She knew how long it had been with the certainty of a compass pointing north. A tiny clock kept track in the back of her mind, ticking away the hours and pulling her ever forward to the future.
Closing her eyes, she took herself back to that last moment. She took a deep breath, the whirl of computers and copy machines disappearing to be replaced by the soft sound of music, the clink of wine glasses, and the low laughter of the loved.
He stared at her across the table. The candlelight reflected the smile in his eyes.
"I don't believe you," he teased.
Her hackles rose. "I don't know why not," she replied stiffly.
"Because it's too important to you."
He knew her well, this blue eyed lover.
"But this is important too," she'd insisted. She grimaced at the tone of her voice. It was harsh, brittle.
"Hey...okay," he placated. He reached across the table and patted her hand with his. She drew back sharply, scratching his palm with her diamond.
"You don't think I can do it." She felt near tears in desperation.
"I don't think you need to," he insisted softly.
She turned her head and swallowed the lump in her throat. Around her, elegant women and devastatingly handsome men danced and flirted. She watched one pale red head loop a slim hand over her date's shoulder and laugh into his suit jacket. Jealous acid burned in her stomach.
"If it's that important to you," he started.
She turned sharply to him. "It is," she whispered fiercely.
He shook his head sadly. "One last time?"
She chewed her lip. Did she dare? Would it weaken her resolve? Slowly she nodded. He gestured to the waiter and whispered a few words in his ear.
She sat back and toyed with her wine glass. Awkward silence filled the space between them. He didn't understand. Not really. Part of her loved him for that. Part of her hated him.
The waiter reappeared and set a plate in front of her.
Three layers high, the chocolate cake was topped with a drizzle of raspberry sauce. She sighed and picked up a fork.
The first bite exploded in her mouth and filled her senses. She closed her eyes on a moan. The rich, almost bitter taste of chocolate was tempered by the whipped cream frosting and delicate raspberries. She rolled it around her tongue and savored every second.
She opened her eyes and nodded wordlessly as she took another bite.
The phone jolted her to the present. Sighing, she picked it up. "Yes," she said, "I'll need to move my alteration a half hour later." She listened for a moment. "Yeah. I need to take it in a bit more."
She hung up the phone. A co-worker walked by, his plate piled high with birthday cake. She popped a piece of gum in her mouth.
Six weeks, four days, four hours. It'd better be worth it.