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"Are you giving me a compliment or coming onto me?""Wow, I can't even give my friend a compliment and she takes it the wrong way,"said Linda. "I'm just kidding hun, I knew what u meant, thanks.""Maybe I have to take it upon myself to start playing matchmaker for you Sam, since you don't seem to be taking the initiative yourself.""Oh no you don't, I can take care of my personal life myself.""Really, because it doesn't appear that way to me! Maybe I should start right now with that guy over there, what do you think?-
"I don't think so,"said Sam. "Too late, here I go,"said Linda. Linda got up from the table and started walking across the bar toward the aforementioned prospect. Sam tried to grab Linda's arm to stop her, but missed. Linda kept on walking and walked right past the man. She turned around and smiled at Sam, "gotcha"she mouthed over to Sam. "Ha, ha"said Sam, who was beat red. Linda turned around and started walking back toward the table, and as she did, she couldn't believe her eyes. John had just walked in the front door, oh no!
This was awkward thought Linda; she didn't like it at all. Her boyfriend who just proposed and her old flame in the same bar at the same time with her. Ok, I know what to do, I'll run! No, everything will be fine, I think. Somehow she wasn't quite convinced. John spotted Linda as he approached the bar, and gave her a wave. As Linda got back to the table, John was saying hi to Sam and looked like he was about to leave, then decided not to. "Meeting someone here tonight,"said Linda, jokingly, trying to break the tension.
"You must think I'm a pretty fast mover if you think that I'm meeting someone here.""That's not what I meant, replied Linda. "I thought you might be meeting some friends here, that's all.""Well, that would be easier if I actually had some friends,"said John dejectedly. "I won't keep you ladies, I'm just going to grab a drink or six and see where the night leads. I'll catch you later."With that, John moped over to the bar, and plunked down on a stool, looking like a sorry soul. Linda felt bad for him, but she really shouldn't.
After all, she hadn't given him any indication that she wanted to get married, so she shouldn't be feeling guilty at all. "So,"said Sam, "this evening just gets more and more interesting.""Oh stop it,"said Linda, "everything will be just fine.""Are you sure,"said Sam, "because we can go if you want.""What, and miss all the drama that you think is about to unfold?""Okay, but don't say I didn't offer."Just then, Tom went up to the bar to order another round of drinks, and who should he start chatting with but good old John.
She suddenly got a bad feeling in her gut; this wasn't good think no, not at all. Meanwhile at the bar...
"You don't look too happy tonight bud, that looks like a just been dumped look, if you don't mind me saying so."
"Wow, you're right, what are you psychic or something,"said John sarcastically.
"No, just perceptive. Sorry to hear that bud. Been with her for long?-
"About a year and a half, I guess I really screwed up.-
"Maybe it's for the best though if she wasn't happy.-
"The bad part though is that she's actually here tonight.-
"Oh really,"said Tom, "where is she if you don't mind me asking?-
"She's right over there, sitting next to that blonde.
"Really,"continued Tom, "That's Linda you're talking about; we actually dated a number of years back."
"Well, I hope that you didn't propose to her like I did,"continued John.
"No, I didn't actually.-
"Well,"continued John, "I guess the fields are wide open if you want to go after her again.-
"Not if she's just gotten out of a relationship, I don't feel comfortable with that.-
"Why not, it's obvious that she's not interested in me anymore!-
"I really don't think that would be appropriate, as I said before,"stated Tom "What's the matter, she's not good enough for you now, because she's been around the block with someone else,"said John, obviously agitated, intoxicated and getting louder as the conversation continued. "No, that's not the issue,"stated Tom, who was starting to shy away from John, because he sensing trouble brewing. At this point people were starting to look in his direction because he was getting so loud. He certainly caught Linda's attention and somehow she knew that this situation was not going to end well.
"I think I should be getting back to my table now,"stated Tom, "I don't want any trouble.""Oh, you don't do you. What's the matter, don't you think she's worth it?""I certainly do think she's worth it, but I didn't come in here to fight, so let's leave it at that. I'm sorry I brought it up.""Well I'm sorry that I ever got involved with her, all she's done is cause me heartache, that wench.""Alright, that kind of talk isn't necessary.""What are you going to do about it buddy?""Nothing, besides ask you to stop.-
"I can see why she dumped you, you're a sissy.-
"That's enough, I'm leaving now,"said Tom.
"Oh no you're not; I'm not done with you.-
"Actually we are done."
With that Tom started walking away, and as he did John took a swing at him. Tom's drinks went flying, as did Tom, and he was obviously not impressed.
"Back off buddy,"said Tom, doing his best to maintain control.
The bartender saw all of this unfold, and quickly came around the bar and asked John to leave. He finally backed down and slinked out the back door, feeling defeated.
Linda sat frozen, dumbstruck at what had just occurred. She ran over to Tom to make sure he was ok.
"Oh my God, what happened, it seemed like you guys were just talking.-
"Linda, I really don't think you want to know.-
"Was he talking about me?-
"Yeah, he was, but don't worry about it, I defended you. He was just bad mouthing you, it was the liquor talking. I just had to go and start a conversation with a guy who turns out to be your boyfriend or should I say ex, whose proposal you had just turned down.-
"We weren't that serious, but apparently he thought that we were at a different stage in the relationship than we actually were. I didn't see it coming at all, he totally blindsided me, I can't convey that to you enough. I guess he thought getting married would fix our problems, but that would have been the worst mistake I could have made. I've never even thought about marrying him, and out of the blue he proposes to me."
"Well, I'm glad to hear that you didn't jump into something that you weren't ready for, that shows maturity on your part.-
"I really am sorry that all this happened Tom. Maybe I should've left when I saw him come in, but I felt that would've been cowardly, and besides I came here to unwind and spend some time with my friend. Why should I let him ruin that?-
"Don't worry about it hun, I'd take a punch for you any day, you're a good person and a good friend who I care about very much, and I won't listen to anyone bad mouthing you.-
"I'm not sure that I've ever had anyone defend me before like that! You're the best Tom!-
"Now, when you say that I'm the best, what is it that I'm best at,"asked Tom, smirking.
"Well, it was just a general statement actually but if I had to pick what you were best at, I'd say it was being a gentleman. You've always known how to treat a lady; a lot of guys don't even have a clue about that.-
"Well thanks, but I guess that makes me wonder just why it is that I'm still single then.-
"I guess you just haven't found the right one yet, or maybe you just let her slip away already.-
Interesting idea, and you know that exact thought has passed through my mind on more than one occasion. I think you already know who the one is that got away.
Yeah, I think I have an idea of who that is, but maybe she hasn't gotten away, maybe she was just beyond your grasp for a while.
O really, said Tom, that's one way of looking at it I suppose, I hadn't thought of it like that. What I'm thinking though is that she might possibly need some time to herself before jumping back in with someone else, don't you?
Why don't you let her be the judge of that, I think that she's capable of making a wise decision in that regard.
As if on cue, Sam wandered by to see what was up Hey guys, what's going on over here, are you having a private party or what? I'm being left vulnerable to the vultures sitting by myself, and I don't really like it.
Hey Sam, sorry about that, we'll come over and join you, we were just getting caught up and discussing relationships you might say.
Oh really, said Sam, anyone in particular or just in general?
There was a long uncomfortable pause, well at least that's the way it felt to Linda.
Oh, said Sam, there's an awkward pause, should I take that to mean that it was personal conversation?
Ah, well kinda, I guess, Linda replied, turning a little red. Oh it's nothing, we're just chatting. Anyways, who's this band that's going to be playing tonight, said Linda, changing the subject very obviously and very quickly."
I'm not sure, said Tom, jumping right in. Why don't we go and sit down, and avoid any further drama tonight.
That sounds like a great idea, replied Linda.
So what happened over there, enquired Sam, as they got back to their table.
John just had a little too much to drink, and started running his mouth.
Oh, said Sam, about what or who should I say?
Who you think, said Linda, about me, the heartbreaker of course. I'm the bad guy so to speak.
Don't worry about him, said Sam, he'll get over it, he's just sulking because he knows he's lost a good thing.
I'll agree with that, said Tom smirking.
Well, you certainly are transparent aren't you mister Tom.
Just calling it like I see it!
Hmm, said Sam, if you say so. At this point the band started to play, and what a welcome break from conversation that was thought Linda. They sat and listened to the band, sneaking in the occasional tidbit of conversation between songs. Then it happened, the slow songs started up, and she had this feeling that Tom was going to ask her to dance. She was right, and with a degree of nervousness, she accepted his invitation and headed out to the dance floor to dance to Josh Groban's You Lift Me Up. Linda couldn't help but think how appropriate.
As the song ended, Tom thanked her for the dance and they headed back to their table, where much to their surprise, a man was sitting with Sam.
Tom, Linda, this is my friend Jack, we went to school together.
Nice to meet you Jack, said both Linda and Tom.Listen, we can get another table if you two want to continue talking. Actually, said Linda, I'd like to get going, I'm developing a headache and the music isn't helping. I can give you a ride home, offered Tom, that way Sam can stay and catch up with her friend.
Are you sure, said Sam, I don't want to put you out.
Oh no problem, it's barely out of my way.
Okay then, said Sam, but don't be trying anything funny with her, because I can find out where you live!
Okay, scout's honor, nothing funny, said Tom.
Did you even go to Scout's, asked Sam.
Actually I did, otherwise I wouldn't have said that.
Okay then, bye you guys!
With that, Tom and Linda exited the bar and approached Tom's vehicle. Linda knew that she was taking a risk by accepting this offer, but felt everything would be fine.
The ride home was quiet, until Tom picked up the conversation that they had started jokingly, earlier in the evening. Linda, he said, I want you to know that I am interested in seeing you again, but only when you're ready, and only if you feel the same. I don't want to be the rebound guy, even though we do have a history. If you need some time, I'm okay with that. Thanks Tom, I appreciate you being aware of that, and yes I would like to try to pick up where we left off, but not at this moment.
I would like to take some time to myself, and get my head on straight before I dive in with anyone else. I can't tell you though how long that will be, so if you're willing to wait, that's great, but if you decide you want to date someone else, I want you to go ahead. I don't want to hold you back.
Linda, if you think that I'm even remotely interested in seeing anyone but you, you are sorely mistaken. I haven't had a serious relationship since I was with you, I just haven't been interested in anyone else.
Just checking, said Linda, as they pulled into her driveway. Well, I guess this is my stop, said Linda, thanks for the ride, I appreciate it. No problem, I hope you're feeling better. Do you mind if I call you sometime in the next week or so? No, not at all please do. Linda leaned over, hugged Tom, and kissed him on the cheek, resisting the temptation to do more. She got out of the vehicle, said goodbye once more, and started walking toward the house. Tom sat thinking that he was glad to have Linda back in his life.
As she approached her house, she noticed that the door looked like it was open. Had she not pulled the door shut before she left? No, she's sure she'd locked it. She immediately turned and ran back to Tom's car. Tom rolled down his window and said what is it? Can I use you phone, replied Linda, it looks like someone has broken into my house; I need to call the police. Yeah sure said Tom, as he handed her his phone. Linda dialed the local police and reported the incident. They were going to send someone over right away.
Come and sit in the car with me, and we'll wait for the police.
I'm so glad you're here Tom, look at me, I'm shaking.
Tom took her hands in his and tried to calm her.
Who would do something like this, this is a quiet neighborhood. I've never heard of a break-in all the time I've lived here.
Hopefully the police will be able to get some leads. You don't think that John would do something like this, do you?
I don't know, said Linda, I suppose anything is possible, he does seem pretty bitter about the break up.
Just then the police pulled into the yard and Linda got out and spoke with them. They proceeded towards the house, and slowly went in to check the premises. Within a few minutes, they came back out and notified Linda that no one was in the house, but that a lot of things were overturned, and that she should go in and look around to determine if anything was missing, so they could include it in the report. Can you come in with me Tom, she asked. He nodded yes, put his arm around her, and walked towards the house.
As Linda entered the house, she couldn't believe her eyes. Her house looked as if a cyclone had gone through it. Tables, chairs, and lamps were all overturned. Mirrors were broken, blinds were ripped down and garbage was scattered across the floor. It looked like whoever did this was either really mad or looking for something very specific. Who would do something like this, said Linda, shocked at the sight before her. Try to take a look around and see if anything is missing, said one of the officers, I know it's hard, but we'll need specifics for the report.
Linda went to her bedroom to check on her jewelry; it was untouched. Her grandmother's doll collection was also untouched. She looked back through the house and couldn't really notice anything missing. The main floor was just a mess, but the second floor didn't look like it was touched. The crime scene investigators had arrived, and were busy taking pictures and dusting for prints. Linda was trying to remain strong, but tears began welling up. I can t say here tonight, she said, through her tears I know, said Tom, would you like to stay over at my place tonight?
I don't want to impose, said Linda through her sobs.
It's no imposition at all, I insist.
Thank you so much Tom, I really appreciate it.
It's nothing at all, don't even think of it. Linda went upstairs to grab a few things, and after a final conversation with the police, she and Tom left. She was still shaking and in a daze over the whole situation.
What if John did do this, said Linda.
Then the police will take care of him. Did you mention him as a suspect, asked Tom.
I thought of it, but no I didn't.
Don't you think that you should, replied Tom. I don't know, said Linda, don't you think he'll be upset with me, and what if it is him, maybe he has a vindictive side. That is a possibility, said Tom, but the police can handle him if that is the case. Let's take things one step at a time and not get ahead of ourselves, it may have nothing to do with him. They arrived at Tom's house and went right inside. Can I get you anything? asked Tom. No, I'm fine said Linda, I think I have everything I need.
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