Chink in the Armor - Chapter 1

Just a few weeks ago, Laurel would’ve gagged at the show her sister and her ex were giving them with their casual displays of affection ranging from tender glances, lingering touches, and gentle kisses, but her stomach wasn’t rebelling. At all. She didn’t resent them, quite the contrary. She was rather glad they’ve decided to give their twisted-at-the-beginning relationship a go.

It was nice seeing Oliver relaxed—maybe for the first time since returning from the island, and it was great seeing Sara happy. Gone was the sad, tough, and slightly bitter woman who’s returned from the dead. More and more she resembled the carefree girl they all loved.

Laurel was content with how things were between them. She knew the resentment she’d held on for so long had been toxic, and it had hurt her more than it hurt anybody else. The resentment, anger, sense of betrayal, and bitterness she’d kept bottled up for so long had pushed her into darkness, into an abyss from which only drugs and booze had offered a way out of. And it had turned her into someone she hadn’t recognized anymore.

It had taken the come-to-Jesus talk from Oliver to make her see the light at the end of the tunnel, and she’d always be indebted to him for saving her. Not everything he’d said was true or made much sense, but it had shaken her out of the stupor she’d been in for too long. From that moment on, everything had been rather easy, compared to anything she’d faced so far. Which was surprising, really. The tales of the uphill battles addicts faced were always grim, she had her father as an example. Yet, she was getting better every day, and, at least that’s how she saw it, it wasn’t as grueling as she’d expected.

The day after she’d reconciled with Sara, she’d gone in search of a psychologist. She only needed someone to talk to, an outsider, an observer, an objective third party who would listen and offer advice—she didn’t need another shrink to prescribe more medicine. Once she’d started talking, and dr. Barker provided her invaluable and straightforward—and rather simple—advice that actually made sense—or rather, Laurel was finally willing to listen to, she knew she’d be okay.

Even her addiction was proving not to be very tough to battle. Sure, the cravings were there, especially for the pills. That pull for oblivion, for the comforting numbness, was present every day, but it wasn’t incessant, and she found that she just needed to think of something else, do something else, something engaging, something she could pour her entire being into, she’d forget the cravings for a while. And those whiles were getting longer and longer every day.

The easiest way to combat those initial cravings had been finding a job. Finding something that had nothing to do with her previous—and lost career—had been paramount. The loss of her first profession, of her law career didn’t pain her so much. Not anymore. Granted, she’d never get back the years spent studying, but she didn’t regret them. She’d loved being a lawyer, she’d loved helping people. Even though she’d loved being a lawyer for CNRI, she didn’t regret losing her job at the DA. She’d hated the politics of the job, she’d hated the lack of pro bono work...

So she’d decided to branch out, search for something she’d like to do on a regular basis, and long-term, that would satisfy her, and keep the stress levels to a minimum. If it provided her with a means to what she did best and loved most—helping people in some way—would be an added bonus.

And she’d found it. The perfect job, or so she saw it. Her father and mother not so much, seeing it as turning her back on years of studies. Like she had any choice in that. She’d never get a job in the legal profession ever again. Not with her record.

Her new job as a florist—well, assistant florist to be precise—provided all the stimuli she needed. It kept her engaged, her mind off the darkness and the cravings. It provided new experiences and learning possibilities, made her interact with people, keeping her from isolating herself, and it had provided a great friend, and sympathetic ear in her boss, Zinnia Salvatore. And she’d found another way to help people. In a different way, but she felt like she helped. She felt useful again.

She loved seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they came into the Bloom Room, and she helped them pick the right flower, presented them with the bouquet of flowers they’ve chosen. Or when she picked the right kind of pot for the plant, they’ve bought. She’d always loved flowers, different arrangements, the flower pots of all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors, the feeling looking at a flower, smelling it, watching a plant grow, gave her. But if someone had told her, even just a year ago, that she’d ever work at a flower shop, she’d probably laugh in that person’s face.

She still felt like laughing, but not out of scorn, but out of pleasure. She loved what she did, she kept learning every day, and she was enjoying her life. Finally.

At last, Dinah Laurel Lance was enjoying her life. Enjoying it, not just living it. She was young. She was happy. She was healthy—more or less. She less, she had a great job that didn’t stress her out. She had her family, and she had her friends. And her heart was once more filled with love, instead of anger and bitterness. Although she kept quiet on just what kind of love her heart was filled with.

Because she had a secret. There was someone new in her life, someone she was slowly, steadily making space in her heart and life for. Someone who had as much to do with her new outlook on life, and her mental and physical health, as dr. Burke, her support group, and her friends and family.

She suspected she was falling in love again. Maybe it was wrong to do, or maybe she wasn’t falling in love, and was merely projecting. Maybe it was nothing but wishful thinking. But she didn’t really care. Time would tell.

For now, all that mattered was that she was happy.

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