You and Me and Never We: A Series of Complicated Almost Interactions

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She had known him for sixteen years.  And although everything about him was perfect for her, their timing had never been right…or even close to right.  So she enjoyed him for what he was, and continued hoping that all of his characteristics would arrive in the form of someone she could be with.
She had been quite young when they first met.  She was newly married and already pregnant and working full time in a field dominated by men.  She was, however, an expert in her field, and it was in this capacity that she met him.  She waddled into a meeting prepared to make a presentation to a roomful of guys who would be taking on a huge project overseas.  She was not at all prepared for the effect he had on her.  She could not drop the gaze of his deep blue eyes, and she found it odd that she was noticing her heart rate.  She was vaguely disconcerted that she should be having risque thoughts about a man other than her husband, even though her husband was already disappointing in many ways.  She tried to concentrate on the business at hand.  It was not uncommon for smart-ass comments to be exchanged and this was no exception.  It was sort of a rite of passage…a test to see if she was ‘one of the guys’ or if she would puddle into female offense.  She rose to the challenge and earned the laughter–and attention–of the room.  He smiled at her quick wit, and listened to her presentation, asking insightful questions.  They worked together closely over the next couple of months, and she could tell he was taken aback that he had strong feelings for her, despite her marital status.  She kept telling herself that it was just the nature of the project that had her thinking of this handsome, single man so many hours of the day and night.  The project launched, and he was off.  She continued on with her life, but continued to think of him fondly and ever so slightly inappropriately.Eight years later, they were assigned to another project together at work.  This time he was in the leading role, and she was support, having scaled back her hours significantly as a working mother.  Her marriage was now in its final stages, although she had not yet accepted that in her heart.  She walked into a meeting and there he was.  Her heart raced as it had all those years previously.  She was thrilled at the ease that they slipped into a close working relationship.  He was as smart as ever and had that same wit she remembered.  They could seamlessly switch from serious, in-depth work strategy sessions to reviewing the latest rock album they both enjoyed.  But while her personal life was crumbling, his was perking up.  He had a serious relationship, although he rarely discussed ‘the girlfriend’ with her.  Once, she met ‘the girlfriend’ and had a difficult time handling the jealousy.  How ridiculous was that?  Jealous….and he wasn’t even hers to begin with!  The easy camaraderie…the give and take…this THIS is what she had thought a marriage would be like.  How could she have this with a colleague??  But life intervened again, and she left the project due to family considerations.  And he ultimately took another project elsewhere as well.

And now 7 years after that, he had reappeared.  Only this time, she was divorced and he was married.  Happily too, from all outward appearances.  And yet again, she immediately slipped into a very familiar and close working relationship.  She could tell that both of them felt the tension, and they both knew that if they gave in, it would be the end. The end of their friendship. The end of his marriage.   So she kept her feelings to herself, worked with him, day in and day out, hearing tales of his Perfect Family Life and wishing that she could find his clone….to keep for herself.

For all these years, he had been The One that she had measured all other men against.  He had everything she wanted and needed–he was intelligent, funny in a twisted way, had an edge revealed only to his nearest and dearest, handsome and deliciously male.  And still, unavailable to her.

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