When I got home, I made the mistake of looking in the mirror. Of all days to meet a handsome young detective. A fair complexion does nothing for tired eyes and a pillow-creased face.
I didn’t get to work until about 10am. There was a phone message waiting and a post-it note from Morris on my monitor. It was all very ominous.
Maybe it was a good thing that my temper was non-existant this morning. “Hi Elise,” my client said to my voicemail, “just wondering when I can expect clearance on the 5-14 well site and access road.”
I took a gulp of my coffee and breathed. Then composed an email to my client:
I need your approval on the report I sent two weeks ago (see email below) before I can submit it to the government with an application for clearance. Clearance generally takes 6-8 weeks upon submission of the application.
Then I went to see Morris. “Transportation wants to widen the highway up around Peace River. It’s an overview with a field visit. Set up a project and submit a cost estimate to them. They need this done ASAP.”
“Good morning to you, too, Morris.” I picked up the folder he slid towards me on his desk.
“Anything happen this morning that I need to know about?”
“Nope,” I said, then scampered back to my desk.
I returned from lunch and found a one-line email from my client, Tom, that approved the report that he obviously didn’t read. I fully expected a phone call in six weeks when he got the government paperwork stating I’d found a site. There was also an email from Transportation okaying my cost estimate. Then I began the day-long process of booking flights, hotels, vehicle, and safety paperwork that I would need to do the six hours of fieldwork. I wouldn’t even be digging. Peace River had a very small airport, but nothing flew through there any more. Not since the recession began. This meant that I had to fly into Grande Prairie then drive for an hour to get to Peace River, do the fieldwork, then reverse it on the way back. If I timed it right, I could fly up in the evening, sleep in the Prairie that is Grande, then drive up to PC, do my drive-by archaeology in the snow, then drive back to fly out that night. That was if I timed it right. I hadn’t paid homage to St. Murphy in a while. I hadn’t bothered because generally my life was screwed up, Murphy’s invariable Law always coming down on me, and I’d come to terms with that. But, doing this sort of project always brought out my competitive streak. I wanted to see if I could do it. Just ’cause.
I was just about to visit our small accounting office to set up the Peace River project when my phone rang. “Hello, Elise. This Gavin Cleary.” My heart skipped a beat. “I’m sorry I haven’t got back to you before now. Things have been hectic.”
Just then, a shadow fell over my desk. I looked up and saw Detective Ray Donoghue smiling at me.
“Hi, Gavin. No, no, I understand how things get.” I smiled at Donoghue and pointed to a chair next to my desk. He sat and I tried to continue my phone conversation. “Have got your grant?”
A sigh. “Unfortunately, my application was rejected on a technicality. I’m very sorry to have to tell you this, Elise. I was really hoping to have you on my team in Turkey.” He paused and my heart crashed to the floor. “I was really hoping to work with you.” Another pause and my heart pounded itself into the ground. “Are you coming to Ireland again soon?” The expectation was palpable; modern technology could not take credit for delivering the very tangible emotion in his voice straight to my pummelled heart.
“I….,” I turned my back to Donoghue, “I hadn’t planned on it. I’m sorry. I wanted to be on the team too.” I wanted to say so much more: how he had become my hope of being happy for the first time in very long time, not only professionally, but because, in the few short hours we’d spent in Dublin together, he’d made me feel that I wasn’t a freak of nature, that I was finally, genuinely liked for who I was. Maybe even loved. “Are you going to apply again?”
“Yes, yes, of course.” Gavin’s voice was hardened suddenly, as if he was pushing the emotion aside.
“Please let me know how it turns out.”
Then his voice softened again, “And please let me know if you intend come back to Ireland soon.”
I rang off, hope and grounding disappointment jump-kicking opposites sides of my heart.
“I can come back.” Donoghue’s voice subtly jabbed me from behind.
I stuffed down the rising tears and turned to him. “No, it’s okay. What can I do for you, Detective?”
“Well,” and he shifted in his chair, his lean legs shifting from out-stretched to bent. He may have also blushed. “I wanted to ask you to dinner tonight.”
There weren’t too many situations that could knock the words from my mouth. In fact, I could count them on one hand. “I can’t get involved in the investigation,” I blurted.
Donoghue actually laughed. What is more beautiful than a laughing gorgeous man? I felt small, stupid, and worthy of everyone of my mother’s harsh, critical comments. “I’m not asking you to,” he said. “This is just dinner. We can talk about other stuff.” I nodded, silently and dumbly. “I’ll pick you up at six, okay?” I nodded again.
Detective Donoghue left. He hadn’t asked where I lived.
I would definitely have to construct an altar to St. Murphy soon.