She sat on the bench outside their favorite happy hour spot. Only this time, her work husband was her date. They decided to meet somewhere familiar to decide on dinner.
He arrived at 6 o’clock on the dot. He was as handsome as ever. His tall, lanky body dressed in a button down shirt, vest and cropped skinny jeans, It was a look only he could carry. His dark black hair was long enough in the front that he often ran his fingers through it and pushed it off to the side. He reminded her of a model in one of those old Benneton ads.
“Shall we?” He extended his hand to help her off the bench.
“We shall,” she said clasping his hand and walking toward the door.
Their fingers were interlaced when they walked through the door toward the bar.
Their regular bartender looked up from the glasses he was drying. He smiled but it turned into a perplexed smirk instantly. They took a seat at the bar, holding hands and grinning.
“Well, this is new.” The bartender said.
“Yes” they said in unison.
“Wow, the usual IPA?” he chuckled.
“Yes,” her date offered.
It was weirdly comfortable to be with him on a date. It was as if they’d been dating for the last three years. They’d made time for lunch together, gone to happy hours with each others friend’s. The only thing that was missing was the kiss at the end of the evening.
After a few beers, they decided to Uber down to the marina and have dinner watching the ships pass in the night. They picked a quiet Italian place with extra large window. They laugh about waiting so long to actually go on a date. He was convinced she would never go for a person like him.
She told him that she was convinced for a long time that he was chasing the girl she had lunch with when they first met. He told her that he couldn’t remember who the girl was. She giggled remembering how perfectly she felt they’d fit together.
The meal ended with a smear of marinara just below her lips on her chin. He wiped it away and kissed her for the first time. The kiss was as beautiful as the twinkling night sky above them.
He lead her by the hand to the awaiting Uber and headed back to her place. Her place was a mess but he didn’t seem to care. They fell on to the couch. He sat on an old pizza box. He grabbed it without a glance and chucked it across the room while continuing to kiss her. As his member grew, so did their lust for one another.
When she woke in the morning, he was gone. She was a little shocked but she’d know that he couldn’t sit still long and he was an early riser. “Perhaps he went out on an early back ride,” she offered to her puzzled brain.
The polished off bottle of Malbec sat on her bedside table. She wanted to text him, but didn’t want to presume that his absence wasn’t a statement so she didn’t. She begun picking up the mess in her apartment. The sun disappeared, night fell and there was no communication from him.
Monday morning, he was in his regular spot at the counter working with a customer. He looks up and smiles. She throws him a customary wave and smile. Everything in her wants to question him but she headed to the elevator and to her cubicle on the sixth floor.
There were no lunches or happy hour that week. There were no texts with smiling emojis. There were only passing glimpses of one another until 4:45 on Friday.
Hey displayed on her cellphone under his phone number.
Hello! She replied
Come see me at 5:00. Meet me at the counter.
She didn’t respond. She just followed instructions and met him at the counter. He was there with a concerned look on his face.
“Hey, what’s up with you,” he asked.
“Nothing.” She responded.
“Look, I’m sorry for disappearing the other morning, My grandma fell. My parents are away. I had to take her to the hospital. It took all damn day. The next day, I was so embarrassed to reach out first. I waited, but I never heard from you.”
Her heart softened at his explanation and the look on his face. She known he was always there for those he loved. When she had been in an accident that had taken her out of work for six week, he called or texted daily. He offered to sit at her bedside and told her how much work sucked without her. She had let her fear of rejection keep her away from experiencing happiness.
Forgetting workplace propriety, she hugs him tightly around his waist. She inhaled deeply so she could smell him and buried her head in his chest. He hugged her back tightly and whispered, “I’m sorry.” She melted against him for what felt like minutes.
“Let’s go, you. Time to have a reconciliatory drink.” He said and grabbed her by the hand leading her out of the building.
Six months later…
“They offered me that job closer to home,” she said quietly then sipped her beer.
“Wow..that’s great. It’s what you’ve been wanting.” He said with a congratulatory clap across the back.
“Yes, I’ve worked so hard to get here. I can’t believe it.” Her voice excited even though she knew he hadn’t meant a word of what he just said.
“Let’s celebrate, to my girl, not only the best but the brightest this department has to offer. She’ll take over the new place in no time.” He smiled putting on a display of support.
“Thanks, but lets keep this on the low. I haven’t announced my resignation yet. Still a few hoops to jump through before the final job offer.” She said nervously.
“Of course, anything you need.” He said taking a large gulp from his pint glass.
That night, they celebrated with a few too many pints and a stroll along the deserted marina by her apartment. It had been another overindulgent date night.
The week before her departure from the company had been frantic. Lunches and dinners with co-workers and clients. He’d been by her side at every event. Every opportunity he got he told people how lost he’d be without her in the office. How he wished she wouldn’t go. He stopped pretending that he was in support of her new job. She pretend to understand his behavior because it didn’t change the quantity or quality of the time they spent together.
The first week of her new job was a blur. She didn’t even attempt to see him. She sent him brief texts about how good the change was.
The second week, they had one dinner Wednesday. On Friday, she sent him a selfie of herself at her new desk.
His reply was, “You look happy.”
“I am.” She texted back.
He said nothing else. She heard what she wanted in his non-response. It wasn’t favorable.
Week three was upon her, they hadn’t seen each other since last Wednesday’s Dinner. The texts consisted of a good morning or have a pleasant day. Once there was a half-hearted, “We should hang out soon.” from him. To which she replied, “Of course!”
But three weeks later, they hadn’t seen each other. Daily texts came semi-weekly and no heart emojis decorated the end of sentences.
On Friday, she resigned herself to her place as his former work wife. She stopped texting unless it was to wish him happy birthday or send holiday greetings to him and his family.