Claire took another glance at her watch and worried her upper lip, fighting the nausea threatening to overtake her breakfast. He was late. He was late and he was never late. She pushed back the thoughts begging for attention, the ones where David lay in a ditch somewhere or where that petite blonde pressed herself up against him and got lipstick all over his collar. What was her name? She worked in his office...oh yeah. Kelly. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. He's coming, she told herself. Just relax. Taking deep breaths, she reached for logic. He may be late, but only a few minutes. A few minutes wasn't enough for panic, right?

She wasn't known for her logic.

She folded and unfolded the corner of the book she was reading. Only half paying attention, she found herself glancing up every time the front door opened. She was nervous. Finally she gave up on reading and shoved the book in her bag, forgetting to snap the cover shut.

Movement caught her eye and she looked up to find David rushing in the front door, his eyes only on her. His broad steps are what caught her attention in the first place. Walking in the coffee shop where she worked, she noticed the way he looked ahead while walking, daring others to look him in the eyes. That morning, she couldn't help herself. So used to other people looking at their phone or avoiding eye-contact, she found his eyes and couldn't look away. She took the dare and ever since then she's been lost in his amber eyes and purposeful gait.

Her friends told her she'd been hypnotized by love. She'd roll her eyes when they said this, responding with something like, well, if  it's true, I never want to wake up from this dream.

They'd really get her then, calling her too romantic for her own good and in for trouble. She never listened to them. At least, until recently. Lately, she was beginning to wonder...

"Hey" his baritone echoed inside her and she barely had time to smile back before he kissed her cheek, sat down across from her, glanced at his own watch and found her gaze again. "I'm sorry I'm late - traffic was horrible."

Claire felt her heart slow down again to a normal rhythm. It was just traffic. Pictures of him in a ditch or pressed up against Kelly disappeared and she reached for his hand.

"No worries, babe. I was just reading."

"Reading? What book?" His eyes scanned the table and automatically fell to her bag laying half-opened underneath her chair.

She felt her hands tighten imperceptibly and closed her eyes against the impending fall. She knew what was coming. She forgot to close her bag and the book was hanging out of the fabric, cover exposed.

David froze and glanced back at Claire, his face stoic.

"Claire?" he whispered.

She followed his eyes, What to Expect When You're Expecting peaking out just visible from her bag.

"Yes?" she hesitated. She'd stall all afternoon if she had to, scared of his reaction. This wasn't how she wanted to break the news but it all was happening so fast and she couldn't stop it - she felt like she was on a speeding train, David running along the track beneath her.

"Are you..."

"pregnant? Yeah. I am. Found out this morning," she cleared her throat and went deep to find whatever strength she could, "I'm uh...two months."

David let out a whoop and jumped from his seat. Claire blinked away her shock, unsure of this David before her - uncool in his response. She was expecting a nod maybe - perhaps even a smile. But whooping and hollering? Pumping his fist like he won a prize? She looked around to see if anyone noticed.

She didn't get very far. David grabbed her hands and pulled her from the seat, drawing her close against him. She could smell his aftershave, feel the slight dampness of the humidity underneath his shirt. He was whispering in her ear - things of the future and how happy she made him and how she would be a great mother. She couldn't focus on any of this, though. She couldn't hear what he had to say. The spell had been broken.

Right there, underneath her nose, was an imperceptible mark on his collar. Bright red. Leaning closer, she could smell the afterglow of flowers and citrus.

She leaned back sharply, finding his eyes. Pushing away she reached for a napkin and helped clean his collar, revealing to him the mark of indiscretion now left behind on throwaway cloth. She slapped him, then. Slapped him hard and fast without even thinking, leaving behind a mark of her own. Reaching for her bag, she walked out of the shop and never looked back.

She didn't even bother to let David know the baby wasn't his.


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Posted on June 4, 2012 and filed under fiction, remembering art.