Ten minutes later she slid onto the seat opposite him. She’d recently highlighted her hair, adding a glint of gold to the deep brunette. Thin straps of her tank top settled on the edge of her slender shoulders, giving the allusion that at any moment one may slide down and expose a full, round breast. A C-cup. Not implants. She’d shared that with him long ago.
Now she met his eyes. Hers were large mocha coils that held a vault of secrets in their depths. Her eyes had always saddened Michael in a way he couldn’t quite explain. Something about what lay hidden behind them made him want to protect her. That was the reason he hadn’t seen or spoken to Nicki in more than six months. Of course there were other reasons, none of which he cared to confront at the moment. Or ever.
Sitting here across from her, that familiar feeling caused him to ache all over again. He wanted to hold her. And he wanted to run. How foolish was that?
A fresh scrape crossed her cheek. Her lip had been split and had swelled to twice its normal size. Michael wanted to ask what happened but he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer. He settled on a simple, “Hi Nicki.”
She grinned and her eyes twinkled in the dim light. “Hi yourself. You look great.”
Nicki touched her lip. “Yeah, this adds character, don’t you think?”
Michael sidestepped that, still not sure he wanted to know. “Do you want a drink?”
Nicki reached across the table, grabbed Michael’s beer, and took a long swallow. “That’ll do me,” she replied. “It’s loud in here.”
“I’m feeling a little crowded. Maybe this conversation could be moved elsewhere?”
Michael nodded. A phone call from Nicki had been the last thing he’d expected tonight. Or any night, for that matter. Theirs had been a strange relationship. He didn’t care to explore whatever feelings he had and, when things had become too intense for his liking, he’d broken off contact.
Months had gone by. He’d considered her no longer a part of his life. Yet, when he heard her voice on the other end of that phone, it was like they’d seen each other only the day before. All those old feelings remained, hidden beneath the façade he held up to the world.
When she’d asked him for his help, he hadn’t hesitated. In fact, he hadn’t even asked what the problem was. He’d simply agreed to meet her. And, now, here he was, still not asking.
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