A short story by Erika Hayes
Continued from yesterday’s post…
“Thanks!” the elevation in her voice gave him hope. “I wish my boyfriend would play.” Her eyes downcast “But he said it was a stupid time sucker.”
The shot to his chest was quick and sharp. A boyfriend, of course, she has a boyfriend.
She added softly. “He’s kind of a jerk.” She looked up again and held his gaze.
Charles’ chest warmed. Hope flickered, and he smiled. Was she coming on to him he wondered. Stupid look at her, there is no way she is coming on to you! “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend.” He held his breath.
“Yeah, but—well never mind.” Her eyes suddenly appeared glassy.
“Oh! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pry.” He handed her a Kleenex from his desk. “I—I just never heard you talk about him.”
“It’s okay.” She accepted the tissue and flashed him a quick smile. “I think one of the reasons I want to play is well, sometimes I just need to get away.” She looked up then back down again. “I knew you played and I thought—“
She was confiding in him. He knew that was a good sign. She needed someone, and he could offer his small but strong shoulder. “I just want to—I don’t know I wanted to…” Her large almond eyes flickered as she tried to hold back the inevitable tear.
“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it.” He fought the urge to stand and embrace her. “We can stick to the game. Sorry.” He clenched his fist and struggled against the instinct to punish himself. “I didn’t mean to make you upset.”
“No, it’s okay, really.” She dabbed at the tears that made her already long dark lashes appear even darker. “I—I could use a friend right now.” she took in a large breath and exhaled hard. “Can we maybe talk later?”
Friend, of course, friend. I am always their friend. Damn it! He was lamenting when he realized she was staring at him waiting for an answer. “Sorry—I just— I mean, you…”
She forced a smile. “I understand, work and all.” She looked down at her shiny black stilettoes. “Maybe later?” the small smear of makeup under her eye drawn his attention.
“Oh no, I was listening it’s just that you have a little smear,” he reached up and wiped the smudge away. “right here.” He pushed back in his chair and crossed his foot over his knee. “I have time right now, I mean if you wanna talk.”
His reward was another big smile. She tilted her head down and touched her cheek where his hand had rested. A warm glow flushed her cheeks. She looked up and her eyes had changed. No longer were they sweet and innocent but a sultry look held him mesmerized. Her voice had soft hum, “I would love that.”
Charles attempted to clear his head with a slight shake. He wasn’t sure what had just happened. He knew that today he was tired of being nobody. No real woman had ever looked at him that way. His pulse quickened. He shifted in his chair. A bead of sweat trickled down his chest. He caught his breath. “Hey, you wanna grab some lunch?”
Many times, he had dreamt of asking her out. He never believed the opportunity or possibility would arise. He had practiced repeatedly at home in his bathroom mirror. It would be romantic and memorable.
His palms were moist. He licked his dry lips. I’m so stupid, ‘wanna grab lunch?’ really? How frickin’ romantic was that? His thoughts bounced but time seemed to stop as he watched her for the inevitable sign of rejection. The sounds of the office melted into nothing. He tried not to hold his breath but found himself becoming dizzy at the lack of oxygen.
Erin looked around and gave him that coveted sexy half grin, “Yeah that would be nice. What time?”