“Give me just a minute,” I said, excusing myself from the table. “I just want to go say hello.”
I walked over to her table.
“Excuse me, Tammy?” I said. “I just happened to be eating here, and I saw what just happened. Good for you! I wanted to come over and congratulate you on your happiness. I also found happiness with the man I met at your auction, so thanks for that,” I glanced over my shoulder and smiled, Elliot’s face making my heart do a little flip in my chest.
“Wow, that’s great,” I said. “I’m glad to see that you have been happy since the auction. I have been happy since the auction myself.”
I turned and looked in the direction of our table where Elliot was sitting. He smiled at me. I waved and smiled back at him.
“I guess you and Jim didn’t work out after all,” Tammy sniped.
“Ugh, he was such a douche. I’m glad to be done with him!” I exclaimed in disgust.
I figured it was easier than explaining just how deep “douche” went.
Tammy’s eyes widened in surprise as she set down her water glass.
“Tell me about it! I could have told you that, after he dumped me for you,” she replied, trying to sound casual and failing.
My mouth fell open. So, the rumors had been true. Rumors had been circulating the Jim and Tammy had been dating, but Jim told me that it wasn’t true and I had foolishly believed him. To hear her confirm shouldn’t have been a shock at this point, but somehow it was.
“He did?” I heard myself saying, “I didn’t know. I never would have given him the time of day if I had have known that he had a girlfriend already.”
Tammy’s face softened as she realized that I really had been in the dark about things with Jim.
“Well, it’s not your fault,” she said. “You couldn’t have known the level of loser that you were dealing with. It’s just a really good thing that you found out sooner rather than later.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” I sigh, rubbing my upper arm.
Just thinking about him, I swore I could still feel the phantom digging of his fingers into my flesh, the way he’d grab me hard enough to bruise.
“So, how is business treating you?” I asked, wanting to shake off the ugly thoughts.
“Business is good,” she said. “Actually, I had had my eye on a piece of real estate that I think we mutually are interested in.”
At first, I started to feel a little competitive to hear that she was interested in the same property, but then I came up with an idea.
“What if we buy it together?” I asked. “I mean, we’re both really good at what we do and we’re in the same industry. It would be like a remix of sorts. We could have some of your creations and some of mine and then we could create some together. It will be great. The auctions have been bringing more people to town lately, so I don’t see why we couldn’t build a new brand and see it expand. In fact, I think that maybe working together would mean more money for both of us.
Tammy rubbed her chin like she was thinking it over. Then, she shook her head.
“No, thanks,” she said, dabbing the corner of her mouth with her napkin. “I’m fine on my own. It does sound like a good idea, though.”
She smiled at me warmly, something that I can’t ever remember her doing. I could tell that our conversation had broken down a lot of walls that had been built between us. She had softened toward me.
Things were starting to look better and better.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, rejoining Elliot at our table. “Where were we?”
Elliot smiled and put his hand on top of mine.
“Exactly where we’re supposed to be,” he said gently.
I had to cross my legs to keep from getting too excited. We were sitting in a public restaurant, after all. He kept reminding me why dating him had been such a good idea and I fell more head over heels every day.
And yet, something nagged at the back of my mind. What was it?
It couldn’t have been the conversation that I had with Tammy. It had been very pleasant and even cathartic. We had been able to clear the air from decades of misunderstandings, jealousy, and rivalry, some of which that I was unaware even existed until today.
Even with all of the good that came from that run in, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. Anxiety lingered, this unending feeling that something was off.
We finished our dinner and I passed on dessert when asked, for the first time since we’d started dating.
Elliot looked at me, concern etched on his face.