A/n I would like to thank my pal hippogriff-tamer for all her help with the story. I do not own letters to Juliet just the idea
The sun was still fairly high in the sky as Sophie Hall and Charlie Wyman meandered down the pathway in search of a shaded picnic table. There were hardly any people around them despite it being a Monday afternoon.
"So Rob invited us to a barbeque this weekend," Charlie said as he scanned the route they were taking.
Sophie swallowed a fry she was munching on from her recently purchased bag of fish and chips. "Rob from your firm?"
"Isn't that close to July fourth? I thought you Brits didn't celebrate that day since America kicked your butts in the Revolution."
He smiled. "We aren't celebrating the fourth. Besides you Americans only won because you had the advantage of knowing the land."
"Are you saying that if the war was over here in England that you would've won?" Sophie's voice was teasing.
"Yes," Charlie answered simply.
She laughed, linking their arms together.
He raised an eyebrow. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing. It's just nice being here with you. No jobs, no interruptions…"
"You mean like women coming up asking us about Gran and Lorenzo?"
"Exactly, though it has gotten better."
When the story Sophie wrote about Claire and Lorenzo finding each other after fifty years was published it had become an instant hit. In the ten months since Sophie and The New Yorker have been flooded with mail from women wanting to share their gratitude for sharing Claire's story and tell Sophie how it gave them hope that love would one day find them. Many wanted to know more about the Bertolinis and Wymans. When Sophie moved to London her fans followed, managing to locate the place she now shared with Charlie. They even found out where they worked, waiting outside to ask questions. Charlie thought they were meddlesome and though Sophie tried to be gracious when approached she even had to admit that the attention was growing tiresome.
"Sophie Hall?" a low voice asked. Sophie and Charlie both turned to see a young woman with dark hair wearing a faded plaid skirt and white shirt.
Sophie gave Charlie a sympathetic look before answering her. "Yes?"
"My friends and I just got back from visiting Verona. It was beautiful, but seeing all those girls crying while writing letters to Juliet was heartbreaking…"
Sophie smiled politely as the young woman spoke. "Anyway, I was just wondering if you were going to write another story," she finished.
"Maybe one day," Sophie answered diplomatically.
The young woman grinned. "Thank you. It was nice meeting you," she said as she started off.
"You're welcome," Sophie managed before she was once again alone with Charlie.
Sophie turned back to Charlie when she heard her cell phone ring.
"Will you hold this?" she asked indicating her bag of food.
Charlie nodded and shifted his own bag of fish and chips to the other hand before taking hers.
"Thanks," she told him before wiping her hand on her jeans; she was wearing jeans and a pink t-shirt. Opening her brown messenger bag she grabbed her cell.
"Hello?" she said answering it.
"Oh, hi Bobby. We are doing fine, you?" she replied a moment later.
There was a pause while Sophie listened to Bobby on the other end. Though she no longer worked for The New Yorker full time, she still wrote freelance for the magazine.
"A new story on Claire and Lorenzo… I'd love to," she said finally, adding "They want me to fly to New York tomorrow for a meeting…" She looked at Charlie but his expression was unreadable.
"Okay," she said before listening some more. A few minutes later she hung up the phone and placed her cell back in her messenger bag.
"That was Bobby. He says that they want me to write a follow-up story on Claire and Lorenzo. He said that they booked me on a flight to JFK tomorrow morning so I can meet with him."
Charlie didn't respond.
"I know its last minute but…"
"I understand," he stated.
She hesitated then asked "You do?"
By the time they arrived home, Sophie had become increasingly concerned. Charlie had been unusually quiet while they ate.
"Charlie, what's wrong?" she asked a minute after entering their house.
He had grabbed the mail before opening the door and was going through it.
"Another one," he muttered, not answering her.
She placed her messenger bag down on a cedar table near the door. "Another what? Charlie, what's going on? You've barely spoken since Bobby called."
"A letter from another fan. This time it's postmarked Indiana," he finally answered, holding out a white envelope to her.
Sophie took it from him, glancing at the front of it.
"There's only one but not for long," he told her.
She looked back at him. "It won't be that bad with this new story."
He ran his hand through his hair. "How do you know? Answering letters is one thing but Sophie a girl followed me to a client meeting; a meeting that he allowed if it was me and him. She wanted to ask me about you and Gran. I'm glad that my client didn't see her or he might have thought a reporter followed me and ended what turned out to be a informative venture."
Sophie gasped. "She was breaking the law wasn't she? You could have called the police."
"I didn't want to cause anyone trouble. You don't either. That's why neither one of us has called these girls and women in."
True, Sophie knew what they were doing was wrong, but she'd just figured they'd stop.
"I can talk to Bobby about it when I see him," she told him.
Charlie groaned. "What can he do? He's all the way across the Atlantic…This is so frustrating!"
Sophie wanted to comfort him but as she started towards him she dropped the envelope she was holding. Charlie bent to retrieve it. Straightening up, he noticed the return address.
"Patricia Hall? Isn't that the same name as your mothers?"
Sophie nodded, looking down at her hands.
He lifted her chin with his finger. "Sophie?"
She stared into his cerulean eyes. "It is from my mom."
He looked startled. "What! I thought that she left and you haven't heard from her since?"
"I hadn't heard from her until three months ago. She sent me a letter saying that she read my story. Her friend showed it to her after recognizing my name."
"Three months…were you ever going to tell me?"
"I didn't think to," she replied earnestly.
"Didn't think to…Sophie why?"
Tears formed in her eyes. "She only sent three letters, including this one. I didn't think it was important to tell you."
His tone turned from upset to anger. "Not important! Sophie, your mum contacted you after sixteen years!"
Sophie didn't know how to respond. Charlie didn't allow her. He reached for the door.
"Where are you going?" Sophie asked, surprised.
"I need time alone." With that he opened the door and left.
Sophie let the tears flow once she was alone. Charlie had every right to be angry with her. The first letter from her mom had been such a shock that she didn't know how to respond to it; if she should respond to it. She did want to tell Charlie since they didn't like keeping secrets from each other, but she wanted to decide what she was going to do first before she told him. She hoped that he would return soon so that she could explain that to him.
He was still gone four hours later. Sophie had left unanswered messages on his voicemail. She was sitting on the sofa, reading Jane Eyre, waiting for him. Her orange tiger cat, Romeo, jumped up on the sofa and rubbed on her arm before lying next to her leg. Putting the book down, she scratched his head and back. "He'll return won't he?" she asked Romeo. He purred. She grinned slightly. "I think so too."
Her cell phone rang and she answered it on the first ring. "Charlie?"
She sighed, disappointed. "Oh, hi Lorraine."
"No nothings wrong," she told her friend, a fact checker at The New Yorker. She didn't want to discuss what had happened earlier just yet.
"Anyway, I'm glad you called. I am going to be in New York for a couple days and I was wondering if I could stay with you…"
She listened to her friend for a few moments. "I can. Thank you."
They talked for several more minutes, making arrangements to meet at the airport the next day. As she hung up with Lorraine, Sophie wondered if Charlie would return soon so that they could talk before she left for New York.