He couldn’t breathe. Cynthia sat at a patio table with a man he didn’t know. Deep in conversation, they appeared to be enjoying themselves. Leaning toward one another, they were oblivious as the server approached to take their order. Laughing, they ordered and immediately returned to a world where others intruded.
Ben didn’t understand how the woman he loved so much — could be with someone else. Their affair hadn’t ended. She had simply asked to take a break while he sorted out business he needed to attend to. More beautiful than when he had held her in his arms and kissed her goodbye, she was oblivious to his presence. He stepped up to the bar and ordered a microbrew.
A few minutes later the server brought a couple of drinks to the table. “Our bartender is trying out a new cocktail recipe this afternoon. He wanted to know if you would mind trying these and giving him your opinion.” Cynthia and her companion nodded, and both looked toward the bar. He gave a casual salute which was returned. She froze.
Ben sat directly in front of the bartender. Picking up his glass, he told the returning server that he would order inside so he could watch the soccer game, as he laid a twenty on the counter. His message was clearly received.
“Will you excuse me for a moment? I should NOT have had that large coffee an hour ago.” She took a sip of the cocktail, smiled, and walked into the tavern.
Blinded by the subtle light after being in sunshine, she felt Ben before seeing him. He pulled her down a short corridor and into a toilet. Once inside he locked the door and pushed her against the wall. “What exactly are you doing?” His voice soft, low, dark. “Who the fuck is he?! Have you been seeing him all this time?”
He saw her startle at the tone and implication of his words. Her perfectly shaped face snapping up as she looked into his own, hovering an inch above. Not touching her. Not allowing her to escape. Eyes dilating with surprise and instantly moistening ever so slightly, she recovered with admirable grace.
Speaking softly so that their conversation would not be overheard, “Ben! I — I don’t have to answer those questions. What — I mean, I — .“ She found it impossible to form a coherent sentence. Willing her heart to remain in place long enough to take a breath, she tried again. “You and I aren’t — anything. You have made that perfectly clear.”
Seeing her fight to control her reaction and emotions was the best greeting he could have received. His own heart swelled as he saw her take a deep, halting breath. “I have NEVER stopped loving you. I told you that projects I’ve been nurturing for years are coming together at last — that includes you — it includes us!”
“Please let me return to my dinner. If you wanted me — if you wanted US, you would have been beating down my door, not stumbling across me at a bar. I told you — I am NOT a project, but a flesh and blood woman.” She ducked under his arms, unlocked the door, and walked out. He followed her, stopping before coming into view of anyone on the patio. Watching her walk away and rejoin another man was impossible. He would need to remedy this situation once and for all.
He ordered his food to go.
>>You make time in your life for the things you love. I have been SOOOOO wrong NOT to make time for you now and every day. I will forever beg your forgiveness, but first I must demonstrate to you that I am serious. You ARE my life. I love you more that you can possibly imagine.<< He hit SEND.
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