“Hey, there,” she called, even before she reached the table.
“Seeing you makes up for the lousy weather.” She smiled as she
took her seat and busied herself with removing her wet coat.
Michael, who wore the wheat-colored sweater she’d bought
him last month, stared out the window as if he saw something far
more fascinating than rain and fog. He hadn’t met her eyes once,
and he didn’t have the hint of a smile on his face. “Hello, Marley.”
The waiter, a guy whose name tag identified him as Robert,
approached to take their order. “What’ll it be?” he asked with a
smile. “Hot chocolate? Coffee? Or do you need something stronger
to warm you up?”
“Coffee,” Marley answered.
Robert offered them a menu, but Michael waved it away.
“I’m not having lunch.”
Marley’s eyebrows shot up. As the waiter left the table, she
said, “I thought you wanted to have lunch.”
“No, I said I wanted to talk to you.”
“Okay, talk.” Marley reached for his hand, but he drew it
away and put it in his lap.
“Uh…Marley…I have something to tell you.” He cleared his
throat, and this time he stared at some point right behind her left
Marley’s heart thumped. “What is it, Michael? What’s
wrong?” Was he ill? Had he lost his job?
He stared at a burned spot on the rustic table as if it had
come to life and tried to bite him. “I…I’ve met someone.”
Marley cocked her head. “Who did you meet?”
He’d pitched his voice so low she had a hard time hearing
him. “Her name is Heather.”
Everything clicked. He wouldn’t hold hands with her. He
wouldn’t look at her. Cold more intense than that outside settled
into her veins and almost took her breath away, but she clung to
the hope that she was wrong. “I...I don’t understand.”
His eyes met hers briefly before they slid away. “Yes, you
do. I’m sorry, Marley, but I can’t marry you after all.”