Harry finally thought he had it all; his career was on an all-time high- he'd been honored by the local association and had gone to the mayor's ball, he'd bought a house, and most importantly, his love life was on solid ground. He'd just begun dating Christine Sullivan; she had to transfer, but it was worth it. They were happier than ever. It was too soon to discuss marriage, but somewhere that's what Harry was thinking or at least hoping for in the back of his mind. Of all of the women he'd ever dated, he wouldn't mind being married to Christine.
But just as soon as he thought he'd had life figured out, in typical fashion, a twist was thrown at him that he did not see coming. In his courtroom walked Christine's replacement. It was Billie. That Billie.
God she looked good. Time had been her friend. It had only been a few years since he'd last seen her but boy she was a sight for sore eyes. Her hair was a little longer- it was now in a shoulder length bob, still the same straw colored blonde that it always was and her eyes were the same soulful color that Harry'd rememembered them to be. It was funny- time had been cruel to some people, but it had clearly been Billie's friend. For a man whose wit had carried him far in life, it was unusual to say the least, but for the moment, Harold T. Stone was speechless.
"Hello, Your Honor," Billie finally broke the ice.
"Hello…Miss Young. Nice to see you again. I have to confess you're about the last person I was expecting to see walk through this courtroom."
"I was a bit surprised myself. But you go where you're needed, and from my caseload I can see that I'm definitely needed. No shortage of the underprivileged here," she smiled as their eyes met. You could cut the tension in the room, and everyone could see that.
Finally Dan spoke up. "Want the key to my room at the Easy A motel? I have a standing reservation there. In fact there's a room named after me."
"Oh, Dan. You haven't changed a bit," Billie groaned as she nervously looked away from Harry. She didn't know why, but she did feel nervous around the judge. There was something about him that made her feel a little uncomfortable, but not necessarily in a bad way. She couldn't think that way. She had to remain professional. There was nothing between them. Even if there were, that was a long time ago. Things had changed. People changed. Who knew if he even felt the same that he did way back then?
So court proceedings came and went, and then afterwards Harry approached Billie.
"Hey you. Are you really going to leave without saying goodbye to your old buddy?"
"I said goodbye to you before, remember?"
"As I recall you really didn't say goodbye," Harry smiled at her.
"Yeah, well, they aren't my thing. Besides, I couldn't have said goodbye, not to you…" she looked away.
"Yeah…I know what you mean." He cleared his throat. "Hey what are you doing for breakfast? Want to go grab some eggs and coffee? I know the neatest café around the block!"
Billie looked at him. "Yeah. Yeah. I think I'd like that." Despite her misgivings she thought it would be fun to see her buddy. And that's all Harry Stone was, a buddy.
So they dined and had a great time. She filled him in on her latest adventures, her job, what she was going, her boyfriends, her heartaches. Somehow Harry neglected to tell her about Christine. It wasn't intentional. He meant to. It's just that, well, he got so caught up in his old friend's stories that there just wasn't time to bring up that part of his life. And to be honest, if he were honest with himself, maybe he didn't want to talk about Christine. The longer the breakfast, the better Billie looked.
Finally it was time to say goodbye. Not that either of them wanted to. Harry held her hand first, then embraced her, just as two old friends did. But what two friends did not do was kiss, which was exactly what happened between Harry and Billie. Truth be told that was a long time coming, and finally Billie walked away, looking fondly at him before finally turning around.
Harry went home and tried to sleep, but it evaded him. Guilt plagued him. He wanted to see Christine but she was at work. Finally as he drifted off it thoughts of both women filled his mind and he knew he had a choice to make, but what it was he did not know.
It was six o'clock when he drove to Christine's apartment, and she was very happy to see him. Too happy.
After he did not return her embrace, she asked him what was wrong.
"We need to talk," Harry responded morosely.
"What's wrong? Did something happen at work? I know just the thing? I'll pull out Mr. Peepers and we can have a nice little dance," Christine said, looking for her cat.
"Christine, the cat can't fixed this. I kissed another woman today," he bluntly told her.
She turned around, the look of shock and hurt on her face one that would haunt him for the rest of his days.
"It's Billie. She's back. I didn't mean for it to happen but we had breakfast and the next thing I knew I was hugging her goodbye and then we kissed. I swear I never meant to hurt you. Never you."
"Do you love her?" Christine stared at him. He didn't answer. That told her everything she needed to know.
"I gave up my career for you," she said, her hands shaking.
"Christine, I hate myself and I don't blame you for hating me. I would too if I would too. Go ahead. Hit me. I deserve it." He shut his eyes and braced himself for a slap.
Christine raised her hand and after a few seconds she lowered it. "Open your eyes. I'm not going to hit you. I don't hate you."
"You don't?" Harry asked.
"No. How can I hate someone who's given me so much? I mean, the best years of my life have been with you. You've made me smile, you've made me laugh, now you've made me cry. I'm going to miss you, Your Honor."
"I'm going to miss you too, Miss Sullivan. Friends?"
She thought about it for a second. She offered her hand and he took it. "Friends." Then he pulled her into a warm embrace.
This was the hardest decision that Harry had ever had to make, but in his heart he knew it was the right one. It took a few weeks before he would ask Billie out, and they took their time, but she helped him heal, and he never would forget everything he had shared with Christine. Never.