The waitress arrived and gave them menus and took their drink orders before disappearing toward the kitchen.
Silence reigned over the table. Both Josh and Donna were avoiding eye contact.
Josh fiddled with the silverware as he risked a glance at Donna. He knew he had to say something. CJ had filled him in on her conversation with Sam. Josh was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Donna had lied to him. Now she was threatening to resign? Had he really caused all of this pain for her? Did she hate him that much that she couldn't stand to be in the same building with him?
Donna looked over at Josh. She knew CJ and Sam were only trying to help by setting this meeting up. But she couldn't bare to see the pain and hurt in Josh's eyes and knew she had put it there. How could he ever trust her again?
The waitress returned and forced conversation to take place at the table by taking their orders. When she left Josh cleared his throat and met Donna's sad gaze.
"Why?" Josh asked his voice coming out as a dry croak.
Sam watched Donna with concern. She'd been through the wringer and on top of that Donna had been furious with him for arranging this meeting without talking to her first. But once she had waken up more fully she had calmed down and realized it was best to get things out in the open.
"Josh..." Donna began quietly. "Things got way out of hand."
"You said that already."Josh snapped. "What I don't understand is why you felt you had to lie to me. In all the years we've known each other, Donnatella you've never lied to me."
Donna looked down at her folded hands. "I didn't think I had a choice."
"So you lied to a major newspaper and used Marbury of all people...."
"I knew John would get under your skin." Donna replied softly. "I never wanted to hurt you. I was just tired of going on the way we've been.....dancing around this...."
Josh's eyes narrowed sharply. He knew this was going south but for some reason he couldn't get past the lie. "You figured lying to me was a way to start a relationship?"
Donna's eyes narrowed sharply as she stood. "Yes Josh. I manipulated I lied. I work with politicians every day maybe I thought that this was the only way I could get your attention!"
Sam reached out to grab Donna's elbow but she moved out of his grasp. She grabbed her coat and purse and stormed out of the resturant without another word, tears streaming down her face.
With a sigh CJ reached over and hit Josh on the side of his head causing him to wince and back away.
"Joshua, what am I going to do with you?" CJ asked as she massaged her temples trying to get her headache to go away.
Before Josh could reply Sam looked at his watch. "We better get going. We have staff in twenty minutes."
Josh stood and tossed some money on the table and picked up his coat and walked slowly out of the restaurant. He was more mad at himself than anything. He had an opportunity to fix things and he threw it away.How was he going to convince Donna now not to leave?
Sam returned to his office after the staff meeting to find Donna sitting at Kathy's vacant desk. She hadn't noticed him yet. Her face was pale and drawn and her blue eyes seemed to have lost the spark that was normally there. Sam shook his head sadly he hated seeing his friends in so much pain. Especially when that pain could end so easily if they would just talk to each other. Even if that hadn't worked out so well this morning.
Sam cleared his throat and walked over to Donna. "What's my schedule look like for today?"
Donna glanced down at the piece of paper on her desk. "Meetings and more meetings. One with Toby at 11, lunch meeting with Leo, and four at the Hill between two and six."
Sam sighed inwardly. "Guess I better get moving then. I'll try to touch base around one before I go to the Hill."
Sam moved toward his office but paused in the doorway. "Are you going to be okay here while I'm gone?"
Donna smiled, her first all day. "I'm a big girl, Sam. I'll be fine."
* * *