Charles was watching for the moment Becca realized he was there. There was no doubt in his mind that Becca’s friend would tell her he was there. He knew she’d seen him when they’d come in from the way her eyes scanned the place before settling on him.
Then she stopped looking.
Becca’s eyes widened when she turned to look at him and he saw her chest heave with a breath. Charles felt his own chest expand with the effort to keep breathing, waiting to see what Becca would do.
He forced himself to stay seated, not willing to go over to her. If she wanted to talk to him, he wanted her to come to him. If she didn’t, he’d force himself to walk away.
Becca turned back around to face her friend. They exchanged a few more words, Charles waiting with baited breath to find out what those words meant for him. Becca didn’t look thrilled, but her friend kept glancing at him, giving him encouraging looks when Becca was facing the other way.
When they stood Charles stopped breathing. He didn’t know if he could handle watching her walk away from him, seeing her pass by his table and go straight out the door.
He watched, every step bringing them closer to him. The two women talked, their heads together. They paused to say something to the waitress, nodding toward him. Were they getting him to pay their bill? He’d happily do so. Not because it would erase anything he did, he knew that, but because he’d do anything for Becca. And by extension any friend of hers.
“Can we join you?” Becca’s friend asked when they reached the side of his table.
Charles froze for a moment, wondering if it was some kind of joke, or a trick, but then he looked up into Becca’s eyes and saw the truth. She wanted to talk to him.
“Yes, please,” he stammered, hoping his voice didn’t betray how desperate he was to have her close, but knowing the whole time it did.
Charles gestured to the other chairs at the table, disappointment swamping him when Becca chose the chair across from him, her friend sitting between them.
“I’m Abby, by the way,” the friend said, extending her hand to him. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You too,” Charles told her, wishing she would leave so he could be alone with Becca, but knowing Becca didn’t trust him enough to be alone.
Or maybe she didn’t trust herself.
“You look good, Bex,” he said softly.
“Thanks,” she said quietly.
“It’s been a long time,” he tried again, unsure what he could say to her to make her talk to him.
Her eyes flashed to his, pain and something else warring for control in the depths he longed to lose himself in. “Eleven years, three months, two weeks, and four days,” she told him.