IN THE WAKE of the ridiculous turmoil, Ed got out from the backseat bathed in sweat. Allison remained seated for a minute till her breathing caught up; meanwhile through the windshield, observed him kicking up dirt at the foot of a big oak tree.
When she too got out of the car, he had since come to his senses, walking back to apologize to her. “I’m sorry… I don’t know what came over me. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
Arms crossed over her chest, she cast him a disfavoring look and said, “Of course.”
“Good. Let’s get going.” As he reached around her for the door handle, she leaned back against it, finding the need to make a few things clear.
“Don’t get me wrong, Ed. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, but I’m married.”
He gave her a blank smile. “I know.”
“This can’t happen again, ever. Things could certainly be different if I weren’t with Dan but —”
“But you are, I know. I would like to still be friends though.”
“That’s not what you said back there.”
“What? Can’t a man change his mind?”
She made no comment.
“Come on, Allie. Please?”
She stared at his hand extending towards her, eventually, gave it a firm shake. “Friends.”
Before they would get back in the car, he decided to show her a snapshot he took secretly of her on his phone hoping to mellow her mood. In it she had on a red, A-line dress with a plunging neckline forming an attractive “V” at her cleavage. She was resting in bed, close-eyed, with a blissful smile on her flushed face.
“I’ve always liked you in that dress,” he told her.
“Was this in Vegas?” she asked curiously, and he nodded.
“You were lying there so peacefully. I couldn’t help myself... I meant taking the photo.”
“You’ve never been a heavy drinker, but that night was an exception. You were so wasted that I had to literally piggyback you from the bar all the way back to your room and help you to bed. Do you remember?”
“I was going to leave, but then you grabbed me by the hand and told me not to go, to “stay with you,” you said. So I did, stay. I watched you drift off before falling asleep on the armchair.”
“But you weren’t there when I woke up the next morning.”
“It’s because I was up before you, 7 a.m., I believe it was. I went to the store to get you coffee and aspirin. When I got back, Sara was already there in your room making you tea.”
“That’s why you walked in with two cups of coffee...”
Upon realizing what he selflessly did, Allison’s heart lightened. “Why didn’t you say anything then?”
“What was there to say? I didn’t care about much else as long as you were feeling better. Sara was doing such a good job taking care of you, I wasn’t gonna stop her.”
“You are too good to me. You know that?”
“Nah. It wasn’t much.” He tucked away his phone. “To tell the truth, lately I’ve been wondering about that night.”
The two exchanged glances.
“I’ve been wondering if we redid it, whether or not we would have done something different, you know… something more —”
“It wouldn’t make a difference. Nothing indecent would have happened between us if that’s what you are getting at.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Do you even need to ask? You are a good guy, Ed. Deep down you only want the best for me, and subconsciously you know not to do what I ultimately don’t want happening. Even if I was to come onto you.”
Her remark was sharp and to the point. Ed heard it loud and clear but something in him — even just by a small margin — disagreed. “That’s a massive responsibility on my shoulders.”
“But I trust you. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I do.”
“Even with what just happened in the car?”
“I was taken aback, I’m not gonna lie, but at the same time, I can understand, given our history. That little lapse of judgment doesn’t change how I think of you.”
Feeling a bit of optimism, he smiled warmly, but that smile did not hold for long.
“Let’s get going. I can’t stay out for too much longer. Still have a bunch of chores to do before Dan gets home,” said she, coming off the car door.
The “good guy” that Ed was, moved to open the door for her. Meanwhile, the bitter taste in his mouth only got bitterer.