Sam returned to London following the Christmas break knowing that he could no longer put off dealing with the fall out from Alex’s indiscretions. Mostly because they were not just Alex’s but affected so many more people.
He had Emma whispering in one ear telling him that he couldn’t keep what he knew to himself, and Alex in the other urging that he must. And he was turn between the two of them. Maybe it was the continued presence of his sister while he was at home that made her argument come to the fore Sam thought, he also knew that his reluctance to go against Alex’s wishes was driven by a deep desire not to upset her. And a notion, however misguided, that if he did what she wanted might be more amenable to him in more than an agape sense.
Sam could not decide whether he would say yes if Alex were to suggest that his previously spurned attraction was now reciprocated. At first he was determined that this put her, while not beyond redemption, beyond his affection. What it actually meant was that he saw an avenue back into her attention through his compassion and complicity.
Each word that Emma whispered had an eroding effect and by the time he stepped off the train he knew what he had to do. He knew that his actions would cause great pain to Alex, and he wanted to tell her before he went through with it. But in a less than courageous manner her opted for the minimal contact option of text rather than risk being talked out of his convictions. Alex hadn’t been at Holland Park the last two Sundays before church, and he guessed after this all came out she probably would not return.
Sam had carefully planned his course of action, very aware of the biblical guidelines for correcting someone. He had a regular review meeting planned for his first day back in the office, this would be the chance he would take to speak to Adam privately. Sam had not really thought much beyond that, although he knew his next steps would involve the church elders and if necessary the rest of the church, he had not planned for how those steps might unfold.
It felt like his first day again as he waited out side the Reverend Doctor’s office. He had made an effort not to appear any different than a normal work day, although perhaps he had made a little greater effort than normal to be punctual. The door was opened to signal his availability and Sam proceeded into the office and onto the seat presented.
“Sam, hope you had a good Christmas break, we’ve got lots coming up at the moment, but I think we need to take a look at you training reports, I’m a bit concerned you’re not treating them with sufficient seriousness. The theology is quite lazy, and some of the ideas are frankly off the wall.”
This was the time, and Sam knew it, if he let the conversation drift down this line of academic discussion he’d never get to what he knew he must utter. “Adam,” That word had taken too much thought for Sam’s liking, he decided against being ultra formal, “We can talk about my training in a minute or two, but first of all there’s something that I’ve got to tell you.”
Sam half expected Adam to jump into the conversation and push him down another alley, but instead he simply nodded to indicate permission to go on. “Adam, I know about your relationship with Alex.” And he hoped that was enough.
However, it was not, Adam gently stirred from his silence to speak, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, I thought maybe you had something to confess to me?”
“I’m talking about whatever word you want to use to describe whatever it is that’s been going on between you and Alex, I know about it, and she knows I do. You and her, and this relationship of sorts, this affair that’s been going on. I don’t think I can keep it a secret any longer.”
“Sam, I think you have been spun a lie. This is a simply preposterous suggestion, I don’t know what Alex has told you, but clearly she has got some sort of fantasy in her mind which she has then confessed to you as reality to assuage her conscience for her impure thoughts. I’d advise that you say no more of this, and probably for the best not to have anything to do with Alex. She clearly needs help and I don’t want you getting distracted with such a basket case.”
His fury reached uncontrollable levels, it was the suggestion that she might be mentally unwell that had pushed him over the edge. “How dare you pretend that this is all make believe! I’ve seen the messages you sent her, she didn’t confess until I told her I knew. You’ve been getting up to your dirty little things while you’re wife’s been looking after her sick mum. You are an absolute disgrace.”
Silence came slowly as the fervour of the atmosphere peaked and then subsided, “Sir, I’m going to have to tell some other people what I know if you’re not going to accept your responsibilities for what you’ve done wrong.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Adam shot back instantly, “Just think what you’ll do for Alex’s reputation, do you really want to drag your best friend’s name through the mud.”
Sam sat up and waited to compose himself before issuing his ultimatum, “If you’re not going to do anything then I will tell the other elders next Monday.” And he stood up and left.
As he made his way through the day Adam called after him, “Where do you think you’re going? We’re not done yet.”
“Yes we are. And I’m going home.” Sam turned and walked down the corridor, glad that he had picked up his bag as he had left, as that would have rather muted the point if he had had to tunr and return to salvage his belongings.
Out onto the street Sam walked, and he kept on going. To begin with he was heading towards Alex’s campus, quite what he thought he would achieve there was beyond his comprehension. But he kept on walking, kept on wondering if he had just acted with career ending bravery.
Alex was not on his mind, instead he felt numb, he felt as though the pain of the past weeks had become compounded into a few minutes of agony to his soul. And all he was left with was an empty space where he thought perhaps his emotions should reside.