For the second time, we faced the same problem. And, again, it was awkward.
From that moment on, we were changed. Our relationship went from one of hope to one of defeat. And it continued that way until graduation, when we went our separate ways. I moved away to college and he remained in our hometown. We saw very little of each other throughout our adult years. Once in a while, we would bump into each other when I came home for a visit, but there was a distance between us that had existed since that second night we tried and failed to be intimate.
We were always friendly and respectful towards each other, but it was never the same closeness as it once had been. The hopes I had had for us disappeared after our second night together because of my fear of continuously disappointing him. I couldn’t be in a relationship with someone if I only let them down. And I couldn’t live with that much humiliation because I knew he deserved something better.
The circumstances made me sad because I really started to like the boy who I had grown up with. He knew me better than anyone as we witnessed each other grow through the years. I truly believed that, given the chance, I could have loved him deeper than I had loved anyone else, even if he didn’t love me back. But our chance had passed.
I felt, in my heart, that we gave up too soon. That if only we had tried harder back then, we might be together now and, maybe, he could have loved me too.
There has always been a part of me that has said, “what if…” What if we had tried one more time? What if we hadn’t given up so quickly? What if we had given the sex a little more time, maybe it could have worked out as we got older? What if we could have just gotten past the sex and focused on other parts of our relationship instead?
Years later, after the what-ifs had dissipated, I fell in love and married a different man, whom I had decided to start a family with. Things didn’t work out and I ended up moving home to where I grew up and my son came with me.
So when I saw Ryan walking down the street today, wearing the same style of leather jacket from when we were teens, I was caught off guard. I was even more caught off guard when I finally collected myself, made my way into the coffee shop, and heard his familiar voice again.
“Hey, stranger.” His sultry voice shook me to the core as I stood waiting for my caramel macchiato at the counter.
I turned to find him standing before me, looking down into my eyes with a sexy smile on his face. His hair was still a little longer on top, but his body had gotten stronger, leaner, and more muscular. His tight t-shirt under that leather jacket showcased impeccable pecs and wide shoulders. I could smell his cologne and feel the heat radiating from him. Other than the laugh-lines around his mouth and a couple of small crows feet at the corners of his eyes, he showed barely any signs of age even though we haven’t seen each other in many years. If anything, he looked more distinguished and handsome as the years progressed. Physically, he still made me weak and light-headed. But I no longer knew that boy who grew up to be such an attractive man.
Before I could say anything to him, a foreign voice interrupted me.
“Here’s your caramel macchiato.” The barista smiled from behind the counter. I silently thanked her for the interruption so I could collect my thoughts.
I took a deep breath then turned back around to face Ryan. I smiled up at him, genuinely glad to see him, happy to have the chance to chat, if only for a moment.
He stood above me, staring into my eyes, searching for…I wasn’t sure what. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the least bit unnerved and exposed, like I used to feel when we were young. Instead, my adult self waited patiently for him to say something first. After all, he was the one who found me in the coffee shop.
“I think we should have coffee sometime and catch up.” His voice was shaky and unsure.
When I realized he was alone, the blonde girl nowhere in sight, I asked, “don’t you think your girlfriend will mind?”
He shrugged and shook off my question before holding out his phone for me to type my number into it.
I quickly added my number to his contacts. My gaze returned to his handsome face as I gingerly handed his phone back to him. Our eyes locked and I could see hope.
“I’ll call you.” He pecked my cheek before sauntering back towards the door of the coffee shop.
I stood in stunned silence, watching him walk away as he gave me one last sexy smile over his shoulder before disappearing from my sight. I found a table in a far corner of the coffee shop and sat down, trying to wrap my brain around what had just transpired.
So, here I sit, alone, thinking again about the guy I fell for in high school, when we were almost 18, and I wonder, will he call? Do I want him to call? Do I really want to open that can of worms again?
This could be an interesting adventure.