Lucas leaned back in his computer chair, smiling to himself. He and Melanie had been talking almost every day for the past week, but they still hadn’t hung out in person since that night at the bar.
The thought of seeing her again made him excited – Lucas had had the same group of friends since he was a kid. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d actually hung out with someone new… Until now.
He closed the chat window, powered down the computer, and eagerly headed down the stairs to get ready.
“Hey!” Melanie greeted Lucas brightly as he approached. “It’s nice to be reminded that you aren’t just a little picture on a computer screen.” She smirked.
He waved in greeting, his entire face lighting up the moment he saw her. “Hey!” Lucas replied. “Thanks for joining me… Usually I make these trips solo.” He shrugged.
“I don’t mind.” She smiled. “I used to come here all the time, actually.”
Melanie nodded. “Christian and I spent a lot of hours here before we got a decent computer. They actually have some pretty good programming guides tucked away in there.” She nodded toward the large brick building.
Lucas furrowed his brow. “Christian?” He asked.
Lucas felt his stomach drop, but he could not explain why.
“Sorry, late husband.” Melanie clarified, shaking her head. “You’d think after nearly two years I’d finally be used to it, but…” She sighed.
“Oh… Wow, I, uh… I’m really sorry.” Lucas said uncomfortably, though the unpleasant sensation in his stomach had suddenly vanished.
“Thanks.” Melanie smiled softly. “I’m sorry to just throw that out there like that… Sometimes it’s really easy to just talk about him like he’s still here.” She shrugged.
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” Lucas smiled. “Don’t feel like you can’t talk about him or anything.” He said sincerely. The way she’d lit up when she talked about Christian captivated him, and he figured that anyone who was married to a girl like Melanie had to be pretty interesting. “I’d like to know more about him.”
She smiled. “That’s really sweet of you.”
They headed inside together, continuing their conversation as Lucas browsed the shelves of old herbalism guides for something that looked promising. He couldn’t help but notice just how many familiar titles there were – it wouldn’t be long until he’d read every available gardening book they had. And then what?
Lucas and Melanie took a seat on one of the library’s cushioned leather benches, falling into silence as Lucas began flipping through the pages of the book he’d selected.
“You’re sure you’re not bored?” He asked her.
“Nah, don’t worry about me.” Melanie smiled. “I can keep myself occupied.”
Lucas browsed through the book for several minutes, fighting to keep his concentration. Though she remained completely silent, having Melanie beside him was proving quite distracting. He stole many sideways glances at her, making sure she was not bored and wondering what she could be thinking.
After reading four more pages, it suddenly hit him. I HAVE read this one before. Lucas shook his head, torn between frustration and amusement as he closed the book and placed it on the bench beside him.
Melanie laughed. “Well, that was quick!”
“Yeah… can you believe it? I’ve read this book already!” Lucas shook his head. “It’s starting to feel like I’ve read half the books in this place.” He confessed.
“What’s the deal with this recipe?” She asked seriously. “It seems to take up so much of your time… I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone going this far just to make dinner before.” Melanie teased playfully.
Lucas smiled at her quip. “It’s a really long story…” He hesitated. “I promised someone a long time ago that I’d find this recipe for them… And I don’t want to let them down. But it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be…”
Melanie nodded knowingly. “I’ve been there.” She sighed. “Heck, there are even some promises I made to Christian that I’m still trying to keep. Promises are important… You just have to make sure you don’t lose sight of everything else along the way. It took me a long time to figure that out.”
Lucas considered her words for a moment. Had he been losing sight of things? Sometimes it felt that way… “Thanks.” He said after a few moments. “That was pretty good, actually… If your boss keeps being such a jerk you could always go back to school for psychology.” Lucas laughed.
Melanie raised an eyebrow. “Sit around listening to a bunch of people whine about their problems? Are you kidding? I’ve got enough of my own, thanks.”
“Well that wasn’t exactly my most productive trip to the library…” Lucas chuckled as he and Melanie stepped out into the light of the setting sun. “But it was fun. Thanks for coming.”
Lucas looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. “Remember my friends from the bar?”
Melanie smiled. “How could I forget?”
“Well, Sam and Laura – they’re the ones having the baby – they’re planning this cookout thing down at the park this weekend. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna go, but…” He shrugged. “Would you wanna come? My friend Noah’s going too, and probably his girlfriend, Camryn. I think you’d like her, she’s really cool.” Lucas smiled. “And I promise Sam and Noah are too, when they aren’t completely hammered.”
Melanie smiled sweetly, and Lucas could feel the butterflies from that night at the bar returning. “I’d love that.”
“Awesome.” Lucas’ smile widened. “I’ll find out what time we’re supposed to meet and let you know.” He paused, hesitating for a moment. “So… I guess I’ll talk to you soon?”
Melanie beamed. “Of course!”
Lucas headed down the stairs with great reluctance. Why was it so hard to say goodbye? “Have a nice night, Mel.” He called back to her.
“You too.” She replied.