Mr. Monk and the One

disclaimer: not mine.

Sharona sat on her couch, a drink in her hand. The television was on, but she wasn't watching it. Her eyes were instead fixed on the colorfully lit Christmas tree in the corner. The joyful little tree seemed to mock her loneliness, as if it were part of another world, another time, another house that wasn't so vastly empty.

The branches were slightly askew; she'd been impatient in putting it together, and even though it was almost time to put it away again, she hadn't gotten around to fixing it. She stared at the empty space among the artificial boughs, as if willing the branches to bend or for something to fill the void. Empty, empty, she thought.

She reached for the phone on the coffee table and dialed the number from memory. He picked up on the second ring. "Hello?"

"Adrian," she said, then couldn't think of anything else to say, other than how good it was to hear his voice. She took a breath. Her chest felt delightfully heavy from the alcohol. The cool air in her lungs helped clear her head. "It's Sharona."

"Sharona." She could hear the smile in his voice. She loved the way he said her name. "H-how are you?"

She smiled, feeling inexplicably better than she had in a month. "Good. I'm good. How are you?"

"Oh. You know." She imagined him shrugging one shoulder, then the other. "I'm… good."

"Good, that's… good." She nodded, then lapsed into silence. He did the same. "How's Natalie?"

"Oh, she's good, too. Steven moved in about a month ago, and I think they're getting settled."

"Good." She cringed. How many times can a single word be used in a conversation? "And-and the captain? He and TK?" She had talked to the captain's new wife briefly on the phone a few times. She seemed genuine and sweet.

"They're on vacation this week. They went to Big Sur, got a cabin down there. A late Christmas present."

"Oh, that sounds nice. Romantic." Her voice took on a wistful note she couldn't contain. The silence fell between them again.

"Sharona? Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, everything's great." Her eyes fell on the tree again. "I was just looking at my Christmas tree, you know? And I realized, it's just a mess. I mean really. You'd be appalled. Crooked lights, and ornaments hung all willy-nilly. And there's this hole, in the branches, that I just noticed and it's just this big empty space, and I was thinking that I really could use some inspiration to get this mess sorted out, you know?" She was grasping at straws really, but it was her habit to babble. It always had been.

"Sharona." His voice was calm, as she remembered it always was when all the pieces fit together. "Leland said he talked to Randy. That you two… that he moved out."

Sharona nodded unconsciously. She took another swallow of her drink. She didn't usually drink, but hey. She wasn't working in the morning.

"Are you… How are you?"

"Oh, I'm great. Just great." She didn't sound it. "He moved out about a month ago, and—" but that line of conversation was no good. She tried again. "You know, Benjy went back to school this week, but I'm working still, and you know. Rum. Rum is helping tonight."

"Sharona." God, he said her name so well. She missed hearing her name said that way.

"Adrian," she cut him off. "I wanted to ask you something."

He didn't hesitate. "Anything."

"I know you'll be honest. You were always honest. Usually when I didn't want you to be. And you know me, you know me better than most people." She twirled the straw in her glass. "I dated so many jerks in my life. I mean, half the time they were involved in a crime. And sometimes they were actually trying to kill me. Real winners."

"Yes, that's true. But not a question."

Sharona continued as if she hadn't heard him. "And then Trevor comes back, and I leave y… I leave everyone out in California to move back here and marry him again. He really had changed. He's a decent man, and really was making an effort. But it still didn't work." Her voice was thick with emotion now, but it didn't slow down her words. "And I thought, well, it just wasn't meant to be. It's nobody's fault, but it just isn't going to work.

"And then Randy." Her voice broke and a tear slipped over her eyelashes. "He's such a good man, so sweet. And he loved me so much. He loved me and I wanted to love him so bad. But I didn't." She could only muster enough strength to whisper the last.

"Sharona." He whispered, too.

She carried on. "So I want to ask you, because you're the smartest man I know. And you'll tell me. What is wrong with me? The only guys I pick are losers. And then the good ones pick me and I still can't make it work? There is something seriously the matter with me. What is it? Why can't I just love a man who loves me?"

"Sharona, there is nothing wrong with you." The emotion was plain in his voice, and also his distress, but his answer came again with no hesitation. "Nothing. You are one of the most caring, loving women I've ever met. The reason you picked those jerks back then was because you have such a big heart. Anyone who met you knew that, knows that. It was the same with Trevor and Randy. They loved you and you loved them, but they weren't right for you. They weren't enough for you. You need more. You deserve more. You just haven't found it yet."

She sniffed, feeling the tears slide over her cheeks as his words slid over her heart. The balm she had needed this past month. "I just haven't found my Trudy yet, huh?"

"What?"

She smiled. "I haven't found my one. The one who makes it all make sense. Who gets all of me. Who makes it better, who I need. Who will take care of me and still let me take care of him."

Adrian listened to this definition and nodded unconsciously.

"Like Trudy was."

"Yes. Like Trudy was." His voice was solemn and caring.

They listened to the quiet between them, neither needing to fill the pause this time. "Thank you, Adrian. See? I knew I was asking the right person."

"I was being honest," he shrugged.

"Like I knew you would be." Her smile was stronger now.

"Are you okay?"

She considered this, her eyes floating back to the merrily lit Christmas tree. "I will be. Like I said, I'm mostly keeping busy with work, but with Benjy going back to school, I just…" she paused. "I just needed to hear from a friend."

"Hey, that's why I'm here."

"And I need to finish this drink," she joked, her smile stronger than it had been for a month. He breathed a soft laugh. "Well. Bye, Adrian. And thanks again."

"You're welcome. Good-bye, Sharona."

They both hung up, and contemplated their conversation, Sharona comforted, Adrian considering.

What do you think? Writers love feedback!