The coffee in his hands splashed all over both of them and fell to the floor as he ran into her. This would cost him; if there was one thing Mr. Bradford despised, it was the failure of having his afternoon coffee presented precisely at 12:45. That was why he fired his last PA. As he was cleaning up the mess he’d made and stammering apologies, he looked up…and froze. After two years of grief and brooding and “figuring it out”, this was the last place he expected to see her.
Even with coffee dripping from her nose and coat, she still managed to look as graceful as the day he had first met her. It didn’t matter that she had cut her auburn hair to below her shoulders, or that she was wearing heels (she never used to wear heels, even when the occasion demanded). There was no mistaking her crooked, endearing smile or her gorgeous brown eyes. As recognition kindled behind those eyes, she gave a sheepish smile, apologized, and walked off towards the queue forming up near the elevators.
He knew he wouldn’t get another chance, knew he was finally ready for the opportunity presented before him. He abandoned the coffees spreading across the floor and rushed over to her. “Wait!” he cried, grabbing her arm before she could get on the elevator.
She turned back and looked at him. He offered her the napkins in his hands from the coffee he’d spilt. “Hey” she said with an air of courtesy as she took the napkins to clean herself up. “Can you let go of me, please?”
Her words shocked him out of his trance, and he quickly relinquished his grip. He wasn’t nearly that quick two years ago as she stormed out of his apartment, clinging much more desperately as he realized the gravity of his mistake that night. “Sorry” he said. The next words caught in his throat: “I’m sorry. I needed to talk to you over and over, but you weren’t there. That’s when she came in. She listened to me, seemed to want me in a way you hadn’t in weeks. Nothing can make up for my mistake, and I’m sorry I hurt you. I don’t want your forgiveness, I just need to tell you this.” Two months ago he had finally figured out how to say what he couldn’t say two years ago, and yet now that the moment was upon him it seemed to drag on as he remembered that unfortunate night.
The moment seemed to linger for him, but not for her. At first she was as visibly shocked by the chance encounter as when she saw the naked girl straddling him. It had worn off quickly in the lobby today, though, and she turned towards the elevator. If he looked carefully he could just make out the emotionally distraught, confused girl hiding within the stained blouse and black pencil skirt.
His phone started buzzing. Mr. Bradford was on the other end, inquiring politely- not shouting, he would never shout- about his coffee. “The line was longer than I expected, sir. It’ll be just a few more minutes. Yes sir, I can make sure to get it sooner next time. It won’t happen again.” He walked into the cold streets, and remembered that it was exactly two years ago that he had prepared an incredible night for her, his attempt to make her feel better and get her to open up. She didn’t show up, but the other girl did when he asked. It would have been perfect if she had come over…
The biting February winds forced him to turn up the collar on his jacket, and he knew it would be another quiet Valentine’s Day for him. Quiet was better than the last time he’d had someone to share this day with.