Kelly sees the photos of Gerard and Eliza. Monica has lunch with Paul.
“Thank you for waiting. How can I help you?’
“You’re doing an excellent job. I didn’t mind at all being placed on hold.” The male voice said.
A puzzled look crossed Monica’s face. “Well thank you.” She said, “How can I help you?”
“I was wondering if you’d go to lunch with me?”
Monica recognized the voice. “I’m sorry but I have to work the reception desk right now.” She tried to sound very efficient.
Paul laughed, “Well, at least for another 10 minutes. Then Gilly will be here and I’m sure she’d be happy to man the phones so you can get some lunch.”
Monica honestly didn’t know what to say. “If your daughter is coming in I’m sure you’d much rather have lunch with her.”
“No, actually I’d much rather have lunch with you. Give me a ring when she comes in.” The call ended.
Monica sat the phone down. She was slightly shocked that Paul had asked her to lunch. This morning when he’d picked her up their conversation had been slightly awkward. She had been wondering if he’d begun to regret what he’d said to her the night before. Should she go to lunch with him? She didn’t want to send the wrong message. She wasn’t interested in any kind of a relationship and wanted to make sure he understood this.
A few minutes later Gilly appeared.
“Hi Monica.” She said happily. She sat her backpack behind the desk, “My dad in his office?’
Monica was about to answer when Paul appeared. He gave his daughter a peck on the cheek. “Could you take over answering he phones? I want to take Monica out for a quick bite to eat.”
Gilly nodded, “Sure, no problem.” She looked over at Monica. “I like this part of the job best.”
Monica realized there would be no polite way to decline Paul’s lunch offer now. She stood and Gilly quickly slid into the seat.
“Ready?” Paul asked with a smile.
Monica nodded, “Let me just get my purse.”
“You don’t need it. There is a little café within walking distance. Come on.”
Kelly made sure her grip was tight on Elle's hand as they crossed the street.
"Wheres wes go?" Elle asked.
"We're going to the library." Kelly answered. "You'll like it. They have lots of books."
Elle gave her a dubious look, "Mes tyrod."
Kelly sighed. The library was further than she remembered. She understood Elle was getting tired but they were almost there. "I promise Bug, you're really gonna like it and on the way home we'll get some ice cream." She hoped that promise would improve Elle's mood.
"Otay." Elle said slowly, "But mes still tyrod."
Kelly brightened, "I can see the library from here." She smiled down at Elle. "Almost there."
When they reached their destination it was obvious Elle was very tired and slightly cranky. Kelly realized this hadn't been a great idea. At least she had fed Elle lunch before they'd set out. "Come on. I'll show you were the children’s books are."
Elle's eyes grew big as the passed through the doors. "Wow."
Kelly laughed, "Told you. Now follow me. You're gonna love all the books that are just right for you." Elle gripped tightly to Kelly's hand as she followed her through the main part of the library to the special area just for kids. Elle was impressed. Kelly helped her chose several books and Elle happily sat at the kids-sized table slowly looking through a book about animals.
"Elle." Kelly waited until the little girl looked up and she knew she had her attention. “See right over there?" She pointed to the bank of computers.
"I'm going to be right there, okay? Don't leave this spot."
"Otay." Elle agreed.
Elle nodded and went back to looking through the book.
Kelly went to the desk, signed in and settled herself at the computer. She missed her computer. It was just another thing she thought she should have been allowed to take from the house. Ever so often she would glance over and make sure Elle was still seated at the table. Kelly checked on her MySpace friends then decided to hit some of the MCR sites. She admitted to herself she wanted to see Gerard. She still could remember how he looked the morning he'd left for the tour and it haunted her. That morning she'd known in her heart something would happen and she hated that she'd been right. Maybe seeing a photo or video of him from a recent date could replace that memory. It was on the third site that she saw the photo. Kelly's breath caught. He was sitting at a table and across from him was Eliza. As she looked closer she could see their hands were clasped on the tabletop. Kelly's heart broke when she read that the photo had been taken just days before.
"The food here is excellent." Paul said after he and Monica had been seated at a table out on the patio. Monica looked slightly uncomfortable and he noticed, "I'm sorry that I railroaded you into lunch."
She smiled, "Not exactly railroaded but I do feel a little awkward." She admitted.
"Monica, I understand you are fresh out of a relationship. Truly I know what that's like. Look, we are just having lunch as friends."
"But I work for you." Monica reminded him. "So that makes it awkward too."
Paul smiled, "I could fire you, would that help?"
Monica knew he was teasing, "No, that would not help." She giggled. "I just don't want anyone to get the wrong impression."
"Who?" Paul asked.
"Well, anyone in the office for starters." She said.
"Okay, as soon as we get back I'll make an announcement that we had lunch but we're not friends and I don't have designs on you."
Monica giggled, "Are you always like this?"
"Like what?' He asked tilting his head slightly.
"Funny." She answered.
He grinned, "I'm not sure I like being called funny. Honestly I'm just trying to put you at ease. Look unfortunately the job you have will only last a few weeks then Tara will come back from maternity leave. I know that doesn't give me a lot of time to spend with you so I decided just to throw caution to the wind and ask you to lunch."
Monica looked down at the table, "Paul, friendship is all I can offer you."
He didn't speak until she looked up. "Friendship will be just fine Monica"
The waitress appeared at their table and they placed their orders. Once she moved away Monica's cell phone rang. She saw it was Kara calling. "Sorry, I need to take this. It's my daughter."
"Sure." Paul said. "No problem."
Monica opened the phone. "Hello, Honey."
"Hey Mom. Bob are I went by the townhouse on the way to the airport but Bug and Kelly aren't there."
"They walked to the library. So you guys are flying home today?"
Kara smiled over at Bob. His eyes briefly left the road and he smiled in return. "Yeah, actually we're on the way to the airport"
Monica felt a pang of sadness that Kara was leaving. "Did you see the twins yesterday?"
"We did." Kara laughed, "Uh, have you talked to Christa? She was there and told me some interesting news."
"I know. She’s pregnant." Monica laughed.
"Man, is there something in the water?" Kara sighed.
Monica had to agree, "First Jamia, then Alicia now Christa. Maybe there is something in the water."
"Well I'm not drinking it." Kara said, "Anyway I just wanted to tell you goodbye and I'll call you tomorrow. Sorry I had to bother you at work."
"It's okay." Monica said. "Actually I'm having lunch right now."
The waitress brought over their drinks and Paul thanked her. Kara heard his voice.
"Who was that?"
Monica had hoped she wouldn't ask. "I'm having lunch with Dr. Klein."
"Paul." He laughed. "Call me Paul."
Monica inwardly cringed. She waited for Kara's question.
"The doctor you're working for?"
"Yes." Monica answered.
"Oh." Kara wasn't sure what to say.
Monica looked over at Paul who gave her a smile. She didn't want to be rude and continue to talk while he sat patiently by. "Hun, give me a call tomorrow, okay?'
"Sure Mom." Kara sounded very distracted. "Mom." She lowered her voice, "How old is he?"
"Kara." Monica sounded exasperated.
"Oh, you don't want to answer that with him sitting across the table. Okay, is he married?'
Monica just wanted the call to end, "No."
Kara was full of questions but knew she would be pushing her luck if she asked any more of them right now. "Okay, I'll talk to you later."
"Have a safe trip and give Bob my love." Monica said before disconnecting.
"Your oldest? The married daughter?" Paul asked as she replaced the phone in her pocket.
"Yes that was Kara. She and her husband Bob are heading to their home in Chicago."
"He's a drummer, right?"
Monica nodded, "The drummer for MCR."
Paul smiled, "Once again Gilly filled me in but I thought the group was still on tour."
"They are." Monica sighed, "But he came back early to see Kara graduate. She's quite a bit younger then Bob."
"Hey, I've learned love doesn't know age." He picked up this glass and took a drink before continuing softly, "I'm sorry I realize talking about the band is difficult for you."
Monica smiled sadly, "It's not just that. I'm going to miss her. This is the first time she is leaving to live so far away."
Paul gave her a sympathetic smile, "That must be hard. You know you really don't look old enough to have a married daughter."
Monica laughed, "Oh, I'm old enough"
"Still you must have married very young." Paul hoped she wouldn't think his question too personal.
"I did." Monica said understanding his curiosity. She looked him in the eye. "Has Gilly told you about my first husband? The story was quite a hot topic for a time." She tried to keep the disgust at the way the rumors had circulated out of her voice.
"She only mentioned that you were a widow."
Monica had to admit she was surprised, "My husband drowned." She offered no further explanation and he did not push the topic further. Their food arrived and once the waitress left Monica spoke again. "My sister-in-law blamed me for his death."
Paul tried to remember what his daughter had said, "Wait, now I remember. Gilly said something about that. Didn't the woman try to harm you?'
Monica closed her eyes a minute trying to get control of her emotions. This topic was difficult for her. "Yes, she tried to run me down with a car. Unfortunately I was with a friend and he was the one who got seriously injured protecting me."
Paul nodded, "Now I remember. I saw that in the paper."
"Ray risked his life for me." She smiled sadly, "I will never forget that."
Setting down his fork, Paul reached across the table to touch her arm, "I'm so sorry. I've led this conversation into a bad direction. The last thing I wanted to do is make you sad."
Monica looked away, "It's okay. It's just really hard because every memory I seem to have in some way involves Gerard.
"I understand." Paul said, "For months after Emma and I split every day something would remind me of her. I really do understand what you're going through. Look, if you ever need to talk I'm good at listening. I really hope you will think of me as a friend." He squeezed her arm slightly, "I really mean it, Monica."
Monica blinked back tears. His kindness touched her. "Thank you but..." She searched for the right words.
"But, you’re not over him." Paul finished for her. "I promise I won’t push you. I know it takes time."
Several tables away Donna sat watching with sadness filling her heart. She had gone by the doctor’s office to visit Monica. The young receptionist had told her that Monica was at lunch and where she could find her. She has been shocked to see Monica sitting with a man out on the patio. Without bothering to order Donna stood and left the restaurant.