We hadn’t talked since the kiss and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I knocked on the door. She never cancelled, so I assumed, she still wanted to go. I waited for a few seconds and knocked again. When the door opened I was speechless.
She wore a dress that was accentuating all her best assets and I was still looking at her when she cleared her throat and brought my eyes back up to her face.
“I need a few more seconds.” She said not saying hello or anything.
“Ok, do you want me to come in?” I asked. Hoping to finally see her apartment.
“Please just wait here, I’ll be done in a second or two.” She asked and I nodded and she closed the door.
Not that I was looking at my watch, but I know a second turned into at least five minutes but when she opened the door again my heart did flip flops. She had put her hair up and I could see her bare neck and I was captivated. What I wouldn’t have given to kiss her neck and hold her close.
“Ok, I’m ready.” She said cutting off my daydream.
We walked in relative silence to my car and I didn’t know what to say. I think she was still mad at me for the other night, but if she was, why didn’t she just cancel.
“Cassie, are you alright? You seem upset, is going out tonight a bad idea?” I asked.
“No, I’m fine. I want to go out tonight. I think it’s a good idea to go out tonight.” She said and the tone in her voice scared me more than anything else.
“I think it’s a good idea to go out tonight,” I said trying to stay cool. Joe needed to understand that I just wanted to be friends. I tried telling him, but he just wouldn’t understand, so tonight I would show him what being friends entailed.
We got to the restaurant. It was Antoine’s, downtown near the convention center. That made sense if his friends hotel was close to the Insurance convention. I smiled brightly at the maître d that sat us and gave him my most alluring smile. I wasn’t attracted to him at all, but tonight was all about me flirting with every man I met.
Joe needed to understand that I wasn’t his, and this was the only way I knew he would get the message. He seemed even more shocked when I touched the waiter on the arm after he asked us what we wanted to drink. I ordered wine while Joe got his typical Pepsi. We were in one of the fanciest restaurants in the city and he ordered a freaking Pepsi.
“Cassie, what is going on?” Joe asked.
“What do you mean Joe?” I answered coolly.
“This whole other you. You don’t act like this. I said if you didn’t want to come out tonight we could cancel.” Joe said.
“Nope, we are out and I am going to enjoy myself, so be a good friend and let me.” I answered.
“Is that was this is about. Are you mad because I kissed you?” He asked.
“I usually don’t kiss friends, but if I’m going to start, I might as well make lots of new ones tonight.” I answered meanly. I knew I was being a bitch, but he had to understand. I needed something from him and he let me down, so now I was going to ruin his version of the Cassie he knew.
“That’s it, we are leaving. I should have known this was a bad idea from the moment I saw you tonight.”
“Why, because your eyes roamed over me like I was a cheap hooker?”
“I have never looked at you like that. When I saw you tonight I was just thinking how beautiful you were. If my eyes roamed more than they should have, then I’m sorry, but you are a beautiful woman.” Joe said getting ready to stand.
“If you stand up, I will make a scene.” I said cold.
He sat back down and stared at me. “I needed you to be my friend, and you couldn’t do that. You had to cross that line. Now that line has been crossed and there is no going back. So we are going to enjoy tonight like it’s our last.” I said finishing this once and for all.
“Cassie,” he started to say but then a voice interrupted him.
“Is this a bad time?” A dark haired well-muscled man asked. His brown eyes bore into me like no mans had ever done. He was gorgeous, and if he was to be out waiter tonight Joe was going to be so upset.
Joe stood up and hugged the guy. “Hey Chris,” he said stepping back a bit. Which was good because his friend made him look like a dwarf in comparison. I had no idea how tall the guy was but he was easily six inches taller than Joe.
“Hey joe, it’s been a while. Is this the Cassie I have heard so much about?” He asked and even his voice penetrated through me.
“Yeah, Cassie, this is Chris DiSablo, my best friend from college.” Joe finished.
I stood and held out my hand. He took it gently, but strongly, if that makes sense. “It is a pleasure Cassie. Any friend of Joe’s is a friend of mine.”
I didn’t want him to let go of my hand. This was the man of my dreams and he was sitting here at a fancy restaurant with me. “It is nice to meet you too. Joe has told me a lot about you.”
He laughed and it was so charming that I was captivated. “I know Joe, he’s not the type to tell the bad things, only the good, but before tonight is over I will tell you enough bad stuff about the both of us.”
“I would like that?” I said looking deep into his brown eyes.
Joe and Chris were catching up after we ordered our meals and I just watched in fascination as Chris smoldered. I was feeling myself warming and I had to compose myself. I needed to get away for a moment.
“Gentlemen, I need to use the restroom for a moment.” I said.
They both jumped up and Chris beat Joe to my chair to let me up. I smiled and thanked him and then practically ran to the bathroom
“Ok, I see why you are so into her. She is gorgeous. How did you pull it off?” Chris asked taking a drink from his cocktail that he ordered.
“I haven’t. That’s why I called you, remember? Things have been a little frosty since then. Oh Chris, am I doomed to be alone?” I asked scared of what answer he might give me.
“Nonsense, you just need to relax. If she doesn’t see how wonderful you are, then you just need to find someone who does. Joe, even if she is the most beautiful woman in the world, if she doesn’t look at you like you are the only guy for her, then she isn’t for you. You deserve to be happy. And most important you deserve to be loved.” Chris said.
“Thanks buddy, yeah I don’t know where me and Cassie are headed, but I understand what you are saying.” I said meaning ever word.
“That’s what best friends are for.” He said taking another long drink.
“Cindy, I have a problem.” I said into the phone.
“What’s that? You are on a date with Joe and his friend, and Joe is charming, wonderful and fantastic, and now you aren’t sure you do want to stay just friends.” She said smugly.
“No, his friend is number one on my list.” I said breathlessly.
“Where are you?” Cindy asked.
“I’m coming to pick you up, that’s why.” She answered.
“Why, I’m fine.” I explained.
“No you are not. I am getting you out of there before you do anything stupid. Where are you Cassie?”
“Sorry, someone needs to get into the bathroom, I have to go.” I said and hung up.
I was fine I didn’t need to be picked up by my mom. I adjusted my make-up a touch and fiddled with a few other adjustments and went back into the dining room. This time Joe held my chair for me. I gave him a quick smile and waited for their conversation to resume.
“Cassie is a case load manager at the bank. In fact, it’s a recent promotion.” Joe said to Chris.
“Well congratulations, we have even more reason to celebrate. We need to get a few more drinks. Joe over here will only drink Pepsi, but I’ll be happy to drink with you.” He said giving me a smile like I had never seen before.
“I’m having white wine,” I stammered out.
“Excellent,” Chris said flagging the waiter and letting him know they needed another drink each.
He was perfect. He was everything I wanted in a man. He had a full strong chest, dark eyes and hair and enough muscles to make a girl feel safe. What I wouldn’t give to be wrapped in those arms.
We all made small talk and then our meals came. I didn’t remember ordering or eating for that matter. All I remembered was looking at Chris all night. Joe excused himself to go to the bathroom and I waited for him to leave before asking Chris the question that was on my mind.
“How long are you in town for?”
“Just tonight, I fly out tomorrow.” He said looking at me.
He must have seen the disappointment on my face. “You know, Joe really likes you.”
“I know, but we are just friends.” I said.
“Does he know that?” Chris asked me.
“I have told him many times. He doesn’t seem to want to believe it though.” I explained.
“Joe can be pretty determined.” Chris said. “It might be for the best to figure out what is going on between you two.”
“There is nothing going on between us, we are just friends.” I said meaning every word of it.
“I’m not sure Joe sees it that way.” Chris said.
“Well that’s too bad. I have made it clear to him, and if he can’t take the hint, then I’m sorry.” I said taking another drink of my wine.
“I see. I did tell Joe how lucky he was because you are a beautiful woman Cassie.” His voice smoldered.
“Thank you, I find you very good looking as well.” I said touching the top of his hand.
He placed his other hand in top of mine.
“I hope I’m not interrupting.” I looked up and Joe was standing there.
I knew she was playing games with me tonight. I knew she was still upset about the kiss. When I walked back towards the table I realized how mean she was really trying to be. She was trying to flirt with my best friend just like the waiters. She made her point.
“I hope I’m not interrupting.” I said waiting to take a seat.
“Of course not, we were just getting to know each other. You’re right Joe, she is a wonder.” Chris said removing his hands from her.
I saw the look of disappointment flash across her face. I didn’t care. That wasn’t like me. What was I turning in to? “Oh yeah she is full of surprises.”
“I think it’s time I use the restroom before we head out.” Chris said excusing himself from the table and the situation I believed.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“Whatever I want. I’m not your property Joe, you can’t tell me what to do. We are just friends. I don’t need your permission to talk to someone.” Cassie said with the intention of hurting me, and she did.
“I’ve never treated you that way. If this is about the kiss, I’m sorry. You don’t need to try and hit on my best friend in front of me to hurt me.” I said upset.
“Why do you think it’s about you? I can flirt with anyone I want. If I want to flirt with your friend, then I will.” She said.
“Enjoy it, it will be the last time. After tonight I will never introduce you to another person that means anything to me again.” I swore.
“Fine, if that’s the way you want it. Then I am going to enjoy tonight.” She said.
“Cassie,” I tried, but she wouldn’t even acknowledge me.
“You don’t get to call me that, or anything else. We are through.” She said standing up. I’m leaving.
“Did I miss something?” Chris said coming back to the table.
“Yeah, your friend is an ass. I’m leaving. I need a ride, since I rode with him.” Cassie said.
“I’ll get you a cab,” Chris said walking outside.
“Is this what you want Cassie?” I asked.
“I told you what I wanted and you couldn’t get that, so now this is what I want.” She said fuming.
“So be it, good night Cassie.” I said as she walked away.
Chris came back to the table and grabbed his coat. “It’s cold out and she doesn’t have a coat, I will let her borrow mine and she can give it back to you sometime.”
I nodded as he ran back outside to give her his coat. I was glad he could be a gentleman, I had no use for it now. The wound was hurting and I had to fight back the feelings that were threatening to overtake me.
Chris came back in and sat with me. We didn’t talk for a long time. The waiter brought the bill and Chris paid for dinner, I was too hurt to think straight. I remember him walking me out to the escape and telling me over and over that it would get better.
I drove home and for the first time since I couldn’t remember I took the elevator to the fourth floor and let myself into my apartment to crash. The feelings were raw and the feelings bitter. I don’t know when I fell asleep but when I did the nightmares came.