Free short story: Perhaps Love - Part 2
Copyright © 2016 by Cyci Cade
He takes me to the coffee shop next to the subway. As we talk, I have an inexplicable feeling of recognition. I never saw him before—I´m certain about it—but it is as if we´ve been friends for a long time. I´m mesmerized by those blue eyes, and his voice seems to chant a kind of spell that keeps my attention. My mind gains wings and flies away, making plans and giving a chance to my heart to experience something new. Totally new.
However, when my gaze drops to his hand when he slowly holds the cup to sip the hot, black, bitter liquid—because he doesn´t add sugar—my world falls apart. It is as if somebody pulls the rug from under my feet.
My brain takes a time to process that a gold ring is equal to a married man. For an instant, I´m paralyzed, speechless, motionless and incapable of any action. His voice dwindles away and darkness enfolds me—my sunny day becomes a rainy one.
I see my dreams— the ones I dared to dream just a few seconds ago—pop in the air like balloons too full of air. It´s my fault. It is! I filled the balloons too much, allowing myself to make plans with a man I barely know.
What do I know about him? Nothing! Just his name and profession, and now that he is married. Anger starts to possess me. I ball my fists and hold my breath, many insults cross my mind but I´m so shocked that, even if I tried to open my mouth, I wouldn´t be able to make any sound. He has no right to invite me to a coffee shop if he´s married.
I get up as if some super natural force pushes me to my feet. Without many words, I collect my things and leave the place. What will I say? I´m sorry but I don´t date married men? How dare you invite me to a coffee if you have wife, maybe kids? I feel like a fool, and I don´t like it!
He follows me a few feet calling my name, but the owner of the coffee shop follows him and he has to return.
“You have to pay!” he says. “Besides, you forgot your briefcase!”
I thank God for that man because I don´t have any intention to discuss my moral behavior. I know couples who have open relationship and have multiple romantic or sexual partners. It doesn´t work to me. I will never accept it!
Decided not to take any risk, I take a taxi to my office. Subways are too dangerous to a person like me. Maybe I must consider taking the bus in the following days to avoid…
I inhale a mouthful of air. Disappointment possesses me. I wonder why I´m so outraged. After all, I´m a beautiful woman, I wear nice clothes, I´m a good lawyer, I have everything any woman wants in life, except love.
A week passes, and it´s Monday morning again. I´ve avoided the subway for obvious reasons. I arrive early in the office because I called a taxi and the short trip was fast. I have a busy day. I wonder why I schedule so many appointments on Mondays.
I have to rethink some concepts of my life. I´ve made this decision during the last weekend when I spent hours cleaning my already too empty apartment. Every time I have a problem, I think the solution is to throw away the old things. As I´m a busy person, I don´t have time to buy new items to replace the old ones.
Entering my office like a bullet, I barely pay attention to what my secretary tries to say to me. I just head to my workroom. When I open the door, he is waiting for me. Phillip Matthews is here, waiting for me! I hadn´t heard a word from him or his office during the week.
Okay, I´m surprised, but I can´t say is if I´m angry or curious. What is he doing here? Trying to act as a normal and polite person, I close the door and walk to my desk wondering what I´ll say to him. Maybe to ask what he´s doing in my office is a good question, a little rude but who cares?
He speaks first. “Good morning, Jessica Hayes. I presume we have a meeting in a few minutes.” His voice is cold like ice.
I hesitate. I know I have a meeting in a few minutes but… I open my agenda, there´s a name of a company. I stare at him. “You are…”
He nods and interrupts me. “Yes, I represent this company.”
I nod, point to a chair, and I sit down. When I think we´ll talk about business, I notice that he has a different idea in his mind. He is looking at me with curious eyes, as if trying to read my mind, my body language.
“Until now, I´m wondering why you left the coffee shop in that way. I wanted to talk to you, but I had to travel and I just returned Saturday night. Did I say something wrong? Because I retraced our conversation millions of time and…” I see frustration in his eyes.
I can´t believe that he´s daring to ask for an explanation. I hold up a hand stopping him. “I´m sorry. I don´t use to accompany married men to coffee shops. It´s against all I believe in this world. It´s against my moral code. Besides, it´s totally wrong. You should be ashamed,” I admonish him. I can´t believe that I did it.
He drops his gaze to his hand. A moment of awkward silence falls over us. I intertwine my fingers over the table and lean forward waiting for his reply. I want to hear his excuses. It may be interesting. How creative is Phillip Matthews?
Still with lowered head, he speaks. “I´m not married. I´m widower. My wife died a year ago in car crash.” He shrugs. “I still wear the ring… I don´t know why. Maybe because taking the ring off means to forget what happened, and I´m not prepared for it yet.” He rises his head and looks straight in my eyes. “The court will decide if the man who caused the accident is guilty or not this week.”
I close my mouth that is dropped open and swallow dry. I´m speechless again. What will I say to him? May I apologize because I acted like an immature woman? It seems the reasonable thing to do. “I´m sorry, I didn´t…”
He interrupts me with a shy smile on his face. He offers his hand to shake mine. “Let´s restart? I´m Phillip Matthews.”
I look to his extend arm. It´s impossible not to remember our encounter in the subway when I extended my arm toward him, and he kindly kissed my cheek. I shake his hand but… it isn´t what I expected.
“Let´s talk about business. After that we can have lunch, if you aren´t too busy or mad at me.” I force a smile sensing my cheeks on fire.
He waits a moment to answer, maybe to punish me. Any mature woman would have inquired him about the ring and acted normally, but in my case…
With a big smile, he just nods and starts to speak about his company.
Like the other time, I catch myself mesmerized by his beauty, voice, intelligence and everything else. Perhaps it is love.