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"The thing I'm most soothed by in life is ... "

"The sound of gentle rain against windows or medium rain against rooftop with overspill from gutters ..."

She'd never felt this way before: it wasn't something she cared to repeat.

The week had been particularly trying, and she'd been driven completely to distraction.

He'd been gone for almost two weeks. No Henry in his office. No Henry at his house. No Henry to bug, irritate, or annoy. No Henry to provide some well-founded reason as counter to her whimsy.

Worse, she didn't know where or why he'd gone.

No one at KinderKare seemed to know. Eliza checked in frequently with Charmonique, but the latter also didn't know where Henry might be. Concerned about how his best sales rep was running around preoccupied, Saperstein had a word with Eliza in his office. But Eliza had turned that brief conversation around with her own questions for the boss. Her prying into the Henry sitch hadn't yielded any results. Surely, Saperstein had to know everything about everyone, because duh, he was the big boss getting paid the big bucks. But if he knew, he wasn't telling, much to her frustration. She went to plead her case with Raj in H.R. but he had been equally tight-lipped, and he had muttered something about a "human-resources oath" ... 

All of it was driving Eliza bat-shit crazy. 

All she'd gotten from Henry were short text messages. His first text a couple of days into his "break" provided the most information.

=== H: Eliza, I'll be gone a few days. Sorry I didn't tell you. I'm fine, but I've some matters to attend. See you when I'm back. 

At least he apologized. But he still didn't tell her why he was gone. Subsequent texts became shorter and less informative; they only let her know he was okay. 

Day ten, and his texts had stopped, and she was no closer to learning why he had gone. 

She was worried. And she was pissed. 

Why wouldn't he let her know what was going on? She told him everything! In truth, she realized he owed her little, but she thought if they were in fact friends that he'd have the decency (and mercy) to let her know what the hell was going on. 

Friday had come around; work had become a monotony without the color provided by Henry's presence, the entire week slowly ground to a mind-numbing halt. The BORING week in the BORING office had come to a BORING end. Once the clock struck 5, she jetted out of the office in a beeline to his house.  

She arrived in her Fiat to a very familiar glass house. Instead of breaking in like she did for his 40th birthday, she used his keys to enter his house. The keys were the very same he had lent her when she was having issues with money. She still remembered the conflicting 'feels': even though he had rejected her, he was letting her stay in his house ... all by herself! There was little hesitation on his part; of that she had no doubt. She was convinced he was simply offering his friend a place to stay until she got a handle of her money situation.

For that one night she stayed, one thought kept turning over in her mind: 

Maybe I mean more to him than just a friend. Would he have done this for someone else, another friend? Does he even have friends to ask that question? 

Even she recognized their friendship was def legit in her mind, a special relationship. So special, she realized, that she never mentioned it on social media. What they had, what they shared belonged only to them, aside from a `gram or two ... 

Not even Julia's impromptu visit to drop off Henry's Waterpik had put Eliza off, although Julia's visit provided a small answer to a different question. Julia had been convinced Henry had moved on quickly and directly to Eliza, and Eliza remembered the little spark of hope, a tiny flame lit again.

Which brought up yet another excellent question: where the quack did he go after he rejected her at karaoke night?  

Eliza had developed a better sense about people and sitches, and there was no way in hell anyone especially Julia would've stuck around after overhearing Eliza and Henry's exchange in his office. Eliza had practically begged him to tell her how he felt, and he totally chickened out. And from her perspective, he chickened out again when he "supposedly" left to join Julia downstairs. What might've happened had he stayed to watch her sing ... 

A week after the karaoke disaster, Henry was out of the office for the day, and Saperstein took Eliza aside for a short quiet chat away from the earshot of others. 

"Eliza, I'm sorry about what happened." 

"Sir, I don't know what you're ..." 

He shook his head, a sympathetic expression for her. "Please, Eliza ... don't ... I know, because I watched you sing ... and I watched Henry sing, too ... "

What?! How did I miss that? Oh wait, I left with the gang to party ... 

"Excuse me, sir, but I'm not exactly comfortable talking to you about this ..."

"Eliza, I'm not speaking as your boss, but as a friend. I'll be honest with you: I've known Henry a long time, and I've never seen him look as upset as that night ..." 

"I don't see how that helps ..."

"He caused you pain. But whatever happened between you two, you should know he was deeply affected, too. I wanted you to know ... and even if you're angry with him, maybe it'll help you understand ..."

She looked away. "Maybe ..." Her feels, the hurt still ran raw and deep. "Thank you, sir ..."

"You're welcome, Eliza.  Well, that's enough navel-gazing for one day; you should get back to work ..." 

"I have to ask ..." 


"What song did he choose?

He gave her a small knowing smile. "'Wild World', by Cat Stevens." 

She frowned. "I don't know that song ..." 

"I think you should get to know it. The lyrics may surprise you ..." 

"Yes, sir ... I'll look for the song ..." 

"Please see that you do, Eliza ..." She might've been mistaken, but that almost came out somewhat 'fatherly' of him ...

Of course, her subsequent reactions trying to ignore Henry, to "Gone Girl" his ass, and to snub him weren't exactly her proudest moments. But they didn't give her cankles, either ...

She shook her head; these thoughts were spiraling her into a place she wasn't ready to proceed or examine.  

She looked at the house keys in her hand. She raised one of the keys close to her face, examining the key's shape and feeling the weight between her fingers. Fact is, he had never asked for his keys back, and she had simply kept them safe. She had never thought too much about what it really meant to hold onto his keys. 

Until now.

"... I won't put my butt on all your stuff, don't worry ..." 

"... You're a class act ... I'm sure you'll be quite comfortable ..." 

All she wanted to do was walk into his house, stretch out in all of the rooms, snoop through his things (like, duh!), look for his well-hidden journal, and sleep in his bed. The last two weeks had been rough. She would be all like stealth and slip into his office to eat lunch by herself. She didn't stop by his office the usual four, five, or six times each day; she had no other reason to be there. But she had quietly kept their "lunch dates", and Charmonique wisely kept any 'blocking' comments to herself. 

She had underestimated how his absence had left a sizeable hole in her life ...

She missed him terribly. Two weeks! That's all ...

But then irritation surged ... and she wanted to tear him a new one ...

 "... This key is to your kingdom, this key is to your heart ..." (MG)