Call of Water, Madame Tan's Freakshow, book 1

Chapter 7

 

  My fingers wrapped around the mug of my third cappuccino, I stared at the red-and-white checkered tablecloth in front of me.

  It was well into the second hour of my sitting here at the table for two in the café where Zeph had promised to meet me.

  Except that he was nowhere in sight.

  I called his number a couple of times, but he didn’t answer. The cappuccino was cooling in the mug. The warm excitement that had reigned inside me since last night had fizzled out.

  I didn’t need to sit here for nearly two hours to figure out that he wasn’t coming, but I simply couldn’t force myself to my feet.

  Instead, I was working through all stages of grief right there in the shade of the red awning as people passed me by.

  I’d gone from denial.

  He didn’t get the day off. His phone got stolen, and he couldn’t find another phone in the whole city of Paris to call and let me know…

  To anger.

  Why make promises he didn’t intend to keep? He led me on, lying and manipulating my feelings. He made me believe he liked me and really wanted to see me again.

  To bargaining... 

  Maybe I did something wrong, after all? Should I have at least tried to be the sexy siren I never felt I was meant to be? Would that have held his interest?

  Depression...

  There must be a reason guys didn’t flock to my bed. Zeph had figured it out, and now he didn’t want me either.

  And finally acceptance.

  There was nothing left now but to get over it and move on.

  With a heavy sigh, I finally pushed to my feet. Leaving the cold cappuccino behind, I paid the bill and left.

The anger did not disappear entirely, though. It seethed in my chest, burning through my bruised heart with searing pain.

  Why did it hurt so much? Maybe because I had allowed myself to really care for Zeph? I’d sensed a connection forming between us, and it pained me to see it break before it got a chance to grow.

  I had made the classic mistake that probably every woman made at least once in her lifetime. I trusted too quickly and felt too deeply, falling for a man way too fast.

  And now it hurt.

  My breathing turned shallow. My eyes burned with tears, but I refused to let them flow.

  Get over it and move on.

  Zeph didn’t want me. So, what? There were worse things in life. I’d survive this. All I needed to do was forget about him and our night together.

  Thankfully, it was only one night. No matter how magical or special I thought it was, Zeph obviously didn’t think the same. For him, it must have meant nothing, and I had to learn to view it the same way.

  Simply a one-night stand. People had them all the time. Now I’d had one, too.

  Passing by Boulevard de Clichy, I fought the notion to turn in the direction of Le Loup Solitaire. Why would I go there? To stalk the man who stood me up?

  The last thing I needed was to see the cold indifference in his eyes or to hear something along the lines of “it’s not you, it’s me” from him. Or even worse, to watch him serenade another tourist from the stage.

  Forget it.

  Forget it.

  Forget it.

The heels of my shoes clicked in rhythm to the thought bouncing in my head as I passed by the turn off to the street with the cabaret.

  And I fully intended to do just that.

  Forget it. Forget Zeph.

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