In the nook where they sat in the crowded bar, she bent forward so he could hear her better, her eyes wide, her arms crossed, her face feigning remorse. “I never planned it this way, Bret. It just happened, that’s all,” she said. “None of this was ever my intent.”
“Right,” he said.
“Please don’t blame me. He just walked into my life and suddenly we clicked. I really didn’t anticipate any of this,” she said.
“Uh huh,” he said looking around the room as if he were more interested in the crowd than in what she had to say. She took a sip of her drink and tried again. “I’d hoped we could remember our time together with fondness. You must admit we did have fun together, didn’t we?” she said.
He paused and searched her eyes. “Absolutely babe. I’ll always remember the fun we had… in bed.”
Her face flushed and she looked around to see if anyone else had heard his comment. The five o’clock suits were milling around the bar attempting to connect with any unattached potentials, a Friday evening ritual at Harry’s.
“You’re not making this any easier, Bret.”
“It’s easy, Fran, as easy as flipping a light switch. Now we’re on; now we’re not” he said and smiled. “Tell me about this guy.”
“But why? What’s it to you?” she asked.
“Humor me, babe. Call it curiosity…unless, of course, he doesn’t exist.”
“What?” She sensed the sarcasm she’d have to wade through but continued. “Well, he’s soft–spoken, kind and gentle…like you, Bret.”
“Awe, really? That’s so sweet. So, what’s he look like?”
“I don’t see why that’d matter to you but he’s blond, tall, and has broad shoulders. He’s on the university swim team. But none of that matters now,” she said.
“Oh, but it does,” he said. Her eyes widened again. “No doubt those macho features inspired a spot of moisture somewhere in your panties, Fran. Maybe even at first sight.”
Her face awash with anger, she stood and tried to think of a parting shot. She glanced over at the bar and her jaw dropped.
Bret cut his eyes in the same direction and spotted a tall blond male who fit the description. Beside him with a firm grip on his arm stood a lass who could have been a candidate for the upcoming Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Bret grinned and resumed a bead on his table partner who was slowly easing back down into her chair. Her face appeared as if she’d just stumbled into a barrel of flour, her eyes focused on the sweating glass in front of her. Speechless, she bit her lip and gazed out the window toward the evening traffic.
Realizing he had the advantage of a cobra over a cornered rat, he waited.
She returned her attention to him and said, “Bret, maybe I’ve been a bit hasty; maybe we can work this out.”
Immediately he realized she was unaware he’d seen what had caught her eye across the room. “Why no, not at all, Fran. You’ve not been hasty and I’ve always admired your studied and forthright approach. No doubt you’ve carefully thought this out,” he said with a determined frown.
“But…I’m having second thoughts now, Bret, …now that I think about it. You must admit we’ve had great times together: the ball games, the dances, the study sessions together and… and I’m willing to give it another try if you are. This other guy, maybe he’s not all I thought he might be… you never know,” she said.
“To the contrary, Fran. I’ve always said you were a good judge of character. I mean, we had our ups and downs, literally speaking, but I’m in full agreement with you. Our flame is out, kaput, gone.”
“But, I thought____…”
“Don’t give it another thought, babe. Now’s as good a time as any for you to move on. Let’s face it, Fran, you’re not getting any younger, and this guy, well maybe he’s just the ticket for the old ring-in-the-nose routine,” he said.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she blinked and made one final appeal. “We’ve never had a major fight before now, Bret. Can’t you forgive me…just this once? I promise I’ll…I’ll—–”
She looked up just as the fellow she’d seen across the room at the bar approached with the girl still holding his arm.
“Fran, I’d like for you to meet my sister, Jennifer.”