedly as he rounded the corner, not paying attention to where he had been going.
The man spoke in a husky voice. "I'm sorry..."
Trevor looked up, and up, at a young, tall, and very... very handsome man. This man was attractive, well built, had nice features, and he was dressed like a professional. Trevor's eyes widened at his good luck.
"That's ok," Trevor laughed, replying to the man's apology. "My fault entirely. Guess I'm not completely cleared to operated some rather heavy machinery on my part, if you get my meaning..."
Thankfully the man didn't, only blinking once politely.
Trevor couldn't believe his luck. It was as if an etch a sketch artist had drawn Claire's perfect fantasy man and had brought him to life. Well... close enough, anyway. Trevor nodded, already trying to think of ways to get Claire and this man to meet.
Trevor smiled. "I didn't catch your name..."
The man extended his hand, giving Trevor a firm handshake. "Hi. I'm Richard Dehnt. Doctor Richard Dehnt, actually."
"Doctor?" Trevor laughed. Perfect. "Ouch... Dr. Dehnt, huh? That can't be good for business. Are you sure you don't own a body repair shop on Fifth?"
Richard chuckled. "Not really... No, I don't do body work. Just mind work. I'm a psychologist. Actually, I'm sort of new here."
"New? Really? You don't look more than a year or two from puberty..."
"No, I mean new in Chicago. And you? Are you a Doctor here too?"
Trevor was about to give his usual knee jerk response that he was Cupid, the immortal god of love fallen to Earth from Olympus, but he paused, suddenly thinking better of it. "You did say you're a psychologist?"
"Yeah. I started this week. Do you work here?"
"No, I... do. Yeah. I'm, I'm a doctor too. Dr... umm, Dr. Love. Dr. Maxwell Love. You can call me Max. Max Love. Has a neat ring too it, don't you think? I'm... a relationship expert. I just arrived here a year or two ago myself from... you could call it overseas. By the way, did I mention that you are an extremely attractive man. Are you single?"
Uncomfortable, the man gave Trevor a look. "Just so you know... I really hate musical theater, so if that's any kinda clue..."
Trevor suddenly realized what the man thought. "Me? Wait, you mean you think it's for--... NO! Gods no. I mean I don't have a problem with two consenting-... NO! So totally not for me." Trevor coughed, making as masculine a grunt as possible, lowering his voice as well. "Nooooo. I'm as manly as they come. As manly as beer and pork rinds, football and tool belts, togas and itching powder..."
Richard winced. "I can't stand pork rinds..."
"Great! Neither can I!" Trevor came over and put his arm around Dr. Dehnt's shoulders, leading him away. "Believe me, I don't need help in the female companionship department. I've had enough experience to fill several acropili (sp?) with women with big smiles on their happy faces. This isn't for for me. But there is this very cute psychologist I know..."
The two men walked down the hallway, as Richard listened carefully as Trevor started his elaborate pitch. As they walked away, leaving Claire's office far behind, their voices faded away into a soft music, and somewhere it seemed a slow, sad song began to play.
Turn down the lights, turn down the bed,
turn down the voices, inside my head...
Claire sat at her desk, opening her notebook computer and starting a file. It blinked into existence on her computer screen as a melancholy filled her. It was the book she was writing about Trevor. It suddenly occurred to her that this was the way Trevor had seen it for the first time. Seeing his whole life, all of what he believed was his entire reason for existence, condensed to a few cold, clinical sentences, displayed on her computer screen . No matter how much Trevor believed that he was Cupid, she couldn't follow him down that path. She couldn't let herself believe. She was as stubborn as he was. Still, it had never occurred to her what impact her detachment in the book she was writing would have on him. No wonder he had been so upset. She thought about him for a moment, wondering what she would feel if things were different. If she had met him somewhere, free of his delusion. It was a useless thought, and she pushed it away. Trevor needed her help. Claire started to type, forcing herself to write despite her sad mood.
The song continued, soft and longing...
Lay down with me, tell me no lies,
Just hold me close, don't patronize, don't patronize me
Claire's fingers danced swiftly over the keyboard, the words coming with ease as she wrote. Sentence after sentence of her professional analysis of Trevor rolled into being across her computer screen, appearing smoothly from her thoughts. Suddenly her fingers stopped, their quick staccato rhythm clicking on the keys going silent. Claire paused, realizing she had no idea what she had just written. She looked it over. It was a good clinical analysis. But it didn't have one iota of what made Trevor... Trevor. Nothing about the real person. The real person that Frank had thought she was in... Well, it was garbage. The words seemed so empty. Like so much in her life lately. Claire deleted the new text from her file.
She sighed, knowing she still needed to work on her book. But it was useless. Frank was still too much in her thoughts, and she knew she wouldn't get anything done. Her expression saddened as tears blossomed in her eyes. She wiped them away, holding it all back, trying to compose herself. She knew she wouldn't get any useful work done today, her emotions were still too raw.
Taking a breath, Claire finally closed the file and shut off the computer screen. She stood up and walked over to the door. Opening it slightly, she leaned out and looked at Jaclyn, who had returned to the reception desk.
"Jaclyn? Feel like stopping a little early today?"
Cause I can't make you love me, if you don't...
You can't make your heart feel something it won't...
There was a knock on the door, and Trevor walked across Champ's apartment to answer it. He opened the door to find a UPS delivery man standing on the other side. The delivery man held a small package.
Trevor looked at the man warily, making sure to keep his distance. His voice was deeply suspicious. "Chaaamp, I think it's for you...." Trevor called out behind him, until he remembered that Champ had left.
"I have a package for you."
"I really hope that isn't a loaded statement." Trevor eyed the delivery man again, remembering what had happened to Champ. He reached out slowly, and cautiously pulled at the delivery man's sleeve. It didn't seem like break-away clothing. The delivery man backed up slightly at the scrutiny, looking at Trevor like he was insane. Trevor finally waved off his suspicions, smiling in relief. He signed for the package and took it.
"Great," Trevor exhaled. "You're just a normal delivery man. Not oiled up at all. Great. Scared me for a second. Thank's for the delivery."
The delivery man nodded, still looking strangely at Trevor, before he retreated from Trevor's door as quickly as possible. Trevor closed the door behind him. He looked down at the small box he held in his hands as he walked back across the room.
The label on the box was addressed simply to CUPID, The God of Love.
Here in the dark, in these lonely hours,
I will lay down my heart, and I'll feel the power,
But you won't...
Claire's front door was open, as Frank and one of his friends carried out some of his furniture. Jaclyn sadly watched the proceedings from the hall, stepping out of their way. Everyone was quiet. Even Frank seemed subdued, not wanting to talk. Still, it was clear by his expression how difficult this was for him.
Jaclyn watched the two men go outside with a sigh. She looked around the apartment, wondering where Claire had gone.
Claire was upstairs in her bedroom, walking slowly forward as she looked around. Her fingers reached out and delicately traced along the small, stained glass window that Frank had built in her wall. It was dark now, the sun on the other side of the apartment and coming in through her bedroom window, bathing her in a golden light.
Claire looked sadly over at her dresser. There was a picture of Frank in it's frame, standing on top of her dresser. Claire picked it up and looked into his face. She touched the picture, as if he were merely behind the glass. Suddenly, she didn't want to think about him. Claire deliberately placed the picture face down, flat on her dresser. Face down where she wouldn't have to see it.
She sighed sadly, when she heard a soft knock on her open bedroom door. It was Jaclyn, a concerned look on her face.
Claire looked at her. Seeing her eyes, Jaclyn needed no further incentive without a word she came over, giving Claire a deep, comforting hug.
"It'll be ok, Claire..." Jaclyn offered.
"I know..." Claire's voice was soft, and she wiped away another tear.
Trevor quickly opened the package, ripping at the box. He pulled out what was inside, and held a shiny new CD in his hands. There was a picture of Mara on the cover, leaning over the guitar on her lap. It was apparently her latest album release.
Trevor smiled, and opened the CD case. The liner notes inside were signed by Mara, apparently for a future addendum she would add to them later. Carefully, Trevor read what Mara had written.
And for Trevor,
What wasn't, would have been good.
But what was... was still worth it.
Thank you, Trevor.
Trevor smiled, thinking about her. He turned away happily as he continued to look at the CD.
Claire was at her doorstep, giving Frank a long, final hug. His friend was already waiting in the car. Jaclyn was inside, keeping her distance. Frank and Claire appreciated the privacy, wanting this time together alone before the delicate moment ended with what they both knew was coming. Claire sighed as she held him, realizing it was for the last time. Frank was silent, holding her tightly in his arms. They were like that for some time, neither wanting to let go. Claire closed her eyes, trying not to cry.
I'll close my eyes, then I won't see.
The love you don't feel, when you're holding me...
Without a word, Frank pulled back, still in Claire's arms and looking into her eyes. It was time. Finally, Claire let him go. Frank turned and walked away, not looking back. Claire watched him leave. Quietly, she closed the door before Frank even got to the street.
Claire was silent for a moment, eyes filling with sorrow as they travelled around her apartment. There were so many empty spaces where Frank's things used to be. She could see even the smallest absence clearly. Her house seemed so empty now. It had never seemed that way before.
Morning will come, and I'll do what's right.
Just give me till then, to give up this fight.
And I will give up this fight...
Tears began to glitter in Claire's eyes as she stood there alone. She was seconds away from crying. Jaclyn noticed and walked over, putting her arms around her, holding her close, letting her weep into her shoulder.
Claire's voice was soft... fragile. "Every man I have ever loved has left me..."
Jaclyn rubbed Claire's shoulder, trying to comfort her. "That's not true, Claire. Not every man leaves. You'll get through this. I know you will. You'll find the right one someday."
"You're so sure about that?"
"Absolutely." Jaclyn smiled, thinking of how Trevor felt about Claire. "Or maybe... he'll find you."
Claire laughed quietly, wiping her tears. "Thank you, Jaclyn. I'll be ok. It's going to take a little time, but... I'll be alright. Eventually..."
Jaclyn held her tighter. Claire finally pulled back.
"I'm glad you came, Jaclyn. You made all this a little easier. But right now I think that I would rather just be alone for awhile."
Claire smiled, mimicking Jaclyn's answer from before. "Absolutely."
Reluctantly, Jaclyn nodded. Claire walked her over to the front door, opening it for her.
Jaclyn stepped out, but turned on the doorstep. "Look, I'll be home all night. Call me if you want to talk about it, ok?"
"Thanks. I'll do that."
"OK. Good bye, Claire."
I will lay down my heart, and I'll feel the power,
But you won't, no you won't,
'Cause I can't make you love me, if you don't...
Finally Jaclyn left and Claire closed the door. She turned and leaned her back against it, forced to face all the empty spaces in her house. All the empty spaces in her life. The house was quiet. As she leaned against the door, Claire dropped her face into the palms of her hands and began to cry softly. She had never felt so alone in her life.
END OF PART TWO
Part Three in the series is
A MEMORY LIKE WATER
If you've already read that, (or even if you haven't...)
you can go to a preview of Part Four of the series,
which is pretty self explanatory, called
WHEN THE BOW BREAKS