Groot was not a talker. She had never been. She was a thinker. An observer. And a listener. A great one at that. What did Adriana call her? The strong, silent type? That wasn’t new, she’d heard that before. Adriana also called her beautiful. An adjective, no one else would use to describe Groot. Not even her late wife. But then again, Adriana was an artist and perhaps they see things differently from others. Groot was handsome, at least that’s how Sarah described her. And Groot was ok with that. Mostly because she was in love with Sarah and the fact that Mr. Darcy referred to Lizzy Bennet as handsome was reassuring too. Groot adored Jane Austen. Hardly anyone knew that, as she never advertised it, it was her well-kept secret. She also adored Adriana Wallace which wasn’t much of a secret. Sarah often teased her about it and there was no jealousy involved. That’s how they rolled. After the rocky start, their relationship was built on trust and mutual respect. Then five months prior to her sudden death, Sarah left Groot. She fell in love with someone, who wasn’t just handsome but beautiful and talked a great deal. Apparently, the strong and silent type had stopped being appealing. At that time they both worked for the Doctors Without Borders organization, they travelled a lot, many times separately, so Sarah’s departure didn’t raise any red flags. No one realized that the dream couple many envied had broken up. And because Groot wasn’t a talker, she didn’t tell anyone. She still loved Sarah. She couldn’t be mad at her. Instead she was angry with herself for missing the signs of a failing marriage. For being clueless. She didn’t tell anyone when Sarah called her crying, just one day before she died. Sarah had regretted her decision and she wanted to come back. She had begged Groot to forgive her but Groot couldn’t just say yes. She asked for some time to think it over. Time, which they didn’t have, as Sarah’s convoy was blown up in Iraq the following day. Groot was devastated, yet she didn’t talk about it. Sarah was dead. No one needed to know. Lately she seriously toyed with the idea of telling Miranda the truth but she couldn’t justify it. The past should stay where it belonged. In the past. Groot wasn’t a talker. But Adriana had thrown the ball in her court and she had to do something. So she did. Clumsily, she fumbled the ball and said the most ridiculous thing she could have thought of.
“I snore. And quite possibly, I am not a good lover.”
“I don’t mind sleeping with earplugs.” Adriana answered thoughtfully, without missing a beat. “And sex? It has been so long ago, that I would have to Google it to know what it means.”
“I don’t know why I said that. I’m sorry Adriana. This evening is an endless apology because I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut.”
“I appreciate the way you communicate. I’m too old and already lost too much time running around in circles. I’m interested in you, Groot.” She limped to the bed and carefully lowered herself to the firm mattress. Releasing a deep sigh, she continued.
“I wasn’t looking for romance. I was content in my ordinary, boring life. Until I met you. Is that a cliché? Yes, perhaps the worst cliché ever. But right now I don’t want to think of the future or where this is going. I simply want to take of this damn prosthesis, take a shower and eat some chocolate. And sleep. Preferably next to you, because I’m curious how bad that snore is.”
It turned out, that it wasn’t that bad at all. It was soothing almost like a lullaby, it lulled Adriana into a deep, relaxing sleep. They kept their distance in the bed, aware of each other’s presence, taking comfort from it but there was no cuddling, no touching, accidental or intentional. Just two adults, getting a well-deserved sleep, after spending too many nights sleepless.
“Thank you, for making this almost a pleasant experience.”
Adriana touched Groot’s shoulder lightly, making the kneeling woman look up at her. They were getting ready for leave the bedroom and join the others downstairs for breakfast. Groot was attaching Adriana’s prosthesis, her demeanor casual, as if it were her every day routine. She smiled coyly.
“Almost? And here I thought I was rocking this.”
“You are. No one, other than my medical care team has seen me like this before. I should feel exposed, mortified even, and I do to some degree, but mostly I am relieved. It would have been torture getting through the night without your help. I’m impressed by your skills and extremely disappointed at the same time.”
“Disappointed?” Groot was confused. What did she do wrong?
Adriana wrinkled her nose and smiled mischievously, which made her look kind of pixy like.
“Yes. Finding out that you are not an international spy, a secret agent is a downer.”
“Why would you think that…let me guess, the girls. Although they have a vivid imagination, it’s not entirely made up. Not that I am a spy by any means, more like someone who’s responsible for their safety and handles any security issues, concerning the family. Miranda is a celebrity, you of all people can relate to the trouble that comes with fame sometimes. She and the girls have been targets of bad intentions through the years and it was, it is, my responsibility to make sure those intentions stay exactly that. Intentions. It doesn’t bother me if people only see me as Miranda Priestly’s security personnel.”
“Amazing. How did you acquire the knowledge to do that?”
“When I came to New York, I had no money and for a short period of time I lived on the street. Then I met someone who was willing to give me a chance and I started to work for him. A retired marine, who owned a security firm, employing other retired professionals from almost every field you can think of. I was his PA kind of. I learnt a lot from him and was grateful for his help but we both knew it wasn’t what I was interested in. Anyway, I still have my connections from those times. I also developed a very effective network through my recent clients. There, all done.”
Groot stood and handed Adriana a pair of trousers which, along with other perfectly fitting clothes, had miraculously appeared at the doorstep by the morning. Obviously one of Miranda’s minions had an early morning start.
“Your client? What exactly you do?”
“I have a small company. We do research, focusing on artificial limbs. Bionic prosthesis. Rarely, I will still perform surgeries but mostly research is what I do.”
“You are full of surprises. You amaze me over and over again.”
Adriana finished dressing and looked around, searchingly. She spotted the item she was looking for, laying on the dresser. She grabbed the platinum necklace and turned to Groot.
“Would you, please?”
Groot carefully placed the necklace around the artist’s neck and clipped it. She examined the pendant, it looked vaguely familiar.
“It’s a beautiful design. It reminds me of something I’ve seen before, but I can’t place it.”
Adriana shrugged, almost too nonchalantly.
“It’s nothing unique. I would assume there are other pieces like this all over the world. I’m ready. Shall we go?”
With one last look at the pendant, Groot nodded and offered her arm.
“We shall, milady.”
The breakfast, similar to dinner, started nice and quiet. Tasty food, relaxed conversation. The dogs were chewing on their fake bones in the corner. Idyllic. Perfect. Then Cassidy made a comment about how her art class was muuuuch better than Caroline’s writing class. That led to an almost heated but definitely loud argument between the twins.
“You don’t like art.” said Caroline. “You just want to suck up to Andy and Adriana.”
“Take it back.” whined Cassidy. “I do love art.”
“You do now?” asked Groot skeptically. “The last time I took you to a gallery and attempted to explain the magic of art you ran around mimicking an airplane, shouting magical fart, magical fart. I’m still wondering why I’d thought it was good idea to take you.””
“Thanks for the support, Groot.” Cassidy turned to Adriana and explained. “I was only four and bored. Now I know my true calling. I’m going to be an artist.”
“An artist. You? Hah.” Caroline rolled her eyes at her twin.
“Moooom. Tell her to take it back”
“Caroline?” Miranda raised an eyebrow
“Fine.” Huffed Caroline “I take it back. Big deal. I’m going to be a writer. A famous one. I am going to collect art pieces.” She stuck her tongue at Cassidy and added “But nothing from you. Only valuable ones, something from Adriana. Or Andy.”
“The material girl.” murmured Miranda, shaking her head.
“You have a good taste kiddo” said Groot. “I own some of Adriana’s statues. They are marvelous. And as for the value, priceless”
“I second that.” Andy glanced at Adriana who was listening the conversation, openly amused. “She is one of the most influential contemporary artist, not only in the US but in the world. You can call yourself extremely fortunate if you own any of her pieces.”
A light blush covered Adriana’s face, she was overwhelmed by the kind words she was receiving. She was surrounded by good people, people who had the potential to become friends, one of them something more. Could she trust them? She took a deep breath and made her decision.
“Then I suppose you are extremely fortunate, dear.” She told Andy. “Because you do own something from me.”
Five pairs of eyes stared at her at once. Adriana chuckled, seeing their stunned expression. Pointing to Andy’s hand she clarified deftly.
“Your engagement ring.”