Not long after she texts Kurt back, the cab pulls over in front a grand white house, nicely-situated by a glistening pond. The residence is surrounded by thriving and neatly-cut bushes, with a pebbled path leading to the doorway. The lawn is just mowed, and the smell of the fresh-cut grass with the tranquility of the humid air almost makes her forget to whom this beautiful dwelling belongs. It is ironically interesting how little the appearance of the house could reveal the taste and character of its owner.
Diane steps up to the front door and adjusts her posture before ringing the doorbell. Within a few seconds, the heavy oak door is opened. She is greeted by a black man in a tuxedo. A little overwhelmed by the formal attire of Sweeney’s butler, Diane speaks “I’m Diane Lockhart. I think I’m expected by Mr. Sweeney.”
“Come in please, Ms. Lockhart.”
“Thank you.” The door is closed behind her.
Now standing in the hallway, Diane has a better look of the inside of the house. The white staircase on her right hand leads to the second floor. Alongside the stairway, several Japanese manga-type paintings in bright and contrast colors are hung on the wall. The living room on the left is now rearranged with only tables where drinks and snacks are placed. A few young men, who all are dressed in vests and black bow-ties, keep bringing more glasses and dish trays to fill the scarce place on the tables.
“May I, ma’am?” Diane follows his gesture to slip off her coat.
“Thank you. What’s the occasion?”
“Mr. Sweeney is throwing a party tonight.”
Diane curses in silence. Colin Sweeney knew well he could totally ask her to come on any other day. She could have sent an associate to bring the retainer agreement if he hasn’t repeatedly stressed that he could only feel important with the name partner handling his business. Mixing up his legal issues with a sure-to-be chaotic party of his, Colin Sweeney has his way to couple things to a perverting end.
“Just hope this won’t take too long.” Grabbing the briefcase, she follows the butler to the second floor.
“The end of the hall, Ms. Lockhart.”
“Alright, thank you.”
As Diane approaches the direction he suggested, she turns “Excuse me, but which roo…? Hello?” The butler is gone.
“Like a ghost.” Diane sighs.
There are two opposite rooms at the end of the hall.
“What’s that room for?” He points at the room opposite to the study.
“That is…” the butler hesitates and eyes Sweeney for approval.
“That is my training room if you will.” Sweeney paces closer slowly.
“Can you open it?”
“Well, it’s something I don’t like to display openly,” Sweeney smirks but soon retrieves his careless manners, forced by the serious look on Kurt’s face. “but if you think it’s necessary, yes.”
Sweeney hurries to his desk, fumbles in the middle drawer and ends up with a bunch of keys.
“You should know I made special sound-proof decoration, and the lock is quite tricky as well.” Sweeney explains while handling the key to the lock. The key is only half turned before they hear a click.
“This is weird. I thought I had locked it.” Sweeney turns the doorknob and opens the door.
“You also use this room as a study?” Kurt asks when he finds the arrangement just resemble the room opposite.
“No, it’s the theme of office romance this month. I’ll change it to Greek mythology for the next.”
“Shh. Did you hear anything?” Kurt whispers.
“Hearing what?” Sweeney widens his eyes.
“What’s behind the shelf?” Kurt leans his ear to the shelf.
“It’s the ultimate training section. It’s impossible that Ms. Lockhart could find the entrance.”
Kurt steps backwards and glares at Sweeney. “You’d better open it, or I can do it my way.”
The shelf slides to the side, and with the crack widens they hear loud music of Italian opera coming from the built-in room, which is lighted in red, with a giant bed facing the entrance. Not until it is fully opened, Kurt sidles into the room. The bed is empty. His eyes scan the walls on both sides on which hang a bunch of handcuffs, whips, and some pointy shaped tools. Then he sensed a shadow from the corner of his eye. Turning his head to the left corner of the room closer to the shelf, he sees Diane curling on the floor with her back against the wall and her heels cast away about an inch from her feet. He almost trips himself rushing to her and kneeling.
“Diane!” Kurt holds her shoulders and raises his voice, trying to be heard under the loud music that is still playing.
She flinches at first, then raises her head. It takes her about a second to recognize his face before she leans closer instantly and holds him tightly with her arms.
“Oh my god, Kurt, I’m so sorry. I tried to reach you, but there’s no signal here.” She apologizes in a shaking voice and then tightens her grip of him. She has been trapped here for almost five hours, and the first thing she does when seeing him is to apologize for her lateness.
“Would you turn off that noise for god’s sake?” Kurt yells at Sweeney, who is just stunned, freezing at the entrance.
He caresses her back with his fingers drawing circles and comforts her in a soft voice, “It’s okay, hon, as long as you’re safe now.” and then presses a kiss on her cheek.
They hold each other for a few more seconds, and Kurt leans backwards and looks at her face concernedly.
“Did you get hurt?” He then casts a look at her heels.
“No. It’s just, I was too tired, and there’s no place to sit or anything.” She raises her hand from his collar to touch his newly-shaved face affectionately. “I’m so sorry, Kurt. Tonight should’ve been wonderful. I shouldn’t have scheduled anything.” She studies his face dearly with glistening tears and guilt in her eyes.
Kurt chuckles by her apologies.
“Diane, there’s nothing you need to apologize for.” Rubbing the tears from the corner of her eye, he adds, “Can I help you stand up?”
Diane slips in her heels, with Kurt holding her right arm and bracing her with his hand on her waist.
“I am sorry, Ms. Lockhart. I had no idea that you would be here the whole night.” Sweeney interrupts while shooting a fidgeting look at Kurt’s stern face.
“There’s no reception. How would that bother you...in here?” Diane now stands straight, trying to suppress her anger, she then asks.
“Well, during the act, I wouldn’t like any kind of interruption even the invisible radio wave, you know, a totally isolated space from modern technologies, just primal need for...”
“I don’t think we need to know that much.” Kurt cuts in.
“To make up for it, I’ll arrange my limo to send you home.” Sweeney offers attentively.
“It’s not necessary. I have a cab waiting.” They are about to leave the room before Kurt takes a step back and furrows while casting another look at the ceiling.
Noting his irregular moves, Diane turns to him, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Kurt then catches her heels.
“Just give me one minute.” He says to her, after seating Diane in the backseat of the cab.
Diane grabs his hand before he can leave the door closed.
“Kurt, if you’re gonna do what I think you’re gonna do, please, don’t. It’s not his fault.”
“What? You think I’m gonna beat him up?” Kurt chuckles, trying to ease Diane’s concern.
“I don’t want you to get in trouble.” She looks straight into his eyes.
“It’s gonna be alright. Trust me.” He bends over, pressing a feather kiss on her lips, and then close the door.
“A word.” Kurt drops his words to Sweeney, who is standing at his driveway and waiting to see them off. Kurt walks past him and heads for the other side of the house.
“Do something when I scream.” Sweeney jokes with his butler and takes the hint to follow Kurt.
“So, Mr. McVeigh, you’ve found your wife. Anything else I can help with?” Sweeney intends to lighten the mood, but his grin soon vanishes forced by Kurt’s stare.
“If I were you, I would schedule a business hour next week to renew your contract with your lawyer in her office.” Kurt shoots plainly.
“Yes, of course, it will be on the top of the list.”
“If I were you, I would erase the tape that has been recording your special little room.” Kurt puts his hands in the pockets of his jeans and emphasizes his second sentence.
“How did...” Sweeney is a little astonished at first but then a vile smile emerges on his face. “Well, they told me no one would recognize it. Are you an expert with cameras yourself?”
Enraged by his implication, he grabs the lapels of Sweeney’s suit and throws him hard to the wall.
“Ouch!” Sweeney lets out a call.
“Listen, you literally imprisoned my wife for hours. It is for her sake that I didn’t beat the shit out of ya, so don’t push your luck. If any footage of Diane’s appearance in that room still exists tomorrow, you should be careful. I spent most of my life testifying not just for innocent ones but also against the guilty ones.” Kurt sticks his arm to Sweeney’s chest, holding him against the wall.
“Are you threatening me?”
“I’m informing you of what I am capable of doing.”
Weakened by his powerful grip, Sweeney concedes.
“All right, I will, okay?”
With Kurt stepping backwards, Sweeney braces his elbows against the wall to stand on his feet.
“I liked it better when you didn’t talk much.” Adjusting his bow tie, Sweeney then adds.
“But now I get it how someone like Ms. Lockhart would be attracted to you, the thing of being macho. Women just fall for it, no exception.”
“It took you so long.” She leans closer and takes his arm before he closes the door.
“Don’t worry. I just called Marrisa to tell her that you’re okay.” He holds her hand, fingers entwined, and then rests his lips on the back of her hand, shooting a genuine look into her orbs.
Diane smiles at his warm gaze. She cannot resist his puppy eyes. Yes, he is a man of few words and most of the time only has the same expression for everything. It even irritates her that she could not tell what he’s gonna say or do only by judging his face. She can remember the time when she was scared to hell that he would divorce her but ended up in his arms after he finally confessed the wish to live together until death do them apart. The endings are always sweet, but she cannot say she enjoys the roller-coaster of emotions. But there are also times like this when he gives away how he feels about her by the way he looks at her. The tenderness in his eyes could just melt her heart.
“I’m sorry.” Feeling so content, she then regrets more that she failed in making him feel the same way.
“It’s like your third apology tonight. Diane, what’s wrong?”
“I just hate it that I kept ruining our date with work and emergencies. I sat in there all night and imagined how disappointed again you would be.” The guilty fills her eyes.
“Yet you neglect how extremely happy I am when you show up.” He leans and softly kisses her lips. “And our night will not be ruined.”
“Huh?” Diane just opened her eyes from relishing the touch of his lips.
Kurt takes out a card from the inner pocket of his jacket and hands it to the driver.
“No problem.” The driver looks at the address and then answers.
“Kurt, where are we going?”