The Love Triangle

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

Katherine flicks the ash off the end of her cigarette absently, her hand shaking ever so slightly. She keeps her eyes on the fellow behind the counter, he seems to be moving in slow motion, and she finds herself mesmerized. She is afraid if she glances over Kent’s shoulder, if she dares to look at the man seated on the corner, she will give herself away.

Outside of her thoughts she hears him thank the young man for the milkshake, a milkshake she neither wants, or needs. A scotch would do wonders right now, she muses. She turns slowly to him, making sure his broad shoulder blocks the view behind him.

“Thank you, love. This is heavenly! And the show, I had no idea Suzette Stanley could dance and sing! It just gave me chill bumps the whole time!”

She could tell she was rambling, and knew her voice sounded shrill in the quiet diner.

“I thought you might like that, I know how much you love her music,” he answers, coming in to nuzzle her neck.

They had danced to her music on their first date. Suzette Stanley’s sultry voice had filled her ears with words she longed to hear and when he put his hand on the small of her back and led her to the floor, it made her all at once feel dizzy and warm. He turned her gracefully into his body, and then they were floating across the scuffed parquet and it was undeniable to her, him, and to anyone else in the room, that she would be his.

“Yes, I still do,” she answers softly, not sure of what she means. Still love the music, or him?

She returns his kiss softly on the cheek, demurely turning away her eyes and her body.

Kent does not give up so easily though. He leans to her, brushing her face with the back of his hand, holding her chin softly and gazing at her with intensity.

Uncomfortable with the moment she brings the milkshake to her lips and wraps the straw in a sly smile.

“You know how much I love you,” he begins, but is cut off by the jarring sound of a chair scraping the floor from across the room.

He turns to look at the man down the bar that he had not noticed before.

Katherine jolts upright. With Kent turned and David standing she can see them both and she feels her heart split right in two. Her love for one and lust for another is undeniable in this small space.

David looks right at her, almost right through her, through her dress, her lingerie and into her heart.

She is struck by the intensity.

Kent turns back to her ready to continue his sentence but she is different. “Are you alright dear, you are positively white,” he asks her.

She blinks and looks for an answer, some time, a distraction to walk through the door but it is 3 a.m. and it is unlikely she will be given that grace. The man behind the counter is blushing and trying to busy himself having caught on long ago to the scene unfolding before him.

David saunters to the cigarette machine in the corner and begins to feed it quarters desperately. He grabs the handle under the Camel’s and pulls to no avail. His anger spills over and he bangs the machine, even kicks it once, blaming it perhaps for the fact that it is not his hand on Katherine’s check tonight.

Kent looks over and calls out “What’s the problem there, fella?”

And the whole room freezes for a moment.

David’s eyes are glued to Katherine, and hers back at him. Daring him, begging him, speaking to him without a single word.

The man behind counter stops mid-wipe of the table in front of him, afraid to breathe, afraid to look one way or the other. He has had fights in here before, but is in no mood tonight. It’s too late, or too early and he is just too damn tired.

Kent speaks again. “Well, what is it pal? You need a smoke? A quarter?”

David is still for a moment. A wicked smirk comes to play across his face. He is teetering on the edge, calculating the options and outcomes. He is suddenly unsure that if he falls on the blade for her, that she will be his reward. If he drops this bomb, will what they have blow to pieces too?

He looks at her for one second more, looks at the tear forming in her eye, her lower lip beginning to quiver. He wants her more in this instant than he ever thought he could, but he can hear now what she isn’t saying.

“Nah man, just a bad day,” he mumbles and pretends to chuckle. “Lost my smokes and my girl, don’t that just beat all?” He laughs again.

The counter man finishes the arching movement he was frozen in, wiping away more than just the crumbs, it seems as if he is clearing the air, the moment.

Katherine looks down and exhales. She wills the tear to disappear and gathers her composure. Her hand nervously reaches out to Kent, rests solidly on his forearm.

Kent is looks at David quizzically, still trying to figure him out.

And then just like that, it is over. The air is cut by the sound of David’s footsteps crossing the tile. When he opens the door to leave a whoosh of cold winds its way up Katherine’s dress, sending a chill up her spine. As he exits, he turns and faces them both.

“Sorry for any trouble. You lovebirds have a great night,” he says to them.

And then the door closes softly, almost silently.

Kent turns to her and searches her for any comprehension of what just happened, but before he can stare too long she folds herself into him, wrapping her arms around his waist and turning her head to rest on his chest. Softly she starts to hum one of the songs, their song, the first one they danced to.

“Let’s go home,” she whispers, her voice full of longing and need.

Certain that both are for him, he leads her out of the diner and into the stillness of the night.

In response to the Daily Post Weekly Challenge, and my need to write some fiction…

 

About startingwritenow

I am a mom, a wife, a sister, daughter and friend. I love a good laugh, a house full of people, a great craft beer (or two), a bold red wine and a book or movie of any kind.-good, bad or otherwise! I believe in learning something everyday, in growing and changing every chance you get. I don't fit in every circle, I don't color inside the lines, but I have learned to love my messy life!
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One Response to The Love Triangle

  1. Karlee says:

    I really liked this story. They way you wrote it drew me in every step of the way.

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