Chapter 52: Back to Square One

When Melissa pulled up in front of her apartment, Malcolm was sitting on the front steps waiting for her. She got out of the car and walked slowly over to the steps to sit down beside him. Malcolm was uncharacteristically silent. Melissa said nothing either, but tears started down her cheeks again, as they had periodically on her way back into the city.

Malcolm reached out to take her hand. He said softly, “Hi, babycakes.”

Melissa asked, “He call you?”

“Yeah – he thought you might want someone.”

Melissa nodded.

After a minute of mutual silence, she asked, “What’d he tell you?”

“That he got pulled away on some big-time assignment. It’s going to be 24/7 for months, so you decided to move back.”

She nodded, “Yep. Summer’s over. Time to get back to real life.”

“It’s only July, you know.”

She nodded.

“When he’s done, are you going to get back together?”

She took a shaky breath, then shook her head.

“Why not?” Malcolm asked softly, “He loves you. I asked him. He told me. You know, when a guy tells another guy he loves a woman, that’s usually pretty serious.”

She nodded.

“And you love him. I know that.”

She nodded again, tears falling from her chin.

“So why not?”

Trying to not sob, she said softly, “It was only a fantasy. Not real life.”

“What you had… seemed pretty real to me.”

More angrily, she said, “I can’t be some rich guy’s play toy.”

Malcolm nodded, considering her words. He gently responded, “I’m pretty sure that’s not how he feels about you.”

“Doesn’t matter, that’s how I felt about it.”