With a heavy sigh, Dean slumped to the familiar couch and finally answered Tara. “It’s complicated. Could I talk you out of a cup of coffee first?”
Tara quickly disappeared to the kitchen and returned with a cup of coffee for him. When she returned, he quickly slid the silver-framed snapshot of her back onto the end table.
“I’m not thirsty,” Tara said in response to his questioning eyes. Dean felt nervous as he noticed Tara’s eyes following his every move. She could read his actions like a book, like she knew every word he was going to say before he actually said them. Where was she leading him?
He looked into his cup before taking a sip. What am I here for? Was it really that complicated?
“Tara, I did not mean to offend you. I never think before I speak, and my words got the best of me.” Looking in her eyes, he saw her frustration building.
“Stop stalling, tell me what you want! Don’t play games, and if that’s what you’re here to do, there’s the door.” Tara stood up and pointed to the door. Her right hand snapped to her hip, and she glowered at him, furious.
“I’m not playing games. Eager to kick me out? Don’t you even want to hear what I have to say?” the petulance evident in his voice. He stood up grabbing his jacket and waited for Tara to stop him.
She moved to put him between her and the door, defining her boundary. “Just tell me what you want. I’m eager to kick those out who don’t want to be real. You know how I come across, so come back the same way.” She turned away from him, unable to bear looking at him.
Breathing deeply, Tara sat down on the couch and rubbed her forehead. Her hands dropped between her knees, and she looked up at him with a tired expression. “Don’t go. Tell me. What is so complicated?”
Throwing the jacket to the floor, Dean moved closer to Tara perched on edge of the couch. “I wish I could undo the last five months. I wish I never hurt you, and I wish to God Almighty I had never joined the ‘Society’. But I did, and you above everyone else knows what happens when your cover is blown. That is why it’s so complicated right now. I’m not even supposed to be here. Paulston will have my ass if he finds out I took the slightest detour on my way to Atlanta. But I had to see you.”
The eyebrow over her left eye arched menacingly. Her tone dropped flat. “You had to see me?” Tara stood up, pushed past Dean and paced in front of the couch. “Why?”
“I wanted to straighten things out with you. I didn’t want to leave and have you think that I was that kind of guy.” Dean stood up and gently grabbed Tara’s arm. “I didn’t want you to think that I wanted to leave you.”
Dean pulled Tara into his embrace and breathed in deeply. Tara relaxed for a moment as she smelled Dean. He smelled like a warm memory, one which had nearly faded away. Tara had cut herself off from the world so much she had forgotten what the memory felt like.
Suddenly, Tara pulled away. “Well, look. I’m glad that you told me. I think it’s time for you to go now.” Tara looked down at the ground to avoid Dean’s eyes.
“Why?” Dean stepped back in front of her seeking her gaze, and her eyes drifted up to his. Why is she kicking me out? Her eyes were so dark, it seemed he could not find her soul. Dean leaned into Tara again and kissed her on the forehead relaxing her spirit. Tara’s eyes warmed up a bit, and he could see just a glimmer of her soul. “Please cooperate with me. Why do you want me to leave?”
“Because with you, Dean, it is always complicated. You are the proverbial drama queen. I like quiet.” She pulled away from him again. “You’ve known that since the day you were assigned to me. Then, that got complicated. You got transferred, and then, we got complicated. Then, you disappeared without so much as a “Kiss my ass”, and I am supposed to be thrilled that you have strolled back into my life as though none of that ever happened?”
Dean had that coming. He came as close to guilt as he could. It was not a very convincing look on him. “So, is it an apology that you want, Tara?”
The flat tone returned. “If you have to ask what I want, you never knew me.” She took deep even breaths as she walked to the door, hoping the hurt would escape with each exhale. She opened the door, still holding the knob, and calmly stated, “Please leave now.”
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