I checked myself in the mirror as Mike made his way up to my apartment. I was wearing comfortable sweats and my hair was a mess. I crushed my initial reaction to put something more flattering on. The last thing I wanted was a repeat of this afternoon, so if presenting myself in the least attractive light kept Mike at bay, so be it. Not that I expected him to bend me over backwards at the mere sight of me, but I needed to at least believe something was within my control.
At his knock, I took a deep breath, steeling myself before opening the door. I could feel my face reddening the instant I laid eyes on him.
“Thanks for letting me up,” he said, walking in but not looking at me.
“Of course,” I responded flatly, also not looking at him.
He wandered into the living room and turned around to face me, just as I was following right behind. The sudden movement made me jump and the awkwardness surrounding us thickened.
Mike stuck his hands in his jeans pockets, a gesture that for some reason made me feel even more on edge. Still not looking at me, he asked, “Do you have anything to drink?”
Glad for an excuse to move away, I nodded, running straight to the kitchen. Realizing that alcohol was the last thing either of us needed, I simply got a glass of ice and poured him some water.
He was looking around the room when I walked back in. I had worked long enough with Mike to know that from the way he was holding himself, he was just as nervous and anxious as I was. Most of the time I saw this behavior in Jack’s office. I couldn’t let myself be amused by it now however. I handed him the glass of water.
“Thanks,” he said, then took a sip.
We both sat very rigidly: he on the couch and I in the chair. Mike acted like he was going to put the glass down, and then seemed to decide against it, holding it very firmly. Again, I was reminded of similar actions he did in the office; only there the glass would have been his baseball, or when he was really agitated, his bat.
He finally spoke, “Connie, I want…I came by to…I didn’t want to leave things…look, let me just apologize for this afternoon.”
I looked down at my carpet, not sure if he was talking about the fight or the kiss. Knowing his feelings for me, it could be just the former.
When I didn’t say anything, he finally chose to set the drink down on my coffee table and continued. “Connie, I’m sorry. About all of it. I shouldn’t have…well first, I certainly shouldn’t have gotten angry about the tape. Of course you had every right to listen to it. It’s your case and part of the reason you’re such a good DA is because you’re so thorough.”
I started to speak, but he kept going so I held my tongue. “Then, the other thing, that kiss. I don’t know what came over me…okay, that’s a lie, it’s no secret how I feel about you, but I’ve always been able to keep myself in check. But this case had me, well us really, out of our element. I just…I apologize for that sincerely and promise to never let it happen again.”
“Good,” I said quickly. This was exactly what I wanted. Things could go back to normal now, and nothing like this afternoon could ever happen again. “Thanks, Mike, I’m sorry too. Not just for the kiss, but for the fight and my general behavior over Rose…”
“You have nothing to apologize for, Connie,” he said, finally looking at me. He smiled, making my insides shiver. “You always keep me honest about things. You were trying to do it earlier too. It’s one of the reasons we work so well together.”
We stared at each other for a beat then. Sometimes as I was looking into Mike’s eyes when he was so intense, I could get lost in my thoughts. It took me a minute before I realized he was waiting on me to answer.
“What?” I asked, trying to act normal.
“I asked, were we good now?” His smile from before vanished and the self confidence slipped from his face.
“Yes, Mike, of course. We’re on the same page.” My voice sounded colder than usual. I had been waiting for the relief to come but instead I felt agitation.
Mike nodded but didn’t really move. “Actually, we aren’t though. Connie, I guess, I wanted to just let you know a little about my relationship with her. I mean, hearing the tape you might want to know…”
“I really don’t,” I said jumping up and taking his glass though it was still half full. I needed to get away from him and I certainly didn’t want to think of him and Rosalie Floyd.
He followed me into the kitchen. “I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s just; I was young back then and in love. Well, in love isn’t the right term. I thought I was in love. Rosalie was the first woman I fell for, and she was someone I pursued pretty hard. I thought she was what I wanted…well she was what I wanted. But not what I needed.”
Slowly turning around, I looked at him. He looked so sad at the moment. Did he still have feelings for her? Why did he become so unnerved when he first saw her in her apartment? Had she tried to get back in touch with him since then? I guess I did want to know some things, but not of their past.
“Anyway, we were happy for awhile. I thought things were going to work out.” He was leaning on the wall, arms folded and staring off into space. “I asked her to marry me. All my friends could see what kind of woman she was; they told me she would never marry me. I didn’t believe them. And she proved them wrong, for two whole days. After the euphoria of accepting my proposal wore off, she started pushing me away and the engagement was over nearly as quickly as it started. I was crushed.”
I nodded, of course he was. I wondered if she was why he never settled down. Mike always sold himself short but there were many women in the office that found him attractive and would have dated him if he would only ask. And he’d had a few flings since we worked together but he never seemed to let them get too far. The theory unsettled me.
He smiled again, but it was a sad one, making my heart ache a bit. “Anyway, it wasn’t hard to keep track of her for a time. You’d think that would have been torture, and at first it was, but it took becoming a bystander to see the real woman she was, or is, really as she’s not changed at all.”
“You’ve changed,” I said, surprising myself as much as Mike. “Mike, you’ve changed, even in the nearly three years I’ve known you and probably much more since you knew her. And she’s not someone you could be with now…”
Mike cut me off very quickly, “Oh, no. She’s not someone I would want now even if we were stranded on a deserted island. Trust me. Well, it’s getting late and I shouldn’t have bothered you anyway. Thanks for letting me in, and forgiving me.”
“Um, okay,” I said in response, following him to the door. Our goodbyes were brief and very professional. Once the door shut, I leaned up against it as the tension melted from my body. Mike’s abrupt exit confused me. I didn’t like ending any conversation on his former girlfriend, no matter how much he insisted it was over with her. I couldn’t wait for this case to be over and for Rose to be out of not just my life, but his as well.