“Remind me again why I had to come along?” he asked tiredly.
“Oh, hush,” Lucy replied, still plowing ahead, her swollen stomach pushing other customers aside. It was a miracle she didn’t go into labor right then and there.
He hated that. He hated that she could just say, “hush” and he would shut up. Where on earth did his independence go?
At the altar. When he married the mad woman who was now half pulling his arm off in her haste to get to a rather creepy looking teddy bear. He shook her hand off carefully.
“Listen, I need a coffee. I’ll meet you back at the car, shall I?” he said, backing away as the words left his mouth. She opened her mouth to protest, but he ducked behind a large woman carrying an enormous box with “Princess Party House Deluxe!” emblazoned across the side.
As soon as he got out of the shop, he immediately took out his pack of smokes, taking one out and lighting it as he made his way to the small coffee shop across the street. He didn’t have any real intention of getting a coffee, of course, but he supposed he might as well make it more believable by actually going to a coffee house.
He stopped short. The voice washed over him like rich velvet, bringing back half remembered memories of steamy nights in cheap hotel rooms. Turning, he found a woman with short, black, windswept hair sitting at a table covered with papers and books.
“It is Dylan, isn’t it?” she said, uncertainly.
“Andrea,” he said, a stream of smoke escaping from his mouth as he said her name.
She let out a sigh of relief before smiling. “How’ve you been? Sit down! I haven’t seen you in what…a year?”
He nodded and sat down across from her, looking away from her dark eyes. “Yeah, been a bit busy,” he said. God, of all the times to come across her, it had to be now. He saw her eyes flick toward his wedding ring for a moment before returning to his face, her smile slipping slightly.
“I thought you said you weren’t the marrying type,” she said, her voice taking on the fake light tone it always did when she was upset.
He didn’t answer, merely taking a drag from the cigarette and blowing it out into the sky. “Still working on the book, then?” he said, gesturing at the papers on the table.
She nodded, sipping her coffee before asking for a cigarette. He gave her one and lit it for her. Leaning back in her chair, she took a long drag from the cigarette, her eyes fixed on him. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair but gave no other sign that he noticed the obvious tension hanging over them like a cobweb.
“Don’t change the subject, Dylan,” she said, swirling her coffee. “You always did that. Changing the subject when you were hiding something.”
He let out a laugh. “I’m not hiding anything.”
“Then why didn’t you answer my question?”
“It wasn’t a question. It was a statement.”
“The question was implied, Dylan.” He felt a small shiver run down his spine every time she said his name, letting it roll from her lips like some sort of exotic fruit.
He shrugged. “People change.”
“Don’t give me that bullshit. You got her pregnant, didn’t you.”
He looked away from her, flicking some ash from the end of his cigarette.
“I knew it. Her dad probably threatened you,” she said, a derisive smile playing on her lips.
“Her brother, actually,” he said.
“What’s she like?”
“A right pain in the ass, if you must know,” he said, taking another drag from his cigarette.
“Serves you right,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Well, I guess it shows you’re responsible, at least.”
“Trust me, if her brother wasn’t a boxing champ, I would have refused,” he said, running a hand over his face.
“Jesus,” she said, the smoke escaping from her lips as she spoke.
“Yup,” he sighed. “The entire family’s so bloody controlling.”
“Oh, God, they didn’t make you drop out of the band, did they?”
He looked down at the generic office worker outfit he had on with a what-the-hell-do-you-think look. She closed her eyes as if she had just seen something horribly indecent. “Please tell me you don’t drive a minivan. Anything but the minivan.”
He grimaced before nodding.
“Fucking hell,” she whispered. “And all because you didn’t use protection.”
“We did,” he said. “I think the condom broke, though.”
“She’s probably some pretty little blonde chick, right?”
He laughed again, snuffing out the cigarette.
“You still do that, then,” she said, gesturing at his cigarette with her own.
“Put them out before you’re done with them.”
He looked down at the crumpled cigarette in his hand before looking back at her. “I suppose I do.”
“Man, you don’t even stay committed to cigarettes.”
He rolled his eyes. “And you still try to find some semblance of meaning in every little thing a person does.”
“Curse of an English major,” she shrugged before standing up and gathering her things, tossing them pell-mell into her bag. “Anyway, I have to go. It was nice seeing you again, I guess.”
“Yeah, you too,” he said as he watched her go before standing up and turning to find Lucy standing a few feet behind him.
“Who was that?” she asked, shaking a shopping bag irritably at the chair Andrea had just vacated.
“An old friend.”
“She didn’t look like a friend.”
He sighed, getting up.
“You’ve been smoking, haven’t you,” she said, sniffing his coat.
“Just the one.”
“I thought I told you to quit.”
“It was just one---”
“Yes, well, it’s not good for the baby.”