Meredith had just closed her office at Peabody and Webster Attorneys at Law, and no sooner had she run out the door only to purse her red lips to let out a shrill whistle as she spotted a member of her clique, Nadine, across the street.
Nadine waved, but Meredith mouthed 'Come here.' Nadine glanced at her watch, shook her long brown hair over her shoulder, looked to the right, then to the left before crossing the busy street. Once together, Meredith looked into Nadine’s sparkling green eyes and asked her 'Can you keep a secret? Do you think Clarissa and Joyce can keep a secret? You see I need to know. So please give them a ring and ask them that. I've got to run, I've got courtroom now with my boss.'
Nadine gushed forth, 'Of course, I can. I love secrets, and I’m sure the others will too. We are sisters, aren’t we? So wha a at .......'
Meredith's phone was vibrating madly. Meredith put a red-tipped finger on her lips, 'Sorry, Nadine, I have to answer this. Get back to you later.' Meredith ran quickly with her high heels clicking up the street where she then jumped into a dark blue cabriolet. There was an interesting looking dark-haired man holding the door open for her.
Nadine closed her mouth and wondered what was behind all of this. You just never knew with Meredith. How many times had she and the others in the clique been plunged into unmitigated ventures caused by Meredith and her impulsive nature? You’d think working with attorneys would have her be more cautious and slower to act upon something. Yes, she knew Meredith was only a secretary, but she was a top-rated one and she had been
working with the head boss for almost three years now. Something must have rubbed off on her, wouldn’t you think? surmised Nadine to herself. Well, she had better contact the others about keeping a secret. Perhaps I should call a meeting, then we could have a bit of fun, all of us coming up with 'the secrets of Meredith.'
Right, I’d better get my body over to a café to fill the empty void in my stomach. My boss is not so understanding as Meredith’s.
Meanwhile, Meredith is accompanying her boss to a courtroom.
It appeared to be a very tough case of emotional abuse; Meredith was to take a complete dictation of the trial and their client’s statements, verbatim. Their client was a twenty-year-old young lady who had adversely got involved with her tutor at university.
Meredith, being ten years older, took her under her wing, much to the relief of her boss. He smiled down at Meredith’s dark head; she was diligently taking dictation. Their client was holding up surprisingly well under the grilling of the opposing attorney.
Len, Meredith’s boss, appreciated the preciseness executed by Meredith. He had also noted in the last few months how well he and she complemented each other. He gave in to his feelings once, and asked her out on a date, which had turned out to be the first of many. This weekend would be their first together with one exception: he hadn’t asked her; he had just assumed she’d agree.
'Hey there Joyce, hello Clarissa, where shall we go?' Nadine asked.
Clarissa answered after a brief deep breath, 'How about Steak and Lobster at South Beach? It’s pretty quiet, so we wouldn’t be disturbed so much. It sounds pretty serious from your SMS. And it’s a lovely warm evening, if we hurry a bit, we’ll manage to watch the sunset. I haven't told you, my son Pete has started working there as a busboy. It helps him with his pocket money, which he spends on games.'
Nadine said 'Oh, do you think that’s wise to go check up on him already? Other than that, Steak and Lobster sounds good to me. And I’m starving!' 'Count me in, chimed in Clarissa, blowing her blond curls out of the way, Who’s driving?' Joyce held up the car keys to her wine-red Mini Club car, 'I'm parked right around the corner.'
'Well, dinner sure hit the spot, didn’t it? You never go wrong with steak and lobster. Let’s order another bottle of wine; the evening is young yet, and we haven’t begun to listen to the latest about Meredith,' said Joyce. She continued, leveling her blue eyes at 'Nadine, Do tell us what’s going on?'
So Nadine began and asked both women if they were able to keep a secret, just as Meredith had asked her to do. As well expected, both answered with glee, 'Of course we can!' Directly thereafter followed: 'What’s the secret?'
'Sorry, ladies. She never managed to tell me. She had a court date with her boss. So I figured we could come up with some ideas of the secrets Meredith might have. Joyce, you're closest to her. Have you got any ideas – maybe she told you one and she forgot to tell us?'
'Mmmh, you know she told us about her duties at work. She's had a run in with the apprentice they took on last month; but no idea why, or what needs to be kept a secret there. Then I know another secretary has resigned, but Meredith already holds the top rank with the head boss there. Maybe that boss and that secretary had an affair, or she was caught in flagrancy, manipulating some transcriptions??? I really don’t know!' Exasperated, she finished with 'Besides, we don't know her work colleagues, they surely cannot be of any interest to us, can they?'
'Clarissa, You go to yoga with her, do you know anything?'
'Me? No! She has skipped the last two Friday sessions but she never told me why and, me, the good friend, never asked her.'
Joyce sighed and flipped her lush blond hair, sipped her wine and then her blue eyes staring Nadine down, said, 'Nadine, you usually meet Meredith for lunch once a week, like today.' Nadine intervened, 'Yesterday, that was.' 'Well, continued Joyce, we’ve all spent the weekends, more or less together these past few months. We all seem to be in the same boat, dating – wise, wouldn’t you say?'
The women all moaned softly. The sipped their wine and stared silently at the sun setting, each sunken in their own thoughts about how their lives were shaping. Joyce, the eldest of the clique, was single with her own beauty salon, Clarissa, 35, was a single mom, a yoga fan, working as a fitness trainer, and momentarily with no man at her side. Nadine, 32, was a private secretary at a competitive law office near to Meredith’s office. She had been divorced for three years, no children. The clique had formed at the end of a semester of yoga which all had attended, five or six years ago. Meredith and Nadine had studied law for a year after they had attended secretarial school together. They then lost touch with one another, but both reunited when they found themselves in the same yoga class.
Nadine's phone began to vibrate, 'Oh, look it's an SMS from Meredith. She wants to know if I've asked you about keeping a secret. Then she says she'll get back to us all after the weekend.'
'Let me text her, she can’t leave us hanging like this, can she?' stated Joyce. Meredith answered her SMS promptly, 'Cannot text a secret, have to see you all together. Get together my house – Monday evening, I’ll cook.'
Nadine looked at them, 'Well, ladies, guess where we'll be on Monday evening? I'll bring the wine. Who's got time to make a dessert?'
Clarissa shook her head vehemently. 'Sorry not this time, I've got a rather heavy weekend ahead of me, so don't expect to see me at all until Monday.'
'Oh la la' chorused Joyce and Nadine together. When will we hear more? Who has got a secret now? Let's guess: a hot date?
Clarissa made a face, 'I wish! Nope, worse, I'm meeting up with my ex. Tell you more after I know more. Bye.'
'See you then!'
It is six-fifteen p.m. at Meredith's on Monday evening when the doorbell rings. 'Hello, Clarissa. How's life?'
Once again the doorbell rings.
'Hey there, ladies. How are you? Did you have a good weekend? I hope everyone is starving. I don’t want to eat leftovers for a whole week.'
'It smells delicious. Is there anything I can do?' asked Joyce.
Meredith looks at Nadine. 'Nadine, what are you hiding behind your back?'
'Oh, nothing except your favorite bottle of white wine. I'm pretty sure that you’ve made something with fish, or not?'
'Right on,' answered Meredith. 'It's a red curry Thai dish that I did for my boss a few weeks ago.'
The ladies stared at each other, all with lifted eyebrows and a smirk on their faces. 'So, so do we eat first, or will you tell us your secret now?' asked Joyce.
'Let the suspense build up, said Meredith, eat and enjoy, now.'
'Dinner was fantastic, Meredith, and Joyce, loved that dessert, it was so refreshing: grapefruit, avocado and vanilla ice cream.' exclaimed Nadine. Clarissa put her finger up into the air. All looked at her questionably. 'Enough of beating around the bush. Tomorrow is a working day for all of us; come on, Meredith, tell us now. What’s going on? What secret, or secrets, are we to know and to keep?'
'Yes, joined in Nadine, Has it to do with this dinner you made for your boss?'
'Bingo, said Meredith. His name is Leonard, Len for short. We have been seeing one another for a few months now. No, I haven't told you, because I wanted to make sure that it was more than a fling. But that’s a minor secret. My big secret is that I'll be leaving my plush job; not even Len knows that yet. I got a fantastic job offer working for the state attorney. Congratulate me, but it is all top, top, top secret, do you hear? I cannot afford to let the cat out of the bag just yet. The state attorney has to await his being sworn in next month before he's allowed to take me on. I also have to give P & W two-month's notice, as well as I need to tell Len about my new job. And this job offer was delivered to me only last Wednesday! The state attorney said that he had been keeping tabs on me, especially on how I handle myself in the courtroom! Aren’t you all thrilled for me?’
'Where’s your champagne? cried Clarissa. Nadine, get out the flute glasses! Joyce, you can play a congratulation's tune on the piano. Wow wee!'
'Cheers everyone!' All raised their glass to toast. Joyce finished her tune on the piano, looked at Meredith quizzically and asked:
'Meredith, on the sober side, what do you think will happen between you and Len now?'
'I'm hoping that he'll be delighted for me and wish me all the best. After we won our court case on Friday, he was so thrilled, he started to say something, but he abruptly changed his mind. I believe he wanted to ask me something, but our client called for his attention. Afterwards, celebrating at the bar, I had told him I had to visit my folks that weekend. I'm sure that I inadvertently put him off. We’ve got a lunch date tomorrow, so we shall see, won't we?'
Nadine yawned. 'Wishing you sweet dreams, everyone. I've got an early morning conference, so I'm off!' The good nights from the others followed her out the door. Joyce and Clarissa soon followed in Nadine's footsteps.
Nadine, at home, went to bed, she fell asleep repeating: Can I keep a secret? Can I keep a secret?