Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Moving on

His picture framed sat on my desk as it had for two years. I couldn’t bear to look at it, but equally could not bear to have it removed. He had meant something to me once, but now he was dead and gone. Moved on with his life. He was probably somewhere in the world, happily married, enjoying a cool refreshing beer on the sunset beaches of Hawaii. I could only imagine how great his life had become as mine dwindled to nothing. I wasn’t bitter. It was for the best. But yet it hurt and I found it hard to move on.

It was late on Friday night, I had expected that all the younger employees and clerks had gone home or out to party. For that reason I loved working Friday nights, it was in fact the only evening I could work undisturbed. But tonight was different. Of course it had to be. I had looked at his picture. I had wondered about him. I had speculated on his wonderful life abroad. How could tonight be the same after all that?

“Alice? You still here?” called Maximilian, my senior partner, sticking his head in my office.

“Yes,” I returned.

“Do you have a moment?” he asked.

I nodded, clearing away my notes for my latest case.

“Done? I can file it for you if you are,” he offered.

“What’s up, Max?” I asked, cutting to the chase.

“There’s a client here to see you. I offered to take him, I know you’ve been busy as of late, but he refused. He insisted that he must see you and that it was urgent. So, if you’d like, I’ll file those for you,” recounted Maximilian.

“That would be nice, thank you,” I nodded, “Show him in. Or get a clerk to if any are still around.”

Maximilian smiled, “No, they’ve all gone off to some bar for the night.”

I returned his smile, “Then if you don’t mind.”

Maximilian nodded, I handed him the file, and he headed down the hall into the waiting room. I only had to wait for a few minutes before I heard a soft knock against the hard oak door.

“Come in,” I said.

The knocker hesitantly pushed his way in. It was him.

“Christian-I, what can I do for you?” I asked standing, though caught off guard.

“Good evening Alice, I’m sorry if this is a bad time. I was hoping you could help me with a situation,” started Christian, looking visibly distressed.

“Please, have a seat. I would offer you some coffee, but it’s a bit late for that. Can I get you something else perhaps? Water?” I offered.

Christian sat, shaking his head and played with his fingers the way he used to in high school.

“I’m sorry I never called…that I never tried after…” began Christian, licking his lips.

“Please, don’t make this more uncomfortable that this already is. What is your situation? I will do my best to assist you,” I said, cutting him short.

“Do you remember Alana?” said Christian.

“How could I forget? She was my best friend,” I returned.

I knew where this was going.

“Last month I asked her to marry me. Spent a fortune on her ring, nearly $3 million…the problem is…is that well it was a fake. When I bought it for her it was most certainly real, now some time between the purchase and my proposal, it must have been stolen. It’s the only explanation! She’s had the ring on the entire time, no one could have taken it from her finger and switched it. The only logical explanation is that it was stolen in the time I was contemplating the proposal after its purchase,” said Christian agitated.

“Who had access to the ring?” I asked, pulling out a spare notebook.

“No one,” answered Christian, “No one else knew I was going to propose. It was an impromptu kind of thing. I was just walking back to the office from lunch when it caught my eye and I though that I had to have it. That it was finally time to ask her to marry me.”

“The jeweler would have known,” I said dryly.

“Yes, well, why would he steal it?!” exclaimed Christian.

“To swindle you out of $3 million,” I stated.

“So you think he never put the real ring into the box and instead gave me the fake?” asked Christian.

“Did he put the ring in the box in front of you?” I asked.

Christian frowned, “I’m not sure. I was too hyped up on excitement to be positive about seeing him put the ring away in front of me or not.”

“Does Alana know?” I inquired.

Christian shook his head, “I don’t think she does. I don’t think she can tell the difference between genuine and imitation diamonds.”

“What’s the catch?” I sighed.

“Well she was completely oblivious until one of her coworkers pointed out that it was cheap plastic and then she lost it on me. She accused me of insulting her intelligence by claiming a piece of plastic to be a $3 million ring. I was absolutely appalled and upon re-examination was horrified that she didn’t have the ring I had purchased,” said Christian, “Do you think you can find it?”

I looked over my notes; I had some ideas, some places to start.

I shrugged, “You know it’s a Friday night right?”

“Please Alice. I’ll pay anything you ask. I’ll pay you double any price you’re accustomed to getting,” begged Christian.

“I’ll think about it. I’ll call you in the morning Christian,” I said firmly.

Christian nodded, still upset, but was powerless to do anything else. He rose, still dazed and headed out the door. I looked back down at my notes and when I looked up again found Christian lingering in the doorway.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Nothing, I just…forgot to say good night to you,” said Christian.

I smiled, “Good night Christian.”

************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

The next morning I headed back down to the office and found Maximilian was already working away on the case file.

“Excuse me? Did you go into my office without my permission?” I said.

“Sorry, it sounded like an interesting case,” apologized Maximilian.

“He was my ex…” I said.

“Oh…my God, I’m so sorry. Did you want to say no?” Maximilian said, thoroughly embarrassed.

I laughed, shaking my head, “No, you’re right, this is an interesting case. Tell me what you’ve found.”

“Shouldn’t you call him?” asked Maximilian raising an eyebrow.

“Brief me first,” I said.

“Ok, so I’ve called up our private detective, he’s out digging up information on Alana and Christian. Both on their relationship as well as their personal lives. Is there anything you want to add?” explained Maximilian.

“That’s it?” I asked unimpressed.

“I came in five minutes ago!” exclaimed Maximilian defensively.

“Oh, well, good job then,” I laughed.

I called Christian telling him that I would take the case; he was overjoyed.

“What do I know? Well Christian and I started dating when I was in grade 10 and he was in grade 11. He was everything you could ever hope for in a boyfriend, loving, attentive, rich,” I started, “We were always thought of as the couple most likely to succeed. Well, that clearly fell apart because on the evening of my graduation I found him in the bathroom having sex with my best friend…it…it was hard…”

Maximilian looked at me sympathetically, but said nothing to comfort me.

“That was Alana. I was more hurt by it than I was angry. I left in a cab and the next day, well…they both tried to apologize to me saying that they were drunk and didn’t know what they were doing, but I knew better. There had been no alcohol and neither of them were smart enough to smuggle any into their systems. I was in a hard spot because I was pregnant with Christian’s child. He had promised everything would be taken care of that he would be there for me and stuff, but then he and Alana-and I just told them it didn’t matter. That I would be alright by myself,” I continued, “They believed my lie. They moved on together and two months after my graduation I gave birth to a baby boy. I barely had time to acclimatize before I had to start university. But Christian kept his word and started paying child support once he received news of the birth of his child. Yeah, it was arranged through the courts and stuff, but he’s never missed a payment. He never comes to visit Valentine, but has no problem paying extravagant amounts of money…”

“Was Alana ever upset that you had Christian’s child?” asked Maximilian.

I nodded, “Alana can’t have children and Christian’s always wanted to have children…I mean they’ve discussed other options, but Alana has always been upset about artificial mean of producing a child.”

“How did Alana come off as to you? Smart? Stupid? Slut?” inquired Maximilian.

“She was decent. Not a genius, but she had a brain,” I said.

“Could she have been able to tell the difference between plastic and a diamond?” pressed Maximilian.

“Yes,” I answered, “She’s not that stupid.”

“That’s what I thought. We’ll wait for our detective to get back to us,” nodded Maximilian.

***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************

“Yes? Ok, thank you, yes, ok, thanks, bye,” said Maximilian hanging up the phone.

“Well?” I asked expectantly.

“It’s as we thought; Alana is more than she appears to be. She has been involved in no less than fourteen hundred black market sales of rare and expensive goods,” started Maximilian.

“Fourteen hundred?!” I exclaimed, dumbstruck.

Maximilian nodded, “The latest sale?”

“No way…” I said in disbelief.

“Yes,” agreed Maximilian.

“Why?” I asked, utterly confused.

“Because she needs the money to support her drug habit and husband in France,” answered Maximilian.

“Kay, hold up a sec, where the heck is our detective getting this information?! This does not sound reliable,” I interjected.

“Yeah, the drugs sounds a bit fishy,” agreed Maximilian.

“So does the husband!” I said.

“Apparently that one checks out. Our detective called up the husband in France and he confirms that Alana Conners is indeed his wife,” countered Maximilian.

“But the drugs?” I asked.

“Might be a cover,” suggested Maximilian.

I nodded slowly, “Maybe it’s time to call Christian in and ask him some questions.

************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

“WHAT?!” exclaimed Christian, “No, show me some proof.”

“Does a facsimile work for you?” asked Maximilian.

“What’s it of?” questioned Christian.

“Her marriage certificate,” said Maximilian, handing him the fax.

Christian sank into a chair as he read the names on the certificate.

“It can’t be…I can’t believe it. Alice did you know?” said Christian, repeating himself several times.

I shook my head, “This was all news to me. Apparently, she has three kids with this guy, so that thing she told you about not being able to reproduce…that’s all a lie. You see her youngest requires some very expensive treatment for her cystic fibrosis and their family can’t afford it. What better way than to cozy up to a nice rich gentleman and sell everything he gives you and everything he owns to pay for your daughter’s treatment?”

“Oh my God…I thought…I thought that it was my staff. It was her all along? And the ring? She sold the ring?” asked Christian, still having a hard time taking it all in.

“Yeah, I’m really sorry Christian…I wouldn’t have wished this on anyone,” I apologized.

Christian lapsed into a silence.

“I’m sorry Alice for having to put you through all this,” he said at last, “Stirring up old feuds is never fun. I never should have said those things to you, never should have said good bye…I couldn’t see the good I had until I lost it…oh Alice…I’m so sorry.”

“You can stop apologizing, Christian. Valentine and I have grown accustomed to our lifestyle and you’ve always been good in supporting him in whatever he does,” I said gently.

“Do you ever think I could ever be a part of your life again?” asked Christian timidly.

I shook my head, “I’m sorry Christian. You broke my heart once, I’m not about to let it happen again. But for Valentine’s sake you can have your visitation rights back. That is, if you want them. I think he deserves to know who his father is.”

Christian nodded sadly, “I have a lot of regrets, Alice. You are one of them. I will never be able to replace the moments I’ve taken away from you and Valentine. And I can never repair what I’ve done to you. But you’re right, Valentine deserves a father and despite all that I’ve done wrong I’m determined to make things right, especially for him.”

Christian rose, heading towards the door.

“I’ll see you in court on Monday then?” I called to him.

“You’ve got it, nine A.M. sharp,” smiled Christian calling back over his shoulder, “For Valentine.”

Prompt: Write the story of the words that broke your heart.

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