Samantha opened her front door and looked up at Kate. “Why do you tall people insist on wearing heels? Heels should only be for us short people.”
“Ah,” Kate smiled and patted her cousin’s head. Her nose scrunched up.
“Relax, I just burned dinner.” Samantha said noticing Kate’s face expression. “The smell is not back.”
“Good to know,” Kate said walking into the house and doing a quick glance. Everything still seemed to be in order like when she left a week ago.
“Don’t worry, I have not regressed. Not only have I showered and dressed every day this week but I finished cleaning and putting things away.” She looked at the cardboard boxes. “Except I have not finished unpacking because there may not be a point. Which is too bad because I really love my little house.”
“Any job leads?” Kate asked.
“No, not really. Although I did update my LinkedIn…” her mouth twisted.
“That’s good,” Kate said and patted her on the arm.
“Yeah, except I didn’t know what to put. I’m not sure what I want to do or what I want.”
“You’re a writer, don’t you want to keep writing?”
Samantha shrugged. “I’m not really a writer. I started making these little Instagram posts and people started following me. One thing led to another and the next thing I know I have a lot of followers and someone approaches me saying I should write a book. So, I did.”
“Hey, you are a pretty good writer. Relatable. I enjoyed your book.”
“You read my book?” Samantha asked.
Kate pursed her lips together. “I might have borrowed a copy when I was here. I was curious.”
“No one read my book. I gave out advanced copies to my friends and no one actually read it.” She looked at Kate. “Thank you.”
Kate nodded. “You know what you need? A night out. How about if we go out somewhere. Your choice.”
“My choice?” Samantha said and thought about it. “I think I know a place.”
Forty-five minutes later they walked into the bar.
“You know,” Kate said looking around. “I did not expect you to bring me to this kind of place.”
“I don’t actually drink. I get a …well, it’s a fruity kind of drink. I don’t know what it’s called because the bartender always just gives it to me.”
They sat down at the bar.
“Sam!” Garrett said and smiled. “Long time no see.” He slid her usual drink to her.
“Well, I haven’t been going out very much lately,” she said and took a sip.
“Glad to see you are breaking that trend,” he said and winked. “What can I get you?” he asked Kate.
“I will have what she is having,” she said nodding at Samantha’s drink.
“You bet,” he said and poured her a glass.
“Okay, this is good. No, this is better than good,” she said after taking her first sip.
“Garrett, this is my cousin Kate. Kate, this is Garrett,” Samantha said.
“Nice to meet you,” Garrett said and nodded.
When he moved down the bar Kate leaned over to Samantha. “I can see why you come here. He’s cute.”
Samantha laughed. “I come here because of the drink. Garrett is a nice guy and good looking but he is also married. We’re just friends.”
Kate nodded. “Ah, I see.” She looked around. “How did you ever find this place?”
“By accident,” Samantha said and looked at her. “Literally. One of the regulars knocked me down out front and Garrett brought me inside to make sure I was okay.” She paused. “This is actually where I met Cody.”
Kate’s face fell. “Oh no, you didn’t.”
“You didn’t bring us to some place just to bump into Cody?”
Samantha’s brow furrowed. “What? I can’t go somewhere just because I might bump into him?”
“It’s too soon. You are not ready for this.” Kate whispered.
Samantha waved her off. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
Garrett made his way back to them. “Refill?” he asked.
“No,” Kate said. “I think we should be going.”
Garrett stared past them. “Too late.”
Samantha turned around and saw Cody talking to some friends. A woman was draped over him like he was a life preserver and she was drowning.
Samantha turned back around to face Garrett. “I’ll have another.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Kate said. “Maybe we should leave.”
“Why? He doesn’t own the bar.” Samantha’s voice was a little loud and caught Cody’s attention. He walked over to them.
“Sammi,” he said smoothly. “So good to see you.”
She took a big sip.
“I’ve been worried about you,” he continued.
Another long sip.
“I heard you weren’t handling things so well.”
She choked which caused her to overreact and she spilled the drink. The bright, fruity drink poured all over her white shirt and lap. She reached for a napkin and knocked over the person’s drink next to her.
Garrett held up his hand. “I got it. Don’t worry about it.” He wiped the bar off.
“I am so sorry,” she said to the person next to her. “I will pay for your drink.” She dropped a twenty on the bar and headed to the restroom.
Kate walked into the restroom and saw her cousin standing over the sink with her head bent. “Here’s your change,” she said and handed Samantha some money.
“You were right,” Samantha said. “I shouldn’t have come here.”
“No, I was wrong. You do have every right to come here. If this is some place you come because you want to come. Not because you think you will bump into him or that there is some odd idea that you might get him back. You tell me, why did you want to come here?”
Samantha thought about it. “I like it here. I have friends here.”
“Then you should come here. You should go back out there and get another drink and talk to Garrett. This is your turf. You should be here.”
“I can’t go back out there,” Samantha said. “In fact, I was sizing up the window thinking maybe I could slip out that way. Knowing my luck though, I’d probably fall out and break my leg.”
Kate laughed. “That is a possibility. I have seen you in action.”
They stood there. Samantha seemed content to wait until closing before leaving.
“One more drink,” Kate said. “Don’t look at him. Definitely don’t look at her. Go out and talk to your friend Garrett. I will be with you the whole time.”
Samantha thought about it. She took a deep breath. “Okay.”
They went back to the bar. It took every ounce of effort Samantha had not to look for Cody. Although she could hear his laugh. Was he laughing at her? She wanted to turn but Kate stepped beside her blocking her view. That was definitely an advantage of having a tall wingman or wing-woman as the case may be.
They sat down at the bar again. “One more,” she said to Garrett and he slid a glass to her. Every time she was tempted to look around the room Kate stood and blocked her view. Kate seemed to be talking to Garrett quite loudly. Samantha wasn’t paying attention to the conversation. Her sole focus was to finish the drink.
As she finished her drink Garrett leaned over to her. “You know, I never thought Cody was good enough for you. You deserved so much better.”
She looked at him and blinked. Did he really say what she thought? Why do people think that is helpful information? Why didn’t he tell her that, oh, maybe a couple of years ago? As quick as the thought came though she realized the answer. She wouldn’t have listened a couple of years ago. It would have cost her a friendship with Garrett. She smiled and said “Thank you.”
She walked out of the bar with Kate and refused to look back. It was possible for her to be in the same room as him and she could even see him moving on with his life. She could go any place she wanted. At some point, she had to believe it would even get easier. For now though, this was the hardest day of her life.