Lee Stetson looked across the table at his date. At his girlfriend. Leslie. She was, in a word, perfect. She was nothing like the women he normally dated. She was of medium height, a little on the slender side. Brown, softly curly hair, gorgeous eyes.
He reached across the table and took her hands in his. They talked about everything together. He felt so comfortable with her, like he'd known her for a very long time.
From across the restaurant, Amanda King watched the pair together. In growing consternation she realized that Leslie looked very much like her. What did that mean, exactly? That Lee was attracted to her enough to run out and find someone similar, but not enough to date her?
With a sick feeling in her stomach, Amanda left the restaurant. Well, that was the end of that, she thought. She had known there was something going on with Lee. He had to be at least somewhat drawn to her, but to find someone who looked like her and dressed like her was just...insulting!
When she got home, her answering machine was blinking. Pushing play, she heard a familiar voice. "Amanda...it's been a while. Remember me? It looks like we're in for some hazy sunshine today...okay, that's not very funny. Anyway, I miss you. Call me, please. 555-3854."
Dean, Amanda sighed. Maybe she should call him. She had cared for him enough to become engaged to him before, why not give it another shot? But the thought was half-hearted at best. She left it for morning, and went up to bed.
Saturday morning, Amanda was in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast dishes. The boys playing outside with their friends, and Dotty was out shopping. The phone rang and Amanda grabbed the receiver with a sudsy hand.
"Hello," she greeted. "Oh, Dean, hi. No it's not a bad time...yeah. That'd be nice. Noon? Okay, yeah. I'll see you then."
Dean picked Amanda up promptly at noon. She had worn a summer dress with a light sweater and sandals. "You look more lovely than ever," was Dean's comment.
They were seated immediately and handed menus. "I can't tell you how good it is to see you, Amanda. I've really missed you. I've missed the boys."
Amanda didn't know what to say. She was feeling a little nervous. After all, they had been engaged to be married. She knew this man well. Had loved him until...until Lee Stetson came into her life.
Dean wasn't put out by her lack of response. "I keep wondering what it is that went wrong with us, you know?"
"I don't know, Dean. I just know that something did go wrong, changed. I don't know." Amanda looked at him helplessly. She had no idea that she was being watched.
Leslie had to leave early, having been called in to work. Lee sat at the table alone, finishing his lunch. Suddenly his attention was arrested by the sight of Amanda with...Dean! Narrowing his eyes, he watched them, unable to stop wondering what in the world Amanda was doing.
To Lee's horror, Dean took Amanda's hands in his, and Amanda didn't take them back. Dean was looking awfully sincere, and Amanda was smiling softly. Were they reconciling? Was he proposing again?
Wait a minute, he chided himself. What do you care? Still, he kept his eyes glued to Amanda and Dean's table.
"Amanda," Dean smiled. "Don't answer now. I want to see you again. Maybe regain some of what we had before. Maybe if we give it another try, it'll happen this time. I really miss you."
Amanda looked down at her plate. For some reason the hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end, but it wasn't because of Dean.
"Well, I guess we could see each other and see if anything happens. I mean, I'm not seeing anyone right now, so, I guess we could see what happens."
Deans' face broke into a grin. "Oh, Amanda. You've made me so happy!"
"Wait, Dean. I'm not making any promises here. Don't make too much of it, okay?"
When Lee caught sight of Dean's suddenly grinning face, he stood up, dropped some bills on the table, and walked out of the restaurant, unable to finish his lunch and unable to watch the scene in front of him.
Walking down the street to his car, Lee found himself preoccupied once more with thoughts of Amanda. He had Leslie! Why was his mind constantly wandering back to Amanda?
Dean dropped Amanda off at home and left to go to a meteorologists something-or-other. Amanda reflected on Dean's words. He wanted to get back together. The idea wasn't repugnant to Amanda, neither was it enticing.
Since when do you need enticing, Amanda King? She asked herself. Since you met an enticing man, dummy, her subconscious supplied. Sighing, Amanda forced herself to concede that she just might have to give up the idea of having an exciting relationship. Maybe she should stick to stability after all.
A knock at her back door caused her to jump. Opening the back door, Lee stepped inside. "Is anyone home?"
"Just me," she smiled at him.
Lee looked at Amanda. Her smile was so...sad, so resigned. "You okay?" he asked.
"Oh, yeah. Fine. And you?"
"What brings you into this part of town?" Amanda asked.
You. Say it! Say it! Lee ignored the voice at the back of his mind. "Oh, you know. Errands. Just wanted to stop by and make sure you're okay."
"I'm fine," Amanda said again.
"Yeah, me too." Lee's eyes darted around nervously. "Nice weather today, huh?" An obvious hint.
"Yeah, nice. Kind of warm."
"Yeah." Damn, why was he so uncomfortable around her? What was happening? He couldn't talk to her. All he wanted was to wrap his arms around her and...
"Lee, is there something wrong? Something I can do for you?"
"Well actually, I uh...I wanted your opinion about something. I want to get my girlfriend something nice and I've only been going out with her for about three weeks. I don't have a clue as to what to get her." Idiot! He yelled at himself mentally. You're here asking her what you should buy your girlfriend?!
Amanda's face displayed several emotions, most of which Lee was able to read. "Oh, well. That depends." Quick recovery. "What's she like?"
Amanda rolled her eyes. "If that's your girlfriend's name."
"Yeah, sorry. She's - I don't know..."
"You don't know?" Amanda asked incredulously.
"No. I mean..." Lee couldn't think of a thing to say about Leslie that wouldn't sound like he was describing Amanda.
"Perfume." Amanda stated. "Anything else, Romeo?"
"No. Perfume. Yeah, thanks." Lee snapped his fingers, wishing a hole would open up in Amanda's back porch and suck him in like a vacuum.
"I saw you today, with Dan, at the restaurant," Lee blurted out without thinking. Oh, god, this was getting worse by the second!
"Oh?" Amanda was genuinely surprised.
"Yeah. Is he...I mean are you...are the two of you..." Lee's voice trailed off.
"Yes," Amanda said.
"Oh," Lee replied.
"So, um..." Amanda prompted.
"Yeah, I'd better go," Lee met her eyes, looked away.
"Okay, so I'll see you at work," Amanda was equally uncomfortable.
"Goodbye," they said simultaneously.
As Lee walked away, he felt like he was making the biggest
mistake of his life. As soon as he'd gone, Amanda sank to the floor in
a heap of emotional exhaustion. "Goodbye," she repeated, as a single teardrop
made it's way down her cheek.