A month had passed since the cocktail party and after trying rather unsuccessfully to get Melania to see him or to answer his calls, he finally heard from her. She called him that morning and asked him to meet her outside of the office building where she worked. The call was brief and Melania hung up before he had a chance to ask her how she was. He couldn’t tell from her voice if she was upset.
She had been upset at the party and he had tried to get her to tell him the reason. They had ended up kissing. If only they hadn’t been interrupted but perhaps it wasn’t a good idea kissing on the front porch like that. Anyone could have caught them. Melania had literally run back inside. He waited for a couple of minutes and then, he went back inside too. His eyes scanned the place for her and saw her with Matt. Shortly after, they left. They didn’t say goodbye to Gina and him. They made some excuse to Graham and Natalie as they were the hosts and left.
He wanted to leave too but Gina wanted to stay longer. She was having a great time. Every now and then, he felt her eyes on him as if she was studying him. It made him uncomfortable. Did she suspect that he had been with Melania? If she did, she said nothing. Not even when he was taking her home. When they got to her house, he walked her to the door. After she opened it, she turned and asked, “Nightcap?”
He shook his head. All he wanted was to go home and think about what had transpired between Melania and him. “No, thanks.”
“You don’t know what you’re missing,” she said.
Her mouth tightened. “Goodnight,” she replied sharply before she went inside the house and slammed the door behind her.
He walked briskly to his car and drove away. As soon as he got home, he took a hot shower and changed into a pair of pajamas. He didn’t go straight to bed although it was after midnight. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to sleep. His mind was too active.
He sat down on the sofa and leaning his head against the back, he closed his eyes and thought about Melania and the kiss. His body ached for her. He wanted her and he could tell that she wanted him too. How he wished that they had gone to the cocktail party together instead of with Matt and Gina. Instead of going back to the party, he would have taken her home or to his place so that they could made love.
That kiss had changed everything. It had given him hope–hope that they could rekindle their romance. And this morning when she had admitted that, like him, she had been thinking about the first time they had made love, he felt encouraged, hopeful.
It was around 5:20pm when he arrived. He walked past the entrance of the building to the side where he waited for her to join him.
She joined him at exactly 5:30. He longed to take her in his arms but she stood at a distance as if she didn’t want to be too close to him. “Hello, Lana.”
“Hello, Tanner. Thanks for meeting me.”
“I wanted to see you, Lana, that’s why I came. I’ve been trying to see you and talk to you for the last few days but you’ve been avoiding me. Why? Is it because of the kiss?”
“Let’s not talk about the kiss.”
“It-it was a mistake.”
“Yes. It-it shouldn’t have happened.”
“But it did and it’s obvious that we still have feelings for each other–“
“We can’t have feelings for each other. I can’t have feelings for you.”
“Why, because of Matt?”
“Yes. I-I don’t want to hurt him.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“Stop seeing you.”
“Stop seeing me?”
“Yes. That’s why I asked you to meet me. After what happened between us at the party, I think it would be best if we don’t see each other any more.”
“Do you think that’s going to make a difference?”
“Yes, it is.” She put her hands behind her back and tried to appeared composed but inside she was in complete turmoil.
“Do you honestly believe that us not seeing each other anymore is going to change how we still feel about each other?”
“Tanner, please don’t make this any harder for me–“
“Harder for you? Do you have any idea of how hard this is for me? This morning, I was remembering the first time we made love and you admitted that you were remembering it too.”
“Yes, I was but I can’t do that anymore. I-I can’t live in the past. I must live in the present and think of the future. My future is with Matt.”
“Do you love him, Lana?”
Lifting her chin and looking him squarely in the face, she said, “Yes, I do.” It was true. She did love Matt but she wasn’t in love with him but Tanner couldn’t know that.
Tanner’s expression was guarded. “All right, Lana. I’ll respect your wishes. You won’t hear from or see me again. Matt’s a very lucky man. Take care of yourself.” He turned abruptly and walked away.
Melania watched him go. Tears ran down her cheeks. She was tempted to run after him and tell him that she didn’t mean it–she didn’t want them to stop seeing each other. No, I can’t do that. I can’t hurt Matt. He has been badly hurt already. I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to stay with the man who loves me instead of going back to the man I love.
She fumbled behind her for the wall and leaning against it, she closed her eyes. Yes, she admitted to herself. I’m still in love with Tanner but, for the second time in my life, I’ve had to break up with him. It’s for the best. She tried to console herself with that thought.
It was a while before she returned to the office. Her eyes went to the phone and saw a red light flashing. She had a message. Was it from Tanner? Immediately, she checked it. It wasn’t Tanner. It was Matt asking her if he could stop by her apartment that evening.