-Chapter 20: A Woman's Wisdom-

Theora watched the door of the restaurant from the table she had requested. On the table sat a steaming tray of appetizers and a cold jug of ice water, all untouched. She was waiting for her guest to join her before digging in herself.

The wait wasn't long. In less than five minutes the door opened and Jenny walked in. Theora waved to the girl and waited for her to sit down.

"You should try the fried peppers, they're really good," Theora remarked. "I've had them before."

Jenny took a chicken wing, instead as she sat down across from Theora.

"I know you're hurt, Jenny," Theora said.

Jenny put down the wing and started to stand.

"Sit down," Theora said, firmly. "Let me just tell you right now, I am not going to let you or anyone else hurt Bryce. He's suffered enough. He's been raped three times and now he has to live with the guilt that comes from killing a man who in my opinion deserved it."

"And of course my feelings aren't important," Jenny pouted. "All that matters is Mr. Perfect. May I remind you that he..."

"Your feelings are,important" Theora sympathized. "But your broken heart is not a reason to condemn a good person to death."

"I love him, Theora," Jenny nearly exploded. "I was with him every day of school. We walked to classes together, studied together."

"When you were ten," Theora said. By this time, neither of them were hungry.

"Did you know that I was the one who told him about ViewDoze?" Jenny asked. "He could've hacked the system to find out and he called me." When Theora didn't reply, she went on. "Don't you see. It was an excuse for him to talk with me. It had to be."

"Or he was just taking the path of least resistance," Theora pointed out. "Jenny..."

"He must know how I feel. He's brilliant. How could he not know?"

"Did you ever tell him?" Theora asked, sensibly.

Jenny seemed to deflate at this question.

"No," she admitted. "I didn't. Not in words. But you'd think that a young man of his intellect would be able to figure it out."

"Even Einstein couldn't figure out women," Theora reminded her. "Jenny, if you truly love him, how could you even think of having him killed? If you really love Bryce, please don't betray him."

"But he betrayed me," Jenny said, tears starting to well up in her eyes. "Don't you see? If I let him get away with that, I'll be just another stupid girl."

"Bryce is new to affairs of the heart," Theora explained.

"Well, he sure seemed to be catching on fast," Jenny countered.

"I doubt he understands it as much as he thinks he does," Theora assured her. "Just know this, if he is put to death, you'll never have a chance to find out if what you think of as a betrayal might only be a moment of emotional curiosity."

"I don't blame you for protecting your friend, Miss Jones," Jenny said as she rose from her seat. "I just hope he doesn't hurt you someday also."

Theora watched her leave, then flagged down a waiter.

"I'd like to get this to go, please."

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