, ,

“Still on their annual trip to Italy.”

Melissa remember Eric’s story of seventeen months in braces as he smiled. Five years later and the smile that use to turn into a poodle at his feet now made her wonder if his teeth were recently whitened.

“And the rest?”

The crinkles around his eyes became less prominent as his smile faded. He glanced at his wrist sitting resting on the bar checking the time on his watch. The smile not changed and neither had his nervous gestures. Eric adjusted the metal band, causing the light to reflect off of it and the small diamond set in the face where the twelve should have been.

Eric looked up, crinkles back in place. “Carl is in Chicago. He got a new job and moved up there about three months ago.”

Melissa faked smiled and reached over and patted his arm. “I’m so happy to hear that. It’s been so long since I’ve heard from him.”

There was no way for Eric to know Carl had told her already about Chicago. Carl begged her via email to keep in touch with him, reminding her that to him she would always be his big sister. It had taken two weeks to response but she remembered the drive up to drop him off at college. How leaving him there felt like she abandoned her own kid brother. They exchanged monthly emails ever since.

Melissa waited for Eric to tell her more but instead he took a swig of the vodka he ordered when he met her at the bar.

Eric returned her initial question, “How about your family?”

“They’re doing good.” Melissa paused trying to decide if she should hold back the same way he’d done with her. “The fiance arrive tomorrow afternoon. He had to finish up a few things at work first.”

The flash of emotions across his face fascinated Melissa. Eric’s smile flickered like a light bulb about to blowout before his face settle for a neutral position. Then his eyelids lowered covering up what Melissa assumed was the disappointment.

Melissa wanted to laugh, she knew what he thought. Everyone joked that conferences were a great time for elicit rendezvous with someone other than the spouse. Melissa knew at that moment he had not told his wife, Janet, he was having a drink with his ex while out of town.

She took a sip of her drink, a recommendation from the bartender, sweet and fruity her only requirements. “What did you think was going to happen?”

Eric looked back down at his watch again and studied the time, ignoring her question.

The desire to walk out on him was strong but she decided to ask one more question “What time do you have to check in with Janet?”