ENCORE

I wasn't sure at that moment if I was supposed to throw the cigarette behind me, tear off my shirt, and make passionate love to him while the cigarette sparked a fire in the dried potted plants in the background, or if I should just kick him in the groin for eight years of emotional damage and self-esteem depletion.

"I'm sorry," For once I was sincerely apologetic, thought at the moment it felt more as though I was apologizing to myself for being too proud to walk back up his stairs that day I left.

He reached up with both hands and guided me back down to his level on the hardened mini-turf. "God, why didn't I run after you?"

I recoiled, "Because I'm a selfish, arrogant bitch. And I'm a shitty fuck."

He hadn't been listening to me; instead, he kept his head tilted slightly to the left and grinned.

"You were a bit of a jackass yourself," I proffered, hoping to find more answers as to why he had chosen to find me and try again.

He smile faintly dropped. "You just left, Kate. You're so irrational and spontaneous sometimes that it's dangerous."

"Dangerous, eh?" That's kind of sexy, I have to admit.

He scooted closer, smoothing his thumb down the side of my face. "This is serious, Kate," but he said it with such delicacy I couldn't entirely believe him, "You can't just run away all the time."

"Please, Taylor, I flatter myself saying things like, 'I'm never coming back.'" I laughed, wishing we'd move on to more pleasant topics like how much he'd been craving me in the last decade.

"But you didn't come back."

Truth. "I know," I pulled his hand from my face and leaned back. "But what did you expect me to do, I mean honestly?" I curled my legs up to my chest and stared at him from my fortress. "After everything you said…"

"What? Did it bruise your ego that badly? You needed a wake-up call, Kate."

"I know." I also needed to lower my blood-alcohol content, but I thought it might ruin the moment.

"I'm just sorry that I was the one who had to do it," He wasn't looking at me anymore.

"Why's that?"

"Because I lost you."

I must have passed out shortly after that defining moment because the next morning I found myself in bed with a half naked Taylor. Recognizing that this time I was in my own apartment, I leapt out of bed and ran into the living room. Molly was strung out across our sofa, her latest conquest's tie around her neck like a medallion.

Realizing that making coffee would only wake up the sleeping beauty and her anonymous fuck, I crept back into my room and sat in the chair opposite of the bed, waiting for him to awaken. Thirty minutes later when he had only grunted and sprawled himself out onto the entire surface area of my bed, I began throwing things at his head.

He awoke gracefully, as always, cursing and tearing sheets from his body.

"Morning," I stared in disbelief at the creature before me.

"How are you feeling?"

He was casual, like he had been here before. Was this not awkward for him? Did he not realize that he was in my bed?

"I'm fine. How are you?"

"Hungry. Have you learned to cook yet?"

"You expect me to cook for you? Hah."

He peeled himself away from the bed and slowly approached my chair. "I thought you'd at least learn how to make yourself useful in the last eight years," he teased.

I, however, was in no mood for partially flirtatious banter. "Taylor?"

"Mm?" he squatted in front of me and grinned.

"What happens now?"

"Well," he let himself droop to the floor. "Obviously you aren't going to feed me, so I guess I'll have to take you out to breakfast."

"You know what I mean."

"I don't know, Kate, can't you just sit back and let it happen?" he seemed exhausted from the night before, so I stopped prodding.

Somewhat dissatisfied, I grabbed my keys from the dresser and asked him where he wanted to have breakfast at this late hour of the morning. Pleased, he tossed on last evening's pants and skipped out the door. As we passed by my unconscious roommate, I noticed Taylor gaze at her somewhat sympathetically; I brushed it off as a pity glance.

Shot for cash, we had to walk to breakfast, which Taylor insisted we take over on Long Island. By the time we were seated in the crowded Eastern European diner, I was close to gnawing off my arm I was so hungry.

"I can't believe you still can't cook," he flipped through the greasy menus, deciding the Belgian waffles and spinach omelet would be the most satisfying combination.

"Shut up," I threw on of the sugar packets at his face. "You're paying by the way."

"What?!" He made sure everyone in the restaurant could hear, "You take advantage of me in the middle of the night and you can't even buy me breakfast!?"

"Taylor, shut up, you're making a scene."

He grinned and snapped me out of the booth. Forcefully, he shoved iron chairs out of his way and made a small clearing on the tile floor.

"What are you doing?" I whispered, mouthing apologies to everyone around us.

"Shut up and play along." He yanked me closer with his right hand and motioned for me to start dancing.

"I'm not dancing with you."

"It's fun, come on."

"Taylor!" I protested, but he was stronger than I was and began pushing me along the floor, humming some unidentifiable tune and dipping me at awkward angles. He loved the attention and the fact that the obese geriatric women in the corner were clapping at him and giggling with sheer pleasure. "Jesus, you and your ego," I had to laugh.

"You know you love it."

Of course I did