She wanted to get dinner started but she could tell by the look in his troubled eyes that food was not going to
cure what ailed him.  They sat down, on her sofa, and he immediately leaned forward, pulled out a cigarette,
and lit up.  Whatever was on his mind was weighing heavily on it, as Simone sat still and allowed him to take
a few puffs, relax a little, and then look at her.
She had expected him to speak when he looked at her, but he didn’t.  He just stared at her, giving her the
distinct impression that he was appraising her; that he was sizing her up.
“Is it the trial?” she asked him, getting worried herself now.  She knew he had to all but take over a very
messy murder trial from one of his associates after he failed to properly vet a series of witnesses that ended
up nearly decimating their case-in-chief.  Nick had been talking to her about it for the last few nights.  But
only this night that wasn’t it.  She could tell by the way, instead of answering her, he puffed on his cigarette
and again looked away from her.  
“What is it, Nick?” she asked nervously, unable to hide her concern.
At first he didn’t say or do anything.  Then he doused out his cigarette and leaned back.  He placed an arm
around her, causing her to snuggle against him.  “I’m in the valley of decision, Simone,” he said, “and it’s not
a comfortable place to be.”
“What is it you’ve got to decide?”
He looked at her.  “What is to become of you and me.”
Simone’s heart dropped.  “Our relationship?”
“You got it.”
“So what have you decided?”  She tried to smile, to exude levity, but she couldn’t pull it off.  She looked at
“I’ve decided,” he said slowly, as if he was just making up his mind, “that I can’t live without you, Simone.”
She was in his arms before he could say her name.  His heart pounded as he held her, as tears began to
well up in his eyes.  It was a fact.  He couldn’t live without her.  It was also a fact that there was that matter of
Delia.  He closed his eyes.  He knew there would be no easy answers.  He knew that somebody was going
to get hurt.  Oh how he wished he would have handled it differently!  Despite his pretense at only being
Simone’s friend all this time, he should have come clean with her about his feelings for her, about his
relationship with Delia.  
And Delia.  That was the worse part of all.  How in the world was he going to break this news to her?  She
had never asked him for anything in all of the sixteen years that they’d been together, not even for
faithfulness.  But now that she was aging, now that she needed him more than she ever needed him before,
he was about to dump her for a woman nearly fourteen years his junior?  Even he couldn’t believe he could
be that cold, that callous.
But there was also Simone.  Sweet, innocent, glorious Simone.  He buried his face in her hair as he held
her, as he listened to her cries of joy.  How could he hurt Simone?  She had fallen hard for him nearly two
years ago, and he had fallen for her, and it was a love so strong, so palpitating that he could hardly believe it
possible.  But it was there.  He couldn’t live without Simone.  He gently pushed her back from him and
looked into her pretty face, a face he was beginning to need to see every day of his life.  “I love you,
Simone,” he said to her, over and over, and she returned his affection, too.  And he kissed her.  
Passionately.  And he knew, as he pulled her to him, and laid back with her on top of him, unable to stop
kissing her, that he wasn’t about to stop there.  He couldn’t stop there.
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