Word Count: 940
Prompt: You have come home to a surprise. Your home is clean, your favorite meal is sitting on the table, candles are lit, soft music is playing, and your favorite flowers are sitting in a vase by the kitchen sink. This would be very romantic, but you aren’t dating and you aren’t sure how someone got in your home. Is this a romantic surprise or are you being stalked?
Recipe For Success
I stood frozen, staring at the image in front of me. The table was set for two and, if I wasn’t mistaken, that was lasagna on my plate. I stepped closer to the table and looked around the room. Two tapered candles sat in the middle of the table with a few more scattered around the room, their flickering light creating a romantic ambiance. A vase full of wildflowers sat next to the sink, their bright colors muted without the overhead lights.
I appreciated the effort and thought that had obviously been put into creating a romantic atmosphere, but there was only one problem. I wasn’t dating anyone—and hadn’t been for the last month and a half.
Just thinking of Jason made my heart ache. He had been so focused on his career and being successful. I could understand the wanting to succeed, but his work had taken over his life. There hadn’t been room for anyone or anything else—let alone me. I’d stuck it out for six months, expecting it to get better, but it only got worse. I hadn’t wanted to break up with him. I loved him. But I hadn’t felt like I had a choice. It took two to make a relationship work.
Soft music started playing and I felt, more than heard, someone come up behind me. I wasn’t afraid. If whoever it was wanted to hurt me, they’d already had ample opportunity.
“I missed you.”
His breath whispered against my ear and sent shivers down my spine. I knew that voice. I slowly turned around and looked up. I hadn’t imagined it. It was him.
“Jason.” I glanced back at the table, set for two. “What is all this?”
“My apology.” Jason reached toward me, but dropped his arms at the last minute. His eyes were suspiciously moist. “I’m so sorry, Russ. I wish I’d listened when you tried to talk to me.”
“Why now? And how did you get in?” I remembered him leaving his key when he’d moved out. He’d been so angry when he’d slammed the key down on the counter. He hadn’t laid a hand on me, he wasn’t like that, but some of the words he’d spouted at me had hurt far more than his fists would have.
Jason dug in his pocket and held up a set of keys. “I forgot my spare keys had an apartment key on them.”
“Okay.” I nodded. That made sense. I’m sure I had extra keys somewhere in the apartment. That still didn’t enlighten me as to why he was here. “That explains the how, but not the why.”
“I know I screwed up.” Jason swallowed. “There are so many things I wish I could have done different, but I can’t change what happened.”
I sighed. It wasn’t fair for him to take all the blame. “It wasn’t just you. I should have tried harder to make you listen.”
“It wouldn’t have made a difference. I was angry at what you said, but you were right. I was so busy trying to be successful. I figured there’d always be time later for us, after I’d made a name for myself.” Jason shook his head. “I was an idiot.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. If only we’d had this conversation back then, things would have been so much different. But we hadn’t. Things were what they were and despite the very thoughtful dinner, which was completely out of character for him, I didn’t see that anything else had changed. I must have looked as confused as I felt.
“You breaking up with me was an eye opener. I’ve spent so much time going over everything you said to me.” Jason would barely look at me. “I got a different job. It doesn’t pay as good, but it doesn’t require me to put as many hours in or be gone as much. I’d be home nearly every night.”
“Jason…Why are you telling me this?” I suspected I already knew the answer, but I didn’t want to assume.
“I thought”—Jason cradled my face in his hands—“maybe we could start over.”
He was serious. I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. Did I want a second chance with him? How did I know things were really going to change? I was afraid that, if I agreed, I’d be setting myself up for heartache. Then again, my life the past month and a half without him hadn’t been anything to celebrate.
“I swear, Russ. Things will be different.” Jason was starting to sound desperate. “I won’t say I can’t live without you, but I don’t want to. Please? Give me another chance?”
I shook my head and my heart broke a little more at his crestfallen expression.
“We can’t start over. We have too much history for that.”
He nodded, closed his eyes, and started to turn away from me. “I understand.”
He sounded broken. I couldn’t stand it. I reached out and grabbed his forearms, keeping him close. “That’s not to say we can’t move forward.”
There was so much hope in that single word. I smiled at him and nodded. That must have been what he was waiting for. He leaned in and his lips crashed against mine. I wrapped my arms around him and held him close as he devoured my mouth.
I’d missed him, more than I’d been willing to admit. My lips parted beneath his onslaught and I moaned at the feel of his body pressed to mine.
This was what had been missing the last month and a half.