Thirteen: A Quiet Evening

I had went to work that day with lead in my shoes, lead in my heart. I was tired. Tired from last night's lack of sleep and tired over wondering what was up with Andrea. My neck ached from laying on the couch. My insides were bickering over whether to be angry with Andrea or not. I really hated being so cold, but I felt frustrated.

I flopped carelessly in my chair, draining my bitter black coffee as I powered up the computer. The hot, sour liquid burned at the back of my throat, taking immeadiate affect in waking me up a little. The searing heat, and the caffeine, did nothing for my mood, though.

"Morning, Keith," Harry slapped a heavy hand on my back as he passed, surprising me. "Whoah, you don't look so hot, man. What did you do last night?"

"Nothing. Rough night of sleep," I grumbled, irritated by the big man and the reaccuring memory of last night. But my words were truth.

"Ah. A good dose of alcohol can help one drift off to sleep on occasions," offered Harry, trying to be helpful. When I didn't reply, he pressed on instead of walking away. Harry was bad about receiving such messages. "So, how's your girl? Andrea, was it?"

"Yeah, fine." I said curtly, pulling up my e-mail and scanning my inbox, hoping that, if Harry didn't get the message then, he would get it now and get to his own work.

He paused thoughtfully. For a minute, I was relieved. Maybe he was seeing the annoyance in my face now.  But no. Course not.

"She's not the reason you're had a rough night of sleep, is she? Bet it is. Talking about it will help. Alcohol helps with that too!"

"Is beer your solution to everything, Harry?" I spun sharply in my chair, staring him down confontationally. He instantly stopped chuckling like a tickled fat Santa.

"Whoah, dude. You're certainly a little snappy this morning!" Harry held up his hands defensively. "Eh, we all have those days, especially when women are involved. But we got a big meeting today," He looked as if he was finally inching away. "Drink some more coffee; you'll feel better. You better! The big boys are coming in soon."


I pulled in front of my townhouse, wondering what would be next on this wild day. I should have picked up some fast food on the way in. Andrea was probably out with all her "girlfriends" again.

I stepped in the front door, the smell of herbs and the sound of sizzling coming from the kitchen immeaditly taking a significant amount of weight from my shoulders, my mood lifted.

As we chatted over dinner that evening (a fillet garnished with mint and pepper, my favorite flavors), I felt relief. Andrea was acting halfway normal, her own attitude cheery. Maybe she was apologetic, sorry about the night before. Much of my own suspicion had died, and I was happy for this quiet moment.

After supper, we sat on the couch and watched a funny movie. I put an arm around her and smiled at her, and we proceeded to laugh together at the TV until I fell asleep.

"Keith," her sweet voice whispered in my ear as she poked me gently.

"Hrrmm?" I jolted awake, confused for a minute. Thought I was already up in my room, snuggled under my warm covers.

"You should head off to bed."

"I should," I muttered compliantly, rubbing my eyes.  "Good-night."

"Good-night," she replied.

I leant closer, pecking her gently on the cheek. She paused, looking at me with eyes that seemed to be a big question mark, searching my face. I reached up, stroking her cheek reassuringly.  "I love you, Andrea."

I hesitantly kissed her directly on the lips, holding it there, reaching for her. She remained unusally stiff, and finally withdrew.  "You've got work tomorrow," Andrea said, seriously grave, deathly quiet. "Go get some sleep."

Feeling dejected, feeling confused, I stood and slumped off to bed. What in the world was wrong?

Maybe it was just me imagining things. It was easy to this hour at night.





The End

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