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Second Thoughts

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David was on the dance floor making freaky dance moves with the wildest girl in the club, while Reggie stood next to him, cheering him on. Steve laughed from the table. He saw the barmaid coming his way and waved but she passed without seeing him. He got up to catch her. Just before he reached the bar, his eyes landed on Linda. She didn't see him. He continued until he reached the bar and ordered his E&J. He turned and looked at her again as he waited for his drink. Somebody was lucky, he thought.

"Here you are, sir." Steve paid for his drink and gave the barmaid a two dollar tip. He took a sip of his drink and headed toward his table. I should stop and say hello, he thought. Linda was with a man so he decided to speak and be on his way.

"Hello, stranger," he said as he approached her table.

"Hey, there!" She rose and hugged him as if she knew him. "I haven't heard from you. How have you been?"

"Pretty good—pretty good. And yourself?"

"Great." she answered. Steve nodded at her date. He extended his hand to Steve.

"Well, I just wanted to say hello."

"Join us," she urged. Steve looked at her companion. "Steve, this is my brother, Owen."

"Nice to meet you."

"Like wise." Owen excused himself to dance. Steve felt pretty awkward standing there, so he sat down.

"So how are you?"

"You already asked me that, Steve."

"I did, didn't I?" She knew he was nervous and she relished the control.

"Let’s dance." He agreed and led her to the dance floor without holding her hand. Linda wanted to kick herself for choosing an up-tempo song. She wanted to feel his touch. He tried to keep his distance as he danced. She watched him closely.

"Hey, you've got some fancy moves there," she said.

"I like the way you move too," he returned. He suddenly realized he was flirting with trouble. He tried very hard not to make eye contact with her through the remainder of the dance. When the dance was over, Steve led Linda to her table. He looked toward his table.

"I've gotta get back."

"I don't bite," she said with a sensual connotation. "Stay a minute." Steve looked into Linda's eyes. Beautiful, he thought. "I guess I can stay for a few minutes."

The rest of the weekend felt strange to Steve. He encouraged Crystal to go shopping with her friends because he had to study. He was glad she agreed. She knew him so well and she would detect his distraction, no matter how he tried to hide it. Steve loved Crystal deeply, but he finally had to admit that the thought of seeing other woman had been on his mind for some time. He had known Crystal from childhood. He didn't think he was bored with her but he couldn't help wondering how it would feel to be in the company of someone other than her. He and Crystal entered into a serious, monogamous relationship from the age of 18. There were only a few others before her. His mom had advised him to date more, but he chose to be with Crystal. Lately, he thought a lot about what his mom had said. He wondered how she could have known how he would feel. He also thought a lot about Crystal and Linda. He was completely satisfied with Crystal but he couldn't help his desire to get better acquainted with Linda. She was aggressive, exciting, beautiful, and independent. She and her older sister owned a florist shop downtown.

Steve thought of Linda all weekend long. He didn't understand what was going on inside of him or where it would lead. He just knew that his life was about to change.

The following week, Steve called Linda. He could no longer fight his feelings. He and Linda had lunch at Shooters in downtown Cleveland. They dined on the terrace where they could enjoy the view and entertainment. She was a great conversationalist. He saw that Linda could be serious when she needed to and could amuse him as well. She was 25 years old and knew exactly where she was headed in life. That was refreshing. He didn’t know many women in his age group who knew or even thought much about their future. This was the first time since he had been steady with Crystal that he found himself unable to dismiss another woman from his mind. He wanted to see Linda again.

A week later, Steve and Linda met at a more secluded restaurant. He had spoken with her by phone several times since their lunch date. Now he felt closer and much more relaxed about being with her.

They had many laughs at lunch today. She was so vibrant, so articulate, and so irresistible. He wanted to touch her.

After lunch, they walked along the river front. It was magical. It had been so long since he had felt butterflies and he loved every moment of it. Steve abruptly excused himself when Linda asked if they could go dancing on Friday.

"Sorry, I can't, Linda." He looked at his watch. "I've gotta get back to work. I'll call you later," he told her.


Crystal sat across the table from Donna as they ate ice cream sundaes to help cool them off on the hot July evening.

"Hey, where's Steve?"

"He went to check out a shoe sale at Richmond Town Square. He said they had Gators on sale for $80. He’s hoping they’ll have this tie he’s been looking for."

"That man knows he can dress," Donna said.

"Yeah. He's always been a fancy dresser." Crystal ate a couple of spoons of her sundae. "I think I'm losing him, Donna."


"He's been so preoccupied lately. I thought it was his job at first, but I know it's not. You know Steve and I have been together for five years, and I’ve known him since I was eight years old. He's going through something." She swirled the spoon in her sundae. "He's been a little more careful or thoughtful even about what he says to me now. It's almost like he thinks about what he says as if he's going to say something he shouldn't. He's been encouraging me more and more to be with my friends. I mean, he still shows he loves me, but it's different."

"Girl, I can't believe that. You've gotta be mistaken. Steve loves him some Crystal!"

“I've called him a couple of times at work around lunch time and he was already gone. One Friday, it was obvious somebody forgot to tell him I called. He told me he ate at his desk. He still kisses me before he leaves for work or at night before we retire but his kiss has even changed." The last comment had merit.

"Girl, I'm sorry. So, what are you gonna do?"

"I don't know. I don't know if I can do anything."

"Girl, you better think of something and I mean now!" Donna could see the tears in her eyes. This couldn't be happening–not to Steve and Crystal, Donna thought.


For the first time, Steve visited Linda's home. It was a beautiful place. He didn't expect her to live in such a nice area. He knew she had the business but she just seemed too young to be so accomplished. Linda had a Tudor style home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living room, a dining room, breakfast room, a finished basement and a patio. She also had a two car garage, an immaculate flower garden and a pool. He smiled as he told her she had done well.

"My love for flowers and a lot of support from my parents made this happen. My parents drilled perseverance into our heads at a young age.” Steve was pleased to know that he and Linda had supportive parents in common.

As Linda prepared lunch, Steve briefly had a thought of the work he left on his desk. He had called in today to be with Linda. He wanted to spend more than just an hour with her. They had gone to lunch many times, but it was time for a different setting.

"Wow! This tastes just like Uncle Joe's Coney Island gyro. Where did you learn to cook like this?"

"I have many talents," she said with a sinister smile.

After lunch, they watched a prerecorded tape on jazz artists. He was again flabbergasted by her knowledge of the world of jazz greats like: Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly and Dizzy Gillespie.

"I learned a lot from my brother. He plays the sax and he's pretty good too. I believe within the next year or two, he will be pretty well known."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yep. He started playing when he was about seven."

When the jazz special ended, Linda turned on the radio and held her hand out for Steve to join her. This time the music was slow. He took Linda in his arms and glided across the checkerboard floor of the dining room. He leaned to kiss the lips he had stared at from the moment he walked in the door. The kiss was warm but brief as Linda pulled away from him.

"Would you like a drink?"

"Sure." He was somewhat surprised Linda had broken their embrace. He knew from the beginning that she desired him.

She poured two glasses of Arbor Mist. They both took sips and began to dance again. This time, she held him closer. They made their way back to the couch and finished their drinks. Linda refilled the glasses, and sat intimately close as they conversed and enjoyed each other's company. In the middle of Linda’s sentence, Steve kissed her. This time, she yielded. The kiss became more passionate by the second. Still kissing him, she rose from the couch taking his hands in hers. She tugged at him to get up. He followed as she led him to the bedroom. They landed on the bed and resumed kissing passionately. Today was the first time they had kissed and he was worth the wait. Linda reached for his hand. He held hers tight to deter her guidance. Suddenly, he broke away from their embrace. Linda sighed but took his hand and led him back into the living room. He poured and finished another drink. Finally, she could contain her thoughts no longer.

"What's her name?" He looked into Linda's eyes. She deserved an explanation.

"There's someone in my life that I've known since childhood, Linda. I don't want to hurt her."

"Okay," Linda said as she slightly shook her head. "Then don't. Let’s be friends." He couldn't believe what he had heard. No woman ever understood those kinds of things. He expected her to throw him out. He took her hand.

"I wanna be with you Linda but not in a triangular relationship"

"What are you saying, Steve?"

"I don't know what I'm saying. I've been so confused since I met you. I've tried to stay away from you but that's not what I want."

"Steve, you just made your choice. Look, I'm not angry. If you love her, I can accept that. I've known many men, Steve, and I'm stronger than you would believe." She took a deep breath. "I'm not throwing you out, but you really should go home. If I had a man like you, I would want you home with me.” She smiled. “But if one day you discover you don't love her anymore, call me."

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