She could see the anxiety in him. Since telling him of the meeting, the sex had changed too. He’d been slower, taking his time with her instead of pounding himself home. Everything had become less as he held her like she was fragile. She didn’t know if he was reacting to the meeting, the promise to quit her job, or her statement about not marrying him yet. Whatever the reason, he’d changed.
They showered, separately without any interruptions and then dressed. His attitude was rubbing off on her as she felt herself tense and worried about this. She watched him dressing as she drank her coffee.
“I’ll cancel this,” she said, “We won’t go.”
“What?” he looked up at her as he pulled his jeans up, “Why?”
“You’re upset with me,” she looked away, “I was wrong to do this without asking you first.”
“No, you’re probably right,” he dropped to the bed to pull on some shoes, “I haven’t seen her in all these years, it feels weird to know that I’m about to sit opposite her over coffee.”
“Will it be too difficult?” she asked, “What if she says hurtful things to you?”
“Will it change your attitude towards me?” he asked her, “Will you still love me if she does that?”
“Of course, I’ll still love you,” she scoffed a laugh, “She can’t change that.”
“Then no matter what happens, I will end the day in the arms of the woman I love,” he smiled, but the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
She felt more nervous rather than less. He might smile and reassure her, but his eyes weren’t singing from the same song-sheet. They darted around the room and couldn’t settle on anything.
They drove to the café style bar that Kay had wanted to meet at. It was quiet, and the staff were setting up for the evening and serving coffee. They took a table in the corner. Being the only ones in the place, she knew they’d arrived first.
He hunched over the table examining his hands, his eyes lifting to the door at every sound. She wished she could drag him out of this and shove him back in the car. She was starting to regret not just letting sleeping dogs lie.
“This is just a chance for you to say goodbye to her,” she repeated for herself more than him, “Remember your weather warnings. If you want to leave, I’ll make it happen.”
“I know,” he nodded.
“And if you want to yell at her and accuse her,” Jen continued, “I’m alright with that. Just don’t punch her, I don’t want you going to prison.”
“I know,” he frowned, but she wasn’t sure he was listening or not.
“If she’s,” Jen’s words trailed off until nothing.
“Andre, baby?” the small woman bounced up to the table and launched herself onto Drew, wrapping her arms around his neck as he stood.
He’d seen her arriving before Jen and had pushed himself up off the chair as she came in. His arms came out to catch her but didn’t close themselves around her as she hugged him. When she let him go she dropped back to the floor and Jen could see that she was short with long blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a cute face. She was very thin and pretty.
“Katie,” Drew mumbled the name, “It’s been awhile.”
“Hi, I’m Jen,” she pushed her hand forward between them, “Drew’s girlfriend.”
“Katie, this is Jen,” Drew seemed to be surprised by her intrusion, “Jen, this is Katie.”
“Katie? Not Kay?” Jen asked.
“Katie, Kay-dee,” the little woman shrugged like it was obvious, “My stage name was Kay Dee just like Andre’s was Drey Anders.”
Jen’s fought the need to grind her teeth. She’d called her Andre. It was irrational but having Kay calling him by his birth name when Jen called him Drew, made her feel inadequate. Jen felt like she was advertising the fact that she knew him first.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Jen stood there with her hand still out.
“Oh yeah,” Kay glanced at her and did a quick assessment before ignoring her hand and turning her attention back to Drew, “It’s so good to see you.”
“You haven’t changed,” his smile was small, but his eyes were on her as he pulled out a chair for her, “What have you been up to?”
“This and that,” Kay shrugged, “Do you remember this place? You used to love the pizza they served here. Every time we were in New York, we’d end up here. You drunk, Alex picking up the waitresses and me trying to keep you from stripping and dancing on the table.”
Jen stood there while he sat opposite her and focused on her. This wasn’t going how she’d expected. She forced herself to calm down as she pulled the chair out and sat next to him. She was overreacting. It was a good thing that they weren’t screaming accusations at each other.
“You weren’t exactly sober,” Drew laughed softly, “And you didn’t exactly discourage me from taking my clothes off.”
The waitress dropped a bottle of whiskey on the table and three shot glasses.
“Excuse me,” Jen waved at the girl, “We didn’t order this.”
“She did,” the waitress pointed at Kay who was cracking open the bottle and pouring the glasses.
“True,” she laughed as she pushed a glass towards Drew, “Do you remember Casey Smith? The touring guitarist? And that night he danced alongside you, right over there on that table, both of you naked as jaybirds? Was that the night you challenged him to a rap battle, but neither of you could rap? It was hilarious! Where was that?”
“No thanks,” Jen waved away the glass Kay was offering, “We don’t drink.”
Kay just picked up the glass she was sliding towards Jen, drank it, and turned back to Drew like she’d just swatted a fly.
“No, it was in Tampa, or maybe, Jacksonville? Somewhere down there, it was hot, and, I believe that someone threw me in the sea to shut me up.”
“I remember!” she laughed as she threw back another shot of whiskey, “It was horrible. You were terrible.”
“Yeah, I was,” Drew nodded as he laughed turning the shot glass in his fingers, “I haven’t seen Casey in years.”
“You haven’t seen anyone in years,” Kay’s smile softened, “Alex hasn’t been the same since you left. He felt like you abandoned us, we both did.”
“It wasn’t me who left,” Drew said in a quiet voice.
“Yeah, it was,” Kay’s face fell, “Alex and I waited for you. I waited for you. We didn’t go anywhere, it was you who left.”
“What about that guy you were with?” Drew asked, “Do you still see him? Did you guys get married?”
“Married?” Kay scoffed, “We were never together, you know that. I had a crisis, that’s all. I was twenty years old, stupid, and I made a huge mistake. You asked me to marry you, and I freaked out. I’d only ever been with you, and I didn’t know anything. I thought I had to experiment with other men before I settled down, but instead, I lost the only thing that mattered. I lost you.”
“But you never even rang,” he scoffed.
“Neither did you,” she replied and drank another shot, “I wanted you to chase me. And then when you didn’t, I went looking for you. Do you remember what you told me?”
“You found me?” he looked horrified.
“Yes, you were drunk as a skunk in a place that smelt of piss and bad manners,” she poured another shot, “You called me a slut. And you know why I hate that word.”
“I didn’t,” Drew’s eyes opened wide, “I wouldn’t have done that.”
“And yet, you did,” her shoulders dropped as she closed her eyes, “I told you to sober up and catch up with us in L.A. but you never showed. I even left a plane ticket with you, but instead, you fell off the grid. I tried to find you a number of times, but none of our friends had seen you.”
“You looked for me?” he asked.
“Of course, I did, baby,” she exhaled, “I was miserable, desperate and heartbroken. Everything in my life fell apart after you left. Nothing went right.”
“The band?” he asked, “You replaced me.”
“The management forced us to get someone to sing but we fought it, and they ended up dropping us,” she threw back the shot, “I thought if I put out a solo album you’d listen to my words and know my hurt, but that didn’t work either. I was lost.”
Drew sat there looking at the whisky in his fingers. Jen couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She’d expected Kay to be a bitch, but this woman was in pain.
“And then you turned up doing this, the stripping thing. I contacted your management company, but they never returned my calls,” she sighed deeply, “I figured you’d ditched us and wanted nothing more to do with me. That’s why when I got the call last night, I hopped a plane and flew here to see you. I wasn’t going to let you go again.”
“You flew here to see me?” he was focused on her like she was the only woman in the room.
“Drew,” Jen put her hand on his forearm, “I’m feeling like it might rain. I think the forecast is for rain.”
“Baby, I’d fly to end of the world if it meant I could see you again,” Kay ignored Jen, “We had something amazing, and I messed it up, I’m sorry, Baby. I didn’t know how much I loved you until you weren’t there. I’ve missed you so much.”
“Katie,” he looked down at the hand on his arm but didn’t touch it, “I’m with Jen now.”
“I know baby,” she wiped a tear away, “But what we had wasn’t pedestrian. A love like that doesn’t come around again. You know what I’m saying?”
“I’m not sure I know what you’re saying?” Jen interrupted.
“Have a drink with me, Baby, let’s not worry about that now,” she smiled at him, “Now you’re back, we can put all this behind us.”
“He doesn’t need a drink,” Jen tried to say, “And he’s not back.”
“Don’t tell Andre what he can and can’t do,” Kay turned her head to Jen and said with cold eyes, “Scotch and sex, isn’t that right baby, the two things you can’t get enough of?”
“That was a long time ago,” he laughed as he threw back the shot swallowing the liquid before putting the glass down for a refill.
“Drew,” Jen hated it that she could hear the pleading in her voice, “There’s a storm brewing. I think we should leave before the lightning comes.”
“Do you remember when we played that bar in Denver?” Kay’s question took Drew’s attention from Jen.
Jen sat back in her chair. She couldn’t compete with this woman and shouldn’t have to. Kay was reminiscing about the past, but Jen was the future. Drew was over Kay, he’d moved past her and was now a different man.
Jen closed her eyes, she didn’t sound convincing, even to herself. This meeting was about him finding closure for that gaping wound call Kay, but instead, she’d bounced in here and taken ownership of it, wrenched it open, and rubbed a virus into the gash. Jen suspected that he was now infected, and she might not be able to cure him of the nasty case of Kay or Katie that was growing in that laceration.