The One That Got Away
|Day 2 The One That Got Away You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?
Sitting in the coffee shop watching the passing traffic it occurred to her for not the first time that day that it was Valentine's Day and she was alone. Story of her life. It seemed that she was always chasing them away when she needed them the most and today was one of those days. The cars rushed by on the street making her feel even more invisible than usual. She was about to give up and cut her lunch break short when she heard someone say her name behind her.
She knew that voice. It had been at least 15 years since she had seen him and she was not dressed to impress. it was too late to pull herself together now.
She tried to turn around as casually as possible but she was sure it was too fast and eager. Bracing herself for the most awkward experience of her life she spun around. She tried to fix a natural smile on her face but she felt like a clown.
"Steve?" she tried to take a step forward to shake his hand, changed her mind at the last minute and did some kind of a jerk instead. Smooth. "Its been 15 years, how have you been?"
"I've been well, and you?" He ran his hand through his thick brown hair. She knew it was a sign that he was nervous but instead of being relieved she thought, why couldnt he be bald at least.
"Oh, well I've been good...been busy." She smiled thinking about her "busy life" which consisted of reading, her cats and the occasional bad movie on Netflix. At least she had a good job she could tell him about assuming he stuck around long enough to ask.
He surprised her and walked up and hugged her. She could smell the same Old Spice after shave he used 15 years ago and the memories came flooding back. The day she met him, their first date, their wedding day and then finally her walking down the aisle and him running away. Man it had taken her a lifetime to get over that. To be honest, that was probably the reason she was still single. It had been too long for her to be mad at him anymore but the sadness was still something she had to deal with.
"I've thought about trying to get in touch with you so many times int he last 15 years." He smiled that same crooked smile she remembered so well.
"Have you?" she asked a little cynically.
"Of course I have, I shouldn't have left you the way I did, I've hated myself for it but I was afraid to drag you into the life that I was living. There's a whole other life I was living that you never knew about and it would have put you in danger." He glanced around to make sure there was no one close enough to hear. "I was an undercover agent. I work for the FBI. I can tell you now because that chapter in my life is behind me now but you have to understand that I hated to lie to you and I couldn't drag you in to that life."
"After 15 years, you think you could have come up with some better lies." The anger was coming back now. The FBI? Really? That was the story that he was passing off? The reason he left her at the alter? She picked up her coffee and made for the door.
"Wait, I can prove it!" He came after me. He grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. With one hand he fished in his jacket pocket and produced a wallet. He flicked his wrist and showed her a badge and credentials. All the information was there. It looked real to her and that made her even more angry. His story might be true and if that was the case she couldn't really blame him, could she?
"I don't know if I believe you" she said staring at the badge.
"What are you doing this afternoon?"
"Are you seriously trying to pick me up right now?"
"No, I wanna take you to work with me." He glanced at his watch, "We got about 10 minutes to get there but it's just up the road. What do you say?" He reached out for her hand.
In all honesty, she had the rest of the day off. She always takes Valentine's Day off. It's difficult to watch all the ladies around her at work getting flowers and candies when she had nothing. She had to tell her self that at least she wasn't as bad as Megan. Megan sent herself cards and candy so no one would know she was alone. She always gave herself away talking about it days in advance. Should she go with him? She knew the building was just down the block. Was it worth it to know that he had really been trying to protect her from a dangerous life all those years ago?
She took his hand, "All right, I guess I can go with you." He looked so happy to have her agree that she couldn't help but smile. He led her out to a black Lexus parked around the corner. They talked about her job and what she had been up to for the last 15 years. She felt ashamed that the only thing she could brag about was being an account manager at (Insert company here). She had a good job and a nice apartment and a cute cat that followed her everywhere. Yes, she still enjoyed horror movies but no she hadn't made it to the recent Stephen King flick that was in theaters. She hadn't had anyone to go with.
She asked him the same questions. After two more years undercover with a big drug ring, he had been promoted and there was no more undercover work. He had worked on the recent serial killer case in the city and taught a 6 week course at Quantico every spring. No he hadn't made it to the movie either, too busy.
They got to his building and he took her for a tour. It seemed like everyone knew him and had to say hi. He introduced her as an old flame and one guy even made a comment that it was about time he dated someone. They ended up in his office. It was a nice corner office with great big windows that gave him an excellent view of the city.
"So, do you believe me now?" He walked around the other side of his desk and stared out the window, his back to her.
She didn't answer for a minute. Clearly this was a difficult thing to dispute, being here and meeting his coworkers and friends. He turned around and faced her.
"When did you start working here?"
"Well, that's a difficult story. See I was going down a bad road when I was young and I got myself into a bit of trouble. The police were going to throw me in jail for a long time. One day, I was sitting in my cell and this guy in a suit walks up to the bars. 'How would you like to get outta here?' he asked. 'Boy, would I?' I answered. He slipped me a folder that had an agreement in it. It said they would let me out and doctor my charges to make it seem like I hadn't gotten caught with as much trouble as I had been. In return, I had to agree to go in and resume my old life until I was able to give up the names of all the big guys int he drug ring. It was a long term plan. I was in for the long haul if I didn't agree. Seemed like an easy choice.I spent a year fighting the good fight and then I met you. My focus went from staying out of jail to how to keep you in my life. You know the story for the next year and a half you thought I worked as a night shift security guard and when I was faced with the prospect of bringing you into that life. I was shot at, and threatened by rivals and always had some sort of shifty business I had to handle. I was tired of lying and I couldnt put you in danger. So I ran. It took me another 2 years before I was done with that life. I wanted so desperately to find you and tell you everything but you were no where to be found."
He pulled a file out of a drawer and threw it on the desk at her. It was huge. She opened the cover and there was a picture of her in it. "You disapeared for a few years but I never gave up hope".
"I moved to Canada. I thought a drastic change would be good idea. Turns out it was not. I came back."
"I know and when you resurfaced I found your house. I went over a few times and sat outside for hours trying to get up the courage to go in but I was so afraid you wouldn't give me the chance to explain. Every time I left. Finally I convinced myself you would be happier without me."
"Well, you were wrong." She hurried around the desk and kissed him for the first time in 15 years.