This little story is a shorter one, but I hope it turned out just as well as my longer stuff…..
Mat knew what the night meant to her. He dressed for the occasion: Nice black slacks, black cotton jacket, his best silk tie. He brought her to the nicest Italian restaurant he knew of in the town. Haven Falls didn’t have much of a selection in that regard, but he thought that he made an appropriate choice—especially when he escorted her out of the restaurant and suggested a romantic moonlight stroll through the town’s downtown shopping district.
Nicole smiled up at him, the glow of the moon reflecting off her pale cheeks, her arm through his. Mat was certain that his arrangements for their evening were appropriate for the two-year anniversary of their first date.
They strolled down cobblestone sidewalks and glanced into the lighted windows of clothing shops and restaurants and ice cream parlors. The warmth of the summer night almost demanded the crowds that packed the latter.
Nicole’s slender arm was looped easily through Mat’s right, bare to the shoulder. For the second or twentieth time that night, he let his eyes wander over the sleek black dress that she had on, accentuating her curves and her natural beauty. She caught him looking and gave him a playful swat.
“Not on the street, Mat,” she said, a twinkle in her eye as if promising things for later on, in private.
He grinned, a little guilty but happy that he was with a girl with a sense of humor. They lapsed back into contented silence, satisfied to simply be walking, holding onto each other. It reminded him of their first date, holding hands and walking around during the town’s harvest festival. It was almost too bad that that particular tradition stopped after the riot the previous year.
Their feet carried them into the town square, shops all around and lamps overhead. Instead of cobblestone sidewalks here, there were raised wooden walkways and a few small streams meandering through as decoration. Other couples were about, and children raced across the walks, jumping over the creeks and laughing.
Mat and Nicole stopped in front of a street performer, his hat on the ground in front of him for tips and his hands busy playing an accordion. The instrument lay comfortably on his generous belly, almost seeming to not need the strap that hung around his neck. He smiled at them, jovial in his playing, and the song changed to a slower, somehow romantic tune.
Nicole snuggled her face closer to Mat and closed her eyes, just listening to the music. Mat, too, felt himself be drawn in, and he reminisced about a particularly memorable party back in college, where a very drunk party host—wearing no shirt—broke out an accordion and played to the general approval of the partiers.
Mat found himself grinning at the memory for a moment, before the rest of that night resurfaced. He remembered standing in the kitchen, a cheap light beer in hand. He remembered watching the drunken musician ten feet away. He remembered his best friend, Andy, approach him with the gravest of looks on his face and break the news that his girlfriend was cheating on him.
Struck back to the present by that recollection, Mat opened his mouth and, without thinking, looked down at Nicole and asked, “Would you ever cheat on me?”
He regretted the words even as they came out of his mouth, sure that she would take offense.
Her reaction was not what he expected. She opened her eyes and stared at him in shock for a second before breaking eye contact and responding in a slightly hoarse voice. “Of course not, Love.”
He tried to catch her eye again, but she turned her head and looked up at the moon instead, inadvertently letting its light illuminate the spots of red on her cheeks.
Mat’s face fell, and he was left staring at the amber wood below her feet with a hollow feeling spreading through him.