"You're married?" Susan exclaimed. I felt a hole where my stomach should have been. I saw the look of shock and horror across her face. Then a pained look took over her whole body. I broke out in a cold sweat. I couldn't imagine hurting this woman and I barely knew her.
I nodded slowly.
"Why did you ask me out if you're married?" she asked through clenched teeth. The anger radiated from her in waves.
"Because you're one of the most amazing persons I have ever met. I wanted... no needed .. to get to know you better. I have been running this bar for close to twenty years. I have never asked anyone out." That didn't impress her at all.
"I have to go." She paid her tab and walked out without looking back.
I was crushed. Stunned. How could I have let myself come under her spell and then hurt her before we even really talked? I felt terrible. I have no idea how long I was standing there, staring at the door she passed through. I saw it open and close as people entered and left, but I was only concerned with the one person I didn't want leaving. I couldn't even apologize. I never got her number.
"Are you ok?" Andy was trying to get my attention with little success.
"No, not really," I replied. "Eric, can you cover for me for a bit. I'm not feeling well."
"Sure thing, boss."
I went back to the office and locked the door collapsing in the chair. I put on some music listening to "Disintegration" on repeat. I thought of Susan's laugh and her smile. All her poignant questions. The way people would watch her. She was so classy, interesting, and absolutely brilliant. Eventually, I heard a knock on the door.
"Dave?" The voice shocked me. I got up, unlocked and opened the door.
"Kay? What are you doing here? You never come up this late." My wife is almost always asleep by nine.
"Andy called me. He was worried about you. He didn't tell me what was wrong, just that he heard The Cure playing in here."
"Yeah. That's always a bad sign." I managed a small smile. "I'm worried about me too."
She hugged me. "What is going on?"
"You know that lady, Susan, I talked about?"
"It would be hard not to. You mention her every time she comes in," she smirked in a comforting way.
"I told her about Elaine tonight, and mentioned about yours and my arrangement. Susan didn't know I was married prior and she freaked out. I had asked her out previously so she assumed I was single. I guess it was a stupid thing not to mention."
"You asked her out? As smitten as you are? That doesn't sound very safe." She gave my hand a reassuring squeeze, though.
"I just wanted to get to know her better. I think I'm more entranced than smitten. I wouldn't do anything that would upset you."
"I know. I'm not upset. I trust you. Just worried about what you're putting yourself through."
"Moot now, I guess," I said solemnly.
"I am not sure about that. There's an awfully classy woman sitting by herself at the bar when I walked in." She gave me a grin. "I'll tell her she can come back here if you'd like."
"I love you so much." I gave her a big hug and a kiss. "Thank you. You are wonderful, Kay."
"I'll see you at home," she said as she walked out and closed the door.
I quickly tried to compose myself, but it wasn't that long before the knock came. I opened it with a big grin on my face. "I am so glad you came back, Susan."
"I met Kay," she began. "She said she recognized me from your descriptions."
"I'm ..." I started before Susan interrupted.
"I'm sorry," She said. "I shouldn't have run out like that."
I took my turn, "I'm sorry. I should have told you before I asked you out. I.. Kay .." I couldn't get the words out.
"I like you, Dave. I enjoy your stories. You have a very quick mind. I want to come back, but the rest...." She let the words drift off.
"I'm not worried about the rest. You're a fascinating woman, Susan. I just want to be your friend. The rest... is too complicated to think about."
She reached into her purse and pulled out a card. "Call me then, friend." She smiled. I melted.
I gave her a big hug and wished her a good night. She reciprocated and left. I walked her to the front door without saying anything but goodbye. We were both lost in our own thoughts. I returned to the office and poured an Oban, threw in a splash of water and sank into my chair. I changed the music to Sinatra and sipped slowly lost in thought.