Welcome back to The Night Series!
I won’t pretend that I left Flannagan’s that night with Damien and everything catapulted into place. We didn’t stroll through crackling autumn leaves holding hands and then return to my apartment and make ardent love. We didn’t talk about philosophy or world peace, and we most certainly didn’t talk about the preceding events. We didn’t talk. We were so not generous to each other and that fact made the air around us heavy.
I felt like a very used dishcloth flung on the side of a drying rack, stale and crumpled. Damien looked pensive. We walked, very separate entities, to my apartment.
He fussed over Shandy, relieved for diversion.
“Do you want some coffee or tea?” I asked.
He studied my face and then shook his head. Sadness followed by resignation lingered in his eyes. “You look a little worn out and I’ve got some work to do.”
He patted Shandy one last time and stood up, his gaze fastened on mine. “If you want me to, I’ll step aside, Clare.”
I didn’t need to ask him what he was talking about even though the offer blindsided me. I grasped his hand. He raised my hand to his lips and kissed my knuckles.
We embraced and kissed, slowly, tentatively, exploring. When we drew apart, he gazed into my eyes.
“The one thing that Dominic got right is that you’re special,” Damien said, hushed.
He kissed me gently, said a hurried “goodnight,” then disappeared down the stairs. The heavy step of his boots echoed until the sound grew faint.
I shut the door and slumped against it. They say that life is much easier before you embark on crime. Let me tell you that a truer statement has never been made.