Slipperless #5By: Sloan Storm
With her head in her hands, Fiona continued to weep, unaware of my approach.
Soon though, I stood next to her and reached down, wrapping my arms around her shoulders and pulling her towards my waist. Fiona buried her head against me and continued to sob, now in almost uncontrollable way.
Without a word, I allowed her to continue as I reached up and stroked her hair.
With one pass of my hand after another, I followed the curvature of her head and smoothed her hair as I attempted to calm her. Even so, Fiona continued to cry for another minute until at last, she eased her head away from me, doing her best to wipe away the remnants of her tears.
I looked down at her with an overwhelming sense of pity.
I knelt beside her and rested one arm on the conference table while with the other I tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. As I did, Fiona turned her cheek towards me. Our eyes met and the true depth of her sadness became apparent.
“Everything is going to be okay, Fiona.”
“No it isn’t, Gabe, it never is, not for me. Can’t you see that?”
As she finished speaking, Fiona sniffled and looked away from me. I reached up and lightly pinched her chin between my thumb and forefinger, turning her face towards me.
“I know things have been tough for you, but I’m not going to let this beat us. Not in a million years. However, I can’t do it alone. I need you, Fiona.”
She blinked a few times and smiled at me a bit.
“As a matter of fact,” I began, as I looked into her eyes. “You know what? Fuck it—fuck everything. Forget the investors. I’ll find new ones.”
Fiona’s face wrinkled with confusion. “Gabe, I don’t think you should…”
I waved her off, interrupting her. “No, Fiona, hear me out. I need you to answer this question honestly, okay?”
She nodded. “I’ll try.”
“All right then,” I said, as I looked into her eyes with a focused stare. “Can you solve the problems we’re having? Just tell me the truth.”
Without any hesitation, Fiona nodded, “Yes, I think so.”
“Okay, that’s all I needed to hear.”
As I finished speaking, I placed my palm flat on the conference table and stood above her once more.
“I don’t care what it costs. I don’t care who you need to hire. And, I don’t care how long it takes. The world needs this technology, and if we can somehow bring the cancer treatment into play as well, all the better.”
Fiona looked up at me with an expression of bewilderment still on her face.
“New investors? I don’t understand. You’re just going to throw away everything that we’ve been working on?”
I shook my head.
“No, not at all. There’s every chance we can still salvage things and maybe bring some of the original investors back into the fold. But, that’s irrelevant right now. The most important thing is the work. It’s figuring out, once and for all, if we can actually do this and make a difference in the world.”
Fiona remained silent for several moments as she considered what I’d said.
“How much time do I have?” she asked.
“Somewhere between five minutes from now and all of eternity.” I replied, with a wink and a smile.
“Gabe, I’m serious. You know I can’t work without deadlines and structure.”
I nodded and knelt next to her once more. Moving closer to her face, I said, “Okay, Fiona, just for you… I promise I will put together a schedule, all right?”
The hint of a smile came to the corners of her mouth.
“And here’s something else,” I began, as I reached towards her face and traced a line around her chin bone with my index finger. “Were going to dedicate it to your grandmother. How does that sound?”
No sooner had I finished my thought than Fiona’s eyes once again filled with a glasslike sheen. Without speaking a word, she bent forward at the waist and wrapped her arms around me, burying her face in the space between my neck and my shoulder. Between sobs, she thanked me.
As before, I stroked her hair and tried to ease her grief.
“Hey, this is a good thing! Just think about how proud your grandmother would be.”
I felt the heat from Fiona’s breath leave the skin of my neck as she pulled her head away and locked eyes with me.
“You’d really do that? Dedicate it to my grandmother?”
I shrugged. “Of course. Why not? I mean, she only raised the most beautiful, intelligent, headstrong and sexy scientist the world has ever known. I’d be almost stupid not to do it.”
Through a fresh round of tears, Fiona smiled and said, “I don’t know what to say. That’s just so… Incredible. Thank you.”