The Empath's Mate

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The Bistro

The rest of the car ride was uneventful. We made small talk, he asked different questions about my childhood, how I ended up getting into our field, how old my kids are etc... I typically didn’t enjoy the “getting to know” details. Nothing about my life had been very interesting.

I asked if he was married and he said he was a widower, so I didn’t pry any further. His emotions were off, there was pain from losing his wife when he spoke of her but not like a normal widower, his was more detached like a sister passed.

We pulled up to the bistro and I realized I had never been there before. It was a smaller building that was at the end of the road. There were a few people in the front windows all on computers with their lunches to the side. I noticed a younger couple eating lunch at one of the high tops. I followed Nikola over to a table that was reserved.

“I think this one is taken.” I said whispering to him.

“I know it is for us.” He said whispering back with a huge smile.

I laughed and took my seat. The table was great for a working lunch, it was set for 2 with space for 4. I set my bag down in the chair next to me and took out my binder to place it on the table. Nikola set his binder on the table before his head snapped up. He was staring at something behind me with rage in his eyes. I waited for a moment then moved my head into his line of view.

“Are you okay?” I said softly.

His eyes moved to mine and filled with regret. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I could sense he was trying to mask his emotions, but I wasn’t sure why. I felt a rush from behind me, a familiar aura full of guilt and fear. As I went to turn myself around in my chair a hand touched my shoulder with an ice-like effect.

“Veronica, I am shocked to see you here.” The harsh male voice trying to sound sincere sent chills down my spine.

“Last minute working lunch.” I awkwardly stood to hug him; Travis barley kissed my cheek barley touching my back. “This is Nikola, he is a new colleague, just arrived from England this week.” I said motioning to Nikola who stood instantly. “Nikola, this is my husband, Travis.”

He shook his hand and they both stood there for a moment. Travis was easily 5 inches shorter than Nikola; he is built thinner and doesn’t do much to stay in shape other than what is required at work.

There was a red head standing next to him a little closer than co-workers usually did. I didn’t feel I was in the position to judge considering how I left the building with Nikola. A few regulars were now eavesdropping on our conversation. I assumed they didn’t know Travis was married as he brought dates here.

“Your wife has been a gift at the office. Nice to meet you.” He said the last part and it was hard not to noticed it was forced.

“She hasn’t mentioned you.” Travis spoke in his usual cocky tone, “This is Julia. She is new to the office workers, I was uh… showing her this great lunch spot.” He said motioning over.

Nikola POV

It was taking all my strength not to grab this man by the throat and break the table with his body. He was covered in this woman’s scent as if they just screwed in the bathroom. I knew Roni could sense it somehow from him. He wasn’t a good liar. I was shocked to see Roni extend her hand to the woman with a smile on her face.

“This is my first time here too.” Roni said plainly. “We have a ton of work to go over so we should get to it. I’ll likely be late tonight but I will let you know when I have an estimate.” She said before playing the perfect wife, kissing his cheek, and sitting back down.

“It was nice to meet you.” Julia said turning to leave followed by Travis. I wonder if she knew he was married before their lunch, she didn’t seem shocked. Then I saw them join hands as the went through the door.

“I am sorry about that, where were we?” She said trying to change the subject, but I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t want to see her in pain, but she was masking it so well. Was I missing something?

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked looking into her beautiful eyes not caring if I was over stepping.

“What do you mean?” She replied quietly. I could tell she knew exactly what I was talking about, and she was going to make me say it.

“About your husband and his lunch date who clearly doesn’t work in an office dressed like that.” I said nodding towards the door.

“How did you know?” She replied defeated.

“It was hard not to see it, are you no longer together? You were so calm.” There was admiration in my tone, I didn’t want to hide it. I was proud of her for being the bigger person, she is like an iceberg.

“We are still together. We have just been distant for a while. I think we both know it is over, I just thought we would’ve separated before he moved on.” Her voice was confident but there was still pain buried deep. “Sorry, to much information.”

“His loss, I guess this means you have to come to karaoke tomorrow night now. I don’t want to threaten to tell Jeremy.” I winked at her.

Veronica POV

“You can’t tell him!” I said worried. “He will be at my house before me to pack my things and move me into his guest house, please!” I panicked.

“Calm down Roni.” He said laughing. “I would never gossip about something like that. I do think it would be fun, you seem like you could use some right now.”

I searched his face for any hint of manipulation. He is a gorgeous man in a new city, I am pretty, but not on his level. Maybe he wanted to make me his project. Like the girl that needs help becoming herself and I am that project.

Jeremy and his wife had been trying to convince me to leave Travis for a year now. They were the only ones close enough to see through our surface. Knowing I now had to make some crazy life choices, I didn’t want to make plans.

“You didn’t have to threaten me, I was already planning on going.” I said with a hurt attitude.

“Can we just dive in?” I asked trying to change the subject. Not sure why my words didn’t seem to be following my brain.

“I can do one better; give me a few minutes I will be right back.”

He walked over to the counter speaking to the cashier, she wrote some stuff down and handed him 2 coffees with a chocolate chip muffin. He came back over and sat down placing the muffin in front of me.

“That is for now, they are going to have our order ready in a minute. I don’t think either of us want to eat here anymore.” He said sipping his coffee.

I took a chunk out of the muffin and placed it in my mouth. It was the best muffin I had tasted locally in years, I moaned slightly. My eyes snapped open and went directly to Nikola. He chuckled a little and I smiled.

“That is why I thought to come here. I first came in a few days ago, I had no idea that was your husband.”

He shook his head before going to retrieve our food from the cashier. I just kept my eyes on him the entire time. He was so casual about all of it. It was oddly relaxing that I didn’t need to hide anything from him. I stood when he got back placing my binder back in my bag.

“Thank you for understanding, and you know, having a heart.” I said to him turning towards the door.

He set the bag of food down on the table and wrapped his arms around my waist. My face was buried into his chest, I couldn’t help but inhale his fantastic scent. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but his cologne was amazing.

He buried his face in the crook of my neck and I felt my stomach twist slightly. He held me to long for a business associate. The whole thing was across the line, but it was making me feel better. I could barely remember Travis’ name.

“Now if he comes back here, the cashier will make sure the gossip reaches him.” He winked at me before kissing my cheek and taking my bag.

My jaw dropped. I had a feeling Travis had been coming here for a while and he knows I won’t return after what happened. An evil grin plastered itself across my face, willingly took Nikola’s lead as we exited the building.

When he kissed my cheek, I swear I felt electric sparks fly across it. Had it really been so long since someone had shown me so little affection? My body jumped at the peck like a cat in heat. I should be on the verge of tears or having problems keeping my anger in check. Instead I was fuzzy from Nikola’s intoxicating energy.

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