Chapter 17:  Everything You Want

Alex arrived at Victor and Julie’s brownstone that Saturday about a quarter to six.  She greeted both of them with a kiss on the cheek.  “You both look wonderful,” she complimented.


“You look quite ravishing yourself,” Victor responded, admiring the long, flowing midnight blue spaghetti-strap gown that hugged his sister’s curves.


“How’s the bureau treating you?” Julie asked.


“It’s great,” Alex replied with a wide smile.  She let their butler take her coat and clutch and then stepped from the foyer into the living room.


She looked around appreciatively.  She had always loved Victor and Julie’s brownstone because it had an intimate Victorian feel to it.  Along with several antiques from the era, it was decorated with opulent oriental rugs, ornate overstuffed furniture, and framed oil paintings.  The walls were covered with Japanese geometric patterns in bold, rich colors and floral frieze.  Damask silk draperies ornamented the windows.  Porcelain vases containing colorful bouquets accentuated every room and crystal chandeliers sparkled from the ceilings. 


Atop the limestone mantel was a black and white photo of their parents in a gold Baroque frame.  Fighting back tears, she picked up the frame and delicately ran her fingers over the glass.


Victor quietly came up behind her and gently put a hand on her back so as not to startle her.  “They were quite lovely together, weren’t they?”


Alex turned to him.  “Yes, they were.”


He put his arm around his wife.  “I only hope that my marriage to Julie can be as long and fulfilling as our parents’.”


Alex smiled at them.  “I’m sure it will be.”


They went into the dining room, which contained oak wainscoting and mahogany flooring.  The rich Pompeian red walls were adorned with Beauvais tapestry.  Several of the guests turned around and started clapping when they saw Alex.  


Alex smiled modestly at all the attention being lavished on her.  Before she knew it, guests started swarming around her and bombarding her with questions. 


“Alexandra, dear,” Mrs. Whitmore began.  “I was despondent for weeks after I heard the news that you had been shot.  I remember thinking, ‘Such a precious life snuffed out.’  And to think that this could happen to one of our own!  When I found out you were still alive, you won’t believe the burden that had been lifted from my heart.  What was it like in the program?”


“My heart goes out to you, darling,” Mr. Carlyle began.  “I cannot imagine what would have happened if Andrea and I had lost one of our daughters.”


“It must have been so lonely for you in Witness Protection.  Were you able to make any friends?” Mrs. Blanchard asked.  “I hope they at least had a nice country club you could join.”


“Did they take you to some exotic island or were you forced to reside in a small town in the middle of nowhere?” Gretchen pried.


Alex smiled wryly.  “I assure you, Gretchen, it’s nothing like the adventurous, tropical hideaways full of mystery and suspense that you see on TV.”  Are people really this naïve about Witness Protection? she thought bitterly.  She knew that most of the people around her wouldn’t have been able to survive a day in the program.  They would have fainted if they’d ever even been exposed to a crime scene.  All they had ever known were their wealthy, pampered lives and they were completely oblivious to plights outside their stratosphere.  She felt like she was their poster child for grief by proxy. 


When she finally got some space again, she grabbed Victor’s arm and joked, “Are these dinner guests or the paparazzi?” 


Victor laughed.  “They’re just curious.”


“Maybe I should just write a tell-all book,” Alex muttered.


“Don’t worry,” Julie said, patting her on the back.  “I won’t let the vultures harass you all night long.”


The waiters began setting up the first course.  Alex’s mouth watered at the sight of the shrimp and scallop ceviche.  “The food looks delicious, Victor.”


“Just wait until they bring out the entrée,” Victor responded.  “Pan seared halibut with tomato-caper relish.”


“I absolutely love halibut,” Alex said with a smile.


Victor pulled out her chair and she sat down.  “Well, Victor, aren’t you quite the gentleman tonight?” Alex teased.


He pushed her chair up to the table and took a seat beside her.  “Anything for my beautiful sis.” 


Alex gave him an amused look.  “Usually when you’re this kind, you want something.  So what is it?”


Victor laughed.  “Can’t a guy just do something nice for his own sister?”


Alex looked at Julie.  “What have you done with the real Victor?”


Julie smiled.  “This is the one I pull out when we have company.”


After dinner, Victor pulled her aside.  “Alex, I have someone I want you to meet.  He’s a very good friend of mine.”


Alex rolled her eyes; she hated when her brother played matchmaker.  “No, Victor.  Absolutely not.”


“Oh, come on!” Victor coaxed.  “This guy is perfect.”


“Your idea of perfect or mine?” Alex asked.


“Anyone’s.  He’s a few years older than you but still a very eligible bachelor.  Besides, I’ve already mentioned you to him and he’s looking very forward to meeting you.  Please, Alex.  I have a close friendship riding on this.”


Alex frowned.  “Victor, every single guy you’ve set me up with turned out to be a disaster.  So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not exactly jumping at the chance to date the guy of your choice again.”


Victor held her face in his hands.  “Alex, I just want you to be happy.  I really think you and Robert will hit it off.  He’s different from all the others, I promise.  Just give him a chance, ok?”


Alex sighed.  “All right, all right.”


Victor led her over to a tall gentleman talking to a group of people across the living room.  “Robert, may I see you for a moment?”


“Sure,” Robert answered.  He smiled politely at his friends and asked them, “Will you excuse me for a minute?”  He then turned to Victor and Alex.  Smiling at the tall statuesque blonde before him, he gave her an appreciative once-over.  He was absolutely blown away by how stunning she was.  “Wow…” he breathed, giving her his most charming smile.


“Robert, this is Alexandra Cabot, my sister,” Victor introduced.  He turned to Alex.  “Alex, this is Robert Shelton.”


Alex offered her hand.  “Pleased to meet you.”


Bowing deeply, Robert took her hand and kissed it instead of shaking it.  “Oh, no.  The pleasure is all mine, Alexandra.”


“Call me Alex,” Alex replied with a smile.


“Well, how about the two of you get acquainted?  I’m going to go mingle with some of the other guests,” Victor said, throwing Alex a knowing glance.


“Let’s go somewhere a little more private, shall we?” Robert suggested, placing a hand at the small of Alex’s back and leading her to a more secluded corner of the room.


“So what do you do for a living?” Alex asked.


“I’m a Wall Street broker,” Robert answered, smiling boldly.  “I hear you work in the DA’s office?”


“Yes, I’m chief of a trial bureau there.  Before that, I was the ADA for the Special Victims Unit.”


Robert nodded.  “Ah, a woman in power—especially in such a gritty profession.  I like that.  That takes a certain level of brilliance and tenacity.  You’ve probably seen horrors while working in that office that I couldn’t even begin to fathom.”


Alex gave him a tight smile.  “I lived them.”


Robert mentally kicked himself; he was well aware of the tragedy that had occurred in Alex’s life regarding the shooting and her stints in Witness Protection.  “Oh, I’m so sorry.  Yes, Victor told me.  I didn’t mean to sound—”


“No, no.  It’s ok.  I don’t like to focus on my past anyway.  To me, it’s all about moving forward,” Alex responded, taking a sip of her champagne.


Robert smiled.  “Nice outlook.  Well, your brother told me nothing but good things about you.  I’m a little disappointed.”


Alex wrinkled her brow.  “Why is that?”


“Because the things he said don’t even begin to do you justice.  Your success, your grace, and your beauty far surpass anything words could ever express.  You, my dear, are absolutely the most exquisite woman I’ve ever had the fortune of laying eyes upon.”


Alex smiled, blushing slightly.  “I’m very flattered, Robert.  But how many times have you used that line?”


Robert laughed.  “Ah, I love a lady with a sense of humor.  I assure you that I’ve never met anyone who is worthy of the praise I bestowed on you tonight.  I didn’t even know that women like you existed.”


Alex raised her eyebrows and smiled slyly.  “You barely know me, Robert.”


“I’m a fine judge of character,” he responded.  “Most women I meet are just so dithering, shallow, and divorced from reality.  But I can tell that you’re a real woman of substance.  You know who you are, what you want in life, and you aren’t afraid to go get it.  Victor told me about your interest in politics.  It takes a strong woman to weather such a male-dominated storm.”


Alex nodded.  “Right on the money.”


“And I would be more than happy to support you in any political endeavor you choose in any way that I can.”


“Thank you, Robert.  That’s very kind of you.”


After they talked for several more minutes, Robert asked, “Are you currently dating anyone?”


Alex shook her head.  “I can’t say that I am.”


“If it is all right with you, I’d like to take you out one evening,” Robert proposed.


Alex nodded and flashed a smile.  “I’d like that very much.”


He suavely pulled his PDA out of his inside breast pocket.  “May I have your number?”


“Sure,” Alex replied, reciting the set of digits.


After putting her name and number in his contacts, he took out his business card and handed it to her.  He placed a hand gently on her upper arm.  “Call me anytime.  Have a wonderful evening, Alex.”


“You, too,” Alex replied, watching him walk off and rejoin his group of friends.


Victor had been watching them from afar.  He walked over to Alex and asked, “So what do you think?”


“Well, he’s very charismatic, handsome, erudite, accomplished, confident....  After talking to him about a variety of different topics I found that we have a lot of common interests, especially where politics are concerned.  I guess you were right; he’s the perfect guy,” she said, smiling politely.  “Almost too perfect.”


“And not to mention very wealthy,” Victor added. 


Alex rolled her eyes.  “So I gathered.”


“Well, that’s always a plus, right?” Victor asked with a grin.


“There are more important things in life than money, Victor,” Alex remarked.


“I know.  But you can never have too much of it.  He is a managing director at Neumann-Riggs.  Last year his bonus was over $10 million.”


“Victor, I get it.  Really, I do.  You don’t have to keep carrying on like a schoolgirl with a crush.”


“I think you two are just a perfect match, that’s all,” Victor explained.  “And he could really help fund your political campaign in the future.”


“He pretty much told me he would.  But we have enough money of our own for that.”


“Yes, but why use ours when we can use someone else’s?  It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra insurance.  Robert has a lot of friends in high places with pretty deep pockets.  You know Wall Street plays quite a large hand in Manhattan politics.  No other candidate would stand a chance against you.”


“You can be an ass sometimes, you know that, right?” Alex said curtly.


“Hey, I was joking!  Besides, I just want what’s best for my sister.  Is that so bad?” Victor said, putting an arm around her shoulders.


“Well, just so you know…I agreed to let him take me out for dinner.”


Victor smiled and patted his sister on the back.  “That’s great.  I promise you that you will not regret it.”


“I’m holding you to that, Victor,” Alex responded dryly.




After Alex and Robert met for dinner the next week, Alex’s opinion of him had only increased tenfold.  He seemed different from others.  So many of her fellow socialites turned up their noses at her decision to become a prosecutor instead of a high-powered attorney, but he seemed genuinely interested in her desire for justice and proud of her strong sense of ethics and dedication to her job.  He was the first guy she’d considered dating from her own echelon who didn’t think she was just “slumming it” at the DA’s office.


When she returned to her apartment for the evening, she decided to call Victor and give him an update.


“So how did things go?” Victor asked.


“Remarkably well,” Alex answered.  “He’s a refreshing change of pace.”


“So I take that to mean he gets a second date?”


Alex smiled.  “We’re going out again this weekend.”


“That’s great, Alex.  I’ll have to tell Julie.”


“Knowing Julie she’ll start planning our wedding,” Alex muttered.


“Well, I can say that she’ll be as excited for you as I am.”


“Thank God Katherine’s in Boston or you’d be setting her up with someone, too,” Alex teased.


“She has to come home sometime,” he said with a laugh.


After she got off the phone with her brother, she ruminated the pleasant turn of events in her life.  She had been craving something more than just sex to fill the void in her life; however, she’d known for the longest that she didn’t want it with Jim.  Jim was a great guy—sweet, sensitive, caring—but that just wasn’t enough for her.  Jim was like an appetizer, but Robert was the main course she’d been patiently waiting for all along.  Besides, Jim’s attachment hadn’t waned in the slightest, and she knew it would only get stronger.  She did not want to ruin a friendship and their work relationship by dating him if she didn’t have the proper feelings to invest.  When they’d agreed to just sex, that was different because no feelings were expected, but a relationship warranted an emotional investment that she just couldn’t give him. 


Moreover, Jim was familiar.  Olivia was also familiar.  But maybe that was her problem.  She had previously desired to connect with elements of her past to regain her identity, but perhaps what she needed was a whole new territory.  Now she had found someone on the same page she was and she felt like she could finally make a clean break from her stifling past.  Growing up, Robert was the guy she’d fantasized about meeting—her Prince Charming.  Of course, this was all before she realized that she was a lesbian.  Aside from the fact that he wasn’t a woman, he was perfectly in line with her goals in life in every other way.  He had so many wonderful characteristics about him that she thought she could grow to love him.  She knew that her love for him would never be like that she’d have for Olivia or any other woman, but at the very least, they could have a cordial symbiotic relationship and Robert would be none the wiser.  For centuries, many women had repressed their true sexual orientation for financial security and social acceptance, so if she had to, she could go back to doing so.  But before she could embark upon her new journey with Robert, she would have to break things off with Jim.  Letting out a groan, she decided she’d take care of things the next day.


As she prepared for bed, the picture of Olivia on her nightstand caught her eye just like it did every night.  She picked it up and felt the familiar pang of hurt and longing shoot through her heart.  She was tempted to put it back in its place when a voice in the back of her head told her, You’re starting a new chapter of your life, Alex.  It’s time to close this one.  Opening the bottom drawer of her nightstand, she pulled out a velvet bag with a satin lining and delicately slid the frame into it.  She then took the necklace they shared and forced herself to drop it into the bag as well.  After pulling the drawstring closed, she slid the bag into the drawer and shut the door tight.  This time there were no tears, and she knew it was for the best. 




Alex had been avoiding the dreadful conversation all day long because she knew Jim would not be happy about the news.  At the day’s close, she decided that it might be better to break it to him over the phone so she wouldn’t have to actually see his face collapse.  She packed her files into her briefcase, closed up her office, and quietly tried to slip out of the courthouse.


She was walking down the steps when she heard footsteps rushing to catch up to her.  “Alexandra!” Jim shouted, his coat flapping wildly behind him.


Shit, Alex thought.  She slowly turned around and forced a smile.  “Have somewhere pressing you need to be, Jim?”


Jim gave her a wide smile.  “Only if it’s with you.  For a second, I thought I’d missed you but Billy told me you’d just left.  You wanna have dinner at my place?”


Alex sighed.  “I can’t tonight.”


He looked disappointed.  “Oh…well, how about tomorrow?  If you don’t trust my cooking skills, we can always go to a restaurant like we have before.” 


Just come right out and say it, she scolded herself.  “Listen, Jim…I don’t think we should do this anymore.”


Jim gave her a puzzled look.  “Why not?”


Alex searched her mind for a way to break things gently.  “I just have so many other things going on in my life that I need to focus on right now.  It’s nothing personal.”


“Alexandra…I don’t understand—”


“Jim, it was just sex, so it’s no big deal, right?” she asked, giving him a tight smile.


It may have been just sex to you, but to me it meant so much more, Jim thought sadly.  He forced a smile to hide his pain.  “Right.”


Alex rubbed his upper arm sympathetically.  “Well, I need to get home.  Bye, Jim,” she said, turning around and walking off.


As Jim watched Alex disappear into the fog, all he could think of were the last lyrics to Vertical Horizon’s “Everything You Want”:  I am everything you want, I am everything you need, I am everything inside of you that you wish you could be.  I say all the right things at exactly the right time, but I mean nothing to you and I don’t know why.