He wasn't sure what made him choose the diner for lunch that day.

Whether it was fate or dumb luck, he never would have seen her had it not been for that unconscious decision. It wasn't a typical spring day. There wasn't any rain in the forecast and the temperature seemed to have been hand selected for comfort. The breeze was blowing softly without a hint of chill. Y could say it was the perfect day to fall in love. He should have ou known from the time he left his office he was destined to do just that. But who thinks about things like that when you're on a lunch break. The diner had been ''their'' spot. He introduced her to it on their first date. It was his all time favorite place to eat because of the cheeseburgers. The waitress sat him at a small table on the patio where he could see the people passing by. High noon being an especially prime time to do some people watching. Second to eating a cheeseburger, making up stories for the different folks was much fun for him. Okay, that guy right there; a young exec on his way up the corporate ladder. Trying to decide if he should join the

exclusive health club and buy the Beemer or just add another couple of designer suits to his already impressive collection; and over there is the spoiled, suburban housewife out to spend up more of her husband's hard earned…wait a minute. His
thoughts came to a grinding halt.

Couldn't be her. After all these years, there's no way she, of all people, would be walking down the street toward him. But the
vision of the woman, strolling up the sidewalk toward the café brought all of the old emotions up from their hiding places. The love he had had for her was first, quick on its heels were the warm memories of the nights they spent planning their future together, the intensity of the passion when they, well, you know. Straggling behind these was the hurt and anger at how she had backed out of the relationship. How easily she had let losing her job at the paper put the brakes on their dreams. And finally, the broken heart when she packed the last of her things and moved back home. He had tried to talk her out of leaving. Told her they could make it; that he could finish school, she'd find another job and life would go on. But no, she decided that the only thing she could do was go home, find a job and they could get back together once he graduated and found his own job. But of course, there was the ex-boyfriend who just happened to be single and had recently moved back to town to start a business. Next thing you know, the dreaded letter arrived in the mail apologizing for marrying the exboyfriend. He hadn’t realized how much that final blow had affected him until this minute. Seeing her again, he badly wanted to yell out and call her ugly names.

~~~~~ She was walking slowly, remembering the times she had come here with him. The one she should have married, of course. She hadn't realized how much she missed him until she saw the café and remembered the many dinners they had shared here. They had the best seafood salads on the planet. For as long as they had been together though, he’d never tried one. He had his favorite dish and she had hers and never the two should meet. She smiled at the flashback, making a snap decision to complete her trip down memory lane. She wondered what had ever happened to him as she walked through the doors and asked the hostess for a table on the patio.


It was something in the way she sat down that convinced him it had to be her. The tilt of her head as she looked at the menu was unmistakable. Oh great, just what he needed, an awkward moment of small talk with his emotions hanging on his sleeve and another chance for her to walk out on him. He offered up a silent prayer that he wouldn't do anything stupid to attract her attention so he could end his lunch hour without having to say anything to her. When his cheeseburger arrived he attacked it with utter abandon using its bulk to block her from his view. Of course, long about that second big bite, he couldn't help but peak around and look at her again. The left over longing drew his attention back to her like any other strong magnet with metal.


1. But the longer she looked, the more she became sure it was him.


Now what? Do I walk over and say hi, do I smile, or do I just pass out from the fact that I'm not breathing? He realized he hadn't taken a breath since eye contact had been made, which then, of course, caused him to snatch in some major air. Which then caused him to choke on the chunk of cheeseburger, which then lead to a coughing fit that attracted the attention of everyone on the patio. So much for not doing anything stupid . He fought to get his airway clear.


It wasn’t him after all she thought, but whoever he was, he was definitely in trouble. Her alarm grew as she realized whoever he was, he was about to choke to death. Her mind went into survival mode as she rushed from her table to help him. Memories, fond or otherwise, of her ex swept completely from her mind.


His vision darkened as he the idea that he was choking to death became a real possibility. He continued to fight for air even as he felt himself begin to lose consciousness. As the lights went out, he thought he felt the burger dislodge itself. Air rushed into his lungs and a grateful smile crossed his lips. He straightened up feeling just a bit embarrassed. He gave reassuring waves to the concerned customers who had looked his way when the choking began, careful to avoid making eye contact with her again. It was difficult to think past the pain in his throat and the fact that the love of his life was sitting a few feet away. Better to just to put his focus back on finishing his lunch and running away. Well, after he paid the bill of course. But damn, her table was close to the door, so he'd at least take a quick moment to chat. Nothing deep mind you, just a simple, "Hi, it's been a long time.." and so on. He'd excuse himself by saying he had to rush back for a meeting and that would be that. He went back to attacking his lunch with a little less aggression.


She wasn't making any moves to leave. His last bite had been taken a while ago but he was stalling, hoping she'd leave first. When that hadn’t happened he found himself stuck at his table, wondering what he was going to say to her on his way past her table. He couldn't hide out...uh, wait around here all day. He mustered up what courage he could and began to make a run for the door. He kept his eyes on the pavement as he worked his way between tables and missed the fact that she too was in the midst of leaving. He raised his head, still running possible opening lines, and bumped into her at the door, thus allowing fate to throw its final curve ball of the day.

Part II

They were scheduled to meet for dinner that evening. The little voice inside his head was going on and on about how he shouldn't do it; how he should just walk away. She was, after all, a married woman and Heaven knows their last dinner had ended with her walking out of his life for good. "Why would this be any different," the little voice said. He didn't know and really didn't care. He loved her still and wanted to spend time convincing her she should come back. The little voice would just have to understand. He was late leaving work. The stop at his apartment was just long enough for a five minute shower, a change into a fresh suit and a touch up on the cologne. Dinner was great. The conversation was simple and full of general inquiries. He didn’t break down or beg her to come back and she didn’t give any indication that she was going to leave her husband. Somehow though, dinner lead to drinks in her suite. Again, conversation gave no indication that there was anything behind her invitation for the night cap. After all, she was a happily married woman and he was just an ex-boyfriend with whom she had shared the most intense love affair ever. Or, at least that’s how he wanted to remember it. When the drinks turned into a night of great sex, he was completely surprised.


The morning sun broke through the window causing reality to hit him between the eyes. First of all, he was very alone in the bed and it was quiet. A glimpse in the mirror as he walked to the bathroom was more than enough. He might as well have had "chump" tattooed on his forehead. The little voice was back in all its glory, singing of how stupid he had been to believe she was going to leave her husband for little, ole him.

\God, what a mess. He got into the shower hoping the sound of the water would drown out the little voice and the expensive hotel soap would remove "chump" from his forehead. After dressing slowly in yesterday's clothes, he walked out of the bedroom to the surprise of his life. Breakfast was sitting on the small table by the window, his lady love stood in silhouette. "I thought you'd never get up," A woman’s voice had never sounded as sweet to him as hers did. "Y eah, well, you know...I uh," Okay, awkward moment. So much for what you read in romance novels, the words did not flow from his lips like molten honey or however they describe the perfect things the big muscle bound guy says at the perfect moment. Instead he stuttered and fumbled for a good minute before finally giving in to the futility of fighting through his crippled vocabulary. She smiled with understanding and motioned for him to sit at the table. His plate was loaded with scrambled eggs and sausage. There was a bowl of fresh fruit and a stack of pancakes. Just as he put a forkful of sausage, egg and pancake into his mouth she said, ''Y know last night brought back so many feelings ou for me. And I know this is sudden and but if you...I mean it’s going to take some arranging...but if there's still a place for me in your life...in your heart I…would like, I mean, (sigh), I want to come back to you." He gulped when he should have swallowed and thus began the choking...

Part III

"Sir, sir...I don't think he can hear me. Oh my goodness! Sir! Did someone call an ambulance? Oh goodness, oh! Wait, wait, he’s coming around, look! Thank goodness. Oh my! Whew, you gave us quite the scare. Y started choking and all. I just knew you ou were going to die! Is the ambulance on the way? Don't try to move, the ambulance is coming. Try to relax. That’s what I call a close one. Y must have swallowed wrong or something. Good thing that lady new that what' cha call it maneuver thing. " ou His throat was raw and burning. Breathing was a stretch. Just what the hell happened? And why on Earth was the floor in the hotel room so hard and gravely? Well son of a…that couldn’t have been a hallucination, a dream, it just couldn’t have. He didn't want to open his eyes. The danger that he might look any more foolish than he already had was too much. Had he really almost choked to death at the sight of her? Talk about losing major cool points. "What happened?” he whispered. ''Y almost choked to death. This woman rushed over and did that choke stop thing on you and a chunk of hamburger flew out of ou your mouth then poof, you’re breathing again. Y must have been without air for too long though 'cause you had passed out ou before she got you breathing again. We thought for sure you were dead, you've been out forever! Good thing she knew what she was doing, huh?"

Please don't let it be her. "Who...are you talking about?" Oh pleeeeease don't let it be her.
"I'm right here." He opened his eyes slowly frantically hoping he’d see someone, anyone but HER. She was leaning over him with a concerned look on her face and this close it was obvious. The woman he had almost died for wasn’t his ex girlfriend at all. There was the slightest of similarities in facial structure but that’s where it ended. The women were two different people. Oh yeah, that's just great. He almost chokes to death, has this whole fantasy while he's passed out cold and it turns out to have been over some woman who's not even the ex. He checked off a few more cool points. “Hey, uh, thanks" ''No sweat. When I looked up at you, I thought for a moment you were an ex boyfriend but then you started choking and I realized you weren't him. About that time I also realized you were in trouble and I did what I had to. But look, you really shouldn't try to talk. The ambulance will be here soon. Y ou're going to be fine." She placed her left hand on his arm, he took a chance to glance at her ring finger. It was bare. The spark of possibility helped ease some of the pain in his throat. He wondered… “Y saved my life. How can I ever repay you?” ou She thought about it for a minute, “Well, if you promise not to choke again, we could meet for dinner?” A woman’s voice had never sounded as sweet.

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