“I’m going to do that now, actually.”

I pulled my protein powder and a shaker bottle from the pantry and quickly mixed it together with some milk.

“A shake?”  He asked horrified.  “You intend for that to be your meal?”  His reaction surprised me.  I figured any guy who displayed obvious musculature had protein powder somewhere in his carefully regimented diet.

“I lack the necessary culinary skills that produce edible options,” I confessed sheepishly.  My dad always took protein powder with him on deployments or extended field exercises-there wasn’t always time to stop and eat.  He would say ‘mejor que nada, better than nothing’.

I sat on a tall padded chair at the kitchen island and Alex took a seat as well, but careful to leave a chair and extra space between us.  I inconspicuously turned my head away from him, checking to see how bad I smelled, there were no rose bushes, but I certainly wasn’t offensive.

Except for the chiming of the grandfather clock by Miles’s office, the room was quiet.  I wasn’t sure where to start, so I took a long pull of my drink.

Finally I blurted, “You were gone all week.”  I wanted to add and I didn’t like it, but then I would have to explain.  I could tell by how his forehead crinkled that the obvious statement made him entirely uncomfortable.

He broke eye contact with me when he spoke.  “I had personal business to tend to.”

I thought about it for a moment.  Any time David ever said that, it meant he was with his girlfriend, so I decided to call his cards on the table.

“So, you were with Chloe?”  Strangely hoping I was wrong as I choked out the words.

He smiled as though I were unaware of her.  “Yes,” he answered.  Simple.  Honest.

My heart sank a little with the confirmation but, I was more disappointed in myself.  I shouldn’t care if he had a girlfriend, I would be stupid to think that he wouldn’t.  Anyone that beautiful had to be spoken for.

I continued.  “The other night when we met, you seemed…upset.”  A gross understatement.

His fingers swiftly fidgeted with a worn piece of red rope before he answered.   “I’m not usually so ill-disposed.  I do apologize,” he replied.

I nodded in acceptance of his apology, but it didn’t satisfy my question.  “But why?”  I probed further.

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