A seal upon your heart, p.18
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.18

           Pepper Pace
 

  Tim spoke quietly into the phone. He didn’t want Martier to overhear his conversation. “Tim I have the information you wanted. I just emailed it to you.”

  “Thanks Nick.” Nick was in records. A lawyer like Tim didn’t have to do his own research. He set people like Nick on it and they got him what he wanted. Nick had done it in just a few hours.

  His computer sounded letting him know that he had received a new email. He pulled up the file on Martin Besigye. He read silently. Apparently the man was thirty-three when he was killed while awaiting trial. He owned a failing coffee farm and worked in one of many administration offices in Kigali. He hadn’t been the head of the office, just a worker in a place called the Kicukiro District.

  He wasn’t an official.

  He was just a government worker. Probably doing something like processing mail at the local post office, or doing housekeeping in a hospital, or any number of mundane tasks that a government worker might perform.

  Except for one thing. On a day in April 1994 Martin Besigye was instructed to join the Interahamwe and to kill his Tutsi neighbors. His confession contained a statement that he had been forced to kill by his employers or risk he and his family’s execution.

  Tim sat back in his chair. What if someone came in to his office right now, put a gun in his hand and ordered him to shoot every green eyed person he saw. And what if they told him that they would take away everyone he loved if he didn’t…

  Tim blinked his eyes. And that is what had happened to Besigye.

  The file indicated he’d had 4 children but they didn’t provide names or ages. It did list the name of his wife; Benitha. Had she been as beautiful as her daughter? Most assuredly she had. He wished there was more but the file was thin. He sighed and picked up his phone. He called Chuck Bertke who worked with a different firm. Bertke focused mainly on International law and was in a much larger establishment. Of course they didn’t handle the small time things that his firm did, but at times they needed help in local matters and it is how he and Chuck had met and become friends.

  They chatted for a while, and Chuck gave the obligatory condolences, even though he’d come to the funeral. Tim thanked him absently and dove into the reason for his call. Chuck listened intently.

  “So you want to see if there is any way that your client can get her father’s court records, as well as any information on family, relatives, etc? Tim you should just send her over to Hardwick, Lyons and Pumpernell. This is the kind of stuff we deal with everyday-”

  “Well…she’s not a client. She’s a friend.”

  “I see. Well…you’re going to have to do a trade-out on this one, Buddy. This is going to take some man hours.”

  “Definitely. Log the hours and we’ll match them.”

  Chuck liked the sound of that. His work was complex but Tim’s firm knew the local judges and sometimes things moved smoothly when they went through his firm instead.

  Chuck had warned him that it could take some time and he decided that he wouldn’t mention any of this to Martier yet; especially not now when things were so screwy. When things went back to the way they were before that wonderful but ill-fated kiss then he’d tell her the things he’d discovered.

  ~***~

  The ride home was quiet; absolutely no talking except when the two politely said good night after Tim dropped Martier off at her cottage.

  She hurried into the cottage and then threw herself into her bed. She didn’t pull herself out of it for several hours and by then her pillow was wet with her tears.

  Tim was in a sour mood as he prepared for his first date in over twenty years. But he decided that he would not think in the terms of “date” but in the terms of just hanging out with old friends and a new one. Why was that so complicated?

  He left earlier enough to get the car detailed and then drove into Priscilla’s neighborhood. It was filled with historic homes, old money homes. When he came upon the huge Mediterranean house he was impressed. He hadn’t bothered to find out much about Priscilla’s ex-husbands but he now wondered who these men were. He rang the bell at just after six and a maid answered. He was led into an austere sitting room filled with furniture that had spindly legs; French, and authentic. No knock-off antiques here.

  Priscilla came in a few moments later and her dress took all of his attention. It was a blue, shimmery spaghetti strapped dress that met her knees, flowing as she walked. The top plunged and he didn’t think she was wearing a bra. Damn. He met her eyes and smiled.

  “Priscilla, you look beautiful, as usual.” They kissed on the cheek and she took a step back to admire him.

  “Thank you. Would you like a drink Tim or would you like to head out?”

  “No, I’m fine.” He looked around. “You have a fantastic house.”

  “Well…it’s pretty big for a single woman. My son Monty still uses one of the wings but…” She shrugged her shoulders. Tim knew that he could have asked her how long she had been single and he could make attempts to get to know her better but he didn’t.

  “We can leave now.” She had a shawl and handed it to him to drape over her shoulders. When he did he noted that indeed, she was not wearing a bra but her breasts were so fake that they didn’t or couldn’t move. Tim decided that he liked breasts that he could actually touch with no fear of explosion.

  During the ride to the theater, Priscilla asked him questions and Tim couldn’t seem to stop answering with Corrine and I, or we. He would cringe every time he did it but it would continue to slip out. She asked if he had any children, though she most surely had to know that that he didn’t. He had answered with, “Corrine and I were unable to have children.” She asked what religion he was and he said, “Corrine and I went to a Baptist church sometimes but I don’t really prescribe to a specific religion.”

  “I’m so sorry about your loss, Tim.”

  He glanced at her and smiled. “I’ve been in a partnership with one person for so long that it’s strange to do things as a single. Of course you have an idea about that with your divorce. Were you married long?”

  “Five years to my last husband. We didn’t…part on friendly terms so I only feel relief to be single.” She gave him a downcast look. “It does get lonely. Well sometimes you just miss things like hearing a man’s voice, or going out to dinner with someone.”

  “I’ve become adept at filling the lonely hours with work.”

  “Tim there’s no need for you to fill your lonely hours with work. You should give me a call when you wish for company, and maybe I can do the same.”

  He felt a touch of panic. She call him? No. He changed the subject. “What do you do?”

  “Do?”

  “For a living?”

  She laughed. “I thought we were still talking about us both being single and you were asking me something naughty.”

  He felt a flush creep up his face. “No…I meant…”

  She touched his arm. “I’m kidding. Relax. It’s just a date.”

  He blew out a tense breath. “I’m sorry Priscilla.” He was shaking his head. “And you’re right.” He smiled. “Let’s just have fun, okay?”

  She smiled. “Okay.”

  They met Elaina and Jakob and had a glass of wine before the show, however they weren’t able to sit together since they had purchased their tickets separately. They met again at intermission and while Elaina and Priscilla went to the powder room, Tim gave his friend a pained look.

  “God of Carnage isn’t a war story…”

  Jakob rocked on his heels and gave him an equally grim look. “As I’ve discovered.” He sipped his wine. “But it is becoming progressively more violent.”

  “But I don’t suppose it will end with any eye gouging.”

  “No.” Jakob shook his head. “Not at the Aronoff Theater; maybe at the Taft Theater. But women eat this kind of shit up.”

  He supposed that was true. Would Martier like this? Would she like the ballet? Would she like seeing a live band? Would she like
to dance?

  “Earth to Tim.” He blinked and looked at his friend. “I was asking you how’s it going with Priscilla?”

  “Oh, sorry. I zoned out for a minute.” He took a deep breath. “Uh…I suppose I should feel something. I don’t. But the thing is…I don’t think I want to feel anything.”

  Jakob gave him a thoughtful look before nodding. “I’ll be sure to relay that to my wife.” The ladies returned at that time and after a few more moments of chatting, returned to their seats. Afterwards they walked the short distance to Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, chatting about the play. Tim decided that despite the deceptive name it had redeemed itself.

  “Wasn’t expecting the vomit scene at the end.” He said.

  “Oh my God,” Priscilla said. Tim looked at her and decided that the next thing that came out of her mouth would determine whether he liked her or whether he had no interest in her. “that was so funny I thought I was going to pass out!” Tim smiled. Like.

  It was late when he finally pulled into his garage; after midnight. He sat in his car a moment just thinking. After he’d driven Priscilla home, he agonized over whether or not to kiss her goodnight. He had decided on a quick one, the way he would kiss Elaina. But it didn’t quite turn out that way. Priscilla’s lips moved against his and returned the kiss and instead of breaking it then he lingered…

  Before he knew it they were kissing and Priscilla said, “You can come in, Tim.”

  He’d thought about it. He’d thought about the feel of a woman; burying himself inside of one after so long. But it wasn’t Priscilla’s face he pictured. It was the image of the way Martier’s arms had gone around him, and then her legs, capturing him against her. Not in a bold way, but in a needful way. He had understood that because it was the way he had felt. He had needed to hold her and kiss her. Yes, he’d wanted to make love to her, but he also wanted to just…hold her.

  Kissing Priscilla did not come remotely close to what it had been like to kiss Martier. Had he not just kissed a woman that had set his heart soaring then he might have been interested in falling into Priscilla’s bed. But that had not been the case.

  Tim finally pulled himself out of his car and he headed straight to his room. He needed to get up early and he was exhausted, mentally drained and physically aroused by thoughts of a girl that he couldn’t have. But he knew one thing, something that he would no longer deny; a kiss is a promise. He’d kissed Martier and wronged her by pretending that it had meant nothing. It had meant everything.

  ~***~

  Tim hadn’t come home until well after midnight. She knew this because try as she might, she couldn’t fall asleep until she heard his car. When she looked at the clock her stomach fell. She realized that this had not been a casual date. Tim had court the next day and to get back so late meant that he’d be tired. Everything revolved around court; being prepared, having his suits back from the laundry, getting lunch brought in so that he could concentrate on the case…and being rested.

  Squeezing her eyes closed she chastised herself. You should have never worn that bathing suit. You should have never tried to entice him. He isn’t meant for you. Someone else has already claimed this man…and he has claimed her. She rubbed away the last few tears that seeped from her tightly closed eyes and tried to sleep.

  The next morning she checked for puffy red eyes and then waited for Tim to drive up to her cottage so that she could dash out before he blew the horn. When she heard his engine she put on her game face.

  “Good morning.” She said with a smile as she slipped into her seat and fastened her safety belt. Tim had a strained expression but when she spoke it seemed to smooth out some.

  “Good morning.”

  “What time do you have to be at court?” She could just check his schedule for that information but it was her way of making small talk.

  He sighed. “This is one of those days where I’ll be there all day.” He turned the car and pulled out of the drive. “I’ll be leaving the office at 9 am.”

  She cleared her throat. “You don’t have to worry about bringing me home. My friend from the school and I are going out.” She said, the lie leaving her lips more easily than a lie had ever left them before.

  He didn’t speak for a moment. Tim had wanted to talk to her but he didn’t want to do it at work. He wasn’t even sure exactly what he wanted to say, he just knew that he’d disappointed her and he could no longer pretend that he hadn’t.

  “Oh. Ok. Just…call me on my cell if you change your mind.” He would contact human resources as soon as possible to have her placed on the company account for her own cell phone. He would need access to his assistant both during and after work hours, he rationalized. And besides…what if she came up against an emergency? Every since that police officer had picked her up Tim worried more and more about her being out and about on her own. She was so innocent and he was a lawyer that worked with the worst of the worst. He knew how bad the streets could be.

  He relaxed as he drove, happy that they could chat like before. But he wouldn’t forget that they needed to have a real talk.

  At the office, Martier went about her duties; made the coffee, checked the messages and updated the schedule. She took a few minutes to hurry down to the busy café and got donuts for them; her treat. He tried to give her money and she just shrugged it away mumbling something dismissive.

  He didn’t have much time and recited to her a list of duties as he gathered his things and prepared to leave.

  “Good luck.” She called after him.

  He nodded and hurried away. Martier breathed a sigh of relief and then went about the rest of her duties with no distractions. Later, after she had gotten a handle on the work that had piled up for her after her long weekend she pulled up the firm’s directory. Her name was there under Tim’s and with the word assistant. Normally she would have smiled but she couldn’t manage to pull one out of her pocket now that Tim was gone and she didn’t have to force it.

  She found the name that she had been searching for and tried to think of what she should say. Did it really matter? She dialed the number to Karl French’s private line.

  “This is Karl.” He answered talking in a rapid, distracted voice. Martier hesitated.

  “Hi Karl. This is Martier.” There was a pause and then the male’s voice had lost the business tone.

  “Martier?! I am genuinely pleased to hear from you.” He didn’t sound like he was lying and she relaxed some, but thinking, ‘sometimes he sounds pleased to hear from someone but it’s not genuine...’

  “I hope I’m not bothering you-”

  “No, never. Hey, it’s nearly lunch. Why don’t we go out and have a bite-”

  “Well I can’t today but I was going to ask you if you’d like to get together tomorrow?” She realized that she had twisted the phone cord around her finger nervously and quickly untwined it.

  “Tomorrow sounds great. Noon?”

  “Noon is…noon is fine.” She tried to sound like she did things like this every day; make dates with handsome attorneys.

  “Great, Martier. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

  “Okay. Bye Karl.” She hung up the phone but couldn’t seem to muster up a feeling of joy. Quickly she grabbed her bag and headed for Claudette’s desk, which was on the opposite side of the expansive workspace. The older woman was engrossed in her typing and was startled at the sight of the younger woman standing before her desk.

  She placed her hand on her chest. “You scared me! And why are you grinning like the cat that caught the…mouse?” She grinned. “Did you catch the mouse?”

  Her smile faltered but she replaced it quickly. “No mice, and I’m smiling because I want to do some clothes shopping at lunch.”

  Claudette leaned forward still thinking that she knew something that wasn’t there to know. “Would this include any sexy lingerie?” She whispered.

  “No!” Martier looked away trying not to appear every bit like the naïve little virgin that she actu
ally was. She took a deep breath. “I like Corrine’s clothes. But…I have my own look and I haven’t really discovered it yet.”

  Claudette gave her an understanding look. “Right. You want me to help you find your own individual look?”

  “Maybe you can get me started in the right direction?”

  Claudette quickly tapped out something on her computer. “Sugar, you ain’t said nothing but a word!” She jumped out of her seat. “Give me a sec. I need to tell Aaron I’m going out.” She dashed to the office that belonged to her boss Aaron Rangbo. It was a set up similar to Tim and Martier’s except the area was decorated differently.

  Claudette knocked on the door quickly and poked her head in without waiting for an invitation. “I’m headed out to lunch now. I’ll be back in a couple of hours. Don’t forget you have a staff meeting at two and your notes are in your planner.”

 
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