When Clint returned to his apartment, he slammed the door behind him and collapsed on the couch. That had gone about as badly as it could have gone and he didn’t feel comfortable about his role in it. Nikki might be making a bad decision but he had to acknowledge it was her decision to make. But it was also his responsibility to warn her and that was what he had tried to do. Perhaps he should have stopped sooner, but he had felt there was still time for her to change her mind. Also, a small part of him had felt just a little hurt when he had seen the contract on the coffee table, already signed.
He shook his head and let out a sigh and stretched, rising to his feet, feeling a need to distract himself from Nikki. He moved around the room mechanically, not really focused on his actions as he cleaned up some dirty dishes, put away a few books and tossed some old magazines. There was a knock on the door. He placed a stack of books down on a side table and answered it.
“Nik,” he greeted her, surprised.
She stood in the doorway, an envelope in one hand, looking tense and serious. “Can I come in?”
“Of course.” He stepped to the side.
She entered and walked as far as the couch but didn’t sit down. “I didn’t think that really ended right. And since we’re both going to be thinking about it until it’s resolved I decided to come over.”
Clint nodded. “Look Nik, I do respect that this is your decision. I felt it was my responsibility to make it clear where I stood on this, but I get that the decision has been made, and I’ll back off now.”
Nikki smiled a little weakly. “I appreciate the idea but Clint, you’re you and I’m me. You say what you think and I know exactly what that is. I just think maybe things have gotten a bit complicated. And right now I really, really need complicated to stop.”
Clint took a step forward. “What exactly do you mean? I said that I’d back on this. You’ve made your decision and that’s fine-”
“We argued Clint. Because we didn’t agree on a career move, how is that fine?”
“Alright maybe it’s not fine. But we also both pretty new to this, in lots of ways.”
“But I can’t deal with that right now. Clint my father was arrested. My career is doing better, thanks in no small part to you, but I would also like to think that it had something to do with me as well.”
“Of course it did Nik. I never said it didn’t.”
“I know you didn’t. But right now, I think I need to take control back. I need to do this for me. So here.” She held out the envelope she was holding. Confused Clint took it and opened it.
“It’s you’re check for this week and the next two.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’re firing me.”
“I’m not-…I guess.”’ She took a deep breath. “I just need control for a little while,” she repeated.
“So are we done?” he asked.
“What?” she blinked at him. “I-, I don’t-…Clint you’re asking me?”
“Okay?” he stared at her and shook his head, his expression becoming unreadable. “Fine. You know what you’re right. It was a stupid idea to begin with.” He turned away, refusing to face her. “Well we’ll quit while we’re ahead I guess, and you can show yourself out.” He walked out of the room and into the kitchen, where he leaned against the counter, keeping his eyes shut, refusing to allow himself to go back out there.
Standing alone, Nikki felt the tears begin to buildup. How had that just happened? She needed to get out of here before she broke down; she refused to let Clint hear her cry. She started for the door and then hesitated. There was something else wasn’t there? Another reason she had come over. She needed to do this at least for him.
She looked around desperately, needing to get out of there quickly. She spotted a notepad and pen and grabbed it, jotting down a quick note, and then left it beside the phone, hurrying out of the apartment.
Clint emerged from the kitchen ten minutes later. He had told Nikki he didn’t believe their relationship would work…but he had thought he would have seen the end coming a little easier. He knew they’d been on rocky ground the last few days but…it still felt like a punch in the gut.
He stared at the check in his hand for several minutes and then angrily tore it up, and let the pieces scatter to the floor.
It was only later in the evening, after he had drunk several beers and was sitting on the couch feeling dejected and alone, that he noticed the note by the telephone. He picked it up
I also came over to answer your question from earlier. I am sorry that I didn’t when you asked, it was wrong. The restaurant I saw Layla at was named Terry’s Garden. Goodbye Clint. -Nikki