She sits at the table, incessantly jiggling her leg up and down, up and down. Anyone watching her would assume she had no worries, except for that leg. Her expression remains serene, and her other movements, the ones visible above the table, have an unhurried and calm energy.
He stands across the room, staring at her. From his angle, he cannot see that leg moving up and down, up and down. All he sees is her expression, and her long graceful fingers lifting a mug to her lips. Knowing her as well as he does, he knows she is drinking tea, not coffee.
As he approaches, the little details of her appearance become clearer. First he sees the shape of her eyes, her lips, her nose. Then the eye color appears, the light flush of her cheek, the arch of her eyebrows. Finally, when he reaches the table, he sees her freckles, the slight chapping of her lips, her long dark eyelashes. He finds her beautiful.
She feels him approaching but never turns. In her mind, she fills in his details. The dark gray-blue of his eyes. His large hands, which hers only fit because of the absurd length of her fingers. The light brown of his feathery hair. She, too, finds him beautiful. But his is a deadly beauty.
He sits down across from her. She glances at him, allows a brief smile that seems more smirk than anything else, and takes another sip of her chamomile. Neither speaks until the waitress comes over, and then he orders tea as well. As the waitress walks off, they return to their silence. She stares out the window. He stares at her, but constantly glances away for fear that she will notice or that he will say something he shouldn't.
The waitress returns, sets his cup down, and leaves again. As he stirs a spoonful of sugar into the tea, he finally opens his mouth.
"Well ... hello."
She smirks again.
"Hello. I wasn't sure you'd come."
He smiles nervously, clutching his mug.
"I almost didn't. You're making me nervous. Why did you want to meet?"
She sighs. Picks up her cup. Goes to take a sip and changes her mind. Sets it back down. Her mind returns to the last time they met.
They laughed. Effortless repartee filled any and every silence. It differed from this meeting in so many ways. The only similarity is that they are both here, with unacknowledged feelings bubbling under every glance and every word. She misses the ease they used to share, but does not want it back.
When she finally looks up at him, he appears vaguely impatient, but his expression clears when he sees the pain reflecting in her eyes. Without warning, he leans forward and takes her hands in his. Though she knows she should pull away, she does not. She is weak, and she wants his wonderfully warm hands on her perpetually cold ones.
"You are trying to manipulate me." She looks away, back out the window. The sea glints in the sunlight, waves moving laconically.
Offended, he pulls away. "Whatever do you mean?"
"I do not. Stop trying to come across as the victim."
Her eyes flash angrily. "I am the victim. So is she. You are the perpetrator. No amount of denying it will remove the blame."
He flinches away from her irate glare, but he speaks in a direct tone.
"I gave you every opportunity to stop. You were the one who wished to continue."
"Were you a better man, you would not have left the decision up to me. You would have done what was right. But you're selfish."
Twisting the mug in his hands crossly, he scowls at the table. "So are you."
"Did I ever deny it?"
He sighs. "No. You admitted it freely."
"And you continually put it onto me to decide. All you really wanted was to have both of us."
"Is that so wrong?"
"It is when you won't tell her. If I hadn't already known about her, you wouldn't have told me."
His expression darkens. "You don't know that."
She gives a scornful laugh.
Silence falls again, and she returns her gaze out the window, to the ocean. He stares at the ceiling. She is right, and he knows it. As usual, she sees straight through him. He had only hoped that she wouldn't notice this until it was far too late. Until she was desperate.
She watches the brief flashing of a distant dolphin fin. At this moment, she feels as though she can hear every word he has ever spoken to her, and she wonders if he only said those things in an attempt to seduce her. It is quite possible he feels nothing, and she must prepare herself for that revelation. Never has she let a man get the best of her, and she will not start now.
"I meant everything I said," he tells her softly. Though he doesn't know for sure that's where her thoughts are, he thinks it probable. Her expression is too cold to suggest anything else.
"That is highly unlikely," she replies.
She stands up and stares down at him. He looks scared, desperate, and ever so slightly relieved.
He stares at her mug. The tea is only half gone, the light yellow of it reflecting the butter color of the sunlight.
It is over. She didn't even say his name, and he knows she will never say it again.Gulping his tea, he burns his tongue. It is all he feels.