‘I was so looking forward to seeing you again,’ he says, looking at me with that open, honest expression that had first attracted me. ‘I’ve missed you.’
It had been almost a week since we’d had that wonderful night out. It had been a night filled with magic, romance and excitement, a meeting of minds, hearts and bodies. And yes, I had been looking forward to seeing him again too.
But all of a sudden I wanted to run. Something in the eagerness with which he greeted me was triggering a reaction and I wasn’t sure any more that this was such a good idea.
I smiled, trying not to show the sudden shift of mood I was feeling. ‘This wasn’t what I wanted,’ I mentally kicked myself, ‘to have to pretend to like someone.’ Yet, suddenly, that was how it felt. Gone were the butterflies and the ‘is he the one’ that I had been experiencing all week. In their place was a strange distance and a desire to pull back.
‘Well, will we go in?’ I said, nodding towards the restaurant and hoping to distract us both.
Later that night, as I lay in bed, relieved to be alone again, I wondered what the hell had happened. I had wanted him to love me, hadn’t I? It had been a long time since I’d felt this kind of instant connection with someone. It hadn’t been just a physical attraction either, although the chemistry was still unmistakable. It was a deep connection that had made both of us feel immediately comfortable and understood. So did I, or did I not, want his love?
Part of me felt like a tease – leading him on and then wanting to dump him. I sat with the uncomfortable feelings, unwilling to call the whole thing off without good reason. And I knew he wouldn’t let me off the hook without a good explanation either. He was keen.
And that was just it. He was keen. He wasn’t playing games, or hitting on me just for sex, or any other excuse that my sorry mind could dream up for holding out on him. He was honest and open about how he felt and it was bringing up all my stuff.
All that stuff that I thought I had either dealt with or grown out of was suddenly in my face again. ‘He’ll find out what I’m really like and then pull back on me just when I’m starting to really like him,’ whispered one little voice in my head. ‘They never really like you when they get to know you properly.‘
‘He’ll turn out to be just like the others,’ another little voice chipped in. ‘It’s always rosy at the beginning, but wait until you get to know him. It won’t be so much fun then when he starts letting you down.’
‘And you have such a great life now,’ a third voice added. ‘Why would you want to go disturbing the balance?’
It felt like I’d gone fishing and now wanted to throw the catch back. Had I really changed my mind? Did I really want to be loved or did I want to stay in my nice, cosy, comfort zone? I wasn’t too sure. All those conversations with girlfriends about meeting someone and how wonderful it would be to have a man in my life again – had I meant them or not?
I stared at the ceiling and sighed. It should be an obvious one, but it wasn’t. Coming out of my comfort zone might easily mean being disappointed or hurt. And that was what it boiled down to. I was scared. I smiled. Was that all? Was I really such a coward? Relief swept over me, and my sense of humor returned, along with a renewed warmth towards this beautiful man who was triggering my fears. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be loved, but I was sure as hell going to find out.
And in my mind’s eye, I could just see him lying on his own bed, trying to figure out what he’d done to make me flee like Cinderella as soon as dinner was over.