III. The Complication
It was a few minutes after ten when I walked into the yogurt shop. She was already at a table waiting.
“I am sorry I’m late,” I sat down at the table.
“No problem,” she said quietly. Her demeanor was different than when I last saw her.
“So, here it is,” I set the computer on the table.
“You were able to fix it?” her eyes brightened.
“Unfortunately, no,” I tapped the computer. “It’s a goner.”
Her face fell and I felt guilty for going that route.
“The computer is dead, quite dead,” I reached into my bag and pulled out a disc, “but your research lives on.”
Her eyes watched as I set the disc down. She looked at me, “Do you mean…”
“I mean I reached into the depths of your computer and extracted your data,” I motioned with my hand pulling something out. “Here you go, your data.”
“Oh,” her face softened.
“Do you have access to a disc drive?” I asked.
“I, yes, I do,” she said excitedly. “My fi…friend has one I can use. This is, oh my this is so wonderful. I could just… I could…” she gained her composure. “Thank you Dakota, a million times, thank you.”
I blushed and looked down. “No big deal,” I said and thought ‘just an all-nighter with no sleep and now I get to work eight hours.’
“No big deal? I bet you were up all night, weren’t you? And now you probably need to go to work?”
Good thing we weren’t playing Battleship. “No big deal,” I said again.
“Dakota, this means so much. How can I ever repay you?”
“Well, how about we go out tonight – after you turn your paper in – to celebrate?”
Her face fell again. “Dakota, there is something I need to tell you, I should have told you yesterday. I don’t know why I didn’t. I guess it just didn’t come up.”
I looked at her and could feel my face match hers in seriousness.
“You see,” she continued, “it’s just that, well, my friend that I went out with last night is also my fiancé. I’m engaged to be married.”
It felt like someone hit me in the gut.
“I’m sorry, I should have told you. I know I should have. If it makes you feel any better, I also stayed up all night. Partly organizing my research for when I got this back and partly because I should have been honest with you. I’m rotten.”
“No,” I squeaked in a most unmanly way. “Don’t be silly. There is nothing to feel guilty about.” The image I had of our wedding suddenly turned into her wedding day with me as a guest. No, not a guest. As hired help standing in the background. In the rain. Even though it wasn’t raining anywhere else.
“It just felt so good to talk to someone who seemed so interested in me. Calvin and I have been together so long that we already know everything about each other. He gets bored when I talk butterfly.” She looked down, “He’s a good guy. We’ve just been too busy to set a date yet.”
I listened but didn’t know how to respond.
“But I’m saying too much. Like I did yesterday.”
“I would argue you didn’t say enough yesterday,” I said softly.
“I’m sorry. Let me pay you for your work, at least. How much should I pay you?”
I caught up with what she was saying. “No,” I said as gallantly as possible. “This is on me. It is all on me.”
“Well, thank you again,” she said and stood up to leave. I watched her walk to the door.
“Wait,” I stood up, “are you telling me you didn’t feel it yesterday?”
“Feel what?” she asked.
“It,” I said crossing the floor to her. “The thing we read about in books and watch in movies.”
“Love?” she asked. “I just met you.”
“No, not love,” I said. “Connection. We connected yesterday. Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it because it takes two to connect. That energy. That spark. Whatever you want to call it. We had it yesterday.”
“Dakota,” she said slowly.
“Don’t try and persuade me differently. I know what I felt and though I can’t speak for you I’m willing to bet you felt it, too.”
“I can’t,” she said turning toward the door.
“You can,” I said putting my hand on the door. “But it’s up to you. I won’t keep you. I don’t even know your last name so there is no chance I will find you again. I just want you to know I felt it and I would like very much to see where it takes us.”
She turned and looked at me.
“It’s up to you,” I said and took my hand off the door. “I will be here tonight at 8:00 sitting at that table right there,” I pointed to our table. “If you want to see where this leads come and join me tonight. If not,” I swallowed hard, “if not, well, no harm no foul, right?”
“I can’t make any promises,” she said.
“I don’t want any. You have about nine and a half hours to decide. My choice is made, I will be right here.”
She nodded. “In case I don’t see you again,” she stretched and kissed me on the cheek. “Thank you for this,” she held up the disc.
“I will be here at eight,” I said again.
She nodded her head and walked out the door and I wondered if that would be the last I saw of her.