“Are you okay?” asked Elliot. “You seem like something is bothering you. Are you feeling well?”
“I have to be sick to turn down dessert?” I asked. “No, I’m just tired, that’s all. Can you take me home?”
I yawned to give my words more of an effect. I was really tired, that wasn’t a lie. But, then, there was that something else, that something that I just couldn’t put my finger on.
Elliot whipped out his credit card, put it on the edge of the table, and signaled for the waiter to come over.
“Sure, let’s get out of here,” he said. “I need to get you home that you can get your beauty sleep. I can’t have you out here turning into a pumpkin on my watch, now can we?”
I laughed. He had such a great sense of humor. When the waiter came back to the table with his credit card, we left.
On the ride home, Elliot made it a point to reach over and slip his hand into mine. It was such a sweet gesture. It made my heart skip a beat.
When we pulled up to my apartment, he walked me to my door.
“Good night,” he said, landing a sweet, sensuous kiss on my lips. I leaned into the kiss, taking it all in. He was such a passionate kisser. I melted into his arms whenever he pressed his lips to mine. They were soft, but firm at the same time. It was wonderful and I loved every minute of it.
But, I had to admit that it left me wanting more. Part of me almost invited him to come inside so that we could finish what we had started with that kiss.
But, that nagging, sinking feeling just wasn’t going anywhere. I told him good night and let myself into the dark apartment. I turned on the light and saw that the apartment was empty. Amelia wasn’t home yet. I hoped that whatever she was doing she was enjoying herself. She deserved to have a good time.
I got ready for bed, hoping that a good night’s sleep would help me to shake whatever this feeling was. I slipped on my night gown and climbed into bed.
What was it that was bothering me? I had to figure it out before I fell asleep. I needed to be up early in the morning to get some work done at the bakery.
That’s when it hit me. That sinking feeling that I felt was guilt over not being as attentive to the bakery as I should have been. I was neglecting my business. Thankfully, my assistant Leah had stepped up and took on working more hours in my absence. She hadn’t complained at all about the extra workload, in fact she had eagerly jumped at the opportunity for more hours, but it was bothering me anyway.
It was just the fact that I had worked so hard to get as far as I had gotten. I really couldn’t afford to take my foot off of the gas or, worse, halt altogether. I shuddered at the thought. It hadn’t dawned on me that I had been spending less and less time at the bakery until I laid there in bed trying to remember the last time that I had been to the bakery. Had it been a week? Or maybe more? I knew that that was unacceptable. I knew that I needed to make some changes. And fast.
The thought that kept playing over and over in my head was that I might have to make the hard choice to go back to being alone. The thought broke my heart and I was enjoying myself with Elliot so much that I really didn’t want to, but I couldn’t think of a better way to get things back on track with my business.
Even though I knew that thought came from a place of responsibility and passion for my business, I also knew that the thought was partially driven by fear. Even though years had passed and I had grown wiser, part of me was deathly afraid of getting into another abusive relationship.
Tears started streaming down my cheeks as the realization washed over me.
I was running and I knew it.
But, I just couldn’t help myself.
It had been a few days since our date and I was upset and confused. Everything seemed to have gone fine, and I’d been poring over every moment in my head, trying to pinpoint what might have gone wrong. I dropped Candy off and we shared a kiss so tender that I was sure that she was going to invite me in.
But, she didn’t. Now, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d gotten my signals crossed.
I couldn’t get Candy to answer any of my calls and she ignored my messages. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I knew that I had to see her and talk to her so that I could find out.