Several Lorenzo had been visited, without success. It was evening and they sat down for a quiet dinner at an old restaurant. Charlie and Sophie, with their mutual dislike, sat quietly eating their food. Claire wanted to do something to light up the situation and make the enemies to like each other. She had a secret motive behind all this. Charlie needed a woman to love and who would love him back. A romantic, optimist and sweet woman would make his cold heart melt and give him comfort. And Sophie? She guessed Sophie wasn't happy, at least, not in the way she thought she was happy. Claire wanted to show Sophie that Charlie had good sides too.
"Charlie, why don't you tell Sophie about your pro bono legal work?"
"I can't imagine she'd have much interest, Gran." Clearly, thought he, she didn't seem the type to interest in politics.
"You know the sort of thing, defending the defenceless, preserving human rights, helping refugees get asylum." He looked at her in the eyes. "You look surprised."
"I'm so surprised. I just didn't have you pinned down as the save-humanity type at all."
"Really?" Why had she thought of him then? He was, despite of him, curious. As a laywer, he was very careful over the impression that he wanted to give. But with her, it has just been like he hadn't cared, at all, of what she thinks. But he had to admit, it was important now. "And what type did you have me pinned down for exactly?" asked he curiously.
"Well, I was leaning towards elitist Oxford prig, but now that you mention it, self-satisfied do-gooder works, as well." Sophie had her sweet revenge. He had found all her virtues and had twisted them sarcastically into vices. Now she had her chance, and she had took it. She smiled inside. She was not the very bimbo he had pinned down her as. She couldn't let anyone trample on her toes.
"I guess you're a poor judge of character then," said Charlie, more upset than he wanted to show.
"But she does deals with facts, Charlie," inserted Claire, agreeing on Sophie's statement. Sophie smiled Claire in thanks and Charlie gave her a look, the I-can't-believe-you-let-me-down look. "Okay. I'm off to bed." She kissed Sophie on the forehead. "Good night, darling."
"Good night. Sleep well." Sophie smiled. It was a thing a mother could do. Sophie felt uncomfortable at the idea. She had lived without her mother for 15 years; she certainly didn't need a mother now. But she decided to let it go and enjoy the moment.
"May I walk you back to the room?" tried Charlie.
Claire ignored and patted him harshly on the cheek. "Be nice to each other," directing the comment to him directly. Hopefully, hoped Claire, Charlie would behave more like a gentleman and make peace with Sophie.
Charlie sat down uncomfortably at the table. It was the first time they were alone, without Claire and the air was tensed, a cloud of the harsh words they had said to each other over the last few days, was hanging over them.
"She's awesome," whispered Sophie. She felt her attachment for Claire grow, she understood the signals. Claire could have been her grandma, if she could. But her grandma died a few years before her mother left. She had had such a nice grandma, the perfect one, making her cookies and reading her stories. Sophie wondered how her grandma could be so nice when her own mother was cold and selfish. Her mother hated her own mother. Charlie was lucky to have such person near him.
"I respect you usage of the word this one instance," agreeing the "awesomeness" of his Gran.
"Oh I'm flattered. Than you for improving," responded Sophie sarcastically. She was getting good at this, good at sarcasm. She didn't like it though, such a waste of energy. But he didn't give her the choice.
"You're very welcome," answered Charlie in the same tone. He felt sleepy. "Right. Well. Should we hit the sack?"
Sophie was puzzled. Hit the sack? "Sorry. I guess I…" was a bit rude, wanted he to say. He had made a joke, but the culture difference made it difficult for Sophie to understand. They chuckled, embarrassed. He wanted to stay, somehow. But the damage was already done. He had said the joke and the air became even more uncomfortable. "Well, as much as I'd love to sit here and drink the whole bottle of Caparzo…" started he.
"No, go to bed. You should. Good night, Charlie," interrupted Sophie, glad to be rid of him and his stupid jokes.
Charlie was disappointed. He would have her reacted differently. Charlie felt his anger melting away. She was, after all, interesting, lively and he didn't have any choice but to admit she had made his Gran happy. "Right. Well, good night."
"Good night," said she with impatience. Why couldn't he leave her alone? She deserved a break, from his constant nagging humour and sarcasm. She would stay here for a moment and go to bed. She was impatient to start writing. The Italians seemed to love Claire, flirting and giving her roses. She wished she had that power. But she has been a shy girl during her childhood. She had a few friends but she was never attracted to become popular. In high school, she was editor in chief at the school magazine and again at the university. Writing was her life. She rather observed than talk. She was rarely angry with anyone. But when situations demanded it, she could be a real female lion. At least, Charlie had brought out the lion in here. She wondered what Victor was doing. Another wine auction?
Charlie was fighting a battle. She was, he realised during the evening, his equal sometimes. Where anyone else may have given up, she was constantly fighting back and had given him raw meat for his sarcasm. She was not the stupid blonde he had pictured her but a beautiful, ambitious woman. She was worth the attention. He decided to apologize. His manners, all since the first start, had been horrible and he hadn't known he could be so hideous to a woman. He knew he could be such to his friends but to a stranger, and a woman! He turned around and looked at Sophie.
"Forgive me. Where are my manners?" His voice was full of regret and sincerity.
"You know, I've been wondering that since I met you." Her cautious voice still insecure and surprised over the confession.
"Yes, well, I don't know what it is, but you seem to bring out the very worst in me." He was never such to anyone. Sarcastic, rude, full of contempt and anger, he wondered how she had endured all this.
Sophie smiled, despite of her. She could see it now. He was sincere and honest. She was relieved. At least, from now, they would be cordial to each other. "Somehow it's my fault," said she with a smile.
"All of this is your fault. You wrote that blasted letter." Charlie still kept some of his opinions. At least, he would try to get to know the woman, and ignore the letter. "Nonetheless, may I walk you to your room?" Sophie could see the British influence here. Never had any American guy proposed a walk to one's room without any motive behind it. But on the hand, Charlie had no reason to anything indiscrete. He was being polite. She was delighted of their newfound friendship and realised how much she wanted to like him, for Claire's sake.
Outside, Charlie tried to explain himself. "You know, I'm not the buttoned-up, buttock-clenching killjoy you try to make me out as."
"Right. And I made you argue that true love is bollocks." If that wasn't evidence of his cynicism, she didn't know what else he thought was bollocks.
"Guilty," said he playfully. "It's just that I'm genuinely worried for her. I know she may seem carefree, but her life hasn't been all that simple. Is that unreasonable for me to worry?" asked he with concern. He wanted her opinion, because he felt that Sophie cared for Claire as much as he.
"No, but I have a really good feeling about this. You'll see." This proved how positive Sophie was.
"Let's hope you're right." And that showed how positive Charlie was.