# 24 Transparent
Just borrowing these
characters who belong to Universal and Donald Bain
for a bit of fun.
Jessica jerked away
from Michael and felt herself falling
backward. With a scream, she grabbed
onto Michael's coat and pulled him with
her. They fell from the dock into the
pond with a big splash. After catching
her breath, she stood up in the shoulder high water. She looked at the completely soaked Michael and then down at herself and couldn't help
"Why did you do that , Jess?" Michael
asked, sputtering and shaking his head.
"Me? I was trying
to escape the kiss you were about to plant on me! Oh, Michael,
my purse," she exclaimed, pushing her wet hair back.
"I'll save it!" he yelled and dove in, trying to be gallant
although he knew he, they, looked ridiculous in front of the elegantly turned
out patrons watching from the Boat House's restaurant deck.
Once they were "rescued" from the pond by a couple of
bus boys and it was obvious that neither one was injured other than in pride,
the couple began to attempt to dry off with towels provided by the manager
Central Park Boat House.
"Oh, my new shoes," Jessica
complained, trying to wring out the dirty pond water from her skirt.
"So much for an intimate lunch, Jessica,
darlin'," Michael said, shaking
out his soaked jacket.
call me 'darlin' and this was not intended to be an 'intimate lunch'," she
replied, shaking her head at him.
"Aw, Jess..." he began, but she stopped him with a
look, but he knew she wouldn't stay cross with him. After all, she never did, which did nothing
but keep his hope alive that someday they would finally be in the right place
at the right time and would get together like he knew they were meant to be
I don't think we should pursue this discussion any further. Frankly, I'd like to get home and out of
these wet things."
"I'll second that, my girl," he agreed.
He took her arm and lead her to the valet stand where a livery cab stood
waiting for them.
Once settled in the back of the black sedan, Michael took Jessica's
hand and said, "Jess, I wasn't
trying to kiss you."
"Right. Michael, you know I can always see right through your
blarney. There's no use trying to hide
behind it. As usual, you're completely
transparent," she scolded, pulling her hand back from his grip.
"Would you really have minded that much if I had kissed
you?" he asked quietly, with his charming Irish brogue.
Jessica shook her head
at him, "Michael, really."
"But, Jess..." he whispered in her ear.
She pushed him away.
"Stop it. You know I'm
already spoken for."
He grinned at her, "Come on, you can't fault a bloke for
trying, can you?"
This earned a laugh from her.
"You know you looked ridiculous diving after my purse," she
He shrugged and smiled.
When they pulled up in front of her building, she turned to Michael to say goodbye, but he preempted her,
"Uh, Jess, I hate impose, but remember I mentioned the little problem of
my missing luggage..."
She cocked her head at him, but invited him in. "Uh huh, well, come on then. You can borrow something of George's."
Once in her apartment, Jessica
put George's terry cloth robe in the
guest bathroom along with an extra guest towel.
"Michael, you might as well
shower. Hand your wet things out to me
and I'll send them out for cleaning.
Once you're out, help yourself to a drink. George's
liquor cabinet is above the refrigerator."
Wrapped in the terry cloth robe that he assumed belonged to George Sutherland,
Michael emerged from the
bathroom. He went to the kitchen and
took up Jessica's suggestion and
helped himself to a snifter of brandy.
He took a swig of the delicious restorative liquid and then strolled
into the living room. He looked around
the room at all the pictures. It was
obvious to him that Jessica and George were living
comfortably and quite happily together.
It gave him a sinking feeling, but he remembered his vow that he would
wait forever for her. He knew a dour
Scotsman when he saw one and felt certain that Sutherland
was no different than any other of his countrymen and eventually he would muck
things up with the lovely Jessica. He made himself comfortable in the
overstuffed arm chair and turned on the television.
Sutherland was glad to sneak away
from the British consulate early for once.
He was excited about surprising Jessica with flowers and a bottle of
excellent pinot noir that he picked up on his walk from the east side to the west
side of Manhattan. It was a beautiful
day and he was definitely suffering from spring fever. He was surprised to hear the television as
he quietly opened the front door of their apartment. He knew, or thought, that Jessica was usually in her home office at this time
of the day, hard at work on her own book or some university work. He smiled to himself at the thought of
catching her slacking off from her self-imposed duties for once. He had a shock when he saw Michael Haggarty
sitting in his chair, wearing in his robe and sipping his brandy. He felt his blood pressure rise as he
dropped the flowers, wine and his briefcase to the floor.
"Sutherland! I didn't think you'd be home for a while
said good naturedly as he rose to greet George
and offered his hand for a shake.
Before George could
answer, Jessica entered the room. "George,
you're home early. This is certainly a
surprise," she said.
He was even more shocked and confused when he realized that she
was wearing nothing but her robe and her hair was wet. He looked at her and then back at Haggarty
she asked, concerned that he still didn't say anything. She noticed that all of the color had
drained from his face. She was afraid
that he might pass out. "George,
are you okay? Do you think you should
Still silent, George
looked at her again and then back at Michael. Jessica
stepped toward him and put her hand on
his arm. George suddenly pushed Jessica
away from his side and pulled his right arm back and landed his powerful fist right on Michael's nose,
sending him tumbling over the back of the chair and to the floor.
"Michael! Oh my God!" Jessica
exclaimed as she dropped to the floor.
Seeing that Michael was
bleeding and probably had a broken nose, she rose and rushed into the kitchen
for a towel and ice. "George Sutherland,
what's come over you?!" she asked angrily, kneeling back down to assist
Michael who was now sitting up, holding his nose which was bleeding profusely.
Jessica flashed a look
at George. He stepped back when he saw the look in her
eyes. Normally her eyes were a
brilliant blue but now they were steel grey.
His mind was racing and his thoughts were a jumble: What in
the world was going on? Why in the world
was she wearing nothing but a robe? Why
was another man in their home, and bloody Michael Haggarty
at that, wearing nothing but a robe? What had changed since she had kissed him
goodbye and sent him on his way to work that very morning?
Jessica helped Michael to his feet and over to the sofa. After making certain that he was okay,
although she was sure George had
broken his nose, she said, "Michael,
I think you're okay for now, at least.
Will you excuse me for a moment?"
Michael, still too
stunned and in too much pain to say anything, nodded sullenly.
She headed toward her bedroom.
When she realized that George
made no move to follow her, she turned back to look at him. Their eyes met and he knew had no choice but
to follow her.
Once they were behind the closed door of their bedroom, Jessica crossed her arms and confronted George.
George stiffened and
said, "What do you mean 'Well, George'? I think you're the one who should be
explaining things to me."
"There's nothing to explain. How could you have hit Michael
like that? I'm sure you broke his
"I'm sorry you had to see that, Jessica,
but he had it coming."
Jessica sighed with
exasperation and went to her closet where she began to dress in a light warm-up
Michael had nothing coming. What in the world were you thinking?"
George responded with
a raised voice, "Bloody hell, Jessica,
what was I supposed to think? You both
had wet hair, both in robes...I know him, Jess. And I bloody well know that you
can never resist Haggarty. He beguiles
you into doing anything he wants and he always takes advantage of you. As a matter of fact, I'm wondering why you
always let him," George said
bitterly. He turned away and put his
hands over his face, heaving a big sigh.
He turned back to her and quietly
added, "How could you, Jess? And in
our own bloody home?"
now I'm going to pretend that you didn't just say that to me," she
She grabbed her purse from the bathroom, but realized it was
still wet. She removed the wet wallet
and emptied it of her ID and credit cards and then filled a new purse with a
few essential items. George watched her with silent curiosity. Finally, she went into George's
wardrobe and removed a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt for Michael to put on.
Before she left the room, she turned and said, "George, I'm going to take Michael
to the emergency room. I think while
we're gone, you'll have plenty of time to think about what you've done and said. I know you'll realize that I would never
cheat on you, much less ever do anything to deliberately hurt you," she
said and left the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
After Jessica and Michael had gone, George
changed from his suit into casual clothes.
His heart and pride smarted from the exchange, not to mention his
knuckles from the blow to Haggarty's nose.
He examined Jessica's wet
purse. He couldn't imagine what had
happened to get it so thoroughly soaked since there wasn't a cloud in the
sky. He went to the kitchen, poured
himself a tall Scotch and then wrapped some ice into a kitchen towel for his
hand. He took his drink and his wounded
pride into the home office and sat at Jessica's
desk. He logged onto his email account
and scrolled through a number of messages before he saw one from Jessica. She
had emailed him earlier to tell him about her surprise invitation from Michael.
G, I tried to reach you
in your office and on your cell phone but perhaps you are in a meeting. If you get this email in time, please join me
and our old friend Michael
Haggarty for lunch at the Central Park Boat House.
He's just in town for a few of days but has free time for lunch
today. I'll be there at 1:30. xoxo J
"Bloody hell," George
said aloud, "How could I have been so daft?" He picked up the phone and dialed Jessica's cell phone number.
"Jess, I just saw your email. I'm so sorry.
"Yes, well, you should be," she replied.
"I'm a jealous fool.
"I think so," she said with just a hint of pixie in
her voice. She continued, "I'm not
so sure Michael is going to forgive
you so easily though. You'll get your
chance soon as I've offered him our guest room for duration of his stay in New York."
"The duration?" he asked, with a gulp.
"Yes, the duration. That should give you plenty of time to
convince him that you're not completely off your rocker."
whatever you say. Er, Jess, before you
ring off, tell me one thing?"
"What is it?" she asked impatiently.
"Why is your purse wet?"
"We fell into the boat pond."
that's it. I have to go, George," she said when she saw Michael, with a bandaged nose and his eyes already beginning
to blacken, walking toward her in the ER waiting room.
"Wait, Jess..." George
"Yes?" she said with a sigh.
"Jessie, I love
you so very much."
"I love you, too.
See you soon," she responded softly, her voice resonating a smile.