All of the men in the bar were a little in love with her…this mysterious, almost ethereal woman. She was a tall, slender woman whose chestnut brown hair looked like it had been painted with golden rays of the sun.
She had sectoral heterochromia which made her even more alluring and men were willing to come up with any excuse just to gaze into her eyes, if only for a moment.
Her name was Elizabeth but everyone called her Ebby.
She wasn’t a typical barfly. She wasn’t there to score free drinks, or find a quick hook-up or latch onto a lonely old man who was willing to pay for sex and companionship. She was there for a reason but what that reason was, nobody knew.
It wasn’t a typical bar. Doctors, lawyers and professional men were regular patrons and she had come to know most of them. She knew their backgrounds, their educations and their specialties. She knew which ones were single, which ones were married and which ones didn’t care.
What they knew about her wouldn’t fill a shot glass.
She accepted the occasional invitation to dinner but made it clear that she would not give even a moment of attention to a married man.
She was honest when she let them know that dinner was just going to be dinner and they knew beforehand what to expect…and what not to expect.
At the end of his watch one night, a handsome police officer named Nate stopped by. He of course noticed her but he was not a player and had no intentions when he casually introduced himself. Ebby knew right away that there was something different about Nate.
Being a police officer, he had learned to read people and being a vigilant single woman, so had she. It was as if they had an immediate understanding of each other that went beyond just a mutual attraction.
He was what you might call “devilishly handsome” but he had the ever-present standoffish persona that has become almost the mainstay for law enforcement. He was courteous but always on guard.
Even so, Ebby and Nate formed an unlikely friendship…this illusive, free spirited woman and this understandably aloof, private man.
Nate was himself a bit of an enigma. He was a high-born man and a Rhodes scholar. While he was studying abroad, his mother was brutally raped and murdered, which left him devastated. Upon his return, he disappointed his family by not joining the business. Instead, he joined the police force with the intention of becoming a protector.
Being from a prominent family, he took his mothers’ maiden name in an effort to hide his true identity and social status.
Nate never said or did anything that would suggest he had any ulterior motives and Ebby found a comfort and familiarity with him that put her at ease. She carefully guarded her privacy and so did he but still, they shared bits and pieces of their lives with each other. They became what is commonly called a fixture in the bar and there were whispers about a potential or even an existing relationship.
Nate probably knew more about her than anybody, yet he felt as if he knew nothing. He didn’t even know her last name or how old she was. She was intentionally vague when it came to specifics about her life and her past and when Nate asked what she perceived as a personal question, she was quick to remind him that he was encroaching on territory that was off limits.
Ebby was acutely aware that there was far more to Nate than just a badge and a gun, although she did not pry. She would not ask for nor expect full disclosure from someone when she herself, denied the same.
After noticing how the other men in the bar watched her, Nate said “you know, every man in this bar has his eyes on you.” She smiled and said “they can look all they want.”
He said “as long as they don’t touch, right?” Ebby said “I have plans and those plans don’t include getting involved with anyone.”
Nate said “but you do go on dates.” She said “yes, but I never invite them to my place. There are no after dinner drinks. There is no touching. There might be a handshake but then again, there might not.”
Nate smiled, slightly shook his head and said “that’s harsh.”
Ebby looked at Nate with a serious stare and said “I don’t like to be handled.”
Nate said “so if I took you to dinner, you wouldn’t invite me in for a nightcap?” She said “actually, I would.” He jerked his head back and said “you would? Why me?”
She said “because I know you aren’t interested.” Nate took a sip of his beer and softly said “yeah, I guess I’m safe.”
What Ebby didn’t know was that Nate had already fallen deeply in love with her.
What Nate didn’t know was that Ebby found herself thinking about him far more than she should allow. She knew she would regret having become attached to him but she had a mission and nothing was going to stand in the way of that mission. Feelings and friendships were expendable.
They had both had crossed a line that neither of them had wanted to cross. It was a certainty that their lives would soon begin to merge…and would eventually collide.