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Excusing myself from the table, I made my way to the ladies room as fast as I possibly could without actually giving the appearance that I was fleeing. I just needed a few minutes to deal with my utter disappointment before returning to act as if nothing was wrong and that I was pleased with my friend's gesture.
How could I have been so stupid to believe Karen's feelings had changed? I knew our friendship had grown by leaps and bounds, and I guess my heart foolishly led me to believe that one day she'd fall for me as hard as I'd fallen for her.
Arriving at the restroom, I was relieved to find it empty. I walked over to the small loveseat and sat down, hoping that no one would decide to enter my quiet domain. Closing my eyes, I recalled the day.
I'd had the worst case that morning as I'd had to go dumpster diving to retrieve a suspect's gun, and unfortunately for me, it was a Monday morning and waste management hadn't been by since late Friday. Everything would've been fine if the weapon hadn't fallen along the side and slipped midway down in the midst of the smelly rubbish.
Things began to look up when I received a call around lunch time from Karen. She'd asked me if I was free to meet her tonight at Brasserie's Italian Restaurant, and I don't know if it was the way she asked, or knowing the upscale restaurant was known for its romantic setting, but I foolishly misread her invitation.
The rest of my day could've gone to hell in a hand basket, and I would've still been smiling at the end. Hell, I had a date with Karen Sisco, and that was all that mattered.
After discarding three outfits, I chose a black suit with a blue, silk top. It was important that I chose something that I could wear flats with as, tonight, my intention was not to intimidate; I wanted to make Karen as comfortable as possible.
I arrived at the restaurant first, and I chose to wait for Karen instead of being seated. A few minutes later, she stepped through the doors, wearing a cute little black dress and a beautiful smile.
Returning her smile, I stepped forward to greet her when another woman walked in and took her place beside the marshal. I must've looked confused because Karen turned and immediately introduced the blonde.
"Marley, this is Laura, my cousin. Laura, this is Marley Novak, the woman I've told you about."
My thoughts were a whirlwind at this point as I tried to come up with a plausible reason why Karen would bring her cousin on our first date, but I couldn't come up with a single excuse. So, I focused on Karen's last statement. What could she have possibly said to her cousin?
The manager offered to seat us, saving me from an awkward situation; however, my reprieve was only temporary as our table wasn't too far away. Thankfully, Karen and Laura began to discuss the menu while I pretended to read the list of entrees.
After we ordered our drinks, everything became perfectly clear. Laura was gay, and my good friend, Karen, was trying to set me up with her cousin. She even insisted that I take Laura out after our meal, and I stupidly smiled and nodded in agreement.
The meal was enjoyable despite my feelings of despair, and Laura proved to be quite the conversationalist. She was smart, charming, cute, and witty; however, there was one small problem. She wasn't Karen.
Looking at my watch, I decided that it was time to return to the table. Our dessert had probably arrived by now, so I pulled myself to my feet, put on a fake smile, and left my safe haven.
We parted company with Karen in the parking lot, and Laura and I drove to a nearby gay nightclub. I truly tried to be pleasant and funny, but Laura saw right through me.
"Marley, I know Karen blindsided you with this, and I'll understand if you want to take me home. I promise I won't be offended," the pretty little blonde offered.
A nice looking redhead walked over to our booth, interrupting our conversation. She smiled at Laura and asked, "Would you care to dance?"
Laura started to decline, but I insisted she accept the invitation. I smiled and winked at the blonde, and she took the offered hand and stood. I watched as the two women headed to the dance floor. There wasn't any reason for Laura not to have a good time, just because I was down in the dumps.
We stayed for several hours, and Laura had become the belle of the dance floor. The little blonde could certainly move, that's for sure, and I played the perfect date as I always made sure she had a fresh drink each time she returned to the booth. Of course, I'd switched to water when I noticed she was becoming a little tipsy. I certainly didn't want Karen to think I had plied her cousin with booze and had my way with her.
Around three a.m., Laura decided it was time to leave, and we headed for the car. When we arrived at Karen's, she thanked me for a wonderful evening, and I started to exit the car so that I could escort her to the door; however, she reached out and grabbed my hand, stopping my progress.
"Marley, don't give up on Karen. She really likes you, but she's scared and confused. I've never known Karen to talk so much about anyone before. It's always Marley this, and Marley that. She'll come around eventually; I just know it," Laura stated with a smile.
Shaking my head, I replied, "Laura, Karen's not gay. I know we're good friends, and I know she likes me; but, she'll only ever have friendly feelings toward me. She'll never be able to return my feelings for her."
"Yes, she will. She's asked me all sorts of questions lately about how I knew I was gay. Marley, Karen's known for years that I was gay, and she's never been curious about the how or the why."
"No buts, Marley. Karen is nothing but thorough, and you know it. She's got to understand her feelings before she acts on them. You just have to be patient. Now, I better get inside. I had a wonderful evening, Marley. Thank you," Laura said, leaning over and kissing me on the cheek.
Opening the door, she climbed out and headed for the house, and I watched from the car, making sure the blonde made it safely inside.
I pulled away from the curb with a smile on my face and with new hope that my unrequited feelings for the marshal would soon be returned.
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