Barbara and I got together the following weekend. We had a couple of drinks, and just like at the party, the conversation flowed freely. I lost track of time of time (much easier to do when you aren’t checking your phone every three minutes. Barbara took it as a compliment.
A few nights later, we went to see a band who specialized in Led Zeppelin covers. The guitarist was pretty good, but it was the lead singer people paid to see. She was female, very attractive, and could really belt it out.
By our third date, I was getting very comfortable with Barbara. She was easy to be with, and a very pretty lady. The combination of dark hair and light eyes never failed to stir me.
– “It’s getting a little noisy in here.” I said. “Want to have a drink at our place?”
Barbara smiled. I wasn’t fooling anybody with my attempt to be clever.
– “That sounds great.” she said.
I took her hand as we walked back to the apartment, and she gave my fingers a squeeze. It wasn’t very cold out yet, so we didn’t have to hurry.
But as we passed the bakery, and turned into the lane, I saw someone sitting on the step in front of our door. The person stood up, and took a step towards us.
It was Sam.
“Can I talk to you?” she said.
A hundred thoughts raced through my head. I’m not sure how I did it, but I kept my cool. I turned to Barbara.
– “I’m sorry.” I said.
She understood immediately. And she handled it with pure class.
– “Call me tomorrow?” she said, softly.
– “I will.”
Barbara squeezed my hand, and then turned to go. She only had six blocks to go to get home, along a well-lit main street. I probably should have walked her home, but I couldn’t be in two places at once.
Sam could tell from my face that I wasn’t pleased.
– “I’m sorry.” she said. “But I can never get you on the phone – I leave messages, but you never call me back. I’ve missed you …”
I took Sam inside, and made us some coffee. Fortunately, my roommates were all out.
Then I took Sam to the little table where our phone sat. I showed her the scribbles on the wall, where Laurie had (sort of) left me messages.
– “Rose always gives me the message.” I told her. “With Laurie, sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t. Ronnie never tells me that you phoned. But you already know that.”
I had her sit at the kitchen table. She looked more achingly pretty than ever. But her looks had never been the problem.
“Sam, if you want to call me, that’s fine with me. I won’t ever duck or dodge your calls.”
She nodded. She believed me.
“You know that I like you. You’re a beautiful woman. Sex with you is… was … fantastic. And you know that I liked being with you even when we weren’t … having sex.”
“But I can’t be your boyfriend, Sam. We can’t be a couple.”
That was hard for her. She knew it already, of course, but it wasn’t what she’d been hoping to hear when she sat waiting for me. She started to cry a little.
– “Do you have to go home – or do you want to stay over?” I asked. “No sex – but you can stay with me tonight if you want.”
Sam sniffed back the tears. “I’ll … stay.”
I turned off the coffee, and took Sam to my room. I put her to bed, and held her in my arms while she had a good cry.
Eventually, she fell asleep.
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