Groot carefully pulled in to the driveway of the moderate sized, Victorian style building, right next to Miranda’s mansion. Turning off the engine she glanced at her quiet passenger, who hadn’t said a word since the hollow please take me home a couple hours ago at Miranda’s hallway. The morning started well, delightful even. The news of Miranda and Andy’s engagement from the previous night had had a lingering effect, making everyone joyful. Groot acknowledged, not for the first time, how perfectly Andy fit in their tight-knit family but what really warmed the doctor’s heart was Adriana’s interaction with all of them. The artist radiated warmth, she was incredibly intelligent and kind. Groot had no doubt they all, including Miranda, fell in love with her a little. Groot’s admiration increased beyond limits when she learnt that Andy’s exquisite ring and the related collection was designed and smithed by Adriana. The older woman explained briefly that making the jewelry was a special project, almost thirty years ago, and she just recently decided to part with them in support of an important charity case. She said, that giving away the jewelry felt like cheating on some old memories, although seeing the ring on Andy’s finger gave her a great comfort. She stated, that she couldn’t have imagined anyone more suitable to own the precious piece. Then Miranda revealed, that she acquired all the other pieces not just the ring and asked Adriana why the Infinity Heart Collection had not contained a necklace. A ring, earrings, a bracelet and a watch. But no necklace. “That’s quite unusual.” Miranda said. And that was when Adriana’s mood shifted. What nerves Miranda’s innocent question had hit was unclear but Groot noticed the seriousness of the situation right away. She smoothly eased into the conversation saving Adriana from answering and thanks to an imaginary meeting they were on their way back to the Hamptons soon after that.
“We are here.” Groot said quietly.
Adriana’s voice was as tight as her posture. Pushing her fist hard into her chest, she was holding on her pendant rigidly. Her knuckles turned white in the desperate effort to not release it, fearing that her whole world would crumble if she did. At that moment the only solid point, the center of her existence was that piece of platinum. Starring out of the window she hardly registered the heavy clouds, shadowing the land. The wind was picking up again, big, fat snowflakes were dancing around the car, mocking her with their careless motion.
“You should get into the house.” She heard Groot’s tentative suggestion from afar. “You’re home.”
“Home?” Adriana repeated automatically. She didn’t move. The house looked dark and gloomy. No this wasn’t home.
“It’s not home.” She whispered. All these years, she managed somehow. Creating art, participating in charities, working on various projects to make the life of others more livable, day by day she managed. She had the plan. Keeping busy meant balance and balance meant getting through. It worked. Until now.
“Adriana?” A gentle hand covered hers and she reluctantly let go off the pendant and folded her fingers with Groot’s. Facing the other woman she tried to smile but failed in her efforts. Groot must have seen her struggle because she slid closer, worry written all over her face.
“I’m all right.” Adriana said quietly. Reaching out with her free hand she briefly touched Groot’s cheek.
“I apologize. I’m not making much sense, am I?”
Groot shook her head. “No.”
Adriana chuckled. “Fair enough.”
Groot broke the physical connection as she pulled back, letting go of Adriana’s hand. She leaned against the door and shivered as cold sneaked through her shirt. As the engine was off, the temperature in the car fell rather fast. What caused Adriana’s distress, she did not know, but Groot was ready to assure the older woman, that she was there for her. No matter what.
“Adriana, I value straightforward communication. I see, that something is bothering you. I’d like to know if it’s something I can help you with. I’m a good listener. I can give you my honest opinion and take action if needed. Or hear you out without a word if that’s all you require. If none works for you, I’m willing to just sit here or anywhere else until you feel better. Your choice. However leaving you alone is not an option.”
“I don’t want you to leave me alone. Your presence is wanted and needed Groot. There’s a lot going on in my mind and I’m coping with it the best I can. It would help immensely if you assist me with the process.”
She glanced at the house and sighed. No, it still didn’t look inviting. “Can we stay here though? For now?”
Groot didn’t ask why. She started the engine and adjusted the temperature. Seconds later the cabin started to warm up.
“What am I to do?”
“Just listen.” Adriana uneclipsed her necklace and deliberately placed it on the middle console.
“This is the last, incomplete piece of the Infinity Heart Collection. It has deeper sentimental value, thus until this morning I was certain, that unlike the other pieces this one will never leave my possession. When Miranda asked me about why not adding a necklace to the collection, I was shocked by my own reaction. Instead of rejecting even the possibility of giving it away my initial thought was, how it would have pleased me to gift it to Andrea.” She traced the outline of the pendant’s design with her fingers. An almost invisible smile ghosted her lips in curious contrast with the pooling tears in her eyes.
“Infinity is a mathematical symbol, representing the concept of infinity. Simple enough. But it’s not only the shape I had in mind when I named my collection. I never planned to limit the number of the pieces. The first one was the ring. It was a tricky design. Did you know that it cannot be resized without completely destroying it? It was my arrogant assumption that my daughter’s ring size was going to be the same as mine. Was I right? I don’t know.”
“A daughter?” Groot never heard anything about Adriana Wallace’s daughter. If she had one it must have been a very well-kept secret.
“She was a gift. A miracle. I’d been told, that I couldn’t have children. Impossible, the doctor said. I was close to forty when I got pregnant. It wasn’t that impossible after all. The ring was ready by the time she was born. Then came the earring on her first birthday. Bracelet on the second one. A brooch on the third. Finally the necklace with the pendant on the forth. I wanted to keep adding more with every passing year. A toe ring, Navel piercing, nose ring in case she’d have been on the wilder side. Cufflinks if that’s what she’d have wanted. Endless options. ” She shrugged “Infinity, you see.”
“She was only but four years old, when we were involved in a car accident. She died there and then, she didn’t suffer, so they told me. I was in a coma for months after the accident. By the time I recovered she had been buried. A reckless driver took my Sunshine away and I’ve never gotten my closure, never had the chance to say goodbye. Almost three decades later the pain is still present and alive. If you are blessed, you can get through it day by day. But never get over it.”
Groot knew that feeling quite well. Her firsthand experience with loss and grief also taught her that you don’t necessarily have to say some clichéd lines just for the sake of saying something. Adriana apparently appreciated that. Most likely there wasn’t any line she hadn’t heard before.
Adriana reclaimed the necklace form the console and held it up. “It’s time to say goodbye. I believe you’ll make a remarkable young lady very happy.”
“You said that it was incomplete. What did you mean by that?” Asked Groot.
Adriana gently secured the necklace in her purse and inhaled slowly.
“There is…was…another pendant. It was an individual piece by itself, both pendants are, but they come together as one when attached.”
Groot could have asked the fate of the missing pendant. She chose not to. It was obviously missing and it had something to do with the death of Adriana’s daughter. She understood, that there were more tales to tell and she was eager to listen. At whatever time the other woman was ready to share. There was one important thing though she definitely had to clarify.
“You were wrong you know.” She suggested. “Last night, when you indicated, that the only way you could have me is through sculpting. You were wrong.”
Adriana inhaled sharply.
“What are you saying?”
Groot shyly averted her gaze and blushed. She was about to take the leap of faith. Landing safe or ending up broken, either way she was going to do it.
“You can have me Adriana. In any capacity you see fit. A model. A friend.” She paused and the blush deepened into crimson on her face “A lover?” she added hesitantly.
Adriana released a strange mixture of half sob and half laugh. She griped the handle and pushed the door open. The heavy wind fought back and she battled the element to extract herself from the car. All of a sudden Groot was on her side, holding the door, offering her arm as support. Adriana ignored the gesture and started to walk toward the house. After taking couple steps she halted and made a hasty turn. Abrupt maneuvers on a snow covered icy road hardly ever end well. Luckily for Adriana, Groot was there and caught her, preventing her fall, the second time.
“Why do you have to be so perfect?”
Groot was so focused on the sensation of holding the artist in her arms that she almost missed the question, murmured against her neck.
“I’m not perfect, Adriana.” Answered Groot. “But holding you like this, is.” She thought.
Adriana withdrew enough to be able to look Groot in the eyes.
“It’s not about how you see yourself. It’s about my perspective of you. And as far as I’m concerned you are near damn perfect Groot.”
She cradled Groot’s face in her hands and leaned close, their lips almost touching.
“Because of you getting through is not enough anymore. And it terrifies me.” She whispered.
“I’ll take it. Your offer. I’ll take it.”
“In which capacity?”
Closing the barely existent distance Adriana pressed her lips against Groot’s and the first touch reconfirmed what she already knew. Groot was doubtlessly perfect.
The thing with time, is that it’s very unpredictable. When you need more it runs out fast. When you’d rush it, it slows down and every minute drags in snail pace. It just never seems to work in your favor. Except, when it does. Was it some kind of divine intervention or a chance encounter, no one knows. But somehow there in the Hamptons, in the middle of a brewing snow storm time indeed slowed down, letting two lonely people come together as one.