:we'd seen the twilight, a faraway fairytale.
"I'm sorry sir, would you mind waiting for a bit? Mr. Dawkins seems to be out of town. I'm sorry, but there appears to be a misunderstanding about your meeting. We're trying to get this sorted out as soon as possible."
"It's alright. I will be in town for a week. Just tell me when he is available."
"Thank you for your patience, sir. We will call you if there's any news. Again, we're really sorry for the inconvenience. As a token of gratitude, your accommodation will be covered by our Provisions division."
The confused look on the branch manager's face was pitiful enough for him not to pursue the matter further. Yet, to say the truth, the problem did grate on him quite a bit, as he had no other plans scheduled and now they had left him pretty much dry. The free lodging was a nice touch, but his expense was to be reimbursed by the office anyway.
He sighed. At least they'd got a nice lounge so he could wind down and chill before he returned to the hotel. A second later, his cigarette was properly lit.
That was not all, however. He did not realize it just now, but a pair or curious eyes were looking at him.
"Mister, you look down. Are you alright?"
Who brought a kid this young to the office? She must be four, tops, those cheeky smiles and pigtailed hair not helping. Perhaps it was him not understanding the working culture in the place. He heard there had been moves to make the workplace friendlier to the whole work/life balance. Or something. He wasn't in a zesty mood, but the little girl reminded him of someone and so he decided to humor her.
"It's okay. I'm alright. Say, kid, what are you doing here?"
She beamed. Maybe he was wrong and she had been ignored by the other people she had approached all along.
"Waiting for Mama! School's cancelled today so Mama took me here!"
Well, nannies were hard to come by on short notice, he guessed. This mama of hers must have been through a hell of a morning if she was so desperate.
"Layna! Oh, there you are. I told you not to bother other people. I'm sorry, gentlemen, my daughter can be a bit too curious..." There. Speaking of the devil...
He took a glance to the poor woman and came face to face with a woman he hadn't seen for more than a year.
His best ex.
He did not expect this.
"...Oh. Hi. I didn't know you were in the city." She definitely didn't expect this either.
"Only for the week."
That was awkward.
Once, he'd thought she'd be the last. Meeting her now with a child felt surreal. She was still beautiful, if a bit tired.
But something was wrong.
"Ah...congratulations on your marriage. I'm sorry I couldn't attend, but I wasn't aware." They'd kept in touch. He was not sure why Kayla wouldn't tell him about the wedding.
"I...am not. Married."
She had certain mannerisms whenever she was anxious and agitated. He was looking at them unfolding at full force.
One hand repeatedly tucking stray locks behind her ears, even if there are no stray locks.
One hand gripping the other arm, trembling.
Teeth biting her lips with her face scrunched up.
Eyes looking downwards with a faraway, hollow gaze.
He returned his observation to the little girl watching them with interest. She seemed small for her age, but not as young as she should've been.
"How old are you?"
But it couldn't be. He had still been in the city, three years ago. They had still been together three years ago.
Kayla was getting impatient and uncomfortable. He felt sorry because what he was doing probably made it worse for her, but he had the need to know. He had one shot to clarify the hunch that had been gnawing at him since he saw her.
"When's your birthday?"
They'd broken up in August. Unless Kayla had cheated on him when they had still been dating, and he was sure she wasn't the kind of person, then he had only one conclusion to reach.
When she could raise her head enough for them to see straight into each other's eyes, he saw in them steely resolution and vacant dignity.
"Fine. You in mood for coffee?"
He had broken her, again.