What He Meant by "Press Send" was "I Love You"
Author's Note: So I came up with this awhile ago, and thought it would make a great one shot. Please note, a lot of the characters and interaction will make a LOT more sense if you've read To Feel the Sun, though I think it's stand alone enough to not require it (and it kind of has some minor spoilers for the story itself, but oh well). I know a lot of people were very keen on finding out more about Jonah's thoughts and feelings on the events of TFtS. Although this takes place three years before TFtS, hopefully it'll help people understand Jonah more. Also, you get to meet some of Jonah's friends! See, he DOES have friends!
Lyrics from Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye". Yes, the title is TOTALLY a Princess Bride reference.
Jonah considered himself a patient, understanding man. He was highly intelligent, and it wasn't pretentious of him to say so when it was not only completely true, but common knowledge. He had just been made full partner at the quite young age of twenty-four, and he'd graduated from Yale Law at the top of his class. His work as an intern for a New Haven law firm vaulted his success and caught the eye of a top criminal defense lawyer in New York. None other than Eric Dasher, whose own father, Morgan Dasher, had started the Dasher Law Firm years ago and earned the family quite a pretty penny.
With his considerable achievements, he knew the value of hard work, determination, and ambition.
Grace Dasher didn't. He frowned as he watched her poke around her desk, where the old secretary Paula had been stationed.
He didn't have anything against the girl personally. She wasn't quite twenty, and from what he remembered of the Sunday visits at Morgan Dasher's upstate estate, she was a literature major.
Jonah considered himself an open-minded man, but literature? Did the girl want to live off her parents for the rest of her life? Or at least until she got married. Grace was smart, he had no doubt about that. She could do almost anything she wanted. Her own twin sister had grand dreams of gracing a Broadway stage, like their mother.
The best Grace could hope for with a literature major was to teach at some college. And she definitely could do better than that.
It really wasn't any of his concern. She barely spoke to him, nervous little thing she was, and if she wanted to spend the rest of her life reading, well, that was none of his business. He could understand reading and wanting to read more. He'd been a bookworm himself.
"Getting settled, Gracie?" Eric walked in the door of the office, and smiled at his daughter. The Dashers were a handsome family, Jonah had to admit. All dark hair, soft brown eyes, and pretty smiles. It was so curious to him that Grace seemed to eschew male attention. Her sister Sarah seemed to thrive on it.
Before Grace could answer her father, Eric's gaze landed on his young law partner. "Ah, Jonah, you're here. Come on, we need to discuss Garret Nelson's appeal."
Jonah nodded, and glanced at Gracie. She was looking at him with a strange studious look in her eye, no doubt a mirror image of his own look. It made him a bit uncomfortable. In the two years he'd been working at the Dasher Law Firm, he and Grace had never had much to do with one another. She kept to herself, and he kept to Eric. Sarah was always the easier twin to converse with.
With one last glance over his shoulder, Jonah followed Eric into the older man's office. "Gracie is a good kid," Eric said, biting his lip in thought. "But she lacks direction."
"Lacks direction, sir?"
Eric shrugged, and settled behind his massive mahogany desk. Pictures of his family were placed about the room, and he had knick knacks, awards, his diplomas, and various other personal effects scattered about. Comparatively, Jonah's office looked as bare as Grace's new desk.
"What I mean is, she can't figure out what she wants out of life. Sarah knew she wanted to be a great actress since she was three. Grace was always content to follow behind her twin. Afraid to say boo to a mouse." Eric shook his head. "I hope that by giving her Paula's old job she'd be more apt to understand the world a bit, but I'm not so sure."
"I'm sure she'll do fine," Jonah interjected before Eric could go too far in the analysis of his daughter. They had a lot of ground to cover on Nelson's appeal, and Grace Dasher had nothing to do with it. "I spoke to the DA yesterday about the appeal, and with the new evidence being brought to light, they're more than willing to consider taking the appeal seriously this time."
"Oh really?" Eric's eyebrows vanished into his hair line. "That's quite a switch from their vicious attacks during the trial."
Jonah smiled. "Well, the truth has a way of getting out, Eric."
The other lawyer smirked, having no argument with that statement.
He looked up from reviewing Nelson's case file and was surprised to see Grace standing in his doorway. "Yes? What is it?"
"Can you show me how to use the fax machine?"
Jonah blinked a few times, and set down his pen. He ran a calculating gaze up and down Grace's small form. She didn't seem to notice. "What?"
For an instant, an annoyed expression crossed her lovely features, and then was gone before he could be sure it was there at all. Grace had never been annoyed with him before. They'd never had the opportunity.
"Can you," she repeated, drawing out the words slowly, "show me how to use the fax machine?"
"You don't know how to use a fax machine?"
Grace smiled, but it wasn't the meek smile he was used to seeing. "Oh yes," she replied, her tone sweet. "Because I send faxes all the time when I have email, a cell phone and the good old fashioned United States Postal Service."
He hadn't believed Sarah when she'd told him once that Grace's calm and shy demeanor hid a temper. The young woman had always been unfailingly polite, afraid to make anyone mad. He coughed, and furrowed his brow. Her smile was still playing at her lips, and she raised her eyebrows expectantly.
"I'm sorry," he said, quite befuddled. "I have to finish this review by two P.M. Maybe you could get Tammy to show you?"
Grace let out a sigh. "Fine, whatever." She turned, and left the office. Jonah felt a bit guilty. He wasn't being rude; he honestly had no time to show some teenaged girl how to send a fax. If he didn't get his review to Eric at two, they'd have to delay the appeal. And it wasn't fair to Garret Nelson if they did so.
But for some reason, he still felt badly.
A week passed without another incident. Nelson's appeal was going well, Grace was assuming herself into the ebb and flow of the office, and she wasn't bugging him about the stupid fax machine. He figured she had taken his suggestion to have Tammy show her after all.
He finished his email, and stood up, glancing at his watch as he did so. It was half past noon, and he was starving. He'd been running late that morning, and hadn't had time to grab his usual bagel and coffee. He organized his papers, and picked up the folder that held the files he needed to fax. He left his office, and saw Grace leaning back in her swivel chair, staring at her computer monitor, utterly lost in thought. She wore her hair down today, and though her father time and again asked her to wear more office appropriate clothing as was something of a receptionist, she tended to wear jeans and t-shirts so she'd be comfortable when she left to go catch one of her classes. Today, she had acquiesced to her father's wishes and wore a skirt and silk blouse, a dark purple that seemed to set off her features.
Jonah didn't consider himself anything of a fashion expert, but he wondered if Sarah had picked out Grace's clothes. His time in knowing the girl had clued him in to the fact that Grace didn't follow fashion, and wore what was comfortable.
"I'm going out to lunch, Grace," he said. She looked up from her computer, still looking a bit distracted.
"Lunch break," Jonah repeated. He set the folder on her desk. "Could you fax those to the county courthouse please?"
"No," she said, and the fact that she refused so boldly threw him for a loop.
"I beg your pardon?" He was quite incredulous. This was definitely not behavior he expected from the young woman.
"I don't know how to work the fax machine." She straightened up in the chair, and leveled him with a questioning gaze. "Remember?"
Jonah frowned, and picked up the file once again. "I'll just do it myself."
"Why don't you just show me right now?"
Jonah let out a sigh, and pushed his glasses higher up on his nose. "Because I'm not doing it until after lunch, when you leave for class." He tried to keep his tone light and patient. It must have worked, because Grace seemed to accept the explanation.
"Okay," she said, though she still seemed a bit unsure. "I'll see you later then."
It wasn't until Jonah was halfway down the block that he realized he was still holding the file. He let out a chuckle. He shook his head, and tucked it under his arm. Having Grace around the office sure made things interesting.
"Hey, you going to teach me how to use the fax machine yet?" Gracie stuck her head in his doorway a week later. "Dad just gave me a bunch of crap to send to some office in LA and I have to get it done now."
Jonah waved at her, though it was really more of a flailing motion. He was holding his cell phone against his ear with his shoulder, trying to decipher the broken, Japanese accented English spewing out of the speaker. His free hand was scribbling notes down.
"Jonah!" she exclaimed.
He frowned, and waved again. "Yes, Tanaka-san, yes. We will have someone go down when the police interrogate your son. Yes, I do know you're paying me good money." Grace stepped into the office and raised her eyebrows as he frantically tried to calm the angry Japanese man down. "Look, we are one of the most respected law firms in New York City, Tanaka-san. I assure you we'll do everything we can to help your son, but if there is undeniable proof that he committed the murder we aren't going to lie."
He had no idea what the next two minutes of rapid-fire sentences were, but he was pretty sure they weren't entirely in English, or complimentary. "We'll send you the bill!" Jonah finally raised his voice, and snapped his phone closed. "God save us from angry Japanese businessmen!"
Grace crossed her arms over her chest. "Yeah, they're real bitches. Fax machine?"
"Can't," Jonah said, though he probably did have time. He just didn't want to deal with Grace's antics after the horrible phone call with Mr. Tanaka. "Have to be at the precinct when they interrogate Johnny Tanaka."
Grace frowned. "Come on, Jonah, it's not that difficult, is it? I'd read the damn manual myself but I can't find it."
Jonah frowned, and grabbed his suit jacket. "Later. I need to speak with the kid before he says something stupid to someone in lock-up."
Grace let out a huff, and shuffled to her desk ahead of him. "Just my luck." She plopped down in her chair and looked at the stacks of papers. Jonah dropped a stack of papers on another paralegal's desk, but he watched Grace out of the corner of his eye. "Hey, Dennis!" she called across the room. "I'll buy you lunch if you fax these for me!"
Jonah scratched his head as he headed out the door. Why the heck didn't she ask Dennis to show her how to use the fax machine?
"She probably wants into your pants."
Jonah choked on the bite of Szechuan beef. Valerie patted him on the back as he coughed into a napkin. "What?" was all he managed before coughing again.
"I think you broke him, Zach." Valerie pointed a chopstick at their third companion. Zach rolled his eyes, and leaned back in his chair. He stretched his arms above his head. The little scene drew stares of other patrons of the Chinese restaurant, and the last thing Jonah had wanted was attention.
"I did no such thing. It's not my fault Jonah never learned not to breathe and swallow at the same time."
Jonah took a large gulp of water and glared at his friend. "Grace Dasher does not want into my pants."
"Jonah, a girl could be giving you a lap dance and you'd say she was just trying to find a place to sit so she wouldn't get her skirt dirty."
Jonah felt a rare blush spread across his cheeks. "Why did I ever become friends with you?" he asked, knowing full well he was edging into grump territory.
"Because I make your life interesting. Am I right, Valerie?"
The young woman just took a prim bite of dumpling and smiled sweetly. Her innocent features hid a ruthless divorce attorney, and more than one undergrad in college had thought she would be the easy TA in their classes. Jonah chuckled at the memory of his college days. Valerie put the fear of God into the new students, to the point where she had many unflattering nicknames. Valerie treasured them all.
"I plead the fifth," Valerie said once she'd finished chewing. Her tone, however, indicated her loathing for the phrase. And no kidding, it was definitely overused when one was dealing with a lawyer.
"You lawyer types all have sticks up your asses," Zach muttered. He stabbed a piece of orange chicken quite violently with a chopstick. "But come on, don't you think she's only bugging you because she likes you? Especially if there are other, less busy, people in the office to show her."
Jonah frowned into his plate. "She doesn't seem the type."
"To bug you or to bug you because you're hot?" At Zach and Jonah's stare, Valerie raised her hands. "I'm just calling it like I see it. Jonah has you beat in the looks department, Zachary."
Zach smiled indulgently and laid a loud smacking kiss on her cheek. "But I have him beat in the not-being-an-uptight-jerkwad category. And that's why you married me and not him."
"I'm not a jerkwad," Jonah said quietly, before shoving another bite of Szechuan beef into his mouth.
"Note he didn't say anything to the contrary of being uptight," Valerie observed. She pushed Zach away so she could finish eating. She pointed her chopstick at her husband. "And don't patronize Jonah. He can't help it, it's why girls like him."
"Girls like uptight jerkwads?" Zach put a hand over his heart in mock dismay. "Is that why you're the only chick who would date me in college?"
Valerie just ate another bite of dumpling.
"I'm not a jerkwad, and Grace Dasher doesn't like me," Jonah continued. "She has this alarming obsession with Carlin Thompson."
"The same Carlin Thompson slated to take over Thompson and Banks Company when his old man kicks it?" Zach raised his eyebrows. "No wonder she's obsessed with him."
Jonah nodded, and set down his chopsticks, feeling a bit ill. "I've met the kid once or twice. He's good friends with the Dashers. He always seemed so... so..."
"Jerkwadish?" Valerie supplied.
"Would saying he has a false facade be too cheesy?"
"Yes," Valerie and Zach answered in perfect unison. Jonah wrinkled his nose. "Hey, you asked," Zach continued. "But I catch your drift. Why, are you jealous? Tell me, does this Grace Dasher make your heart go thump thump?"
"The flow of blood and the contractions of the muscle itself makes my heart go thump thump." Jonah's voice was wry, and Valerie burst into laughter.
"You are the most unromantic man ever," she said through gasps of laughter. "Your future wife is going to be so disappointed."
"Underneath the veneer of straight-laced, Christian morality, and an extended vocabulary is a beast just waiting to be let out, Val." Zach reached over to ruffle Jonah's hair. He finished off an egg roll and grasped Valerie's free hand in his own. "Just wait."
"I'm not a beast, Grace Dasher doesn't want into my pants, and she doesn't make my heart go thump thump," Jonah asserted. "Nothing of the sort."
Jonah was willing to change the assertion of the last when she came into work wearing tight jeans, a t-shirt that read, "Hail to the King, Baby" and had her iPod's earbuds in her ears. She danced to her desk, singing along with whatever song was playing. Her hair was in a sloppy ponytail, and she wore an apallingly dirty pair of faded blue flip flops.
"Kiss me, please kiss me. But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation. You know it makes me so angry cause I know that in time, I'll only make you cry. This is our last goodbye."
She must not have realized she was singing as loud as she was. Jonah remembered a conversation between her, Sarah, and her mother about Grace's overwhelming stage fright. It had taken lessons upon lessons to get her to the point where she could sing in front of people at all, and once she dropped out of the music program in college she chose not to perform at all. Now, however, she sang with confidence, the kind born from not knowing or caring that others could listen. And truly, she probably thought the reception area was empty. He had just been fiddling with the window on the far side of the room, blocked from view by the fact that it was straight to the side.
Grace's voice was beautiful, and she sang the rock song with a strange lilt. Her training was no doubt classical, and it translated with interesting results to a more gritty style. He stared at her as she shimmied behind her desk.
"Saying maybe you didn't know him at all, you didn't know him at all, oh, you didn't know-" She turned around, and caught sight of Jonah. She let out a little shriek and yanked the earbuds out. "Jonah, I didn't see you back there." A bright red flush appeared on her face, and she scratched at the knot of hair on her head absently. "Um, h-hi. Sorry if I, uh, bothered you."
Jonah shook his head, and waved a hand airily. "No, you're fine. Ah, good afternoon. I trust your classes went well?"
"Yeah." She was very close to stammering, and he wondered if she even noticed how close to stammering he was. "We read Dante's Inferno. And about Sylvia Plath sticking her head in an oven."
"In the same class?!"
"No," Grace said, and Jonah wondered if she might have laughed if she wasn't so completely embarrassed. "British Lit and 20th Century American Lit."
"Ah, I see." Jonah abandoned his attempt at fixing the window, deciding instead to call building maintenance, and made his way across the reception area towards his office. "Your father got called away upstate for a pressing matter with your grandparents."
Grace held up her cell phone. "Mom's got me covered. Grandfather Morgan apparently is sick of my grandma thinking the raccoons are gonna get into the house and started hammering closed all entrances."
Jonah stopped dead, and stared at her. "I beg your pardon?" He knew Morgan, and his wife. And neither were prone to fits of hysteria or whimsy. And certainly not towards worrying about raccoons.
Grace chuckled, her embarrassment at being caught leaching away at his surprise. "Just because we're affluent doesn't mean the crazy gene skipped us. Gran and Gramps are just as ridiculous as the next." She sat down in her chair and put her earbuds in, indicating the conversation was over. She bobbed her head in beat with the music, and Jonah realized something as he watched her.
Grace Dasher may not want anything to do with him, and she may be vexing in regards to the fax machine...
But Zach be cursed, but she sort of made his heart go thump thump.
Jonah felt like a stalker over the next couple of weeks. He didn't understand the magnetic draw he had towards Grace. She was a bit sloppy, definitely unorganized, she wasted time writing on the computer instead of filing, couldn't work the fax machine to save her life, couldn't handle irate clients on the phone without bursting into tears half the time, obsessed over Carlin Thompson like a twelve year old girl, and was obviously jealous of her glamorous and talented twin.
Jonah couldn't help but be fascinated by her. In spite of her flaws, she seemed wholly unaware of the effect she had on other people. Jonah knew his own attention towards her was something of an anomaly, but she just didn't notice the glances sent her way from the other men in the office or any messenger or delivery boy. But then again, Grace was pretty oblivious to many things. She didn't deny that she was pretty; she had to know with a twin like Sarah, but she still seemed surprised when she drew attention because of it.
She also seemed quite surprised that Carlin Thompson himself had dropped by the office (a month and a half late), to congratulate her on her job. Instead of retreating back to his office as he normally did after lunch, Jonah stayed in the reception area under the guise of sorting the mail.
"I've brought you a plant to celebrate your gainful employment," Carlin said, holding up a potted plant. Jonah had no idea what kind, just that it was leafy and green. That was about as far as his knowledge on nature matters stretched. "Don't kill it or I'll be desolate."
Grace giggled and took the pot. She put it down on the file cabinet behind her desk, to the right of a window, and sat down in her chair. Carlin hopped on the corner of her desk. "I won't kill it," she retorted, but Jonah just barely caught a flash of uncertainty in her eyes.
"You totally killed the bean plant in high school. Remember that project we got paired up for in biology?" Carlin reached forward and nudged her shoulder. "We got a D, and only that high because I convinced Mrs. Tack to give us the extra two points for our impeccable use of footnotes in our paper."
"Shut up. I've learned a lot about growing shit since then." Grace pouted, and Jonah felt rather odd that she was giving Carlin so much of her attention. She was just bathing in the touches and looks he gave her.
Carlin let out a loud laugh. "I'll remember to tell Sarah to watch the houseplants when you guys get your apartment."
Grace sent him a mock glare and threw a paper clip at his head. The jovial young man chuckled and ducked. "I don't kill plants."
"Just keep telling yourself that, sweetheart."
Jonah frowned as he pretended to red a legal notice. Just as Grace didn't understand how attractive she was, she didn't understand the game Carlin was playing with her. Jonah had seen it time and again in college. Carlin was using her, capitalizing on her crush on him. And he definitely was aware of the effect he had on people. He kept Grace just caught enough to be unable to shake her feelings for him, but didn't give her enough to think she had an honest chance.
But to what end? Did he want a "fall back"? Whatever it was, it disgusted Jonah. He hadn't really dated since grad school, but it wasn't for lack of interest in him, or anything of the sort. It was more of his desire to succeed in his career and his workaholic tendencies. His grandfather had drilled into him the importance of treating women with respect and not as a means to an end. Even if he had strictly businesslike feelings towards Grace Dasher, he'd be critical of Carlin's behavior. And he was starting to think his feelings were quickly going far and away from businesslike.
"Grace, can you pull out the Schultz-Dyer files from the archive when you get the chance?" He reluctantly interrupted the conversation with Carlin. Jonah eyed the younger man with hidden distaste as he set the legal notice in Grace's desk inbox. "This details the pertinent information needed. Bring it to my office when you sort it out, please." He nodded at Carling, smiled at Grace, and turned around. He pulled his glasses from his nose, and started cleaning them with a handkerchief.
"Work work work," Carlin teased. "Is that all you do around here?"
Jonah wasn't about to break his carefully kept neutrality, and he knew staying in the same room with Thompson would make it all the more difficult.
"Hey, teach me to use the fax machine."
Normally, Grace's wheedling tone would make him smile and roll his eyes, but today it just made his mood fall all the more.
"Not now, Grace, please," he said, letting his mood show more than he intended.
"Oh, sorry." She turned to leave his office, but stopped in the doorway. Today, she dressed like she should, with black pants and a v-neck blouse with wide sleeves in a pretty light blue. She looked nice, but Jonah wasn't apt to contemplate the strange feeling in his gut when he saw her like he might have.
"Something wrong?" she asked, turning slightly to look at him.
"Just some problems with Tanaka." He leaned back in his chair.
"Dad said something." Grace took a few steps back into the office. She looked around, and if the bare walls and desk piqued her curiosity, it didn't show on her face. "Not much, just that the case could potentially get very difficult."
Jonah taped his fingers on his chin, wondering how much he should tell her. He gazed at her for a moment, and knew he had to talk about it. Grace didn't have the legal know-how to counsel his professional decisions, but she had the emotional sensitivity to counsel is morality.
"Tanaka claimed innocence. But I recently stumbled upon some evidence that shows he's... into things a lot deeper."
"You mean he's guilty and then some?"
"Yes." Jonah closed his eyes and rubbed them, bumping his glasses in the process. "Against his wishes, I submitted the evidence to the investigating detectives. It would have been found eventually, I suppose, but it was of a certain nature that I couldn't in good conscience ignore. I essentially branded the verdict guilty on his forehead with that move."
"So what's the problem? He's guilty, he should be punished." Grace sat down in a chair on the otherside of the desk. Jonah looked up at her, and straightened his glasses to avoid looking too intently at her.
Lord, the innocence of defense lawyers' daughters.
"Grace, I can twist it to get a lesser sentencing for Tanaka. But even if it's fully legal, I can't look at him. His father is paying the legal fees and it's brining in quite a hefty sum to the firm. But how cvan I be Tanaka's legal counsel when I have such a conflict of interest? Maybe not professionally, but emotionally?"
"And let me guess, Dad's letting the decision be all yours."
Jonah nodded. Eric had told him that since it was his case, it was his decision, and he'd support it either way. If there was one downside to being a full law partner at such a young age, it was his lack of experience. He didn't have quite the impressive track record of Eric Dasher, and it showed sometimes. He hadn't made any grievous mistakes, but sometimes he just didn't know what to do.
"Well, Jonah, it was your choice to become a defense attorney. You knew going into this that you'd get clients guilty of some pretty bad things. This is the first time I've seen you upset since I met you, and you've represented some pretty sick defendants. You're a wicked good lawyer with a hell of a poker face. If you can't get over this, maybe there's a reason why." She smiled encouragingly, and played with the cuff of her sleeve. "You're a smart guy, but maybe your usually indifference to feelings is missing because you know you can't defend Tanaka like he wants, because it's not fair to the victims and their families."
Jonah pushed his glasses higher o his nose. He wasn't emotionally indifferent. Far from it. He felt just as strongly as any other man. He just didn't show it. As he studied Grace, he knew she was right and he'd known it all along.
He couldn't continue this case if he wanted to be able to look at himself in the mirror or take communion in church. Some things were far more important than money or a successful reputation. And neither would be destroyed by his impending decision.
"Thank you, Grace. I guess I have some phone calls to make."
"Any time." She flashed one more careless smile, and left his office. Jonah watched her go with some sense of satisfaction. What he felt for her was far more than infatuation. She was a compassionate, intelligent young woman who loved easily and had no idea how wonderful she really was.
Jonah peered out of his office to see Grace sitting at her desk. Her chin was propped in her hand, and she was carelessly clicking the mouse button. The glazed over expression suggested to him that she was playing solitaire for lack of anything else to do. He glanced at his watch, and took a deep breath. He didn't normally approve of such fraternizing amongst staff during business hours, but he figured it might be good to break the rules just once.
Two and a half weeks of soul searching led him to the conclusion that since she had started working in the office, Jonah's feelings for Grace had delved very deep. He liked her, maybe even loved her if it didn't sound so ridiculous. She didn't know how strong an impression she made on him. Their conversation about the abandoned Tanaka case sealed things. She was just the type of woman he'd been waiting for all his life. Someone who understood, who cared. Someone who might not understand their allure, but was happy in spite of their problems.
Grace lived, even if she knew she had a direction-less education, even if she knew her crush on Carlin was hopeless, and even if she thought she'd never measure up to her sister. She was strangely okay with that, and maybe in time she'd learn to define herself for herself. Not in relation to other people. She was nervous a lot, and made silly mistakes, but she always owned up to the. That, Jonah could respect. She treated him with casual indifference, and did what was asked of her.
She had a sarcastic streak a mile long, and she had strange likes and dislikes and a large propensity to quote Bruce Campbell. All those things, however, wouldn't completely explain why he felt so strongly for her. They were only the sum of her parts, and the whole was infinitely more pleasing.
Jonah took a few steps towards her desk. "Hey, Grace, I have a few spare minutes."
She looked up, and a devilish glint was evident in her eyes. "Fax machine?" she asked.
Jonah nodded. "Fax machine."
She let out a laugh, and jumped from the chair. "I told Carlin he'd be the first person I'd fax something to," she announced, and dug out a small notebook from her purse. "I know just what to say!"
She grabbed a pen and started scribbling on a piece of printer paper.
Jonah watched her with a keen sense of hurt. He was ready to tell her... something. He hadn't been sure what, but something to indicate that he was fond of her. Maybe ask her to share a cup of coffee or ridiculous like that. It had been a few years since he was on a date, but surely things hadn't changed since he was twenty, right?
He glanced over Grace's shoulder, and saw what she was writing.
Hey, dude, bet you didn't think I'd send this off! Joke's on you, my fine feathered friend. Now, since you tried to bet me it wouldn't happen, you have to pay up.
How about a traditional omelets, pancakes and Princess Bride night, eh? I know you have a date with that awful Lauren tomorrow, so how about the day after? I miiiiiss our real hang outs, and Sarah always seems to be depressed because she got another rejection.
You are my only hope for sanity in this crazy world, Carlin my friend.
And then she drew a ridiculous stick figure of herself, complete with wild hair and a complimentary Carlin stick figure with a spatula. "Ready!" she said, and Jonah led her to the fax machine, trying to keep his smile firmly in place.
"All right, here's what you do." He inserted Grace's paper, and explained what each of the buttons did. As he let his voice ramble, he watched her eager face. She's not ready, he thought, as she punched in Carlin's personal fax number. She's not ready to give up on him and she's not ready for someone like me to tell her that they think she's absolutely amazing.
"Now what?" she asked, her smile stretching across her face, making her eyes light up. He couldn't tell if it was from the silly message to Carlin, or that she'd finally worn him down into showing her how to use the stupid fax machine.
He glanced from her eyes, to the fax machine in question. Someday, he'd tell her. Someday when Carlin was out of the picture and Grace had grown up a little bit. He felt his heart constrict at the thought of Carlin reading the note. He'd probably be laughing all the way to the bank. Jonah felt his smile slip, but he struggled to keep it on his face.
Some day, but until then, he'd just watch her in silence, wondering if she'd ever understand how much he cared for her.
"Jonah?" she asked, waving her hand in front of his face. "Yoo-hoo. Eeeearth to Jonah."
"Sorry," he said, and pointed at the keypad. His smile turned wistful. "Press send."