Stranger At The Other Corner by AnonYMous

He wears his shoes, and then wears his tie and look in the mirror while putting it under collar of his white shirt. He combs his black curly hairs and put them back, his black eyes shine as he smile. He looks himself in the mirror for a moment, he have French beard on his face, and he looks so handsome today.
Stranger At The Other Corner
Stranger At The Other Corner by AnonYMous
It was Monday morning; his bedroom has little light as windows were still covered with curtains. He looks at his watch and realizes that he will be late so he grab his black lace coat quickly and move to leave but then stop and step back. He moves toward his bed then kissed his wife on her cheeks who was still sleeping, then wears his goggles and leave the room. His name is Bradley Rick; he was in his mid-30. He takes his briefcase and rush toward the main door; his black car was waiting outside the house with driver in uniform. He doesn’t sit in the car and signal the driver to drive the car. His driver takes the car to his office without asking anything like it was the routine. As the driver left, he starts walking toward the Wall Street. She put her blonde hairs back and ties them back as she standing in front of her mirror and huge dressing table. Then looks herself with blue eyes, her hairs strand fall on her face so she put it back to her ears then she has a thought and she take it out again. She wears pink lipstick, then smile at her. She was extraordinary happy today as today is Monday. She was wearing white blouse and black pencil skirt and she was tall so she wears black leather shoes. She wears her white tops and white pearls necklace; she was standing in her bedroom. It was huge, it was so much decorated and everything was very expensive and it also have balcony which was open that time. It was covered with curtain and wind was blowing it up. She grab her Gucci bag then move to leave but stop and turn as she forget something then take her wedding ring from the table and wear it then slowly leave the room, an expression of disappointment and shame come and gone on her face. It was huge house; she goes down stairs in the dining room. “Good morning” said Mr. Simon Wilson black hairs and blue eyes, tall and handsome man who was in his mid-30. His hairs style and dressing shows him that he is a politician. “Good morning to you too” said Claire Davis Wilson, his wife, she seems in very good mood and Mr. Wilson notices it so he asks as he takes a sip of his coffee “someone is in the good mood... Do you want me to drop you?” Claire get surprised then controlling her emotion she said simply “yes I am... and no thank I like to walk” Mr. Wilson smile then said as he was not surprised “of course how can I forget my lady’s routine” then he get up from his chair and move toward her as Claire was making a sandwich for herself and did not notice him coming. He kissed her on her cheek then said “good bye” she smile at him in surprised then walk out of the house in hurry. Mr. Bradley was walking to toward the Times Square, his office building was two block away now. He stop to cross the road as so many other people, he looks around to see. Everybody was in rush it was the busiest place of Manhattan, he was standing at signal crossing, wearing his goggles, it was month of June. He keeps looking at the other side, there are so many peoples around him, talking, yelling... laughing but his mind was thinking the same thing. He sees the timer on the signal poll then the other side then again the timer then the other side, there are a lot strangers on the other side. Then the signal sign turn red and everyone cross the road. Mr. Bradley was tense as he misses something, he look around to see like he misses someone. But then he gets normal like he found what he’s looking on the other side. In the other side crowd Claire walks towards Mr. Bradley, at the moment he came close to her he wear off his goggles and she put her hair strand back to her ear. They were going to pass each other, like everyone else. They were in the middle, they don’t stop but when they look in each other eyes the time was. They were stranger to each other, but at that moment they feels that they are the only one who knows each other, there foot step are not stop... They were still walking and pass each other. He wears his goggles again and they walk in their directions, no one turn to see the other… like they know the other one won’t turn to see. CHAPTER 2 “YOU ARE SO ON TIME BRAD” said Mr. Bradley friend and colleague Andy O'Connor, curly brown hair and brown eyes. He has very friendly nature. “Well... Thanks and why is that” Mr. Bradley asked. “Because boss wants to see the report for our new product... And he also wants to know that what you got for the advertisement ... Wait did you still walk the whole ways to office” Andy asked as he raise his left eye-brow. They were in Mr. Bradley’s office. “Yeah... So what’s new about that” he said putting his coat in stander. Then sit on his chair to check the files. “Man Brad... 3 years... It’s been 3 years; I mean you are the managing director of marketing... You own a house in New York... You got two cars at your home but you still walk to your office and you don’t care about the seasons too, no matter there is snow, wind, rain... Or like now today, very hot weather... You still walk to the office... Why don’t you come in car bro?” Andy asks in annoying voice, he was sitting in front of him. Mr. Bradley smile at his tune then says politely “because walking is good for health... OK let’s go” and they leave for the conference room. “Hey Clair” said Trevor Wade, a golden-black hairs and blue eyes, tall and simple nature guy is her colleague. He stops her in the hall of their office... Brooklyn Advertising Agency, it was the one of the best advertising agency of New York City. “Hi... How are you?” said Claire but before Trevor continues he was interrupted by Claire’s team member and her best friend Annie cornfield. “Claire... Why are you always silent your cellphone ...” brown hairs and light brown eyes Annie shouts. She was very talkative person but deep dimple on her cheeks when she talks makes her so cute. That’s the main reason Trevor never minds her and never told her about his feeling for her. Annie never notices him and Claire knows about Trevor’s feeling but she also knows that Annie will never look him that way. “I've call you like thousand times... And you haven’t returns my calls” Annie shouts. “Hey Annie... You look good today” Trevor said in modesty. Claire smile at him but Annie grab her towards her as she says “thanks Trevor... I always look good” and move toward Clair’s office. They reached Clair’s office; she was advertising manager. “That was so rude Annie... You could’ve say thanks Trevor it’s so nice of you... It won’t kill you to say this” Claire said as she put her bag on her table. Her office was decorated with so many brand advertise that she designs. “I know... But what is so new about Trevor admiring my looks... Claire... But what kills me is when you don’t pick up my calls” Annie said in rude tune as she manages the pages in the file. “I was on the way of office” Claire said as she takes file from her. “Of course... Your fitness plan WALK THE WHOLE WAY TO YOUR OFFICE!! How can I forget” Annie shouts “I don’t get you are on very good post... Your husband is very handsome politician” she smiles. “And you are not that fat... Then why you walk so much it’s like 5... What 6 blocks away from your house”. Claire gets afraid but she didn’t raise her head then she said like she didn’t hear her “so you got any idea for this new brand” showing the file to Annie “oh yeah... I totally forget this product is from very huge company i got few ideas let me get from my office” Annie said and run to her office while Claire takes a deep breath. CHAPTER 3 “WHAT... Andy I told you I can’t take project out of the city... No matter how important they are” Mr. Bradley said, he was standing in his lounge at his home. He was stress about the new project he’s working because it demands off field work which worries him so much. “I told boss... But he wants you Brad... C’mon man it’s so important project Brad plea...” “No Andy... I said no” Mr. Bradley voice get high. A woman enters in lounge, she was in her early 30’s black hairs and golden- black eyes and she was very pretty... Her name is Judy Ann Ramos. They were married for 3 years; she was surprised with Mr. Bradley behavior. “OK... Fine the ad agency is coming tomorrow to you... Can you please be there? As you know our office is in the city... You don’t have to go anywhere” Andy said with annoyed tune. “I will be there and then you take the charge” Mr. Bradley said and hang up the phone, “why you reject the proposal... You should take the trip” Judy said as she gives him the coffee mug. “You want me out of the house” Mr. Bradley joked to change the subject. She looks at him and smile then said “I mean it Brad... It’s been two years you are not going anywhere... And for about one year you are not even leaving the city... Same schedule each morning...” Mr. Bradley didn’t say anything so she continue and start sweeping her finger over her mug like she thinking about something but she can’t say it to her. “I don’t know it’s me or... what but I think… this city gets you...” then she feels like she shouldn’t have to say this so she try to say something to cover but Mr. Bradley said looking at her “You are right this place get me... I feel like home and I don’t like to be away from my home... Away from you” the last word was not as he says, his expression doesn’t support his words but they still work for Judy. “Oh... That’s so romantic thank you honey” Judy said smiling. “Yeah… I complete the project, I will take it tomorrow but I’m not going to England ok” Claire said sitting on her table in her bedroom, working on her laptop. The project she’s working was very big project and she was offered to visit England for advertisement but she refused to her boss again for going out of the city. “Ok… meet you in office tomorrow… and one more thing we have to go to the product company…” Annie said and hung up. Claire realizes Annie rudeness and it was her right to be rude with Clair… she always told Claire to came with her to Claire refused her every time, Clair’s boss likes her work that’s why he listen to her. She was stressed, she feels pain in her back so she presses her neck from hand and down her head, suddenly she feels someone hands over hers, she slowly raise her head like she know the touch…it was Mr. Simon, she move away her hand from her neck as he giving her neck massage. Claire was quiet; sitting on chair… there was a silence in room, Mr. Simon move slowly close to her ear and say softly “Are you okay now?” Claire nod. Mr. Simon move to kiss her neck, Claire suddenly say loudly “Simon … I got a work to complete…” Mr. Simon move up then say after a moment pause “it’s okay… baby good night” he kiss on her head and leave for dresser. He was sleep, she can’t. Sometime her stair at him, sometime down her head. She was sitting on her bed, at the middle of night. The room was dark and quiet, only her side lamp little light in which she can see Mr. Simon’s face. She never meant to hurt him, but there was some feeling in her… some part of her heart that doesn’t like Mr. Simon’s touch and it’s killing her, maybe she can’t name her feeling neither tell Mr. Simon . They were family friends, she know him since they were kids. Even though Mr. Simon is six years older than Clair, they were very good friends. Mr. Simon loves her since he was a teenager, but never dare to tell her. He was afraid that it might destroy their friendship. He knows that Clair, only love him as a friend but still he wants to propose her. She remembers when he invites her on a cruise for a dinner. “I’m glad you accept my invitation” Mr. Simon said smiling at her, he stand for her as she walk in. he was wearing black lace suit with red tie, his hair finely comb. Claire laughs as she heard him, wearing sliver, one shoulder dress with silver heels. Her neck hairs fall down and clipped from left side. “Shut up Simon… like it’s the first time we are dining together?” Claire said as they hug each other. “Hmm… so romantic Simon… a dinner on a cruise alone… candles on dinner table, soft music… what’s in your mind?” Claire said as she picking on Simon. He smile and dinner served, all dishes was Clair’s favorite. Now Claire hesitates, she’s getting the idea of what’s going on. “Simon… what’s going on” she asked seriously. He holds her hand in his then softly says “Claire we know each other for a very long time and we are very good friend, who share almost everything with each other… we understand each other” he take a moment then said “There is something I always wants to tell you… but never get the nerves to tell you, I…” Claire realizes what he’s going to say, she wants to stop him. “I love you Claire… and I want you in my life no matter how long it is…” Mr. Simon said so many things but Claire was not listening to him, the only thought she’s having was its not possible. After a while Mr. Simon realizes her reaction when she takes her hand back he says “I know you don’t love me like I do to you… Claire but atleast as a friend I can’t see you alone… I know you been searching for someone…but what do you think about me?” Claire raise her head to look him “Simon… you are my good friend but you know I never feel that for someone… still!!” she down her head. “And I don’t know if I can ever love someone… you are very nice guy and you deserve someone better than me…” she said in low tune. “And I only want you Claire… please take all the time you want and I respect your opinion with all my heart… we are friends first and then anything else” Simon said, smiling at him. She thought about his proposal for days, she always have an image of a person whom she loves and she waits for that person, she never attached to any guy. She met so many guys but still she was single. She also doesn’t know what she’s searching. Her father like Simon proposal and she don’t have any reason to say him no… and also she lost hope of finding for that person. She remembers when she was wearing her wedding dress looking herself in mirror standing alone in her room while everyone in garden celebrating. Long white sleeveless gown, hairs tie back and sliver necklace in her neck, she wants to cry, wants to stop this… but what for… she don’t have any one. And now after two years… looking at him, she thinks “still I don’t have anyone to look for?” CHAPTER 4 “Yes Mr. Wong we will send you our report as soon we final our meeting with ad agency” Mr. Bradley said and hang up. He turn and surprise to see Judy have his tie. “You awake… early today?” Mr. Bradley asks, Judy moves forward to him and wear him tie then softly “why? I can’t awake early…” Judy said seriously. “No I mean…” “Relax, I’m mocking you… I got a meeting for an event” Judy said smiling at him. “Okay…” he turn toward mirror and placing his tie, Judy grab him from back, it was unexpected for Mr. Bradley, but he didn’t show her. “Honey… do you know what’s today?” Judy said. “Hmm… I don’t… what?” Mr. Bradley said then think and she say as he mumble “our anniversary” he think for moments, looking himself at mirror. “And I plan a party… please attend if you can” Judy said smiling, as she sits on dresser table, folding her arms. She grabs his glasses to give him “you did not attend it last year…” “Because it was out state… and I have a job here” Mr. Bradley said wearing coat then take his rain coat and his brief case. “Fine… what about my birthday party, you did not attend it…” “I did Judy… but…” “Yeah… only for an hour” “Because your parties are very loud and you know me…” “I do… but it was my birthday…and I want you there” “Judy we live in one house… you are my wife, what’s the big deal if I don’t stay at your party in club… we have to meet in home” “So that’s why… you don’t care!!” “Judy… I do care about you but another party; you have a birthday party a month ago and…” “So now it’s my fault that we married next month of my birthday?” “No… I didn’t mean it… but I can’t come early, I have a meeting… work to complete” “Brad… do you love me more than work or not?” Judy asks with wide open eyes. This is where Mr. Bradley breaks down, “you… of course… but?” “Oh… I love you too… be here at 8… bye” Judy excitedly shouts and kiss him then leave, Mr. Bradley down his head. He never says no to Judy because he cares about her so much and she knows that, it’s one of the qualities of Mr. Bradley that makes him very special. “Andy… I want the meeting on lunch… I got be home at 8, so I can’t attend it on dinner” Mr. Bradley said in office, working on his computer. “But Brad… I don’t know if the Advertising company delegate would agree and just because we have a big name… doesn’t mean we can force them” Andy said, standing in tense. “Okay so call them… asks and convinces them in which you are pretty good at… I want them on lunch” Mr. Bradley said in rough tune. He look him for a moment then says “ok… boss whatever you want” Andy said in annoyed tune and leave. Mr. Bradley feels so bad about the way he talk to Andy but if he doesn’t do this, Andy won’t take him seriously and he have to go home before 8 o’clock. “Annie can you call to Hostos and set the meeting on lunch” Claire said as she enters in her office. “What… and why?” Annie shouts. “I have a dinner with Simon… and he insisted me to be there” Claire explains. “Claire… how many times I told you that if you have any plans, please tell me before you finalizes them” Annie said. “Oh… I know, I’m sorry I just… I was so tired last night that’s why I can’t” Claire said putting down her files on table. “Just call them maybe they agree with us” Claire insisted, “sweetheart… they are Hostos, not just any company…they have rules and regulation… okay! We can’t just call them and say excuse me sir can you meet us on lunch…and…” before Annie complete her statement, Claire office phone rings. “Hello” Annie said roughly as she picks up. “Hmm… hi, can I speak to Ms. Wilson …I’m Andy” Andy said. “First of all, it’s Mrs. Wilson and second she’s busy so tell me, what’s your business…I’m her secretary” Annie said, “I’m sorry… I’m Andy from Hostos… we want…actually we have an emergency and we like you to join us for lunch meeting… only if it’s okay for you” Andy said hesitantly. Annie shock for a moment, looking at Claire she slowly smiles then says “oh…uh… okay, since you have an emergency, we can meet you at lunch…but it’s very surprising for your company to change the schedule…” Annie excitedly smiles so as Clair. “Thank you… and yes, we do have an emergency… again thank you miss… what did you say your name is …” Andy charmingly asked, “uh… I didn’t tell you my name” Annie said, Claire raises her eye brow as she know what Annie is doing. “See you at the meeting… Mr. Andy” Annie said. “Sure… looking forward to that” Andy said and hung up. “OMG... I can’t believe it… they call us on lunch meeting… it so great, let me tell you girl it’s your day… your lucky day… oh God, I got so many work…I’m rushing” Annie said so many thing and leave, but Claire mind stop at Annie’s words “it’s your day… your lucky day”. She thought “if it’s my day…then I get my wish” and take a deep breath to take back in reality. CHAPTER 5 “They are agreed… they are coming for lunch” Andy said standing at Mr. Bradley office door and leave. His reaction makes Mr. Bradley more upset, he was very embarrassed for his behavior. He was very kind heart person and Andy knows that. “Hey… Andy” Mr. Bradley call Andy before they enter in meeting room “yeah… they are waiting for us” Andy said tries to avoid him. “Hey man… c’mon I’m sorry… I was little stress that’s all” Mr. Bradley said holding his arm. Andy looks him for a second then laugh “oh… that’s okay baby… I understand… you love me so much… muhaa.” Andy said and tries to kiss him. “Get off… you never gonna change” Mr. Bradley said resisting, suddenly Mr. Bradley phone ring, he take out it was his wife. Andy saw it to so he says “I’ll handle them… you handle your miss STRESS” “Shut up… Andy” Mr. Bradley said smiling. “Where are they …?” Annie asked annoyingly, they been sitting in meeting room for 15 minutes and on one come. “Relax Annie … they are coming…” Claire said looking at her report “wow, it’s very nice room… don’t you think?” Annie asks, looking around the room . It was very large conference room, finely decorated with branded table and chairs. And very beautiful chandelier was hanging in the middle. “Yes… it is” Trevor said as he sits next to her. Annie feels annoyed and says “I didn’t ask you” “Enough Annie you…” Claire stop as Andy enters “I’m so sorry for wait… my boss coming” Andy said looking at Annie. “Its fine… we don’t mind” Annie said as they shake hands. Claire look at Annie with wide open eyes, “you must be Annie… I’m Andy Connor” Andy asked. “Yes… and” Annie interrupted by Claire “I’m Claire Wilson and this is Trevor Simpson my assistant” “oh… yes, heard a lot about you, Mr. Dave is fond of your work, actually he recommend you to us” Andy said as they shake hand. “Thank you; he is a good person… and your boss? Where is he?” Claire asked. “He’s coming… he’s…” “Mr. O’Connor we are already late…” “I know… Mrs. Wilson just…” “What’s he doing? Don’t…” before Claire completes her statement, door open and Mr. Bradley enters in the room, files in his hand… looking at his files he said “I’m sorry everyone for waiting… I’m Bradley Rick …” he stop as he raise his head, Claire was standing in front of him, staring him with wide eyes. His hand on his file cover which he was putting on the table but now it was still. The only thing between them was this table and space. They feels that time is stop but then he notice that everyone was staring them, suddenly Mr. Bradley breaths deeply. His hand on his chest, as he feels difficulty in breathing he tries to find his pump then quickly run outside the office, breathing deeply. His action surprises everyone, but Claire who gets her wish. CHAPTER 6 “Hmm… he’s having anesthesia attack, please excuse us for a moment” Andy said and follow Mr. Bradley. “Great… another excuse to waste more time” Trevor said in annoyed tune as they all sit in chairs. “Oh please Trevor like you has some place to be…” Annie said. “By the way… he is very cute… what say Claire?” Annie ask to Claire but Claire’s mind was not in room, she was looking at her file, tossing pen in her hand while thinking about she smile a little and whisper his name “Bradley” “Are you okay Brad” Andy shouts as he enters in balcony where Mr. Bradley standing, pump in his hand, close eyes… breathing deeply. “Nothing… just an attack” Mr. Bradley said losing his tie, “Well you were not having attacks for a while… are you stressed?” Andy said he stands next to him. “Yeah… I’m okay… just little work presence” “Pressure… Brad you love your work… did Judy say anything?” “No Andy… why do you always think that?” “I don’t know… because you don’t love her and…” “So what did you tell them” Mr. Bradley interrupted Andy to change the topic. “Oh yes… let’s go they’d be waiting for us” “who are they… I didn’t get introduce” “Well… that red haired girl is Annie cornfield and the guy is Trevor Simpson. And the manager is Claire…” Mr. Bradley didn’t listen anything after this, he down his head and mumble her name “Claire”. “And you know her husband… man I saw him in TV, you know… David Wilson son Simon Wilson… he is very good in politics I say…” “Let’s go… they are waiting” Mr. Bradley said in serious tune, he don’t like what Andy says. The meeting starts and Andy addresses all, brief them about the product and its need, Claire who was sitting on right side of Mr. Bradley looks at him sometime and sometime at Andy. She notice Mr. Bradley is not looking at her… not even for a second, she was very nervous and happy. “We will make sure our work is good as you expected for us” she said as Andy over the briefing, they shake hands “We know you do… Mrs. Wilson” Andy said, he move toward Annie and Trevor. She move toward Mr. Bradley to shake hand, she was nervous it is the first time she’s going to hold his hand after all that time but before she could move her hand toward him, he said loudly while gathering his files, “It’s been nice meeting you all, now if please excuse me… good day” and leave the room without looking at her. They all get back to their chat and Claire stand froze, she felt cold in his behavior. She inhales deep and think “was he the same person… I saw every morning… why didn’t he see me… did he recognizes me or not? She down her head “does he know that I am hurt?” They were leaving the conference room with Andy, they all talking while walking but Claire. She was very upset with Mr. Bradley. “Great then see you tomorrow Annie” Andy said flattering. “We also coming Mr. O’Connor… if you don’t mind” Trevor said roughly. “Yeah… I know… I mean all of you” Andy said hesitantly. They all in lift and Andy was see off them, but Mr. Bradley was looking at Claire from behind the wall where she can’t see him… he was also very hurt and doesn’t understand why he did this! When the lift door closed, he walk in his office room and slowly sits in his chair then move his fingers of both hand in his hairs… he knows that she is hurt with his action and he can’t undo now. CHAPTER 7 “Claire… Claire” Mr. Bradley whispers her name standing in front of mirror getting ready for his anniversary party. He was wearing his navy blue suit coat, as he looks at him in mirror he remember how Claire smile… it makes him happy. He was alone in his room “I should talk to her… why did I avoid her… she was feeling very bad” then stop as he have a thought “what if she don’t come tomorrow morning… what if I don’t see her again… this is killing me” he looks worried. He put his hand in his pants pockets, for a moment he dislike himself “what am I thinking… God help me” his head down facing floor and eyes closed “why am I thinking about her like this… she’s married… someone’s wife and I have a wife who love me so much… am I cheating her… but she… and I… I thought…?” inhale deeply, there is a war going on in his mind “God… what’s wrong with me” he said in low voice. “Are you talking to yourself again Brad?” Judy said as she enter in the room and surprised Mr. Bradley “uh… nothing just meeting stuff” he said, tries to hide his expression. “Ok… now tell me how I look?” she said as she makes a pose in her red floor length striped gown and she let her dark-brown hairs curl from the tip loose on the shoulder. Her hands on her waist, looking him she smiles. “Very beautiful as usual” Mr. Bradley said and turn again toward mirror, she stand straight and disappoint when he said that. She move toward and put her chin on his shoulder and arms around him then says “why do you have to look so hot right now… when we have to leave?” Mr. Bradley cackles. He knows that she telling him how to praise someone then say “you know Judy… I’m not good with word… but you do look beautiful all the time” taking her face in his hands. “I know Brad… you don’t love me the way I do to you… and I… never mind… but I can’t let you go either, you are my best friend… who understand me so much” He put his hand down, “I can’t tell you how much I love me” she move close to him. “No matter how many times I say… I love you” he down his head and she put her arms around his neck, Mr. Bradley does not want her to close with him so he say “Judy… you are my friend… before you are my wife. I feel responsible for you and I want you to be happy no matter what costs I have to pay so don’t burden yourself with anything… I always keep you happy… I promi…” before he completes his sentence she kisses him, it was unexpected for Mr. Bradley “I know you do…” she said after the kiss. “I have faith in you… you could never hurt me” Judy said slowly. “I think guest are arriving… you should go” Mr. Bradley said hesitantly. “Oh… yeah, I totally forget about them… I’m going” she said and quickly leaves the room “me coming” Mr. Bradley said loudly. “Why are you doing this to me…? I can’t hurt her. Listen Brad it’s just a crush… get over it you are a married man… forget about her” he said to himself looking at mirror. “I will never see her … never see her again” he said his eyes closed then leaves the room. Everyone was gathering in their house garden in pool side party, lights decorate everywhere. Their friends and colleagues are invited, mostly Judy’s. As she was very happy, laughing with her friend by the bar. Also some people are dancing at the slow music playing, “Hey… buddy happy anniversary again… I’m glad you survive three years…” Andy said and hugs Mr. Bradley “Shut up Andy… and thanks” Mr. Bradley said laughing. “My… Judy you look so… so hot still… not… more than last time I saw you” Andy said as he hug her. “Oh… thank you Andy, as much I as hate you, I’m glad someone knows how to admire a lady” she said smiling at Mr. Bradley. “Nice party Judy… you know no one… I say no one can throw party like you do, even when we were in college, your parties were amazing, not mention you choose to be event organizer… God I kind’a miss those days… don’t you Brad” Andy ask to Mr. Bradley. “Yeah… and even then you come alone without Brad… uh” Judy said. “It’s not my fault miss that your husband doesn’t like parties… say it Brad” Andy insist. “Ok… you boys talk, I’ll be back” Judy said cheerfully and leaves. CHAPTER 8 “You look beautiful Claire” Mr. Simon said to Claire, they were dining at Manhattan’s famous restaurant. Mr. Simon was call on a meeting here, so he takes Claire with him for dinner. It was huge and lavish; they were sitting in the centre, soft music playing in the background. “Thanks…” Claire said and blushingly smiles but she was thinking about Mr. Bradley’s behavior this afternoon, so she was not listening to him closely. “Why he did this to me? I never do anything like this to him… I thought we know each other, but today he just behave like he never see me before… didn’t even say a word, not even shake hands with me.” Mr. Simon notices that she is in deep thought and playing with her dinner “is everything okay?” Claire surprised then hesitates and say “uh… yeah I’m fine” she was not fine. She can’t decide that she is upset or angry but not for a moment she think that she is stranger to him, a stranger he see every day…he see her passing by him, for some moment. A stranger whose name he don’t know till today, that’s the strength of her trust on him. “Fine if that’s what he wants… I will not show him my face again not until… he bags me to... until he tells me how much he love…tell me why he do this to me. Let see how he live without seeing me… he will be astound tomorrow when he won’t see me at the signal” she smile in revenge and Mr. Simon get confuse as he was looking at her. “What happened?” Mr. Simon asked, “Hmm, nothing I got the idea for my new project… it’s perfect…”she lie covering her expression. “Just like you” Mr. Simon said charmingly. “Wow… Brad… Judy sure knows how to entertain everyone… man I’m tried” Andy said, drinking beer. They were sitting in beach chairs near to pool after the party ends, everyone leave and Judy was inside the house. “Yeah... I know she is one of a kind” Mr. Bradley said, and then takes a sip of his beer. Suddenly Andy cackles “what… what happened?” Mr. Bradley asked curiously. “I just remember… how much you dislike her habit…do you remember when I ask to come with me…” Mr. Bradley smile and they both say at a time “I don’t have time to waste… for useless things” he again cackles “now… that she’s your wife… how do you like it bro?” Andy mock Mr. Bradley. “Well… I realize that it not bad after all and…” “And now you don’t have any other option but to come in her parties…do you Brad? Judy Ramos very famous and rich girl in our campus is now… Mrs. Bradley rick” Andy mock Mr. Bradley. “Don’t you start again…? Andy I have enough for the day” Mr. Bradley said. He tries to get up but then Andy said “why not Brad… you do it and I can’t even argue about this… you put yourself in misery and I can’t even say that you do it to yourself.” “What you wanna prove Andy… everytime I don’t know why… why you feel that I’m not happy… I am happy Andy ok!!” “Liar… Judy is happy not you… and who do you think you could lie from… it’s me Brad… Andy… I know you since we were 10 year old… so give up” Andy said in rough tune. Mr. Bradley sit comfortably on the beach chair as he feels it’s going to be a long talk. “She’s happy because she found her love and you don’t. She’s living her dream and it is your night…” “Stop it Andy… you start again… I love my wife, I love my home and I love my life like this” Mr. Bradley said “So true, you love your live… you love your home but you don’t love Judy… yeah, she love you so much that’s why she ask you to marry her… remember when we were in last year of college and Christina came to meet you in your hostel room and then Judy run in to you and yell she love you” Andy said hardly. “I do remember, why Christina was in room, crying… oh yeah! Because you break her heart in tiny pieces… do you remember?” Mr. Bradley said looking at him with wide open eyes. “Don’t change the subject Brad… we are talking about you right now” Andy said, “and Judy didn’t yell… she said very firmly, just because I told you it didn’t mean that you can repeat it like that” Mr. Bradley said. After a moment pause Andy continue “it’s not fair with you Brad, you know I always wants to see that girl you fall in love… for the one you wrote all those poetry… they were so beautiful, I mean I use them so many times to impress my girlfriends and you… you just let that all go… for her, that really unfair…” “Andy it’s over… it’s past now a…” Mr. Bradley interrupted by Andy as says “no Brad… love is really hard thing to get… you just don’t get it, love makes you strong… it makes you selfish, that’s why Judy asks you to marry her. It’s the most beautiful feeling… it’s like if you don’t see her… you can’t breathe, it’s like you own her… really it’s very confusing, I mean I never thought that I ever feel that but it’s real. It’s like if they ignore you, you want to burn down the world… even if you hurt them, you feel like it’s you’re right. And when she smiles you want to give her all the happiness of the world…” Andy keeps talking with blushful smile while Mr. Bradley realizes his mistake. “I shouldn’t have to ignore her… I could tell her the reason… I am sure she understand me but” He stop as his mind have a sudden thought looking at Andy “you met someone… for real this time” he ask, Andy cackles and said “oh… yeah, man she is so beautiful… you know her too, she’s with ad agency” Mr. Bradley panic, he thinks Andy is talking about Claire. His face has sudden expression of jealousy. “You know the red hair girl… her name is Annie… mine Andy, nice right” Andy cheerfully said, without looking Mr. Bradley face. Mr. Bradley calm himself, he never feel that feeling his heart beating so fast, sweat on his forehead which he sweep quickly from his handkerchief before Andy could notice. “Do you really mean… love makes you selfish” after a moment Mr. Bradley ask. “Of course it does… you want to tear down the world or anything came between you and her… it’s insane but my friend it’s love” Andy said and drinks his beer as he humming John legend’s song “all in me”. That very small moment was a hell for Mr. Bradley “yeah…” he said and lay back to rest, but one thing is confirmed to him that he is in love with Claire for sure and there is no way he can leave her. CHAPTER 9 She dress up in grey turtle neck dress which was body fitted and roll back her hairs in bun, wear her light pink lipstick and grey ballerina shoes. She smile at the mirror and think “I should look good today to see his face” She takes her bag and then leaves the room. Mr. Simon was reading newspaper of his I-pad with coffee in dining room as usual, she enters in the room then look in to her wrist watch, her maid put the coffee mug for her. She looks at Mr. Simon for a moment then thinks “he will be so shocked… he will ask why? What do I say to him, if he say no… no he won’t… he won’t say that” she look at her coffee mug then softly said “Simon… can you drive to my office” then normally look at Mr. Simon who was astonished, still toast in his hand. “What?” Claire asked, pretending she doesn’t know. “Did you just ask me to drive you to your office…?” Mr. Simon asked. “Yeah… so what” Claire asked in attitude. Mr. Simon hesitates “well… for a year…” “Can you drive me or not” Claire said loudly “I’m getting late” she explained. “Yeah… sure…great…let me finish… oh leave it” Mr. Simon quickly stands and leave his toast, he was eating. Claire wants Mr. Bradley to notice that she is upset with him. She wants him to feel how it’s like to be ignored by someone you love. She doesn’t know him, she doesn’t know anything about his life but still she loves him so much that she feels a right on him and want him to feel her pain. He looks in his watch then again the signal, his eyes can’t stay at one angle, and they were looking everywhere, in hope that from somewhere she appears before signal go green, his heart beat getting faster and faster. “Where is she? Where is she?” he asks to himself repeatedly. “Oh…c’mon Brad calm yourself…I don’t care…its fine” he said, like he doesn’t care. He again look in his watch only two second left for signal to turn green, his hope die when crowd from the other side start moving. His feet were freeze, he don’t want to move but someone from his back push him as crowd from his side walk toward the other side then he keep moving. “I shouldn’t need to move…may be she was late…no…she never late, is she okay… maybe something happen…but what?” he stops suddenly and closes his eyes as he thinks “no… there is something else…” he was holding his briefcase and his hand was in his pocket. “What have I done…is she upset with me but why…what did I do?” having all questions in his mind, he enter in his office. He was feeling very down and upset. It was the first time he came to office without seeing her. “Brad… you are late man. Don’t you know, we got so many works to do and I need sign and endorsement for the project…”Andy starting to shout as he enter in his office but stops as he looks at Mr. Bradley “Oh…Brad…what’s with long face? Are you feeling okay?” Andy asks curiously. “Yeah…I’m fine…just feeling low…can you get me a cup of coffee” Mr. Bradley said sitting on his chair. “Why Judy don’t let you sleep in night?” Andy joke and accept Mr. Bradley to laugh but Andy get serious when Mr. Bradley doesn’t take notice. “Ok…I’ll get your coffee” Andy said and turns to leave but stop as he remembers something. “Oh…yeah, ad agency calls…we have a lunch meeting with them…so I confirm them?” “No…not today…” Mr. Bradley said quickly, his sudden reaction confuse Andy. “I…I’m not feeling well today…just rearrange it for tomorrow” Mr. Bradley explained. “It’s okay… Brad if you don’t want to go…I can do it alone” Andy said putting his hand on chair, smiling. “I said…no” Mr. Bradley said loudly, Andy hesitates, he stand still “I need to discuss something with them…but I am not feeling good right now” “I can’t Brad… Claire Wilson personally call me to confirm the meeting…I can’t just say her no because you are not feeling good” Andy resist. “Then tell her…Bradley rick doesn’t wants to meet you…okay…but we are not meeting them today…are we clear!!” Mr. Bradley said rudely. Andy understands there is something bothering him so he nod and leave Mr. Bradley in lasting pain. “What…but you said…?” Annie said confusing, Claire who was sitting infront of her in her office. “What happened?” she asks quietly as Annie was still in phone, Annie give her sign to wait. “Oh…is he okay now?” Annie asks. “Who is okay…who you talking about?” Claire asks she gets worried. “Fine…it’s okay, we can’t meet tomorrow, but we’ll tell you when…fine take care” Annie said and hangs up. “Now can tell me what’s going on?” Claire asks desperately. “They can’t meet us today” Annie said simply, “why not… I call Mr. O'Connor and he said yes” Claire said quickly, “yeah…but Mr. Rick is not feeling good and said he’s sorry he can’t meet us today” Annie explained. “But why can’t we meet them tomorrow” Claire asked curiously. “Claire…hello!! Don’t you remember we have other projects too… like Cobber and you got an interview of Time magazine for their edition “under 30 successful women” They specially ask for you “Mrs. Claire Wilson wife of young and handsome Simon Wilson and very famous advertising manager” Annie said dramatically. “Oh…” Claire said in low tune, “yeah…God, Claire I’m not just your friend…I’m your secretary too and I have to manage your schedule” Annie said, Claire smile. Claire down her eyes, thinking “is he okay? What happened to him… he doesn’t want to meet me… he doesn’t care about me… doesn’t he knows I’m upset with him? He should make up for me…” Annie was on her cell phone texting Andy when she notice Claire typing so fast on her laptop, her expression shows she is so angry. “How dare he? Who’d he thinks he is? He knows my number; he knows where I work…but No!! Mr. I-got-so-ego doesn’t want to talk to me… don’t care if I’m okay or not…I never late at the stop and he…he’s okay with this all…now he don’t want to see me just because I don’t want to see him but he doesn’t care about why…why am I upset with him? Fine I will not talk to him either”. Annie get so worry looking Claire like this, she shout “Claire… Claire” Claire gets in her senses “what…what happened” “What happened to you? Why are you squashing keyboard’s button girl…” Annie said loudly. “Nothing just thinking…about project… I’m fine” Claire said, looking in her laptop screen, She was not fine. “Well…we are alike… if I don’t show up… he don’t want to see me either… let just see now, for how long he can stay without seeing me” she smiles. Annie notice her reaction, she can’t understand what Claire is thinking about. CHAPTER 10 Claire was sitting in garden in the evening, reading magazine she remember Mr. Bradley and smile, her thoughts break when Mr. Simon calls her name “Claire… honey” he was coming with some lady. She stands smiling at him “honey… meets Ms. Judy Ramos” Claire look at her and greet her cheerfully. Judy was wearing knee length, turtle neck blue dress which was form-fitting and black kitten heels. She let her silky mane free in casual straight style with subtle waves. “Hey… heard a lot about you from Simon” Judy said cheerfully. “Nice to meet you too” Claire said as they shake hands. “Judy was my class mate in high school…always wants to top in everything…she was cheer leader” Mr. Simon said charmingly as they all sit down. “Yeah… and he’s very famous player in our school…both in sports and with girls” Judy said smiling and everyone cackles. “But you know Judy…that all was just a way to spend my time… my real love was Claire always… just because she’s five years junior to me I can’t ask her for prom” Mr. Simon said, smiling and Judy laugh while Claire smile, blushingly down her head. “So Judy what do you do?” Claire asks to Judy just to change the topic. “I’m event manager at Celine” Judy said, servant put coffee for her. “Wow…then you must be so busy person” Claire said, Judy smile “yeah…I got some events” “That’s why I call her Claire…she is best in her job, I want her to manage my election winning party…what do you think?” Mr. Simon said. “Yeah…why not, it’ll be great to have you…Judy” Claire said. “Thank you so much Simon… I will do my best to make your party memorable” Judy said then looks at Claire and asks “Simon told me…you work at the Advertising agency” “yeah… I’m advertising manager at Brooklyn Agency” Claire said, “It’s her passion Judy… she love designing and making things more creative” Mr. Simon said looking at Claire with love. “Really you work at BAA then you must know my husband. He’s working with your company for their new product” Judy said “may be…what’s his name?” Claire asked simply but the answer give her a painful sting “his name is Bradley Rick” Judy said, Claire was so shocked, she freeze. She didn’t hear anything else what Judy said about Mr. Bradley, she didn’t hear their cackles. After the First time since they saw each other, when he wear off the goggles he showoff his wedding ring…trying to tell her he’s married. “Claire…Claire” Mr. Simon calls her and hold her hand “um…sorry, I just remember…I need to call my secretary…excuse me” Claire said then stand to leave, both Mr. Simon and Judy smile in affirmative. Claire run in to her room once she gets inside the house, she realizes, she will break in tears. She locks her bathroom; she was standing in front of her washbasin when she starts crying, she look in the mirror. She back to the wall, she don’t know why she’s feeling so much pain. She knows that he’s married “she so beautiful…now I know why he doesn’t care about me…he love her already that’s why he marries to her…” she thought and closes her eyes tightly, still crying. “What were you thinking Claire…he’s the one you are waiting…no he’s not, He will never leave her for you” Claire thought, she slowly move to the floor and sit. She was in so much pain, like her heart breaks in million pieces. “Oh…God, what I do now? The way she talks about him, it shows how much she love him… how can he leave her for me…he never even talk to me” she cuddle and cry continuously, letting her pain out. CHAPTER 11 “You done there pal?” Andy asked, to Mr. Bradley from his office door. He was working late, all the office stuff leave but he was still in his office which worries Andy. “Yeah… I got some work to complete” Mr. Bradley said in low tune without looking at him. Andy feels something is not right with him. He was feeling very down the whole day, Andy came inside and sits on chair in front of him quietly then silently stare him. Mr. Bradley feels it then ask “what” “Yeah…what…what’s wrong with you man…you been low the whole day…it’s like you lost your life or something precious” “Shut up Andy…it’s nothing, I got some work…that’s all” Mr. Bradley said in rough tune. Andy thinks for a moment, put his arms on the table and move close then said looking sharply to him “you know…usually, when I feel like this…I mean I’m not having a good day it’s because I don’t get what I want… I don’t like anything around. I just want to hurt myself…work too much to distract myself from the problem” Mr. Bradley feels that Andy is trying to read his mind, and so far he’s successful in trick, so Mr. Bradley changes his expression and laugh “Okay…here’s your clue, I don’t like you bothering me!! I hate you when you came in my office calling my name and now that you’re doing it right now…I don’t know what to say. I really want to hit my head on the wall …only if this technique makes you disappear…but it won’t” Mr. Bradley said wrapping his work and stands. “Ok…I believe you for now that you are just stressed…not lost, which only happens if you are trying to find something...” Andy dramatically said and moves toward to the door then stops and turns to Mr. Bradley and said “or someone” then left. Mr. Bradley wears his coat and close his eyes, he was agree with Andy he was lost and trying to find someone even she’s infront of him, he can’t say anything to her. “Brad…Brad…” Judy call Mr. Bradley, they were sitting on their bed. Judy was filing her nails, wearing her night suit. Mr. Bradley was working on his laptop but he was lost in thought, still, staring his laptop screen when Judy notices. “Hmm…what?” Mr. Bradley asks. “Did you hear what I tell you about Casey's party?” Judy asks looking at him. Mr. Bradley was thinking about Claire’s behavior, and his reaction. He blaming himself for upsetting her, “sorry… just some office work” Mr. Bradley said while working. “Actually I know who you working with? “ Judy said in serious tune. Mr. Bradley gets surprised. “I know her, and I think I should keep my eyes open from now” Judy said. Mr. Bradley looks at her with wide open eyes, he thought “should I tell her about Claire…but it will hurt her, no I have to tell her” “Brad…I’m sorry I was just kidding honey” Judy said smiling, Mr. Bradley turn back to his work then said slowly “what do you mean?” “Well I got new project… an election winning party…do you Simon Wilson” Judy said filing her nails, “yeah... so?” “I met his wife yesterday, you know BAA manager Claire Wilson you work with her right?” Judy said doing her work but Mr. Bradley stop and closes his eyes tightly like he feel a pain, but he don’t know it’s because of jealously or guilt of hiding the truth from Judy. He’s a very honest man, even he don’t love Judy as much she do to him, he marries her. It was midnight; he was still awake, he turns his face to Judy who was sleeping. Room was dark, only his side lamp was on. He takes a deep breath, staring to the roof he remembers they were in same class in university, Judy was his good friend. He really care about Judy because she’s very sensitive but he don’t know she fall in love with him and everyone in his class knows that but he never encourages Judy, he never gives her any sign that he’s interested in her. Judy knows Mr. Bradley does not look her that way but she still have a hope because there is no one in his life. Mr. Bradley has his own world, his own thoughts about love. For a very long time, an image in his mind about the girl he fall in love, he search her everywhere from his high school to his college but fails to find her but he never give up. He believe she’s somewhere waiting for him too, it’s not that he never have a relationship but after some dates he realizes that it’s not that girl and move on. He never wants to hurt anyone but his nature inspires everyone, his attractive personality and charming styles smitten every girl who get close to him. But nothing impress him, he was lost in woods looking for the girl whose image was set in his head. CHAPTER 12 He was in his university hostel room, studying. It was his final year of Graduation; suddenly his door open and a brunette came in. She was crying Mr. Bradley tried to calm her down as he knows the reason of her sorrow. He always told Andy not to play with someone’s heart but he never listen. Mr. Bradley takes Christina hand in his hand and said “its fine Christina… he worth of your love anyway… its better you find about him soon in that way you’d be more careful next time”. Christina sweeps her tears, and then says sobbing “thanks Brad…you are so kind…but I thought he loves me…and those poems he wrote for me?” Mr. Bradley hesitates “uh…I …don’t know… but he’s not worth of your love Christina, you will find someone better than him. Love is an explainable feeling…it can be happen anytime…maybe now or sometime in life but when it happen you will know, you will know that’s the person, when you look at him… just in first look, you don’t need to spend time with him to know him” Mr. Bradley smile, looking wide open to him Christina suddenly hugs him. Mr. Bradley was surprised by her sudden move but before he stable himself, his room door open and Judy came in. she look them both “hey Judy” Christina said pleasantly. Judy looks at Mr. Bradley then run away; Mr. Bradley was confused with Judy’s reaction. Christina kisses him on his cheeks and leave while Mr. Bradley was thinking what happened to Judy. It was spring month with little cold, so he wears his sweater and follows Judy as he where she goes. She was sitting in nearby park; there were not so much people in the park. Mr. Bradley arrived at park, he saw Judy was crying. He sits next to her and asks softly “what’s wrong Judy?” Judy raises her head and sob. She turn away for head, Mr. Bradley confuse. He asks again “Judy tell me… why are you crying…you get result?” she gives him an angry look then stand and walk two steps. Her reaction confirms Mr. Bradley that she’s upset with him but why he still needs to figure out. “Judy… why are you upset…what have I done…please tell me?” Mr. Bradley asks softly, standing behind her. There was only few steps distance between them; his hands were in his khaki pants. He was wearing full sleeves green sweater over white collar shirt. She turn to him, wearing blue turtle-neck embellished top and blue jeans with high heel boots. Her neck length hairs moving because of cold- breeze, she looks at him. She was crying so hard “do you like Christina…what she’s doing in your room?” Judy asked in rough tune. Mr. Bradley surprised by her questions, he hesitates then says “No… it’s not… I’m not… I’m not in love her, she came to meet Andy… you know they break up…” “So she’s trying for you…why Brad… why can’t you see someone who love you so much” she said loudly then move toward him and grab his shoulders tightly, her tears falling on her cheeks. “I can’t see you with someone else… I can’t bear if you get close to someone but me…” she said emotionally. Mr. Bradley don’t like the way she said this “Judy…I …I don’t understand” “I’m in love with you Brad” Mr. Bradley freezes like he hears something unexpected. “From the day I saw you… I’m love with your… your kindness… your simplicity. For two years I have kept this in my heart hoping that someday, you will say that to me but I don’t know… why you can’t see. Am I not beautiful enough?” Mr. Bradley quickly releases him from her hold and step backward. “Judy… I don’t… I don’t think that I ever give you any sign that make you feel like this… I never thought about you like that… you are my good friend and I care about you” “And I’m addicted of your care… now tell what I do… I can’t live without… I need you… I need your attention… your care” Judy said emotionally. “I will always be there for you Judy… any time you need me but that’s all, I can’t… I can’t love you; my idea of love is so different” Mr. Bradley said then turns to her “I’m searching for that girl for a very long time Judy… I don’t have any feeling left for someone else” “I don’t know anything Brad… I only know that I love you so much and I will wait for you even if it takes for you to understand, that no one love you more than me” Judy said loudly and leave while Mr. Bradley down his head looking to the grass, now he have a burden in his heart because he fails to make Judy understand. CHAPTER 13 “Judy… Judy… really Brad, after all these years search…you chooses JUDY. I mean that’s great, and I thought she’d come from outer space…” Andy mock Mr. Bradley as he get ready. He was getting married today, standing infront of mirror in his house in Kansas. He was wearing his bowtie on his tuxedo, finely comb hairs side parted. Andy standing next to him and looking him in rage, he was upset with Mr. Bradley for marrying with Judy. He knows about Mr. Bradley’s feeling that he’s not happy and he’s only doing this for Judy. “Shut up Andy and help me, I don’t want to be late… did you call mom and dad, and tell them we’re coming… they been waiting for us… I hope all the guests arrived at time…and please get the ring from my drawer” Mr. Bradley said, ignoring Andy. “Ignore me all you want Brad but this is not fair… you are not doing fair with yourself man” Andy yells again “Andy… I’m getting married today… can’t you just be happy for me?” Mr. Bradley said roughly and moves to leave but Andy grab his shoulder. “Happy? It’s not important that I’m happy or not… the point is, are you happy or not… do you want this?” “Yes… I’m happy… very happy and I want this okay. Can we leave now?” “Don’t lie Brad… you are not happy and what about all those poetry… all those thought you made for that girl and all those plans you have for her…what about all of them Brad… tell me! Do you remember what you used to tell me, after you date so many girl… you said you’ll know her in first look… you’ll know it’s her… and you said you give her all those poetry to her… now what you going to do?” “NOTHING Andy… that’s what I’m going to do… I’ll walk right past to her like a stranger…cause you why… she doesn’t exist… a girl who I think for me… does not exist in reality… her image in my mind is not real… she’s not real Andy… I waited for her, what like 3, 5… 10… no Andy 15 years… I wait 15 years for her, I’m turning 30 next year and… and where is she? Nowhere” Mr. Bradley said quickly, he was emotional then calms himself and continues. “Judy… she… she waits for me for 5 years… and I know what it’s like to get disappointed… I know the pain and I don’t want Judy to feel the same, and what makes you think Judy is not that girl… maybe I did not recognize her before… she love me more than anything… she care about me, now I don’t have anything else to do. I got a job… a house, I don’t have any excuse to put her on wait and it doesn’t matter that I love her or not. She’s a nice person to spend your life with, I never hurt anyone’s feeling before…why her’s. If I don’t get my love it doesn’t mean she don’t have right to get her and if I can give her what she want then I should give her… atleast someone get her share of love… if I don’t” Mr. Bradley said in low tune, he put the ring box in his pants pocket and move to leave but stop as Andy asked “and what if she meet you after you get married… and if you fall in love with her then what will you say to Judy? Will you not going to hurt her feeling then? Or you will hurt that girl for Judy? Andy voice echo in Mr. Bradley mind, he again look at Judy who in her deep slumber. “No… I will not hurt you Judy, if she was for me… I would’ve met her before our marriage, now nothing can change… it is destined no matter how much it hurts me… she can never come in my life… I promise you Judy” he thinks, then switch off the lamp to sleep. Next morning, she was getting ready for office. She wears her flat black shoes and takes her bag then quickly leaves the room. She went downstairs, she was not hungry. She has so many thoughts in her mind so she directly head for main door but stop when Mr. Simon call her name “Claire…?” She doesn’t want to turn “shit” she whisper then turn “yeah…” she said softly. “Should I drop you?” Mr. Simon asks moving close to her. “No… its fine… I’m fine today, I can walk” she said smiling “ok… but, well fine… as you wish” Mr. Simon said, he want to say something but stop as he think it’s not going to work. “Bye” Claire said cheerfully and leaves. “Oh… I forget to tell you, we have party tomorrow evening… okay” Mr. Simon said quickly before she leave, Claire get worried and asks “where” “At hotel… in city, don’t worry I know you don’t go out of the city… ok” Mr. Simon said, putting his hands in his pants pockets. Claire smile in affirmative then leave. It’s been two days she didn’t see him, so she was walking fast and partially running to reach the stop, so many people are waiting at the stop as usual , she look at the signal it was still red. She look at the other side in the crowd but he was not there, she get worried and signal turn green and everyone start walking, she walks with crowd too. She was so worried then feels relief when she saw him, in blue strip suit under black long coat wearing his goggles. She smiles to him with love as moving toward him, she was looking at him but he didn’t take off his sun glasses. It surprise Claire, they came so close she look at him seriously but he didn’t look at her and they pass each other. He didn’t look at her for a second; she felt a sting in her heart. He passes her like every other every other stranger. Mr. Bradley removes his glasses as he passes her, still walking he inhales deeply because he’s having asthma attack and take out his pump. It was so hard for him to ignore her like that but he has to do this to make her understand that there is nothing going between them. He made a decision to hurt her but he knows that it will also kill him. CHAPTER 14 She thought about his behavior all the way thinking “why… he did this to me… it was so rude, I thought he would be excited to see me after two days… what’s wrong with him… why he didn’t see me? Why he ignore me like that? How could he do this to me… oh my…” she stops at her office entrance. Trevor, who was at reception waiting for her, looks at her and moves toward her. She looks so dull then starts smiling with blush which confuses Trevor and then stops “oh… my God, he was taking revenge… oh, just like I did. He shows me that he was upset with me… oh Brad” she thought as she put her hand on her mouth. “If you just talk to me, I’ll tell you how much pain I bear when I don’t see him” she blushes and raise her head, she surprise to see Trevor standing infront of her. “Are you okay…Claire” Trevor asks hesitantly, “yes… I… I am okay… how are you?” Claire replied as they walk toward the elevator “good” Trevor “did you finish the report done” she asks in elevator “Yes… we did and we talk to the production team, they ready for the ad, we just need Hostos approval because we can’t go yesterday… wait I read your interview in Time Magazine, it was amazing” “Thanks, did Hostos call, I mean to confirm the meeting” she said as they enter in her office “yes… they did” Trevor said putting file on her desk “so we are confirmly meeting them today” she asks cheerfully. “Yes and thank God you are here” Annie said as she enter in her office “we finalize everything, site, venue and production team. We just need their approval and shoo… heading for England baby!!” Annie said with giggles. “Oh… Claire England is so beautiful… so many place to go, so many shopping to do… I made a list of place we are going to see, I mean I’m going alone of course because you are not going as usual” Claire smile as Annie continue “then why I’m telling you all of this” she said in low tune. “Hmm… well this time, maybe I want to go too…” Claire said, she smiles still looking at her file, “really?” Annie ask excitedly “I said… maybe, I’m not sure right now… but I will tell you tomorrow… you guys get ready for meeting” Claire said. “Ok boss…” Annie said and leave with Trevor. She thinks “We know this today… I will talk to you, TODAY Mr. Rick… let see how you going to say no for the trip” she smile then get back to work. “You are ready for meeting Brad” Andy said as he enter in his office, Andy saw him in deep thoughts “Brad…Brad” Andy said, waving his hand infront of him. “Yeah… what is it?” Mr. Bradley asks like he was completely blank. “What wrong bro… are you okay?” Andy asks as he sits on the chair facing him. “Nothing… I can’t get my sleep in night” Mr. Bradley said. “Oh… please spare me with the details; I don’t want to know what Judy did to you” Andy joke and expect Mr. Bradley to yell but he quietly focus on his laptop screen. “What you don’t get the joke” Andy asks “what… what joke” Mr. Bradley said, he didn’t listen to him. He was still thinking about this morning, his behavior and Claire. “Ok… so what’s the deal Brad… spit it out NOW?” Andy said roughly, he was worried because of Mr. Bradley distracted mind he knows there is something worries him and Mr. Bradley is not telling him. “Nothing going on Andy… I told you, I’m just feeling low today” “Yeah… I notice… you been feeling low for two days. In two years, I never seen you like this… so dull; I mean you get so many achievement in past two years. We been working in this company for five years but last two years were amazing… you always came to office with full energy, every stuff member take inspiration from you… you always full of ideas…full of happiness but from last two days you look so down and… it’s just not me everyone saying that… you are not the same Brad… what’s going on in your life” Andy said, hardly. “Andy… thank you for reminding me last two years history, I’m so charge now…tell me why are here bothering me again?” Mr. Bradley said quickly to change the topic. Andy look him for a moment with sharp eyes then said “we got a meeting with BAA in an hour” but before Mr. Bradley say something he says loudly “don’t say NO today or I will tell the boss that your wife fight with you every night… and he get my joke buddy” “Fine… I will get ready” “Great” Andy said and leaves. Mr. Bradley wants to say no, but now it was another difficult task for him to avoid her again. CHAPTER 15 He gather his all strength and enter in meeting room, everyone was seated that’s why he wait outside the meeting room so he don’t have to greet anyone, he sit also but before Claire move her hand to shake hands with him he said “let’s start the presentation now” Claire smile at his reaction she still thinks that he’s doing this to tease her so she starts the presentation. During the presentation she continuously focuses Mr. Bradley without caring anybody. But Mr. Bradley sometime looks at the projector screen and sometime in his files, not for single second he looks at Claire. When the presentation over, Andy stand and applaud for her “wow… it was so great Claire… we really like it… what say Brad?” Andy said. “Yes… it was great” Claire smile when Mr. Bradley comment. “So its final… we are going to England and now that we complete your requirement… we hope you fulfill your commitments Mr. Rick” Annie said, she was talking about the budget but Mr. Bradley have sudden thought as he feel Claire moving toward him. He turns toward Annie then said “I will… Ms. Cornfield I always fulfills my commitments… I never back once I promise… I always stay on my commitment” Annie who look surprise with his reply hesitantly smile and Mr. Bradley smile then leave the room. Claire, who was shocked, understands what he’s trying to say. She understands what commitment means that he will never break his marriage, his commitment to Judy. Everyone was talking while Claire was gathering her files from tables, a tear drop on the table as she closed her eyes tightly. She get so disappointed today, her heart crushed… her expectation broke, he saw her reflection on glass table. She distracted when Andy calls her “then see you in England, Claire” she raises her head and turn to Andy then smile at him while Annie takes file from her “I’m not sure… I can come” “yeah… she’s very moody about going on business trip” Annie quickly said. “But if it’s in the city, she’s very active in everything” Trevor said. “Really… strange, and I thought my best friend is weird… because he also don’t like to go out of the country… or stay away from the city. But that’s great, I found someone like him” Andy said looking at Claire, she was quietly listen to everyone but when Andy said that she look at him then on floor. Andy understands there is something wrong, he also notice her, focusing Mr. Bradley throughout the presentation. But he also knows Mr. Bradley will not tell him anything that easily. Mr. Bradley did it, he complete his task. His task to break her heart, push her away from him. He crushed her dreams. “Why did you leave so early…? Brad, we were all talking about the trip to England” Andy shouts as he enters in office after they all leave. Mr. Bradley did not reply and pretend he didn’t listen to him, not even look at him. “Really Brad…” Andy said again a little louder, “oh… what are you saying?” Mr. Bradley replies simply. Andy stare him for a moment then again ask “why did you leave early… you’re the director of this product… your idea but they know Rufus more than you” “Ted also knows about the project… so relax” “Brad… Ted Rufus is second best person for this job after me” Mr. Bradley looks at Andy and raises his eye-brow as Andy show off. “But not for this campaign… no, I’m not allowing him to take charge… why did you leave the room” “Why are you so sticky Andy, I need a fresh air… ok” “We got air in the room too…” “Also I have to call Judy” “Yeah… really, ok for what?” Andy asks looking at him with sharp eyes. Mr. Bradley now raise his head “uh… hmm, for dinner” he hesitates “tonight?” Andy asks again. “Yes… what’s wrong with you Andy why are you asking so many questions to me?” Mr. Bradley said, he was teased with Andy’s behavior. “Nothing… just mess’ in with you” Andy said with giggles, Mr. Bradley get back to his work but after some moment he feels Andy is staring him seriously “what” he ask. “Do you know Claire Wilson also don’t go on foreign trips… strange right?” Andy asks he plays blind. He knows that Mr. Bradley will not tell him anything. “No… I don’t think so… a lots of people don’t like to go on foreign trips” “oh yeah… name one” Andy said quickly. Mr. Bradley get stuck, then says “why do you think it’s strange?” as working on his computer. Andy think for a moment, then move close to the table put his arms on the table then says “and do you know she walks to her office from her home also… Annie told me” “Yeah… so” Mr. Bradley asks in low tune. “And she lives in your opposite direction which means you maybe see her going to her office” “What do you mean…?” Mr. Bradley asks roughly “I mean, she don’t look crazy to me… who wants to walk 25 min distance every day from her home to office… what do you think?” but before Mr. Bradley say anything Andy says “uh… forget it, you must be happy now, you actually met someone like you… she’s crazy like you” Andy phone rings, he got a message “oh… okay, I’m gonna leave” Andy said and smile to see Mr. Bradley confuse then leave the room. Mr. Bradley now realizes that maybe he done something wrong. CHAPTER 16 Claire was in her purple-black night gown, sitting infront of mirror. She was slowly combing her hairs, thinking about him. “I always wait for him, the one who touch my soul and now when I know him… I think why I met him” She remembers, “After five months of her marriage, she gets settled in the city. She was selected as a creative designer at BAA, it was a usual Friday and she was running late from her work. She was wearing, black sleeve-less, turtle neck silk blouse and brown pencil skirt with black pumps. She wears her pearl studs, her neck length hairs was side parted. She quickly headed for the garage, Simon was out of the city for his political meeting, and it was month of May. She sits in her car and starts it but it doesn’t start. “Shit… I forgot to call the mechanic” she said hitting her hand on steering wheel. “Oh… God what I’m going to do?” she think as she get out of the car. She locks her house and start walking to get a cab. “Simon… I told you to call the mechanic, you know I don’t remember these kind of stuff of because of your stupid car I’m walking for the first time in my life… hold it… taxi” but before she can sits in the taxi she remember she forget her wallet at home which she take out because she’s searching for her contacts list. “No thank you” she said to the taxi driver. “What happen?” Simon asked. “Nothing… just please send someone to fix your broken car because I don’t like to walk” she said roughly and hang up. She was very upset, first she was getting late and second she’s walking in her heels. She never walk that much before, her father was also very famous politician from Texas, she born with silver spoon. She doesn’t like the crowded places. She stops at intersection at Times Square, so many people standing there waiting for the signal to turn green. The signal turn green and she move with throng, her phone rings suddenly and Claire was so teased. She searches her phone in the bag, she look in to her purse for phone she got it but as she raise her head she collide with someone. It was Mr. Bradley, she look at him and her felt something different. She wants to say something but they keep looking in each other eyes. Both quiet and confuse, Claire feels time has stop for them. Then they realize the moving crowd so they both stand and Mr. Bradley move away as she does. She wants to turn, and then put her phone to her ear like she’s listening. It was Annie but she was not. She had a feeling back there, a feeling she never felt before. Something she only thought you feel when you find your destination, a sting in her heart which stops all her senses even her words. The whole day she’s been thinking about him, later that night lying on her bed. She thinks while playing with her hairs “why he didn’t say anything? Why he was looking at me like that? What is this feeling? Why I wanted to see him again… oh God!!” she said and sit straight “what is this obesity? It’s killing me” She passed all the weekend thinking about him, she feels every hour like a burden, she can’t eat and sleep properly. She decides not to think about him yet she’s thinking about him. She prepare quickly as possible on Monday, then headed for door but Simon call her from her back “baby… you forget the car keys”. She gets afraid “uh… no, I will walk today” she said hesitantly as she turns. “Walk? Why… I repaired your car, you can drive now” Simon said. “Uh… I just… I just, uh. My yoga teacher used to say walk is good for healthy life style and I think I put on some weight” “Really… ok but you look still so beautiful” Simon said and move to kiss her. It was the first time after her marriage; she doesn’t like Simon’s touch. She quickly walks to the signal. She was panting but she got time, she looked to the other side but she can’t see him, the one she’s looking for. Crowd start walking as signal turn green, she starts walking, and saw him too. She smiles as she saw him, standing at the other side. She feels he’s looking at him because he was wearing shades. He walks toward her, they were about to pass each other when he takes off his glass looking straight then to her.what he wants to tell her, she undertands . All the way to her office she thinks “it was wedding ring… oh God,he’s married. So what, I’m married too but he showed up today… why? If he don’t want to see me he won’t come to see me but he did come that’s mean he likes me too”. “I’m married too, now how will I tell him, does it change everything?” she thinks, sitting in her office. “fine, tomorrow I will tell him that I’m married too… what he going to do, will come again or not. But I never feel so attracted toward anyone before. Uh!! Get out of my head” she cover her face with her hands. “is he the one I’m waiting all these years?” CHAPTER 17 “Claire… Claire” Simon call her and she get distract, he takes off his coat. “You are not ready yet…” Simon said, folding his sleeves. She stands and moves towards Simon to help him loose his tie. “Simon I need to tell you something” she said softly, she was so close to Simon. He smile then says “yes… I’m all ears love” Claire smile. He takes her hands in his and they sit on the bed “Simon… I want to go Houston” “Ok…I’ll arrange the flight ticket” Simon said pleasantly. She look at him then down her eyes “no… I mean I wanna move back to Houston… I miss mom and dad. I decide to live there” she said in low tune. She knows what she’s doing is unfair with Simon but she was helpless and there is no other way. There was a moment silent between them, Simon put his hand on her cheek then softly asks “what do you mean… move back to Houston? You got a job here, you have a life here”. She looks at him “I’m gonna quit my job soon… and I don’t want to live here anymore… In this city” she said putting her hair strand back to her ear. “Well… probably because you haven’t leave this city for almost two years… you must me tried of schedule… just takes couple of weeks break, I’m sure you can’t stay away from this city for that long” Simon said cheerfully, trying to hide his expression that he’s afraid of Claire’s decision. “I mean it Simon, I really want to leave this city and move to Houston. I am really bored and I don’t like this job anymore and also I don’t think I need a job to live… right?” Claire said little loudly. Simon stare her for a second then says “yeah right… great, now you realize. I told you that when you start this job but it was your passion so I didn’t force you to quit and now you not just want to quit this job… you don’t want any job” He stands and takes off his tie, loose his collar button “first you don’t want to leave this city now you don’t want to live in this city… did something happen Claire… has anyone say you anything?” he ask putting his hands his pants pockets. “No… I just want to go back… because I’m missing my family… my town… listen Simon” she stands infront of him. “I will come back when I want to, but right now I want to go back” “And what about me?” Simon asked. “You can come too; when you are free… it’s not that far from New York” she said lifting her hairs to make hair bun. “Yeah of course … New York and Texas are just thousand miles away honey” she didn’t reply, and getting ready to sleep, put on the blanket. “Ok… fine, I arrange your ticket… it just that I will miss you so much” Simon said as he sits next to her. “It’s no big deal Simon; you can come home whenever you want” she closed her eyes like she’s going to sleep, so Simon get up and walk toward wardrobe then stop to ask “you are coming to th party tomorrow… right?” “Yeah… I will and I will also take my stuff from office on Monday so book my seat for Tuesday. I want to leave as soon as possible” “Ok… I will” Simon said in low tune, she closed her side table lamp to sleep and he move toward wardrobe. As he closes his wardrobe door, she slowly opens her eyes “he’s not for me… so what’s the point to see him every morning, when he doesn’t want to see me… when he doesn’t want to give me any attention. It was just my imagination that there is someone for me. It could be Simon or anyone but him. I don’t want to see him… I don’t want him in my life anymore. I will forget him… just like everything else about him… if he don’t care about me… if he like to hurt me then fine I will change my path” she thinks and a tear drop on her pillow as she closed her eyes. It was Saturday morning, Mr. Bradley was reading a newspaper but he was thinking about Claire. “We are going in the party tonight… you remember that right, Brad?” Judy said making coffee for herself in the kitchen. She take her coffee mug and sits in the T.V lounge to watch T.V “Brad?” she call him again when he didn’t respond her. “Yes… I’m listening” Mr. Bradley said, “Oh… really what was I saying? I don’t know why men lost when reading the newspaper; it’s like something extraordinary written in it or is it really a newspaper you are reading?” Judy shouts while setting her rollers. “I will be ready, Judy” Mr. Bradley said softly, and then again thinks about Claire while Judy was talking. “She was hurt yesterday because of me. Should I call her, tell her what I am going through? Meet her… but how can I get her number? Andy…no, he’ll understand what’s going on. He always understands so quickly, he already told me… was that all true, is she really for me? No Brad focus! If she was for me, we met before I get married to Judy. No I can’t just break her heart to have my love. I just need to focus on something else… focus very hard and I will get her out of my head” He continues to read his paper then he remembers her smiley face after she gives her presentation. He was very hurt to leave her but he was helpless, he can’t break Judy’s heart. She trusts him so much and he knows that. CHAPTER 18 “You are ready Claire?” Simon asked then stops as he sees her. She was wearing sequined gold floor-length gown, featuring panelling on the side and a thigh-spilt on one side. The gold embellished dress had black illusion panels at the waist, with black pumps. Her blonde locks were retro-styled side parted. “Yes… I’ll be down in a moment” Claire said and notice Simon staring her with smile “what… what is it?” she asked, even knowing the answer. “You look so beautiful, just like the first time I saw you at your prom night” Simon said, she formally smile then turn back to mirror. Simon feels that she doesn’t want to talk more and leave the room with so many words he wants to say to her. She looks him leaving the room, and then wears her diamond and red sapphire bracelet looking at it. She slowly raises her eyes, she thinks “I know I look so good then why I asked him. Why I become so sensitive about how I look, I was never like this. Now I just want to see how you ignore me…tonight” then take her clutch and leave the room. “You know Judy I don’t like parties but you still taking me… forcibly” Mr. Bradley said driving the car. “Brad… you are driving the car” Judy said, then giggles when Mr. Bradley look her with wide open eyes. “C’mon Brad… it’s one of the big event in the city, lots of people coming here and plus I told you how important it is for me. Also Simon wants to meet you too, I told you so many times… right?” Judy said. “Oh God… please she don’t come there, please don’t let her see me. How am I going to ignore her again? If I see her tonight… I don’t know how I will survive” Mr. Bradley thinks and inhales a cold deep breath. “Excellent arrangements Judy it all look so beautiful… just like you are” Simon said cheerfully when Judy meets him with Mr. Bradley. It was a huge hall, decorated with huge chandeliers in middle of the roof in a line; tables were set in the hall, every table was decorated with a rose buckeye and dinner crockery and the hall was filled with guest. On front stage was set for musicians playing jazz music, on the right bar was set for the guest and waiters serving the guest. The front was covered with glass, which make it more appealing. “Thank you so much Simon, you don’t look bad too. Meet my husband Bradley Rick” Judy said as she introduces Mr. Bradley to Simon, she was wearing bronzy-light-brown satin gown which boasted elaborated embroidery, subtle floral details and a cluster of delicate beadworks, she brown mane back as high bun and side hair strands fall on right side. Mr. Bradley was wearing all-black, a mock-turtleneck undershirt with a crisp black suit with glossy black shoes. “Oh, finally… I heard a lot about you from your wife and also I was curious to see the guy Judy fall in love with…and now I think she is so lucky Brad, if you don’t mind” Simon said shaking his hands with him “of course not and thank you it’s really nice to meet you too” Mr. Bradley said, he don’t want to say it but he did. “Simon and I was class mate back in high school, and we hate each other” Judy said, “Correction… she hates me, and I just don’t know why” “Of course… because he was such a big player and I hate that kind of men” “I was not a player… oh Claire, bard you do know my wife Claire Wilson” Simon said as she join them, he put his arm around her waist and Mr. Bradley saw that. “Sure he does” Claire said smiling holding a glass of red wine, “you look so beautiful Judy” Claire said, pleasantly looking at him. Before Judy reply to Claire, her assistant came to her and whisper something in to her ear, “excuse me for a moment” she said and leaves. “Ok… then you guys talks about the product, I’ll meet with my friend” Simon said as his friends enter in the party. They were now alone, the hall was full with guest, with so many voices and music but Mr. Bradley still feeling nervous because Claire was looking at him with so many questions in her eyes for him, which are asking him “why are you ignoring me?” She was drinking her wine and looking at him then she tries to move toward him. Mr. Bradley can’t bother her anymore so he walk past her to find a place to sit, and avoid her. He fined a place between people so she can’t talk to him. Claire, who was burning inside drinks all her wine, in single sip to cool down the fire inside her but she fails. CHAPTER 19 “Wow Judy… the menu is very impressive” Simon said as waiters serving them dinner. “Thank you Simon I really choose special item for tonight, of course it’s your special night” Judy said they were sitting on dinner table with Simon and Claire. Mr. Bradley and Claire was facing each other, Claire looking him with sharp eyes sometime and Mr. Bradley fails to ignore her burning eyes. “Of course Judy but I think Brad is getting bored in this party” Simon said with a smile looking at him. Mr. Bradley attention when he listen to him “uh… it’s not that, it is a great party. It’s just that I don’t like parties. “Yes… that’s true, Brad always like to be alone. He like quite places, when we were in college, he never come to my parties” Judy support Mr. Bradley and hold his hand, and it somehow affect Claire as she drink all her wine and the waiter refill it. “Oh… no way, Claire likes to be alone too. When we were just friend, I always saw her sitting alone and far away from her dad’s parties. By the way, Mr. Davis throws awesome parties, we enjoy so much…don’t we honey?” Simon asks looking at her, and Claire smile. “Oh…yeah, with her guitar… Her beautiful guitar and best buddy, she was an amazing singer and she wrote her own song. I told her to pursue it as career but then it all gone” Simon said. “Wow… Claire that’s great, Brad had a hobby like that too, he was really good poet. I was fond of his poems, even though he was MBA student but I think that he should study literature” Judy said, little cackles around the table. Suddenly Claire has a thought and she asks with mischief smile “really, so is he sensitive? I heard that poets are sensitive… caring. Does he have a kind heart?” looking at Judy. “Yeah… so much sensitive and so very reserve” Judy replied. “Well that mean he never hurt anyone” Claire asks still smiling, Simon surprise a little on her question, and Mr. Bradley get nervous as he feel Claire might going to do something. He can feel her pointing questions. “Oh… no, never he so caring you knows people came to him with their problems and he always help them with everything he got, sometime he don’t know what to do not even then he say no to anyone” Judy said cheerfully. “Interesting… it always hard for Claire to say no that’s why I ask her to marry me with so confident because I know she will never say me no” Simon said with laugh. “But honestly it was her voice and music that make me fall in love with her” Simon said, they were talking when Claire has a thought she quickly said “Simon I got an idea, I have a feeling to sing tonight, may I?” Simon surprise like everyone else on the table but then says “sure… honey but I thought you quit… I mean you say that you quit. It was a long time ago, are you still…?” “Yes… I am I just got a feeling” Claire said cheerfully looking at everyone then stands and move towards the stage. She takes mic then address everyone “ladies and gentlemen tonight, on this very special occasion for my husband I like to make this night more special for you all” looking at Mr. Bradley, who look the other way. She sits on stool then wears her guitar belt and hold it to play, Mr. Bradley feeling very uncomfortable, he sweep his sweat from his forehead. He decides to leave but before he can stand, she plays with low notes. “I’m glad that you came in my life If you know what you mean to me I know your words go hide When you are with me But I know what you feel for me Even if you don’t want to tell me And I want to say… If the world going to ends And it’s our last moments Darling… what you going to say? If someone else hold my hand And you won’t see me again Darling… what you going to say? To make me stay… Why this world scared you You leave me all alone again Why this world changed your mind Come here and hold my hand I can’t bear this cold I feel You walk right past to me And I want to say… If the world going to ends And it’s our last moments Darling… what you going to say? If someone else hold my hand And you won’t see me again Darling… what you going to say? To make me stay… I know you never understand I know you never come again I know you leave me to die… Oh… stranger on the other side” Mr. Bradley raises his head to look her, her voice pierce through his heart. He understand everything now when she sings. Stranger on the other side… Stranger on the other side You take away… my soul And I want to say… If the world going to ends And it’s our last moments Darling… what you going to say? If you stand and hold my hand I’ll stay with you till the end Darling… what you going to say? To make me stay… He panically stands as everyone standing and applauding on Claire’s perform, he heard something that make so terrified. He walks out of the hall quickly, leaving Judy in surprise who call his name but he didn’t listen and leave. Claire standing on stage, watching him leaves so quickly. “No... No way, it can’t be” Mr. Bradley thinks and driving as fast as he can. He stop at his house quickly runs inside, he enters in his library. He starts searching something in his bookshelf then in the lower cabinet. He was panicking when he can’t find what he’s looking for then runs in his bedroom and in his wardrobe, he open his lower cabinet. He was tense, wrinkles and sweat on his forehead. Then suddenly his frighten expression increase when he saw a black cover diary, he quickly take it out and open it, folding its paper like he’s searching for something written in it. Then stop, his expression turn to calm down and he get surprise as he read aloud “Stranger on the other side You take away my soul…” It’s her… it’s her, Oh God… it’s her” he thought then slowly sits on the floor and cuddle. It was so surprising for him to see that, some lyrics he writes when he was in his college years thinking about the girl he will fall in love was the same one Claire sings tonight. He was thinking about her, the way she looks at him tonight, all the hopes she had with him ends tonight with her song. CHAPTER 20 When Judy enters in the house, it was midnight. She walks in the lounge and saw Mr. Bradley. He was sleeping on couch, liquor bottle and glass half full. His diary falling open on his chest and his hands are over it like he was reading it. She was so confused about why he runs away from the party, when she saw the diary she remembers when they were in college. She always saw Mr. Bradley with this diary, she always saw him sitting alone from his group and writing something in his diary. It makes her more curious to know what’s in his diary. “Brad… what do you write in it?” one day Judy asks him when they were in college cafeteria sitting with their friends. “Nothing special… just some pointless poetry” Mr. Bradley replies. “Oh… Judy this diary is Brad’s dream journal and he writes in it about his dream girl” Andy mock Mr. Bradley, everyone laugh and Mr. Bradley smiles then look at him with wide open eyes as it was signal to make him stop. “Really Brad… who is that girl?” Judy asked curiously. “I don’t know Judy and don’t listen to him” “Yeah… don’t listen to me Judy but trust me in this journal… secrets lies of Bradley Rick’s love world” Andy said dramatically and everybody laugh. “Shut up Andy or I will really break your nose” Mr. Bradley said in modesty. Judy smile too but she kept a promise to herself to read this diary. After the college she never saw Mr. Bradley writing again, even after three years of marriage she never saw this diary before today. She was surprise that why he bring it up again after so many years, what’s written in this diary. Next morning when Mr. Bradley wakes up he found Judy sitting infront of him on table with coffee mug in her hand. He was surprise but he not in his complete conscious then raise to sit slowly, his head ache so he put his hand on his head. “Coffee?” Judy said giving him the mug. “Thanks” Mr. Bradley said as he takes it, after a moment he remembers he left her alone at the party last night. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to leave you alone. I just remember something important…” “Something more important than me?” Judy asks softly with smile. Mr. Bradley feels embarrassed when she asks; he can’t look in her eyes. “I’m really sorry Judy… I should’ve called you before I leave. It won’t happen again… I’m sorry” Mr. Bradley said hesitantly. “It’s okay Brad… I forgive you” Judy said then sits next to him and holds his hand. Mr. Bradley feels so guilty inside him like he has done some crime; her love for him makes him weaker to think about himself. “That’s your college diary… right? I haven’t seen it in a while. I thought you lost it” Judy said looking at the diary, she try to take it slowly but Mr. Bradley put it the table as he don’t want her to read it. Mr. Bradley moves his finger in his hairs the slowly said “yeah… I was remembering our college time… I gonna get fresh… ok” and stand to leave with diary but Judy knows it is not true. There is something he’s trying to hide from her and it is in that diary, but why? It makes her more worried. The next morning, start of new week but the end of November. He dresses up as usual in navy blue suit, white button-undershirt with red tie and black shoes. He was keep praying in his heart that she come to the signal today because he wants to see her, he wants to talk to her. He looks himself in mirror, then down his head. He knows there is no point of all of this “I promise myself I don’t see her again then why my heart keep praying to see her, of course she come… she always come… then why I’m praying for it” he deeply inhales. A war between his mind and heart never let him peace. His was sleeping; he quietly takes his long coat and bag then leave. He was feeling very sad but he was walking fast today than usual. He was not wearing his shades, a hope in his heart keep accelerating him. He reached to the signal, waiting for it to turn green like everyone else. He’s not looking at the other side, a fear of breaking his hope making him so weak. He start walking when the crowd move, he raised his head slowly when he feels she’s not here and look around while walking. Then down his head, and he walks toward his office. His hope breaks, a little painful sting in his heart. She will not come again, he can’t see her again all of these thought surrounds his mind. “So you were serious… I thought you are joking, you are leaving for sure?” Annie asked in low tune. Claire was putting her belongings in the box; they were in Claire’s office. She was leaving today, “yeah… I am, Annie” Claire said. She was grey sleeve-less dress which was form-fitting with white ballet shoes, her hairs fall freely on her shoulder like she don’t care how she look, sadness in her voice worries Annie. She always sees Claire active and happy, she knows her for five years but now her depressed expression confuses Annie. “Means you don’t understands the reasons I give you to not to leave” Annie said smiling. “Annie I told you, I need a break… plus mom calls me and she’s missing me so much” she take a moment pause then said “I miss my life back home” “Listen babe… I understand but that doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, everyone is so upset and I don’t know how David let you go!” Annie insists her to change her mind. “David didn’t fire me I quit… and that my right okay… I don’t have any more projects left and I finished my last one” she said putting her mug and pictures in her box. She was taking her stickers out of the board she put of her office wall when Annie said “I don’t understand … two weeks ago we were talking about going to England and now you quitting for the job” folding her arms, she was very upset with Claire’s decision. Claire keeps quite like she didn’t listen to her but before Annie repeat her question, Trevor enters in her office and said “boss accepts your resignation and Jimmy is completing your papers… did he come here?” “No…” Claire said, “Why don’t you bring them?” Annie said annoyingly. “I can’t… I need to call electrician” “Why… everything okay?” Annie asked, Claire still doing her packing. “There is some wiring problem on fourth floor and Walden said it could be serious… so I’m in a rush” Trevor said “Its fine Trevor, I collect them myself… thanks for everything” Claire said simply. Trevor look at her for a moment then said “I will miss you Claire” Claire smile at him then said “yeah… me too”. CHAPTER 21 “Hey Brad... did you complete your report? We got a meeting at lunch” Andy shouts at Mr. Bradley office door then move to leave but stop as he realizes he didn’t listen to him. “Brad? Brad?” Andy calls him and waves his hand infront of him. “Still here or lost in Narnia” Andy joked and accept him to laugh but Mr. Bradley didn’t. “Yeah…what” Mr. Bradley said, looking in his files “did you complete your report?” Andy said roughly. “Yeah… I just complete it” he replied, Andy notices his mind is not present “okay… well meeting is at lunch” Andy said, but Mr. Bradley didn’t say anything so he asks again “are you okay Brad…” and sits on the chair. “Yeah… why?” Mr. Bradley asks. “I don’t know I feel like you are in some kind of stress. I call you twice yesterday but you didn’t returns my calls and you didn’t ask me either. I was stressed and I need you” Andy said making a duck face, which make Mr. Bradley smile “I’m sorry Andy and why do you need?” he asks trying to ignore the first part of his question and Andy notice that but didn’t say anything. “Annie was so stressed and I don’t know how to cheer her up. I thought you could help me with this because you know very well how to make someone happy” it was a credit but to Mr. Bradley it felt like a slap on his face because he knows he hurt Claire so much. “Hello” Andy calls him again, “I ask you to help me? And you lost again in your dreams” “Yeah… you should find out the reason which upset her and try to solve it for her, when she sees your efforts she will definitely get impress with you” “I can’t solve the problem Brad… it’s not up to me. If her friends wants to quit her job and leave the city what can I do about that? I plan our date for so long and what she talk about “she’s going to leave the city… she’s quitting her job. Why she want to leave? She was so happy” Andy said acting like Annie. It makes Mr. Bradley smile, he was doing his work “she told me we will go to England and now she’s leaving forever” I don’t understand why she put so drama in it” “I thought you really like her” Mr. Bradley said, “I do Brad… finally I’m thinking to settle down but she’s so upset these days, I don’t know when I talk to her about us? Just all the time “she’s going Andy… she’s going” I really need a break” Andy said. “She…? Who” Mr. Bradley asked, “Annie’s best friend… you know her too… Claire, Claire Wilson” Andy said normally checking his cell phone. Mr. Bradley get attention, he stop and panically asked to Andy “what… she’s leaving the city?” Andy looks him for a moment then said “yeah… sadly” Mr. Bradley realizes his sudden reaction suspect Andy, “why… she was so good at her job” Mr. Bradley asked to get to know the reason. Andy thinks something then said “you like her work? Right, now she’s not going to be around anymore… you know I bet” Andy came close to table and put his arms on the table. “she had a big fight with her husband… that’s why she’s leaving… c’mon we all know Simon Wilson play boy image… she must been find out he’s cheating on her and don’t love her anymore. She get hurt, that’s why she’s leaving” Andy said softly. Mr. Bradley look him in shock, Claire was hurt, she did find out Mr. Bradley don’t love her and that’s why she’s leaving the city. Andy stands then says something and leave but Mr. Bradley can only listen “she’s leaving and not coming back” She was on fourth floor to collect her papers, she enter in Jimmy Chang’s cubicle. A middle-aged burette person working when Claire said “hi Jimmy” “Hey Claire… sit down” “You ready my paper works” Claire asked, she was in hurry, wants to leave this place as soon as possible. “Oh hey… just a second, c’mon where did I put you” Jimmy said while finding her papers. There were so many people in office; Claire was in her thoughts when Jimmy calls her “Claire” “You need to sign here” Claire takes pen from him to sign “I thought you are going to England… Annie tells everyone that your project with Hostos was very good then why are you leaving” Jimmy asks normally doing his work. When Claire heard, she remembers their meetings, Mr. Bradley’s rude behavior with her and even she tells him everything in the song he didn’t care about her. “Claire, did you sign it?” Jimmy asks again, Claire nod then asks “where’s the washroom?” her voice get heavy in the last. “Straight and then right” Jimmy said and she leaves quickly, her pain waiting to come out in tears. Jimmy suddenly remembers and shouts “but careful its door gets jammed sometime… I hope she’d hear me” then get he back on his work. She did not listen to him, she was thinking all about Mr. Bradley. She runs in the ladies washroom and lock the door, she was alone there and start crying, standing in front of basin. CHAPTER 22 A short circuit breaks in the default wires, it was on the fourth floor sub-fuse box and suddenly all the electricity on the fourth floor gets fuse with a powerful short which cause a fire in the circuit. With the fire alarm everyone on the floor runs down through emergency exist, the alarm alert everyone in the building and everyone starts evacuated the building, Annie was on the phone with Andy when she heard the alarm “what happen there Annie” Andy asks as he heard it too. “I think we got fire emergency” Annie said confusingly because she was looking for Claire, everyone was going down. “Annie gets out of the building” Andy said. Mr. Bradley going in the meeting room when he saw the news and Andy was worried, he goes near to Andy to ask. “Claire… Claire” Annie shout but she was not there, “Annie what are you doing” Andy asks. “I can’t find Claire, Andy. She went on fourth floor” Annie said, fire alert cause fire showers to open but on fourth floor there was no electricity and fire was growing. “Get out of the building Annie… she must be out” Andy shouts. “What’s going on Andy?” Mr. Bradley asks when he looks all his staff watching the news which showing “fire flames coming out the BAA building and fire ambulance, police was securing the building, he freeze there. Andy look at Mr. Bradley but before he tell him anything Annie says “She’s not here Andy… I told you she was on fourth floor” Annie said crying, she was out of the building. “What… Claire was on fourth floor, but that’s where the fire breaks… do anybody seeing her getting out?” Andy said then turns to Mr. Bradley but he was gone. Mr. Bradley’s office was about 35 minute distance from Claire’s building but he was running like crazy, like his world was about to destroy. He never runs that fast but he was not in his sense, only thing matter most for him right now was Claire, his life was depends on her life. Claire heard the sound and because of the fire, washroom was getting fill with smoke, she tried to open the door but it get jammed, there was no electricity and no passage of air. It makes difficult for her to breath; she beat the door several times and call for someone to hear her but there was no one, she was coughing because of the smoke. She was praying that someone listen to her, in her heart she was calling Mr. Bradley. He reached the building, and saw everywhere but he didn’t see Claire but Annie saw him and he saw her crying “calm down Annie… I’m coming, okay just hold on” Andy said as he was getting in his car. “Andy… what is Brad doing here?” Annie asked in surprise, and it makes Andy surprise too “what?” Andy shouts. He understands Claire is not here, he runs inside the building before police men could stop him. He moved to the stairs for emergency exist and runs, when he reached on the fourth floor, fire was very high, the glasses of door get break and there was smoke everywhere. He takes off his coat and covers his mouth, he can’t see anything clear and it was getting hot. When he move inside, he heard a voice of door beating but then suddenly glass wall on his right arm breaks and badly injured his arm. He didn’t feel the pain because all he wants was to save Claire. He move forward, trying to stay away from fire but he can’t open his mouth because of smoke, and then he heard the voice again “help me… I’m here” he runs toward his right then stop at ladies room. He hit on the door, and Claire move away from the door, then again he hit and door open. When he gets inside, she was so shocked. She knows, she’s been calling him but how he heard her voice was surprising. They both look for a moment then another glass break and Mr. Bradley hold her hand to get away, they were trying to reach to the stairs but fire was growing everywhere. Mr. Bradley start coughing badly and Claire hold him, smoke was increasing. They feel like, it’s their last moment because they can’t find a way exist, they look at each other. She was holding his arms and that’s when the fire fighter came with the spray, he wearing a gas-mask and gives them a sign to follow him. They came down and out of the building, when Annie sees her she quickly hugs her which makes Mr. Bradley to leave Claire’s hand. “Thank God… you are okay… I was so worried and you take hell out of me” Annie said everything in a breath. “I’m fine Annie… its okay” Claire said, and then looks at Mr. Bradley with love. “Oh… Claire Thank God, you are okay” Simon came as Annie move away from her then notice Mr. Bradley. “Thank to him… he save Claire” Annie said pointing at Mr. Bradley. “I’m always thankful to you, for saving my wife” Simon said as they shake hand, Mr. Bradley smile and nod. “Brad… you okay?” Andy said, as he reached there and saw his wounded arm “Oh shit… Brad your arm, man what are you doing? If anything happens to you then what I said to Judy and look at your arms, it’s a deep cut and” Andy stops when he look at Claire who was looking at Mr. Bradley and leaving with Simon. “I didn’t feel it, I don’t know when I got the cut” Mr. Bradley said, looking at his wound. Andy looks him for a moment when they move toward medic, then says smiling “I think I know why didn’t feel the pain…” Mr. Bradley feels Andy understand everything. CHAPTER 23 They were in Mr. Bradley’s bedroom and he was sitting in bed and Andy was sitting on chair infront looking at him with sharp eyes. “I think I’m fine and I call Judy, she’s coming too so you can leave if you want” Mr. Bradley said, not looking at him. “It’s her… right? Brad” Andy said, Mr. Bradley shocked, “what… who… who are you talking about?” Mr. Bradley shutters. “Stop it… just stop” Andy yells, “So it’s her… the one, you wait for all these years. The one you used to write your poetry for, you used to dream about her. all those thoughts I used to laugh on… you walk to your work just to see her every day… you really find her and I thought you been dreaming and I was like how that can be happen if you just do believe that there is someone for you and you will find her. But you did it… you find her Brad, you were right after all” Andy said excitedly, putting his hand on his head. Mr. Bradley looked in his hand and rubs it with other hand’s thumb “I was dreaming… she is a dream. A dream I saw every morning with open eyes for few second then I wake up in the real world… and wait whole day to pass so I can dream again” “What are you saying Brad… she’s real and you love her right, and she… oh now I understand why she look you all the time during her presentation , I see so much love in her eyes for you today Brad… and if that’s not love I don’t know what you call love… what’s the problem Brad?” “It’s not gonna happen Andy… I don’t love her. I’m married… she’s married, it just a day dream and it’s going to be over, she’s leaving soon… story ends here” Mr. Bradley said in low tune. Andy gets angry on him, he hold his arm tightly and said loudly “marriage… what marriage are you talking about Brad. It’s not a marriage, it is a contract in which you are bonding because of your ego and stupid rule that you don’t want to hurt Judy and story end… let me remind you what is real love, you taught me all these years. First, you can’t live without seeing them… you walk 25 min from your house even now that you have a car, just to see her for few seconds. Second, you understand each other… for Christ sake’s Brad you never go out together, never talk to each other, you never kiss her but still today you know she’s in trouble” Mr. Bradley look at him “Third, you both express your feeling through poetry… you hurt yourself so bad but you only care about her, you have asthma minor but you still run all the way to her office and remember you told me, that you will hurt her if she met you after your marriage because you feel right on her more than Judy and you know why… because you don’t love Judy” Judy put her hand on her mouth, she was standing behind the bedroom door and she heard everything. A tear drop through her cheeks, when she listen Andy saying “c’mon Brad… it’s enough, please you… you write the whole journal about what you will say to her and now… now you don’t want to talk to her. Tell me; for how long are you going to kill yourself …kill your feelings… for Judy. All these years with her, Judy never feels for a single moment that you are not happy with her and…” “And she never will, it will always go like this. Claire has decided what she will do and I decide what I will do” “Surprisingly, you both choose the same thing… to go on with your life” Andy said folding his arms. “Brad… this is your chance doesn’t let it go… don’t do this to her… you already suffer too much without her, now it’s enough please… love is about being selfish” “I can’t… I can’t be selfish, I can’t break someone heart to be happy especially not Judy. She love me so much and I can’t hurt her, even if I have to be in this pain forever” Andy get upset with him so much and turn to leave but stop to say “you are wrong Brad… you are being selfish, you don’t want to get bad infront of someone and for that you are hurting the only person you should care about… and trust me you will regret it” then leave. Judy hide quickly as she feel Andy coming, he leave the house. Judy moves toward the half-open bedroom door and see Mr. Bradley sitting on his bed, head down like he was regretting. Later in night when Mr. Bradley was sleeping, Judy wakeup. She confirms first that he’s sleeping by waving her hand over his face then quietly gets off the bed. She was wearing her red night dress, then quickly leaves the room and closes the door softly. She walk in his studies, she knows where he could put his diary. She takes it out and sits on chair to read it, on its first page a title was written. “For the one whom I write these all” She lifts pages because all she wants to see was her name…if it is written on it, on front pages there were poems after poems. She stop at the page where a date was noted, she start reading… “25-MAY” “I never thought I write on this diary again, after my college years. But today, like any other normal day for me turns out the day I always want in my life. I met someone, well actually not met we kind’a run into each other. I was looking in my phone to call Andy because I was late and she hit me, I was walking on this way for almost a year and it never happens to me before. I was about to shout “watch it lady” when I saw her deep blue eyes, my heart stops there. Her terrifying face still in my mind, I want to stop the moment. I want to put her hair strand back to her ear, which falls on her face. I really want to say something, but my word hide somewhere I don’t know and I can’t find them. Then I get up as she did, as I realize people were watching us. We both start walking in our way, I want to turn to look her but I can’t. I am still thinking why she was looking at me like that? Why she didn’t say anything to me? I feel that her heart was pounding so fast like mine. Could she be that girl I been waiting all these years… impossible, I’m married. If she knows that, she will never see me again… great, tomorrow I will tell her… if she show up, which I think she will not” She lifts the next page, but the date was after a week. “2-June” “I don’t know and I don’t understand what’s happening to me, I’m keeping thinking about her. I want to see her every day and every day I promise not to see her again then again I break my promise but every time I see her, I feel more alive than ever. I show her my marriage ring and I know that she sees it, because I saw her marriage ring too. She shows it to me as she was putting her hair strand back, I think she do that on purpose. She’s married too, what’s going on in my life. She’s not a distraction but… an inspiration, I want to spend my day complete, I want to do all my work. I don’t understand where I get all that power… maybe because I know I will see her tomorrow and I want to spend my day with all the work came in my way so this day end soon. But the weekdays passed to quick and weekends come, sitting in home make me feel more curious. I was so disturb all weekend and I want it to be over soon, why I have this curiosity to see her? I take out Judy for dinner on Sunday but all I could think about was her. Even I know that she’s married then I’m thinking about her… Oh God!! Why does it hurt me? Why I feel disappointed? But it will over soon… I mean how long she will walk on this way… one day she will give up… because it’s hard for me to change my way, it’s not that I didn’t try… but I fail and honestly I don’t have strength to change my mind… but she will, I know” She lifts another page then another but she didn’t see her name, and then lift another page and stop. “2-Feb” “Why the time has to fly? When I want every second…” “It’s going to be a year, I got promoted. I been employee of the month for four time, my boss is happy. I brought a new car, Judy is happy. I do all my projects on time; my clients are happy… why I am not? I ready to go work every morning, wear my goggles, and still walk all the way to my work. Stop at the signal and she… she’s there every weekday same time, perfectly dressed and then those few seconds… which I fail to stop and they pass but why those few second give me everything… everything I want to spend my day. How can those few are all I need to live? I still don’t know her name, where she comes from? Where she go? Where she work? I never turn to see that she’s still there or leave because I know she left. I feeling of her presence in my heart told me, if she’s near to me somewhere I will know and I don’t know how? I don’t feel like I ever talk to her, because my words will not support me when I see her” Judy eyes fill with tears; she put her hand on her mouth when she reads… “I feel like I know her… how? I never smile at her, she never smiles at me but how I know that she’s happy or sad… I understand her expression like I know her for so long. She never stop me to ask, why I look at her like this? Maybe she knows about me too… between all those stranger, she makes me feel I know her. But how do I know her? How does she know me? All these question in my head and no answer for any. I just want to spend rest my life like this” Judy closes the diary, and sweeps her tears. She moves her fingers in her hairs and holds them. She never realizes, what Mr. Bradley going through. Then again open it and start reading the next page. “25-May” “Today two years passed and nothing changes in my life… not my routine, not the roads, not the signal and neither her. She still came every day at same time for two years… for two years; I don’t know who she is? She came without caring about anything… any weather and never stops, like she knows what happening. Maybe I don’t want to know her, I started to trust her. I know she will be there, when I walk toward the signal, I will see her on other side standing… waiting for me. I think I like her to wait for me, if I get late sometime. I can feel she’s upset with me, it makes me feel I have right on her and she have right on me. I can feel if she’s upset… happy… confuse or excited, those few seconds are the best moment of my day” Judy start crying again, her tears drop on the diary “I think I’m in love with her… no! I know… I love her and I feel she love me too but how can I be so sure. I have never asked her, I don’t know her name… I never touched her; we never talk to each other than how can I be so sure… I met so many girls in my life… so beautiful girls but I never feel like that before… never found myself struggling to control my mind from someone thoughts, never thought I will be that much helpless infront of someone. I found her, the most beautiful person I ever met… could she be that girl… for me?” Judy was crying she was very surprised to read this diary. She knows Mr. Bradley would never feel like that for someone, she thinks she knows him. She thinks and he makes her feel that he’s happy with her but this diary shutter her image in pieces completely. Now when she lifts the next page, she surprised to see the date, it was the same today when Mr. Bradley runs away from the party. “22-Nov” “It’s her… it’s her… why? Why now? Oh God… you put me in so much trouble… she know me, she’s the one I been waiting for 15 years and how I know she’s the one... Tonight, she sings a song for me, tell me what she feels for me… she do know that only person there who understands her… was me. And the lyrics she sings were the same one I write when I was in my college years… thinking about the girl I will fall in love, which was… “Stranger on the other side “You take away my soul…” What do I do? I can’t do this… why I feel like a cheater, am I really cheating on Judy? Judy loves me too and she reminds me that every day… every day when she says “I love you Brad” I feel guilt in my heart. She is my wife I can’t hurt her. I vow to spend my life with her, to keep her happy, to keep her safe. But what about my heart… what about my feelings? No! I can’t hurt Judy, she trust me. I never touch Claire; never even hold her hand for few seconds but why I feel like I betray Judy if only I think about Claire. I don’t care who she is… who she is to me!! My life is with Judy now and it will end with her. If Claire was for me… we met before I get married. It’s too late now and I will not change my life for someone… I will not break my rules for someone. I will burn every paper I write for her, I will change my way if I saw her. I will hurt myself if I remember her… I will destroy everything which reminds me of her, I will change my thinking about love. It is not for me… not now. No matter how much pain it cost me… I will forget about her. I will spend my life like this… with my cold heart” CHAPTER 24 It was last page written on the diary, she lifts other pages but nothing else was written so close the diary and put it back on its place. She thinks about Mr. Bradley, she never thought Mr. Bradley have so much pain inside of him. She moved toward her bedroom, quietly sits on bed. Put the blanket on her, she backed to pillow; her side-lamp was on. Can she sleep now? Her tears can’t stop, she wants to yell but she can’t… then she looks at Mr. Bradley, who was sleeping very peacefully. She stare him for few second, she raise her hand to move her fingers in his hairs but stop and move back her hand. She folded her arms and thinks “I always thought I will make you fall in love with me, always thought I was the one your eyes searching but I was wrong. Why do you keep so many secrets from me Brad? For two years you been killing your feelings and wishes for me… oh Brad” she closed her eyes. “When you understand, love makes you selfish… but you, it can’t change you Brad… you still think about everyone before yourself. You still care about my heart, my feelings. You have done so many things for me; you never make me feel you don’t love me” She lay down and turns toward him and thinks “It will kill me to let you go… how I am going to gather that much strength to leave you? How can I live with seeing you?” Her tears drops on her pillow “you give me so much love in these 8 years, I am addicted of your love” she closed her eyes. “But it was not your love, it was just your care… just care Brad and I thought I was so beautiful that I can make anybody fall in love with me but you proof me wrong. I think it’s time for me to return your love, I know you won’t say a word and maybe she won’t either. But it will not end like this… you will get your love too… I will do everything to get it to you… I promise” she thinks and close her eyes. “Mr. Wilson can see you Ms. Ramos” Simon’s secretary said to Judy, she was sitting in waiting area in Simon’s office. She was wearing white and grey stripe dress with white heels; she let her mane freely on her shoulder. “Ok… thank you” Judy said and walk toward his office, she enter in his room. It was huge room and his large table was placed in front. Simon stop working as she enter in his room and stand to greet her “hello Judy, so nice to meet you” Simon said, as they shake hands “it’s good to see you too Simon” Judy said. “Please sit… now tell me what do you like to drink… coffee, soft drink… we could arrange wine too” Simon said and they both cackles. “No, I don’t want anything… just your time” Judy said smiling. “Wow… times really change, now you need my time. I’m mister popular now… so tell me how can I help you” Simon said smiling. Judy down her eyes then said “well… it’s not about me Simon, it’s about Claire” Simon sits still and confuse. “Something about her you should need to know and like me, you need to decide what is best for Claire” Judy said putting Mr. Bradley’s diary on his table. Simon looks at it then at Judy when she tells him about everything between Mr. Bradley and Claire. “How dare he? He looks so decent… so honest and behind my back this is all happening… my wife, he thinks all of this about my wife. I can’t believe you… you came to me with this… you should ask him about this…scold him” Simon yells and stands after looking at the diary; he put the diary on the table forcibly. “Scold him… ask him, about what?” “For deceiving you” “Falling in love is not a crime Simon” “But falling in love with someone’s wife is… she’s my wife and I love her so much” “And she… she love you too?” “Of course… and now you are telling me to let her go for some other man” “I telling you to let go your wife for my husband, whom I love so much” Judy said, Simon calms when he heard Judy heavy voice. “They are not having an affair…they don’t even talk to each other… don’t meet with each other” “Just because he didn’t write this on his diary… It doesn’t mean they are not having an affair” Simon said and move toward the window, putting his hand in his pocket. “If he does anything, he will write in it. Simon, they are not deceiving us… they are not cheating us. Can you believe that, Claire having an affair… don’t you trust her… if she don’t care about you; she will never marry with you. And you told me that Claire is leaving this city soon, don’t you understand they are trying to get away from each other because of us… the people they don’t love, just care about and leaving the person they love more than anything in life” “I don’t want to hear anything Judy, I don’t care. I only know one thing and that is I love Claire so much and I can’t live without her. it took me so long time to make her mind to marry me, do you know how hard is to convinced someone who think there is someone waiting for them” Judy wide open her eyes looking at Simon. “She used to say that she’s waiting for someone. I never like her going out with some guy and I pray that she break up with him but it was like she don’t want them either… it took me 5 years to convinced her and she realizes it too that whatever in her mind was just some illusion” “You mean she’s waiting for someone before you married her” Judy asks in surprise. “Yes…” Simon said. Judy smiles then said “and I thought Brad was the only one that stupid who was waiting for someone” Judy said and take her bag to leave. But then think something and stop. “Love is about giving not taking… that’s what they are doing; they gave us so much love. Now it’s our turn to give them, their love. You need to let her before she leave you on her own, she’s not that strong Simon. They can’t live for long without each other…it’s up to you now. I love Brad more than anything in my life but I love him that much that I can let him go for his love” Judy said and leave. She leave Simon with the diary, he hit his fist on the wall in rage then turn to look at the diary. CHAPTER 25 Mr. Bradley was sitting in his study, working on his office project on his laptop. It’s been two days since that fire building incident, he was on medical leave because his arm was hurt badly but now he was feeling better. Judy enters in study with an envelope in her hand, Mr. Bradley smile at her when he sees her, she smile too. Judy seem very quiet today than usual, her eyes was puffed like she cry too much last night. Mr. Bradley notices her condition then asks “are you okay Judy?” She sits on chair next to him then softly said “yeah… now I feel fine, I feel so light like a put a stone away from my heart” Mr. Bradley get serious and sit straight facing her, he look at her confusingly “what… what happen to you Judy?” he asks looking worried. She smile, head down then look at him and give him the envelope “What is it?” he asks. “Returning favor” she said with smile. He open the envelope and take out the paper, it was divorce papers. Looking wide open eyes, Mr. Bradley reads it then shouts when he sees her signature “what have you done Judy? Why? What have I done? You need to ask me, talk to me before taking such a big step. Why did you do this?” he stands, as well Judy and put down the papers on the table. “Tell me Judy why… if you got some problem with you, you should tell me that you got a problem, I will change it. Did I ever hurt? Didn’t I care about you? Why Judy… you destroy our home?” Mr. Bradley shouts holding her shoulders. “Home…? Home made with love” “And I don’t love you… right!!” Mr. Bradley said and turns his back to her. “No… you love Claire” Judy said, after a moment pause. Mr. Bradley shocked and turns to her. “I know that you will never tell me about her… you will never say a word about what you feel for her” “Judy… Judy … I’m not having an affair with her, I swear… it’s just, nothing trust me. I never cheat you… believe me… I just meet her in office meeting” Mr. Bradley panically said. Simon enters in his bedroom, holding Mr. Bradley’s diary in his hand with an envelope. Claire was packing her bags, taking her clothes out of walk-in closet. She was quite; he was very down like he lost something big today. He takes a deep breath then looses his tie and take off his coat. Claire notice him and smile to him then says “hi” “Hey… you are ready to leave” Simon said as he stands infront of her looking at her open suitcase. “Yeah… I am flight is in the morning” she said putting her dress in suitcase. Simon looks at her for a moment with love and Claire feels that he was change today. “What is it?” she asked normally. “Claire you know we are friends’ right… best friend if say and best friend don’t keep secrets from each other… right?” Simon said as he holds her hands and they sits on the bed, Claire was confused. “What do you mean Simon” she asked. “when I fall in love, I did tell you… of course I fall in love with you” Claire smile and down her head like it hurt her and after a moment pause he said “and then if you fall in love, you should have to tell me… even if not with me” Claire shocked; she stands suddenly leaving his hand. “Simon… it’s not like that… I didn’t cheat you… I promise” she panically said holding her hands together in stressed. “You did cheat me Brad… you broke my heart” Judy said, moving towards Mr. Bradley. “We were friends before anything, you should tell me about what you are feeling. If you care about me as a friend, I care about you too… more than you, because I love you” Judy said emotionally. “It is cheating Claire; I thought you were happy with me while you have so much pain in your heart. It is cheating, when I see you smile while you want to cry and just to make me happy you never tell me anything. It is cheating when you need a friend, I was not there because you didn’t call me” Simon said holding her shoulders. “Claire I love you, but I’m your friend first. If you tell me about this on your own, I feel that you trust me… you think of me as your true friend who loves you more than anything” Simon said. “Judy… I’m sorry. I just… I don’t know how it all happens but I try… I try to get over… I try to ignore this feeling but it keeps coming to me. I don’t wanna think about her but I can’t help it. I really don’t want to hurt you” Mr. Bradley said and moves forward and pass Judy. Judy cackles and turns to him and said “Brad… its call love, and please stop lying to yourself that you can ignore her… you can’t. You love her and she loves you… you know that right?” Judy said. “Simon… I’m really sorry; I don’t want all of this. It’s not really my fault; I don’t know how it all happens… it just did. I try to adjust in our marriage life and to forget him but I failed everytime. I lose this battle… I don’t know what to do but please give me chance I will be a good wife. I just need some time to remind myself who was I… and need to figure out what happening to me” Claire said crying. Simon sweeps her tears and smile then softly said “Claire you are finally fall in love with someone” she stood still “the love you always talks about, the love you write songs about, the love you always want in your life. You are in love with him and I can tell you how lucky that guy is… don’t lie to yourself Claire. This relationship was over that day when you fall in with him” She downs her head, he raise her head his hand on her chin “and it’s not your fault, he is your destiny… I was just the way to him, if you never marry to me; you never come here and never meet him. It’s was hard for me to accept that, maybe I think because it was the truth” Simon said softly with smile. “Judy leave it please, it’s not possible. I’m married, she’s married and she left the city anyway. It’s no point now… I can get along with my life like this” Mr. Bradley said in low tune. “You’re not married now Brad and I think she’s neither” Judy said, Mr. Bradley surprised “what?” he asked. Claire cry then said “it’s no use Simon… he’s married and Judy is a nice person. I can’t hurt her for my happiness and… and he doesn’t love me anymore. He ignored me so much like he doesn’t want to see me. It’s all over” “Oh I wish you were right… but he do love you so much. And about what Judy think, so I tell you. Judy told me everything about you and him. She said love is not about taking but giving and I love you so much that I can let you go for your love. And here, is the proof how much he love you… funny he just bad with words when it comes to love… not everyone is like me” Simon said smile. Then handed over her envelope and said “here is divorce paper and I’ve signed it” “No… Simon, you election campaign, our family will be so worried and the press, they will not leave you like this” “It’ll be fine… I talk to my dad already Claire, he will talk to your dad. There is nothing in the world I care more than you, plus we will be friends always right” she nod. “And I’m just 34… I got so many years to be a president...” Simon said with a little giggles. “I’m leaving for Washington tonight… but I wish you all the happiness… don’t forget to call me on your wedding” he said and kissed on her forehead and say “goodbye” then leave. “I’ve told Simon everything… Claire is very nice girl and I like her too. I’m glad you choose her, now it’s time for you to be selfish Brad… think about yourself a little. You give me so happiness in all these years Brad… I never felt that you don’t love me. Now it’s my time to give you some happiness and I do love so much that I could let you go for your happiness” Judy said and kiss him on his cheeks and move to leave then think something and stop. “And maybe she have something that stop her from leaving” Judy said and smile at him then leave. Mr. Bradley was still confused… still undecided what to do? CHAPTER 26 Claire sits on her bed as Simon leave. She sweeps her tears and sobs then open the diary to read. She move her finger over Mr. Bradley “Bradley James Rick” then lift the page another page and read “For the one whom I write these all” She smile, she realizes the diary was dated when he was in his college years, she lift another page and the poems written on it, she sees the poems and lift pages but stop at one as she reads. “What is love?” What is love…? I need to know When you know everything Still everything seem unknown When you want to end this It begin right that moment When you want it in your life It never comes for you and makes you cry What is love? I need know When you feel so strong It force you down on your knees When you feel complete It makes you feel hollow What is love…? I need to know When you can win the war It makes you feel the lose When you don’t want it It open it arm and you fell for it And force you to own it Why stranger on the other side You take away my soul What is love…? I need to know” She surprised to read the poem, it was written 9 years ago and she says the same words in her song for him. She gets emotional then moves forward to read more. “Why the time has to fly When I want every second Why my words leave my side When I want to say her something Why I feel alone in the crowd Every day when I see her Why I feel so alive When I walk towards her Why in those few seconds I live all my life Why her eyes tells me She’s mine I feel like I’m drowning When she walk right past to me Then I wait for another day So I can live my life again…” Her eyes fill with tears, and fall on the diary, the poem was written when they meet. She read the next one. “Like a light enters in a dark room She came in life when I lost all hope She’s like every other stranger in the crowd But why I feel I know her for so long If there was ever one for me It’s her, my heart says to me She understands, my unspoken words How she knows me that much Her presence make my heart beat fast Until she leave, that joy last If there was ever one for me It’s her, my heart say to me I lost to her my all My words, my dreams… my soul If my life give me one chance I just want to hold her hand If she can hear my heart I want to say… you are my love…” On last stanza, she breaks down in tears; fall on her knees on the ground. She kissed his diary and holds it so close to her and folds her arms around it then cry loudly, she believes it’s him she wanted all her life. His love for her express in words explains everything to her. She doesn’t need to judge him anymore on his rude behavior. She realizes he’s very nice person. When she read the last page of the diary, she understands why he ignored her so much. She was crying so much, but it was mix expression. She was happy that she finally found her love and excited to meet him and relaxed because she was free of the guilt that she might be cheating on Simon. She was relaxed that after a long journey she reaches to her destination. “I am leaving the city now Andy…” Mr. Bradley said. He was sitting in central park in the morning with his bag, planning to leave the city for a while. “Are you crazy Brad… everything is over now. Every hurdle between you and Claire was destroyed. She’s your now. And now why are you doing this to her… Annie told me Simon divorce her and it is all over the news. For God sake Brad what’s your problem? Andy yells at him on phone. Mr. Bradley was wearing his black high-neck sweater under black long coat and jeans with trainers. “I don’t want to do this Andy… you don’t know Judy hurt so much… I can see in her eyes, I don’t know how she did all of this. She could never see any girl with me and now she leaves me for her. I can’t bear this Andy” “She leave you Brad and she’s happy… she’s happy with her decision. She did this for you to be happy… now please stop resisting Brad” Andy yells again. Mr. Bradley take a moment pause, he was confused. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He was feeling a guilt that this all happen because of him. “It’s good that this relationship is over, because you were living a pretending life and it is over now. You are hurting Claire, it’s her right that you love her too” “Claire must be so upset. She was living a good life and everything destroys because of me, she must be blaming her for all of this… Andy I need so time alone, please tell the boss I need leave for some time” then he hang up. It was a cold morning of December, same time he supposed to be at stop. He was sitting on a bench in a corner. He shut his eyes forcelly, he was in so much stressed then suddenly he has an asthma attack, he feel like he’s choking. He was searching his pump in his bag, when he feel someone presence. He raise his head to see and he forget about his pain, his heart get stable, his breathing get normal and he don’t need his pump. He stands up slowly. It was Claire, wearing yellow knee length dress under white long coat and white ballet shoes, her hands in the coat pocket and her hairs fall freely on her shoulder, her asymmetrical bangs fall on her forehead. She was standing at the other corner. She moves towards him with an uncontrolling smile, he was surprised and happy to see her but fails to show his feeling. “Hi… I’m Claire Davis” Claire said, Mr. Bradley look at her with wide open eyes. “I’m Bradley…” before he completes his sentence she kisses him. Her arms around his neck, he moves his hands to her waist. When she kisses him, she let go all her love for him she’s keeping for two years. “I wanna do that when we first met” she said softly so close to him, her eyes closed. “You step on my shoes” Mr. Bradley said, she quickly moves away, look down and asked “really?” “No… but that’s what I want to say when we first encounter” Mr. Bradley said smiling. They look at each other and laugh, then slowly move toward each other to kiss. The first snow fall start of winter. … She wake up, when she some voice and stands from her rocking chair slowly to see whose coming in her house. She put on glasses when she heard someone calls “mom… mom, where are you?” “I’m here Megan” Claire said, going out of the room. A young blonde enters in the house holding a toddler in her one arms and bag on the other shoulder “hi mom” it was Claire’s elder daughter Megan and her young son Michael. “Oh… darling it’s so good to see you… how’s my little grandson” Claire said as they hug and Claire kiss her grandson. “So annoying mom… I can’t tell you” Megan said, with a giggle. “Just like his mother… I say” Claire said. “Where’s Adam” she asked, about Megan’s husband. “He got a meeting mom… but he promised he will make it to the party” Megan said, putting her bag on the couch in the TV lounge. “Where’s dad?” she asked. “Same… gone for the walk and” while Claire was saying, Mr. Bradley enters in the lounge with a young guy. It was their son Jack “did someone call me?” Mr. Bradley said and Megan runs to her dad for a hug. “I miss you so much dad” “I miss you too darling” “Hey mom” Jack said as he hug Claire. “Oh… Jack, it’s been a year I see you. I hate your journalism job” Claire said hugging her son. “Mom… I’m sorry, I’m an investigating reporter and I been on a case, I have to go places to find news” “Leave him mom… he just try to show his importance but he knows I’m mom and dad’s favorite kid” “Good to see you too… big sister, I’m glad you didn’t change… annoying as always… isn’t she Mike” Jack said, holding Michael in his arms and everyone laughs “Ok mom… what’s in breakfast…? I’m so hungry” Jack said. “My favorite… my darling made me special today” Mr. Bradley said holding Claire’s hand and then they all start talking about their lives. They are going to celebrate their 30th anniversary tomorrow. Their cackles can be heard in the hallway, where Claire set a series of pictures on the hallway wall. From her wedding to Mr. Bradley to her honeymoon in Paris, from her first child Megan birth to her 3 birthday party. Then her son Jack birth to his all birthdays and Megan’s graduation then her college graduation to her marriage and Jack’s graduation to his trip to Taiwan and the last photo on the wall was Michael photo. These are the memories of Claire, a life she always dream come true and she capture them in photo, every precious moment of her life start from the day when she saw the stranger on the other side.

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