Angela was having a moment.
"I love you"
So…that's what it came down to. He loved her. He had never said it like that, he had said: "I like you" he had said "I'm falling for you..." followed by "Just kidding" he had said "You're amazing." The words seemed to click into place in her head…well of course…it was so simple- he loved her, she loved him…they in fact loved each other…they had loved each other since the beginning obviously... Somehow the words, the phrase "I love you" had shifted into focus what she had not seen before. A tear slid down her cheek
-But that is not starting at the beginning.
It would be when they started falling for each other; however the truth of the matter is that Angela couldn't remember how that had happened. They had just always been. Been what? Floating in limbo between friend and something else, something which had always lay between them undefined; a taunting idea, the promise of something so much better.
She wanted to believe him, all wrapped up in his embrace it felt solid, tangible. But there was still Warner.
She had hired Adam to work for her at the pet store. That's how they had met. At least she knew that much. He had walked in all confident, like he was on some sort of mission and asked for an application. She felt dizzy and dumb around him like she couldn't put together a full sentence. When he looked at her and smiled it seemed to her as if he were laughing at her, or maybe with her, as if they were sharing some great cosmic inside joke. And against her better judgment, she hired him, out of all the other applicants who had experience and availability she hired him. Adam.
She noticed on the first day that they worked together that he was giving her that look that her ex boyfriend used to give her while simultaneously saying "You make me melt Angela" or "You make me feel all melty" it was a look that seemed to say 'I'm falling for you'. The second time they worked together as she showed him how to make the schedules for the other employees he brushed his arm up against hers as if it had been an accident and she let her arm stay touching his as if she didn't notice. She recognized the wrongness of it. Flirting with her employee. She was married after-all, however…it seemed a wonderful escape to her. She was able to justify it in her head as enjoying a harmless flirtation.
It was the day one of the kittens died that things really got complicated. It had been her favorite one, with a little white on its chin and nose. The mother cat had bit it, hard. Not recognizing its scent. When Adam had come in that day she was holding the dying kitten to herself petting it. The life almost gone and by the time he had settled into work it was dead. She stared at it mutely he took it from her, told her to get a glass of water from the sink in the backroom. She did it silently, holding back her wavy blonde hair with one hand as she bent at the waist to drink directly from the faucet. Not for the first time she felt completely validated in hiring Adam. She felt thankful that he was taking care of the kitten. She felt her lip-mic tug as she wiped her mouth with her sleeve, it made her realize she didn't have to be sad alone. She could call her husband. She gave the piecing a half twist, a buzzing in her ear told her it was working
"Start listening" she gave the command and then the one to call her husband
"Yeah? Angela what is it?" it was comforting in its familiarity, his voice.
"Hey, I'm just having a really bad morning..." She sighed into the microphone.
"That sucks babe…" He said groggily.
"Yeah…" She said vaguely preparing to tell him about the kitten when he asked what was wrong.
"Aww, well hey I'm taking a nap right now, we can talk about it when you get home."
"Okay…" Angela said feeling suddenly very lonely "Bye" She rotated the piercing again ending the phone call. That was when she felt it. It wasn't just the kitten it was the total indifference her husband had towards her, as if she were no more than a favorite toy to put on display when he wanted her. She leaned back against the cool concrete wall of the storage room and slid down it, hugged her legs against her simply for something physical to cling to. Physical affection wasn't a big one for Warner; if they weren't having sex then he wasn't touching her. Period. It was too much, the realization of her situation, she put her head in her knees and cried.
She looked up when the door clicked open but didn't have the energy to wipe at her tear stained cheeks.
"Angela, do we have any…" the sentence faded away when he saw her. "Oh…" he said, he took a quick look over his shoulder, checking on his customers; walked into the tiny space while closing the door behind him. Crouched down and placed a hand on her cheek, leaning in. She yielded to the kiss completely. It wasn't even a question anymore, it wasn't a question and it wasn't something she wanted to hide from, she needed Adam in her life like she needed the air. He filled her with new life, just to be touched in a way that was innocent felt so necessary. But even through her desperate need she hadn't thought of love. They stopped kissing and he pulled her close to his chest, stroking her hair, it seemed like forever,. Probably, the reality of it was five minutes. They both mutely stood up, and went to stand behind the cash wrap, neither spoke.
It was Adam who first broke the silence nearly an hour later.
"It's not my business…"
"No…" she responded airly still lost in her own little world.
"I know…but…it seems like you haven't been touched like that in a long time. You melted right into me…Angela I never wanted to let you go."
She didn't know how to answer him so she just put her hand on top of his, it felt warm and comfortable. She looked away from him then. Wondering how he could so easily divine her secrets.
"You're right" she whispered interlocking her fingers with his.
She supposed that's how it had started.
They continued to see each other, stealing quick moments at the shop or if she could get away long enough they met at parks or at the little apartment Adam shared with his best friend.
The first time they had intercourse he had asked if she wanted to 'make love' and she had laughed at him.
"I don't believe in making love, love has nothing to do with it."
"What's it have to do with then?"
"Hormones." She said and they both laughed like it was a good joke. "…but yes lets have sex."
And after he asked her to put her head on his chest and he wrapped his arms around her and whispered sweet things in her ear. It wasn't what she was used to.
It took a month for that to feel natural.
Now we're back to that moment.
"I love you." He had said as if he really meant it, as if it was the easiest three words he ever said in his life.
"I love you Angela." He said it again. Hoping to elicit some response from her. "Ange…just say something? I'm not asking you to leave him or anything like that I just…I just wanted you to know how I feel…that it's not just sex to me. I will always always love you, I'll wait for you as long as it takes as long as you want me."
"I…" Angela didn't know what to say suddenly it was real and she couldn't bear the thought of it. He would waste his life waiting for her, she didn't want to be responsible for that. "I…don't feel that way" she said thickly, her throat sore from holding back tears. "I don't want to be with you…" she knew she wouldn't leave Warner, it had been too many years he had too tight a hold on her, either Adam would wait forever or break her heart trying, more than it was already breaking. She hated standing there watching his reaction, his jaw set into a firm line as he held himself together. He protested.
"I don't believe you. You love me, it's in your eyes."
"No. I don't. Maybe you should find a new job." She said mustering as much solidarity into her voice as she possibly could. She wanted to sound serious and final.
"I'll leave…but I know you love me, I don't know why you're doing this but I know you love me." He turned his back in a hurry Angela thought he might have been trying not to look affected and she felt as if something were clawing at her chest and she wanted to… but she couldn't call out to him, it was for his own good after all. She had to let him go because she loved him and she could only hope someday when all this had blown over she could tell him as much.