Home > The Opportunist (Love Me with Lies #1)(4)

The Opportunist (Love Me with Lies #1)(4)
Tarryn Fisher

In fifteen minutes, I am walking out the door feeling so nervous I have to make a conscious effort not to trip over my own feet. The three block drive is torturous. I swear at myself and twice swerve into the turning lane to go home. I make it to the parking with a mild case of whip-lash.

The coffee shop is full of dark blue walls and mosaic patterns. It is intense and depressing and warm all at the same time. With a Starbucks only three blocks away, this place is reserved for a more serious crowd—artsy-fartsy types that brood over their Mac books.

“Hey Livia,” the little punk boy who works the counter waves at me.

I smile at him. As I pass the bulletin board, something catches my eye. A printout of a man’s face is tacked among the flyers. I walk closer, feeling prickles of recognition. Along the bottom of his face the word: WANTED stands out in bold letters. It was the man from the Music Mushroom—the one with the umbrella!

Dobson Scott Orchard, born September 7, 1960.

Wanted for kidnapping, rape and assault.

Distinguishing feature: birthmark on forehead.

The mole! That was the birthmark the poster was referring to. What would have happened had I gone with him? I shake the image out of my head and memorize the number at the bottom of the page. If I hadn’t seen Caleb that day, I might have let him walk me to my car.

Dobson escapes out of my head when I see Caleb.

He is waiting for me at a small table in the back corner staring absently at the tabletop. He lifts a white porcelain cup to his lips, and I get a flashback of him doing the same thing in my apartment years ago. My heart accelerates.

He spots me when I am a few feet away.

“Hi. I got you a latte,” he says standing up. His eyes sweep from my feet to my face in one quick motion. I clean up well. I swipe a dark strand of hair out of my eyes and smile. I am jittery, my hands are trembling. When he extends a hand toward me, I hesitate before reaching out to shake it.

“Caleb Drake,” he says. “I would say that I usually tell women my name before I ask them out for coffee, but I don’t remember.”

We smile awkwardly at his terrible joke as I allow my small hand to be swallowed in his. The feel of his skin is so familiar. I close my eyes for a brief second and allow the absurdity of the situation to wash over me.

“Olivia Kaspen. Thank you for the coffee.”

We sit down awkwardly and I begin pouring sugar into my cup. I watch his face. He used to tease me about my coffee being so sweet it made your teeth hurt. He drinks tea, hot, the way the British drink it. I used to think it was charming and distinguished, I still do actually.

“So what did you tell your girlfriend?” I ask, taking a sip. I am swinging my shoe off the end of my big toe which is something that used to annoy him when we were together. I see his eyes reach my foot and for a second, I think he’s going to grab it to stop the motion.

“I told her I needed some time off to think. It’s a horrible thing to say to a woman isn’t it?” he asks.

I nod.

“Anyway, she burst into tears the minute the words were out of my mouth and I didn’t know what to do.”

“I’m sorry,” I lie. Strawberry freckle face is cuddling with rejection tonight. It is a wonderful thing.

“So,” I say, “amnesia.”

Caleb nods, looking down at the table. He absently traces a pattern of circles with his finger.

“Yes, it’s called Selective Amnesia. Doctors, eight of them, have told me it’s temporary.”

I suck thoughtfully on the word “temporary”. It could mean my time with him is as temporary as hair dye, or an adrenaline rush. I decide I’ll take either one. I am having coffee with a man that formerly hated me, “temporary” didn’t have to be a dirty word.

“How did it happen?” I ask.

Caleb clears his throat and looks around the room like he’s gauging who can hear us.

“What? Too personal?” I can’t keep the laughter out of my voice. It feels strange that he is hesitating to tell me. When we were together, he told me everything—even the things that most men would be embarrassed to share with their girlfriends. I can still read his expressions after all these years and I can tell that he is uncomfortable sharing the details of his amnesia.

“I don’t know. It seems like we should start with something simple before I tell you my secrets. Like my favorite color.”

I smile. “Do you remember what your favorite color is?”

Caleb shakes his head. We both laugh.

I sigh and fidget with my coffee cup. When we first started dating I’d asked him what his favorite color was. Instead of just telling me, he’d forced me into the car saying he needed to show me.

“This is ridiculous, I have a test to study for,” I complained. He drove for twenty minutes, blaring the terrible rap music he liked to listen to and finally pulled up beside the Miami International Airport.

“That, is my favorite color,” he said, pointing to the lights lining the runway.

“That’s blue,” I said. “So what?”

“That’s not just any blue, its Airport blue,” he said. “And don’t you ever forget it.”

I turned back to the runway to study the lights. The color was eerie, it looked like fire when it burned at its hottest and turned blue. Where was I going to find a shirt in that color?

I looked at him now, the memory clear in my mind and gone from his. What would it be like to forget your favorite color? —or the girl that smashed up your heart?

Airport blue haunted me. It became a brand to me, a trademark of our broken relationship, and my failure to move on. Airport f**king blue.

“Your favorite color is blue,” I say, “and mine is red. Now we’re best friends, so tell me what happened.”

“Blue it is,” he says smiling. ‘‘It was a car accident. A colleague and I were on a business trip in Scranton. It was snowing heavily and we were on our way to a meeting. The car skidded off the road and wrapped around a tree. I sustained serious head injuries…” he rattles it off as if he is bored with the story. I imagine that he has recited it hundreds of times already.

I don’t need to ask what he does for work. He is an investment banker. He works for his step-father’s company, and he is rich.

“And your co-worker?”

“He didn’t make it,” his shoulders slump. I bite my lip. I’m not good with death and the words that you’re supposed to offer as condolence. When my mother died people said stupid things that made me angry! Soft, fluffy words that carried no weight; “I’m sorry”—when it clearly wasn’t their fault, and “if there is anything I can do—” when we both knew there was nothing. I change the subject rather than offer empty words. “Do you remember the accident?”

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