It was a cold and unusually dark Friday night in December. Fall was gradually making its exit and the winter weather was coming in full force. Usually, I work late on Friday but this day was different. My best friend Kate was having her annual fall ball. She puts it together to say goodbye to what is seemingly the last few days of good weather. I was ill prepared for her event because I had a new client and had been working tirelessly the past few weeks.
Glancing down at my watch, I made a mental note to stop by the mall to pick up a dress for the ball. On my last visit to the local mall, I had spotted a formal dress shop with a nice selection of beautiful dresses. I put some final touches to the proposal I had been writing, said goodbye to my coworkers and made a dash for my car.
Looking down at my watch once again, I realized I only had two hours left to shop and get ready. Luckily the mall was close to my office, so the drive was short. I pulled up, parked, grabbed my purse and ran out of my car as fast as possible. A quick glance at my watch once again and I realized store would be closing in 15 minutes. Picking up the pace, I ran toward the dress shop, minding my phone, glancing at my watch and not paying attention to things around me. With a loud thud, I had carelessly bumped into someone.
Paper was scattered everywhere. Feeling frustrated because I was already running late, I hurriedly picked up the mess I helped create. Flustered and muttering under my breath, I looked up to apologize.
“I am so sorry, I was in…” I stopped in the middle of my sentence. Resisting the urge to scratch my eyes, I dropped the paper in utter disbelief. “Should I stay, should I run?” different thoughts kept fighting a war in my head.
A wave of emotions engulfed my body. Not sure how to react I did the first thing that came to my mind. I dropped everything and ran for the exit. When I got to my car, I tried to take a deep breath but felt like I was out of breath. My head was cloudy as I tried to process what just happened. I could hear him call my name.
“Tammy, wait!” the sound of his voice drowned, unmatched by my speed.
What was Nicolas doing here? I thought he moved out-of-town for good? I kept asking myself questions I had no answers. While trying to make sense of things, I also had to deal with this wave of anxiety that suddenly hit my body.
Every emotion I could think of began to dance a tune inside me. From anger, to confusion, to love and this nagging need to run back in there and grab him. What was going on inside me was an emotional roller coaster of a mess. I am not sure how I made it home that night but the rest of the night was spent in a state of disbelief.
I attended Kate’s fall ball with a bland look on my face and a feeling of disconnect from other guests. Staring aimlessly at the wall most of the night, I eventually decided to call it a night. Deep in thought, I did not see Kate walk up beside me. Startled, I spilled wine all over my dress, a perfect excuse to make my exit.
“Whoa! what’s wrong?” said Kate
“Nothing!” I replied in a hurry, while still trying to regain my composure.
“I know you very well Tammy, and I know when something is bothering you – spill!” Kate stated affirmatively.
Kate was right. She did know me very well. Kate and I had been friends since high school. We met as freshers while trying out for the cheerleading team. She was a petite girl with short brown hair and big beautiful brown eyes. Her welcoming smile was a life saver in a new school for a then-timid me. We spent the next four years of high school as very close friends and even when we ended up at different Universities, we remained close.
As close as Kate and I were, even though she knew Nicholas, she did not know about Nicholas. No one did. Nicholas was my dirty little secret. He really did not have to be but I had made him so. He met me at a time in my life when my insecurities were at an all-time high and I was being very careful in love.
You see, if you have been unlucky in love so many times, it can be hard to give your heart fully to someone without being 500% certain they will not break it. Problem is, there is no such thing as a 500% certainty so my relationship with Nicolas was doomed before it had a chance to begin.
Forcing a smile, I told Kate I had a rough day at work and was ok. Kate gestured toward the wine stain on my dress. This was my chance to excuse myself and go home to analyze how I was feeling. We exchanged a few words, Kate gave me a hug and walked me to my car. A part of me wanted to tell her what was going on, but a part of me knew it may just be pointless.
I drove home quietly that night. The sound of the night wind creeping through my window. I was left alone with my thoughts of Nicholas. Why did I have to run into him again? Memories of our time together began to flood my head. I could still feel the taste of his soft lips, his manly hands holding on to the small of my back like it was yesterday. The sound of his voice was like a sweet song in my head. It was a bitter-sweet memory because I could still hear all the reassuring promises that I refused to succumb to.
I pulled into my driveway, drew in a deep breath, got out of my car and walked to my door. As I put the key in the lock, suddenly, I stood there, eyes closed, still in a daze. Everything still felt so real, even his musky scent seemed so close. All I could think about was how I could still feel his breath on my neck. The very breath that sends me into a surreal passion-filled world.
Taking it all in, I felt something like a hand on my shoulder.
“This is crazy,” I thought to myself.
“Now I’m feeling his touch? Get it together Tammy,” I mumbled
“Are you ok?” a voice jerked me back to reality.
I opened my eyes. It wasn’t a fantasy. This was real. I looked back and saw Nicholas standing behind me. He was close, very close. As close as he was the night I ended it all.
“Nicholas!” I muttered…
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