In Angela's head, her break-up with Lucas was never meant to be a private disagreeable closed-door Do-Not-Disturb procedure. She required a diplomatic aide (her buddy GalPal) and a peacekeeper with a proven past record (yours truly) on the flanks for any eventuality. This had the side-effect of bringing me close to GalPal after a long time. I wasn't as excited to see her as I was eager to see Ailis again.
The rendezvous was at the cafeteria. We arrived late. Lucas was there already, amidst a crowd of his buddies, including Mohawk. It somehow fell to me to call him away from the pack. (The correct person for this was Angela. Lucas was especially unhappy to see my face disrupting his council of influence to call him aside to see his girlfriend, who happened to be lurking within sight in the near background.)
The soon-to-be-ex-couple began a dialogue, which abruptly became a monologue the instant Lucas caught the gist of the matter. Angela rambled on, using an earnest expression and deadbeat cliches (“It's not you, it's me!”) It was obvious from the stunned looks on Lucas' face that the young man had been wrongfooted somewhat by the turn of events and was in no violent spirits. GalPal and I were thus rendered redundant. We signaled each other and excused them, for they needed privacy more than ever.
GalPal and I settled a respectful distance away and waited for the tearful parting of ways. I would have happily and unobstrusively kept quiet and evaporated away at the end of it all, but GalPal wanted to begin a conversation, which I wasn't keen on. I had long-ago forgotten to spend all my waking hours thinking about her. Ailis was the new resident in my brain. I would just play it cool with GalPal, I thought.
She made it hard.
“Word is, you're housekept!” mocked GalPal. And this was only the preamble. “What's her name?”
I asked who gave her the information.
She giggled, as her palm went under her cheek. “So you don't deny it? Should I be worried?”
I remembered she was into Journalism.
“Your source misled you,” I said, emphasis on the full stop.
She smiled one of her pixie smiles which maximized her dimple but didn't reach the eyes. And then I saw and remembered that her eyes were (are) beautiful indeed. She is generally visually appealing to behold. (That is rather an understatement for someone who's got a delicately slender classic hourglass shape and hypnotizing eyes on a stunning face.)
But she was emitting the wrong vibe. GalPal always flirts: a shaded look, a pose, a word, a delicately toned giggle – to avoid mention of her recently evolved modes of (un)dress. Ailis, on the other hand, communicates, in such a way that it feels straightforward. I really wanted to see Ailis and I could have done without intervening confusion before I met her again - if ever.
So I fled, excusing myself on the false pretext of an appointment.
I swear I heard GalPal murmur “Coward!” behind me.