She was in a thrift store looking through one of the racks when she glanced up and saw him walk in. He looked as good as ever. He was standing now beside the rack where the ties were. She made her way quickly over to him. “Hi Kent,” she went up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
He turned around and his eyes widened in surprise when he saw her. “Hello Tia,” he said quietly. His gaze eagerly traveled over her as if the sight of her was something he had been longing for. “It’s good to see you. How have you been?”
“It’s good to see you too. I’ve been well. How about you?”
“I heard about Eric and you,” he said. “I haven’t been in touch with him since he told me that your engagement was over.”
Eric was her fiancé and Kent’s best friend. She had broken off her engagement after meeting Kent two years ago. “I didn’t mean to hurt him but I couldn’t marry him knowing that I didn’t love him.”
“Have dinner with me tonight, Tia,” he said, his eyes restless on her face.
“As much I want to, I can’t, Kent,” she said.
“I’m divorced now. Iris finally agreed to give me the divorce. I suspect it has to do with the new man in her life.”
She met Iris on several occasions and the animosity the other woman felt toward her was so obvious that Tia wondered if she knew that she had feelings for her husband. Iris was a rich and beautiful woman but hardly anyone liked her and Tia couldn’t imagine why Kent married her. “Why did you marry her?” she asked now.
“She got pregnant,” he admitted. “I wanted to do the right thing—the noble thing and marry her. Soon after we got married, she had a miscarriage. By then, I regretted marrying her but she refused to give me a divorce. No one in her family had ever been divorced and she didn’t want to be the only one. So, I was trapped in a marriage that I wanted desperately out of and things got worse when I met you.”
“How did meeting me make things worse?” she asked.
“From the very first moment I saw you, I wanted you. Iris accused me of having an affair and she was right. In my mind I was having one with you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you and wanting you. I felt guilty not only because of my marriage but because of Eric. Have dinner with me tonight, Tia. We’re both free now.”
He was right. There was nothing or no one standing in their way anymore. “All right,” she said. She gave him her address and number.
“I’ll see you at seven,” he said.
She put her arm around his neck as she reached up and kissed him on the cheek. She felt his arms hold her against him and when she drew back, she saw him staring at her lips, his eyes dark with desire and his face flushed. Her gaze lowered to his and as she saw them move closer to hers, the temptation to kiss him was so great that hers parted in anticipation.
Then, she heard someone cough behind her and she was aware of where they were. She pulled away. “I’ll see you then,” she said.
He nodded before he left, seeming to forget why he went to the store in the first place. After he was gone, she went over to the rack with the ties. She picked out the one she saw him looking at and she bought it along with a couple of blouses for herself.
At seven, he was at her flat and she was dressed and waiting for him. He liked what he saw and she was pleased. The jet black crepe lace dress with the sweetheart neckline fitted her snugly, flattering her shape and her legs looked good in the black caged heels. He looked gorgeous in a black suit, white shirt and no tie. He took her to a popular Italian restaurant where they enjoyed good food, wine and cozy atmosphere. They spoke about a lot of things. They had much catching up to do.
When they were having their dessert, he asked, “Why did you get engaged to Eric if you didn’t love him?”
She thought about his question for a moment. “I guess, I was thinking that I’m getting older and I was ready to settle down and have children,” she acknowledged. “I’m forty years old. Most of my friends and relatives are married and have children. My younger sister got married last year and is expecting her second child. Eric proposed and I accepted. He was a decent guy. I liked him and I thought that in time I would grow to love him but I was just kidding myself. I knew that it wouldn’t work out between us, especially not after meeting you.”
“So, if I weren’t married when we met, you and I would have been together all this time?”
“Well, I would have waited for a little time after breaking off my engagement just out of decency.”
“Yes, it wouldn’t have looked good if you and I began seeing each other soon after you ended your relationship with Eric. And he was my friend. I’m sorry that we lost touch although, I can’t imagine that he would want to maintain our friendship now on account of you.”
“I’m sorry that he got hurt in all of this. I hope that he finds a good woman and forgets about me.”
“I can’t imagine any man forgetting you,” Kent said, huskily, covering her hand with his. “I tried to but it didn’t work. I couldn’t get you out of my mind or out of my system. You filled my thoughts and my dreams. After I met you, I stopped sleeping in the same bed with Iris and moved to another room. She wasn’t happy at all. She demanded that I be a husband to her in every sense but I couldn’t and that’s when she accused me of cheating on her. She insisted on knowing who the woman was but I refused to say anything. She never suspected that it was you. I was careful to hide my feelings whenever you and I were around each other.”
“She didn’t like me and was so hostile toward me that I wondered if she suspected that I had feelings for you.”
“It doesn’t matter now. She is out of my life. You and I can be together now. Would you like to come back to my place for a nightcap?”
She nodded and he squeezed her hand gently before signaling to the waiter for the bill. On the way over to his flat, he said, “How would you like to go with me to Venice for a week?”
Her eyes widened. “Venice?” she exclaimed.
“Yes. I have always imagined going there with the woman I fall in love with because it is a romantic city.” They were at a traffic light and he turned to her. “I love you, Tia. I fell in love with you the first time we met.”
Her eyes welled with tears. “I love you too,” she said.
He reached over and kissed her until the light changed. “Then, we will go to Venice, the perfect city for lovers,” he said as he turned his attention back to the road.
They loved Venice so much that they returned a couple of months later for their honeymoon.