a story about a girl and two boys – 7

The more I get to know Kate, the more I’m sure that what I’m feeling for her is not merely the byproduct of my imagination. Dare I say that I’m falling for her? It’s been weeks since I first saw the engagement ring on her finger, and it’s been weeks that I’ve been meaning to ask her about it. But again and again I keep my lips shut and arch them to a smile. I guess my biggest fear is that if I asked her about it, she would retreat to her shell and clam up, and I would lose that laughter I’ve grown so fond of. But keeping the question to myself is like holding on to a ticking time bomb. If she is really engaged, I will eventually lose her. And I can’t lose her. But what can I do? I’m looking at her now and I see a serene face. It’s been a while since I last saw those pouty lips and frankly, I don’t miss it.

She looks up and catches my eyes. I remember the old me would pretend to be looking at something else to avert my stare, but now I smile at her. She packs up her writing tools and walks towards me. She’s done for the day, but I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. “Do you want to go to grab something to eat? I know this little restaurant that serves the best pasta. It’s just around the corner. You have to eat something you know, you’re practically skin and bones!” She laughs, maybe to disguise that little reservation in her eyes which I obviously notice, but then she finally agrees to have dinner with me.

We walk to the restaurant and I have to restrain myself from holding her hand. We get there, the maître d’ shows us the way to a table for two, and she lets me order for her. We’re then left alone and I ask her, “Tell me about that ring…”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The question comes out of nowhere and it surprises me. He has apparently noticed the ring. But then what’s more surprising is that how the story comes flowing out of me. Easily. I tell him everything. Everything about Charlie. About how we were and how we are now. About how trapped I feel most of the times. About how much I long to talk to someone who will respond with more than just a yes, a no, or a mere shrug. Mostly about how much I blame myself for letting this relationship goes too far south.

All the while I speak, he just sits there. Quietly. His hand on mine. And I let it. I have to try so hard to push back my tears. I grab his hand for comfort and I feel so much better. Why does it have to be this man and not mine whom wants to listen? I don’t understand it. I don’t understand any of it. Am I cheating on Charlie right now? Is it wrong of me to feel so at ease at the presence of another man? A man whom is not my fiancée, whom a few months ago was a total stranger… But I’m tired of asking questions. I’m tired of worrying about every single thing. The food comes and he urges me to eat. I tell myself to focus on Riley and this pasta in front of me. It’s surprisingly good and while eating I keep telling myself that I deserve a break from it all and it’s okay to feel better now.

We have a nice dinner and for a while I let myself pretend that I’m here on a first date. I like how easy it is being with Riley. How liberating it is just to talk about his drawing and my project and every little thing in between. I’m glad that I finally have someone to talk about my project. He has even offered to draw some sketches to help speed things up and I’m thinking of partnering up with him to finish the whole thing. I can’t remember the last time I feel this excited.

But then the phone rings. And I glance at my watch, it’s 9.30pm. It’s Charlie and I’m yanked right back to reality. The one in which I’m still someone’s fiancée…

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