Jonathan and Susan held hands across the smeared tabletop in Good Brews, their coffee cups pushed to the side. Oblivious to the bustle of the crowd around them, they stared, glittery-eyed into each others faces.
“Do you really love me?” Jonathan asked, leaning within inches of Susan’s forehead.
Susan squeezed his hands and smiled. “Yes, I do.”
“You do what?”
“Well, you mean a lot to me,” she said. She disengaged her right hand, picked up her cup and took a sip of the lukewarm coffee.
Jonathan seemed to shrink as he lost his luster. “That’s it? I mean a lot to you?”
Susan picked up her fork and cut into the piece of tiramisu before her. She closed her eyes as the bite entered her mouth. She nodded as she chewed. “Yes, you are everything to me. I don’t know how I existed before we met.”
“But do you love me?” Jonathan sat back in his chair and ran his hands through his one-inch black hair. “Because you never say the words.”
“I do,” Susan said. “Maybe you just aren’t listening.”
“Oh, I’d hear that,” he said, “if you actually said it.”
The waitress stopped by their table. “Is everything okay?” she said.
“We’re fine,” Jonathan said. “Could you bring the check, please?”
“Sure.” The waitress pulled it out of her pocket and placed it next to Jonathan’s empty cup.
“Have a great day,” she said as she walked away.
Susan rooted through her purse, took out a twenty and handed it to Jonathan.
“What’s this for?”
“My half,” she said.
“But this is my treat.”
Susan sighed. “We’ve been over this before. I always pay my half. You pay yours.” She stood up and pulled her t-shirt down over her ample hips. “I’m going to use the restroom. I’ll meet you outside.”
Jonathan watched her walk away. Although he felt like crying, no tears fell. He stood and stumbled past all the occupied tables, picking up snippets of boisterous conversations along the way.
Outside, the early morning air still held the crispness of a foggy San Francisco morning. Noisy trolley cars ran up and down the street, blocking out the sounds of countless panhandlers begging for money.
When Susan emerged, they headed east on Market Street, toward the business district.
Jonathan wanted to hold her hand, but held back. “Are you busy this weekend?”
“Not sure,” she said. “My sister mentioned something about shopping on Saturday and some friends want to see a movie on Sunday afternoon, Why? What did you have in mind?”
They split temporarily to dodge a shopping-cart lady blocking the sidewalk.
“I was thinking,” Jonathan said. “Well, never mind. It’s not that important.”
Susan pulled ahead when they crossed at an intersection, giving Jonathan a good look at her swaying hips. He shuttled forward to catch up, lightly touching her on the shoulder to get her attention.
“Can we talk a minute?” he said.
Susan looked at her watch. “I guess so.”
“Are we a couple, or not?”
A man in a topcoat brushed past, knocking into Jonathan.
“We care about each other,” Susan said. “Isn’t that good enough?” She tapped Jonathan’s arm on his bicep.
“Why not? We’re doing fine as is,” she said.
Jonathan put his hands on her shoulders, drawing her near. He kissed her on the forehead. “I need you to need me. To love me as much as I love you.”
Susan pulled away. “I’ve got to go to work. Can we save this for later?”
Jonathan’s shoulders fell and a dejected look crossed his face. “So you’re turning me down.”
“Not really. I just need time to think.”
“Time away from me.”
“I guess,” she said. “Yeah. I’m not ready to commit.” Susan opened the door of her office building. “You’re a great guy. I like you a lot. But I can’t handle the pressure.” She turned and walked through the door.
Jonathan watched her go until she entered the elevators. He checked his watch, then turned and walked back to Good Brews. Standing inside was a lanky redhead. “Hi, Estelle.”He planted a kiss on her cheek, placed a hand in the middle of her back and guided her to a booth.