“I enjoyed tonight.” Shane said as he stood in the foyer just inside the door to her townhome. They had spent the evening together eating Chinese take-out and watching Titanic, one of Ada’s all-time favorite movies.
Ada smiled. “I enjoyed it, too. This was very nice.” She struggled to contain her giddiness as Shane leaned in to kiss her. His lips were warm but rough and she momentarily lost herself in the kiss. He pulled her into him and she could feel the solid muscles of his arms around her, this big hands on her back. Desire pulsed through her amplifying her heart beat, but she knew that she had to take it slow.
He pulled away but kept his arms wrapped around her shoulders. He looked into her eyes and smiled. The warmth of his smile and his piercing blue eyes almost melted her resolve.
“Are you sure I can’t stay?” he asked. Ada hesitated for just a moment, and he sensed the possibility, an opening. “Just tonight. To see how it goes.”
Ada wavered but then snapped into the present. The words wouldn’t come out of her mouth and then: “Let’s…let’s take it slow…okay.”
Disappointment clearly registered on his face, and Ada thought she could see darts fly from his eyes, but he mustered a smile. He looked away for the briefest moment as if to gather himself, to stem the tide of annoyance. “Okay. Whatever you want. I want you to be comfortable.”
She subconsciously sighed in relief although his words and his visible emotions, however slight, were in conflict. “Thank you,” she said before she stepped into him and kissed him softly on the lips again.
The kiss seemed to relax him, but Ada noticed a tenseness in his body. It had become more rigid than it had been when he first leaned in to kiss her. She tried to process the signal in her mind, but his swoon-inducing attention distracted her.
“I’ll meet you for lunch tomorrow?”
“Yes. At the Cantina in downtown.”
“I can’t wait.”
Ada smiled. She loved his enthusiasm. “Me neither.”
Unspoken words hung in the air between them before Shane turned and opened the door. Ada watched him walk away and disappear into the haze of the night before she closed and locked her front door.
She let out a long audible breath and smiled to herself. The date, their first since went back to him, had gone remarkably well. He was, once again, the prince charming she had met over a year ago. He listened to her and was genuinely interested in how her day had gone and what she had to say. Gone was the bravado about his latest work conquest and the stern rebuke for things he had no interest in. She thought he had truly learned his lesson in their separation.
Despite his about face, she was glad she had decided to move back into her townhouse. She needed her own space to sort through her feelings and ensure that this was the right relationship for her. Living with him was too much pressure. She had been lucky that she had not sold her townhome as Shane had advised when she had moved in with him.
She walked into her living room, which was sparsely lit by the lone lamp on the end table. Her reflection in the windows that looked out onto her small backyard reminded her to lower the blinds, which she did, but she left them partially open so that the morning light would flood her living room. She loved how bright it was in the morning. The glow made her feel alive, and she longed for that comforting moment. She needed it.
She sat down on her couch and lay back on a soft pillow before she remembered that she had promised to call Jenny after her date ended. She grabbed her cell phone from the coffee table and danced her thumb across the screen to select Jenny’s number. The phone rang once or twice before Jenny answered.
“Hi Jen!” Ada said. Her voice was bubbly yet confident.
“How’d it go?”
“Wonderful. He was an absolute prince.”
“Don’t be so skeptical. He was.”
Jenny sighed as if she were irritated at the prospect of being wrong, but her voice conveyed that she doubted that was the case.
“Ada, I want you to be happy. I really do, but I just don’t believe he’s the guy. I don’t care what he does on one date on one night. Eventually, he’s going to relapse to who he really is.”
Ada shook her head with the phone still on her ear. “Jen, you have to give him a chance. I think he has truly realized that he has a problem and that he needs help. We even talked about seeing a counselor tonight.”
“He agreed to it?”
“No, we talked about it as one of the options to get us back on track.”
Jenny retained her position of disbelief but humored her friend as she recounted the details of the date. She had run out of advice to give to Ada. She had advised against getting back with Shane, and Ada had done it anyway. At least Ada moved back to her place rather than to Shane’s. That was one victory she could claim in this tug-of-war with her friend.
“What do you think?” Ada asked. Expectation poured from her voice.
“I think you should be very careful.”
Ada whined into the phone.
“I’m sorry, Ada, but I’m still very worried. This one night doesn’t change everything. It can’t. Give it time. Please.”
“I will. It’s not like I’m moving back in with him anytime soon.”
“Did he say anything about that?”
“He started to, but I put the kibosh on it quickly. He knows I’m staying here for the foreseeable future.”
Jenny seemed placated and they moved on to other topics of interest between them. Before Ada knew it almost an hour had passed. She frequently lost herself in conversations with her best friend.
“Well, I should get going.”
“Thanks for calling. I’m glad it went well.”
“Thanks, Jen. Goodnight.”
Ada clicked off her cell phone and walked over to her kitchen counter to put it on its charger. Suddenly, some motion in her peripheral vision distracted her. She peered through the blinds into her backyard, but there was nothing to be seen. She opened the blinds wider to get a better view, but the reflected light from the small lamp obscured a clear view of the yard.
Her hands trembled a little as her eyes had certainly seen some movement just a moment ago. The hairs on her neck stood on end and her mouth suddenly went dry. She turned off the lamp to get a full view of her yard in the darkness. She swallowed hard as she scanned the tiny lot. Nothing.
A sudden knock at the front door startled her so much that she struck the lamp and pushed it off the table. The bulb crashed into the floor and shattered into a thousand pieces. She screamed. Another knock. This one was harder and more urgent.
On shaky legs, Ada walked, really wobbled, to her front door and squinted into the peep hole. Shane stood outside her door his brows arched in concern. Or was it anger? Ada struggled to unlatch the chain and flip open the deadbolt.
“Shane? What are you doing here? You scared me.”
“What were you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“I heard you scream.”
“Your knock caught me off guard. I didn’t expect anyone here at this time of night.”
“What did you do after I left?”
“After I left an hour ago. What did you do?”
“Nothing. I’ve been here the whole time.” Ada was puzzled by his question. He seemed bothered, irate even.
“So you did nothing? No TV? No phone calls?”
Ada’s defenses went up. She felt like she was being interrogated, and for a moment she glimpsed the past when Shane had been so controlling that she felt like she couldn’t breathe. She resented that feeling.
“I was just relaxing on the couch reading a book before bed, Shane, if you must know. Why are you doing this?” She was unfazed by her own lie, but she refused to acquiesce to Shane’s overbearing nature.
“If this is going to work, I have to trust you. This isn’t just about me. It’s about us.”
“I know that.”
Shane looked at her intently as if he were waiting on her to confess something. “I’ll keep working at this, Ada, but I have to trust you.”
“Okay.” Ada looked frightened, but she tried to repose herself in a confident way as she stood before him.
Finally, his stare relented and his face softened just a little bit. “Good night, Ada.”
Ada quickly shut and locked the door in the dimly lit hallway. She saw the lamp leaning into the floor and rushed back to clean it up, but before she grabbed the dust pan and broom from her pantry, she closed all of the blinds tightly peering into the backyard ever so briefly as she did so.