Catherine turned on her laptop to check the email box. While the system was loading she started thinking of Alexandra's talk a few days prior. Better to say "an angry outburst".
She knew Alexandra might like her but she never thought of her having serious feelings for her. In fact, Catherine believed her to be still in love with Cecile. Therefore, when Alexandra opened up to her, she was startled. Thus, she could not say anything to her. Since she did not know how to behave around her, she was glad not to come across her in the building halls.
When the system loaded and she opened her inbox, Catherine saw a bunch of emails from students. Usually, those kinds of emails were aimed to schedule a short talk in the office about boosting grades or asking for guidance. There was one that was different than the others. It was an electronic invitation to the annual department night.
That evening, Catherine went over her wardrobe trying to choose a dress for the department night. She made her choice in favor of a red dress thinking this might make her look better and get Alexandra's attention if she shows up for the night. Yes, she decided to face her. She could not let them not to speak to each other anymore or act like they are strangers.
After the speech of the Dean, Catherine started aggressively looking around but still could not find her. She was angry at herself for showing up but at the same time for spending so much time on herself to look good. What the hell she was thinking? Did she believe Alexandra will jump on her on the first chance? Plus, why did she think she will attend the event? She mentioned hating these kind of events and attending them only because she has to.
After the speech, everyone started socializing and Catherine decided to leave. But, her attempt was blocked by Professor Smith who literally grabbed her by arm and asked to join their group.
-Where are you going? You look all lost. Were you looking for us?
Now Catherine was lost. She stammered:
-Yes... I could not see anyone from our department and was a little bit lost.
Smith introduced her to a few people from other departments and Catherine became a hostage to dull speeches of a few professors in their mid-50s.
After a half an hour, Janette joined them to say hello and Catherine for the first time felt happy to see her. Not to miss the chance, she insisted for her to stay and join their informative talks. That was how another half an hour went.
It was the middle of the event when Janette mentioned:
-By the way, Catherine you look very stunning tonight. Anyone you want to catch their attention?
She winked at Catherine. The question reminded Catherine about Alexandra. Thus, she felt sudden humiliation and anger. But, she briefly smiled at Janette. After which, Janette said aloud.
-Seems like queens always are late./p
She nodded in a direction behind Catherine./p
When Catherine turned around she saw her. She wore an emerald-green dress and looked gorgeous. Catherine gazed at her chapfallen.
Alexandra moved slowly as if she was cautious and was greeted by most of the people. She stopped by some professors and exchanged a few sentences. Then she joined department deans and smiled at their comments. When she was passing by their group she said hi and moved on which made Catherine angry. But, bad for Alexandra. Professor Smith caught her too and literally forced her to join them. "Aha... you get what you deserve!", thought Catherine.
She looked directly at her eyes. But, Alexandra persistently was avoiding an eye-contact with her. In fact, she looked like she wanted to wrap up the conversation. But, Janette interfered.
-Professor Slonim, may I ask why both of you...
She motioned in Catherine's direction and Alexandra looked at Catherine in a quick motion.
"-... look so gorgeous tonight? Do you both try to get someone's attention? Because you know, this is not the best place to do so. There are almost no bachelors here.
Everyone in the group started laughing but two people. Alexandra forced a brief smile and excused herself to go to the lavatory. After she left the group, Catherine also excused herself and went after her.
Alexandra reclined to the wall and started breathing heavily when the door burst and angry Catherine jumped at her pushing her to the wall.
-What are you doing? Are you going to avoid me for the rest of your life?
She yelled at her.
At this precise time, they both heard toilet flush. So, Catherine parted herself from Alexandra and put some distance between them so people would think they are having a simple argument.
Once an old woman left the toilet stall, washed her hands and left the lavatory, Catherine furiously turned at Alexandra who was rubbing her left shoulder which Catherine unintentionally hit to the wall.
-What do you want from me?
Alexandra asked in a low volume like she is giving up. Catherine started calming down realizing angrier she gets, more frustrated Alexandra becomes.
-I don't want anything from you. I just want to be around you. I know, I have not been around for you as much as you were there for me. But, I want to be around you, hear your stories and talk to you mine.
Alexandra avoided eye contact as she were going through what Catherine said.
-I like you a lot. I really do. I like everything about you. Your looks, your intelligence, your action in bed... You are not a toy, you are more than a friend to me. It's just... I want to be fair with you. I don't want to deceive you. I care about you and I don't want you feel miserable.
Alexandra looked down. After a moment of silence she forced out a few words out like she does not want it to be heard.
-You do not remember me.
Although Catherine did hear what she said, she still asked immediately
-What did you say?
Alexandra raised her head looked straight into Catherine's eyes.
-We have met before.
Catherine, being still confused, asked again:
-What do you mean?
-I mean, we had met before. Before that evening in the library. Way before...
Processing her words, Catherine forced herself to remember whether they had met before that evening.
-I... I do not...
Alexandra assertively continued on looking into her eyes and Catherine gave up on trying to remember when and where they might meet.
-I am sorry... I am truly sorry... I really don't...
-It is OK. - Alexandra said and continued - After all, you were the one to impress me.
-When did it happen?
-2005. In Stanford.
A flashback happened in Catherine's mind:
-Annual Psychology Seminars.
-Yes. - Alexandra confirmed.
-I was a student who had a chance to ask a few questions on your talk about Abnormal Psychology. You, on the other hand, was a brilliant Stanford graduate.
Catherine looked at her with an impression of shame.
-I liked you a lot. Your physical appearance, mind, enthusiasm and the way you talked blew my mind away. I had a crush on you. When I returned back to Yale, I told Cecile about you. She was jealous but she mocked me from time to time about it.
Listening to her, Catherine was greedily grabbing every word trying to establish at least some kind of memory. But she was not able to do so. She did not even remember any faces from that event. Considering Alexandra's attractive look, she thought she should have remembered her.
-Look, I am sorry. I do my best right now but I can't remember… Is that the reason why you were smoking that day in the library?
-You lit a cigarette in front of me and said you do it when you get stressed.
Alexandra did not respond.
-I am sorry. I am really sorry for everything I have put you through. I was clearly oblivious to you until you point it out to me. And… And I can't even explain it to you how much I hate myself for ignoring you because I like you. I like you a lot. I mean it from deep of my heart. But I was not able to say so… because I was afraid you won't believe me. If I were you, I would also not believe. For god's sake, I stopped our dysfunctional relationship for getting back with Jackie and returning back to where we were just after the break-up would not look good. It would seem like a substitution of one failed relationship with the other. I did not want to put you through it too though I cannot stay away from you. I wish I could get back and make it up to you but I can't. But in case you let me, from now on, I will do my best so we can put everything behind.