Monday, December 18, 2006

Friends are Forever Pt. 5

“Steven, can I ask you a personal question?”
He leaned over to take another slice of pizza and signaled for me to go on. I took a sip of Coca Cola and propped my chin on my hand.
“Why are you marrying this woman? Sure, she’s rich and beautiful but you were never into the superficial. What do you see in her?”
His jaw clenched but he calmly finished his pizza slice and wiped his lips.
“Can I ask you a question first? What did you see in Damian?”
That threw me for a loop. “That’s different. Damian was a childhood friend and we had a lot in common. Veronica McFarrell is in a different league, a trust fund baby. Sure, you have lots of money now, but her lifestyle is still alien to yours. Her dogs eat off china plates, for heaven’s sake!”
“I see you’ve given this a lot of thought. So you think she’s too good for me?” he asked gruffly.
“No. I think you’re too good for her,” I responded bluntly, looking him directly in the face. “And it hurts that after rejecting me all these years you would marry someone who is so obviously wrong for you.”
We finished the rest of our meal in awkward silence. When the last slice was eaten, Steven slapped a $50 note on the table and followed me out of the pizza parlour. I settled into the comfortable seats of his Mercedes Kompressor and rubbed my eyes wearily. I knew I had gone too far this time.
“It was a mistake to work on this account. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to assign another event planner.”
Steven gripped the steering wheel tightly and nodded grimly. “That may be best.”
We pulled into my driveway 20 minutes later, and I thanked him for dinner. Before I could exit the vehicle he laid a hand on my shoulder. I sighed deeply and turned to him.
“For the record, Mandy, I didn’t reject you. I wanted you that day on the boat, but it would have been wrong to make love to you when I knew I wasn’t going to be around for long. You deserved better than that. Then Damian was telling me how happy you two were and I thought you had moved on. That day on Campus, I was shocked when I realised you still had feelings for me, but you were wearing the man’s ring! What was I supposed to think?”
“But what about that night after your sister’s wedding? You knew that Damian was out of the picture!” I retorted angrily.
He grimaced. “And you were drunk and upset because Damian turned up with some girl. It was bad enough that I took advantage of your pain and ended up doing what I was trying to avoid all along. I thought it was best to leave you alone to sort out your feelings.”
I shook my head, incredulous. “You always thought you knew what was best for me without even bothering to consult me! You never knew why Damian dumped me, did you? It was because I was still hung up on you. If you had bothered to stay in contact I could have told you that.”
I exhaled. “And now it’s too late. You’re engaged to Ms. Moneybags and I know that witch is going to make you miserable.”
He held up a hand. “Let me worry about Veronica. I just said all that because I wanted you to know I did, I do, care for you. If I could live my life over I would do so many things differently, but….”
I stopped him. “Don’t say it….I know.” I leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips. “Have a good life, Steven.”
He traced my lips with his fingers before sighing heavily and nodding. He watched as I entered the apartment and then drove off. I closed the door firmly, determined to end that chapter of my life once and for all.


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