I did my run at my usual time the next morning. But I didn’t stop for coffee. I saw David’s minivan and I kept walking. After the way I had behaved the day before with thoughts of him in my head, I feared that he would see right through me, that he would know what I had been up to, that he would know that he had become the object of my lust and desire and I couldn’t face that. Not in a million years. I needed to break my caffeine habit anyway.
I got back to my apartment feeling strangely let down. I knew I was doing the right thing. I didn’t need the aggravation and he didn’t need someone who was going to lust after the trait that made him feel most insecure about himself. He would think I was a freak for wanting to touch his paralyzed legs. He would be disgusted by the enjoyment I got from seeing him walk with crutches. It was hard work for him and my pleasure in it was disrespectful. I had managed to hide it all these years. Managed to arrange my life so that my perversion didn’t matter. And now he threatened to expose me and all of the ugliness I held inside. I didn’t want that. Better for him to think I was turned off by his disability rather than turned on by it. But I had never wanted to be with anyone as much as I wanted to be with him. I knew this was going to be very, very difficult.
I threw myself into my work. Upped the number of transcripts I cranked out each day. And studiously avoided the Starbucks in the mornings. The days seemed to drag by. Having no contact with David didn’t take him out of my head. He kept popping up in my special time with myself, no matter how hard I tried to picture a different face on a different body. What did it mean?
Of course the Fern Michaels book ended with the boy and the girl falling deeply in love after having spent only days together. Only in romance novels and in Hollywood did that happen. I switched to the latest Stephen King to avoid a repeat of that scenario and the message it sought to deliver.
By Sunday’s brunch with Rebecca, I had made it through 5 days of my new “no Starbucks” routine. I had been doing a better job of keeping David out of my head. But I was cranky. That didn’t escape Rebecca.
“Back to the usual?” She asked after the waitress walked away. “I guess it didn’t go well with David. You are back to your old routine and have no goofy grin. Sorry Kaida.”
“It’s okay.” I mumbled. “Tell me about your week.”
Rebecca shrugged. “Not much to tell. Want to tell me anything about David?”
“He’s perfect and I hate him.”
Rebecca looked as shocked at my words as I felt. Damned lack of verbal filter.
“Well, that certainly wasn’t what I expected.” She gave me a nervous laugh. “What does it mean?”
I sighed. I really didn’t want to talk about it. But there was no way around it. “Prince Charming doesn’t exist and I am not going to rearrange my life only to be disappointed in the end.”
Rebecca bit her lower lip and looked at the ceiling. “Isn’t that putting the carriage before the coachman? He asked you to have coffee, not pledge your life to him.”
I could only look miserable. I had no defense. With anyone else, it may have been just coffee. But David was what I had been searching for. It felt right in a way nothing else had. And I was terrified that it was right and terrified that I would lose him once he found out my secret attraction. It was easier not to try. I knew I couldn’t handle the rejection.
Rebecca understood. Kind of. “You are really into him. Wow, Kaida. I have never seen you like this over anyone. What happened?”
“Nothing. We had coffee. I decided not to see him anymore. I haven’t seen him again.”
“Did you tell him you didn’t want to see him?”
I shook my head. “No. I just haven’t been back to Starbucks.”
“Since Monday?” Rebecca’s voice rose to an incredulous note. “You can’t run from him because you like him, Kaida. That is silly.”
With anyone else I would have been indignant and self-righteous. With Rebecca, I knew it was the truth. I was being silly. But silly kept my world in order.
“At least give him the chance to become a heinous disappointment like all the others. I know you don’t want to spoil the illusion, but it will drive you nuts not to have some sort of closure. I know you too well.”
Again, she was right. But I knew I couldn’t stroll back into Starbucks as if nothing had happened. I didn’t want to make excuses for my absence and I couldn’t trust myself to be honest with him. I also wasn’t sure how to respond to Rebecca. Fortunately for me, the waitress showed up with my orange juice and I didn’t have to worry about it for a few more seconds.
Rebecca waited patiently, sipping her coffee.
I put my glass down and met her stare as evenly as I could. “I have screwed this up, Rebecca. I can’t just waltz back into Starbucks tomorrow morning and act like a week hasn’t passed.”
“No. But you can find a way to make it okay that a week has passed.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“Why is this so important to you?”
“Because I would like for at least one of us to have a reason to stay in bed on Sunday mornings. I love our brunches, Kaida, but I can’t help thinking there has to be more in life for us than to be old maids together.”
Her smile was gentle. I wanted to hug her then, but it would have embarrassed us both. So I just nodded and returned her smile.
To be continued...