She walked into the bar on a cold and wintry afternoon in January. The private eye had told her that he often came here after getting off work at the local museum. The Minneapolis Metropolitan Museum of art was only four blocks away. He would walk past this bar everyday on his way home from work. Sure she could have turned up there or even at his apartment door but somehow she thought the bar was the perfect place considering the first time they met had been in a bar.
Six months earlier she walked into detective Mike Evans office. She handed him a check and a piece of paper with the name Eric Daniels on it and the fact that he was from Minnesota and a former teacher at Westmonte High School in 2010. She had to find him. So much had happened, she felt broken inside. The thought of finding him was the only thing that got her up and out of the house.
It had taken her two months to get the courage up to come here after detective Evans told her his findings. Eric was working as an art director at the museum and had been for the last two years. He was not married and didn't have a girlfriend as far as the detective could see. Eric hadn't worked as a teacher since leaving Westmonte.
Lux was early, she knew that Eric didn't get off work until 6pm but since the bar was open she thought getting there early would make her nerves go away. Lux sat at the bar with a clear view of the door and ordered a rum and coke. The local bar quickly filled up with people getting off from the local establishments.
Eric saw her the moment he opened the door. She was sitting at the bar in a blue crochet hat wearing jeans and a University of Oregon T-shirt. Lux took his breath away. He stood there for a moment and just took her in. Their eyes met and it was like everyone else just faded away.
"Hi Eeyore, fancy running into you here"
"Well I finally had to come see where you were from Minnesota."
"I'll have a beer and another for the lady" Eric told the bartender.
Once their drinks came Eric motioned for them to move to a table in the back.
"So you work at the museum huh?"
"Yeah for a couple of years now. It's interesting. How did you know that I work there? That I come here?"
"I needed to find you and I hired a PI to track you down."
"You know your parents told me that if I ever saw you again that they would have me arrested."
"Don't worry about them, they know I'm here and they think its good for me" Lux explained.
Eric nodded his head and tried to imagine that it was true. He had hoped that with time they wouldn't hate him.
"You look good Eeyore, U of O huh?" referring to her T-shirt.
"Yeah, I'm a senior majoring in English. The plan was to start up an nonprofit organization to tutor kids in the foster care system after graduation. You know help kids like me. Tasha has majored in history and she is planning on going to law school."
"That's great Lux, I'm so proud that you both went to college." He noted the sadness in her voice. Lux brushed the hair out of her face and in doing so Eric noticed the diamond engagement ring on her finger. Was that why she was here? Eric wondered. Did she just want to tell him that she was getting married? The whole thing had an eerie similarity to the first time they met.
Lux snapped him out of his thoughts by telling him that Ryan and Cate had gotten a divorce after Cate lost the baby and that Cate and Baze had gotten married. Cate found out that Julia was pregnant with Ryan's baby and told him. She didn't want to stand in his way of raising his own child.
"Wow that's certainly a lot that has happened. It must be great having your parents back together, I know you always secretly wanted that."
"Yeah it is, and they are really happy. You can tell they were meant to be together."
"I'm sorry Cate lost the baby though, you would have been a wonderful big sister. I hope it had nothing to do with finding out about us."
"No it didn't, the doctor said Cate could never have another baby. It was because of something that happened when she had me."
"Oh, listen its getting a little crowded in here, you want to go for a walk?" Eric asked wanting a little bit more privacy.
"Yeah, I'd love to."
They walked in silence for blocks. Neither wanting to break the peacefulness of being together. Eric wondered why she was back in his life now after all these years but he wouldn't push her. He knew Lux would tell him when she was ready. He had missed her so much but he knew he had to stay away for her well-being. He tried to do the best thing for her.
They walked until they came to a bridge overlooking the water. It all looked so peaceful at night.
Lux broke the silence. "Aren't you wondering why after 5 years I suddenly hired a PI to track you down and then I show up here?"
"The only thing I'm wondering right now is if that's an engagement ring?"
Eric shocked her, Lux had practically forgotten even wearing the ring, it had become so much apart of her.
"If it is, are you here to have me talk you out of this one too?" Eric asked referring to her short engagement to Bug.
"It is but that's not why I'm here Minnesota."
With that they stood in silence, it hung in the air between them for what felt like an eternity.
They stood there and looked at the water until it was too cold to stay out there anymore. It was getting late and Eric realized that neither of them had ate dinner so he suggested picking up some chinese food and going back to his apartment if that was okay with Lux, she agreed. They made small talk on the way to pick up the food. Just casual talk that wasn't forced, it was comfortable. Lux was excited at the aspect of getting to see Eric's apartment for the first time. Especially since she never got to see his in Portland.
When they walked through the door they were greeted by a big yellow lab.
"This is Rosie, I rescued her from a local shelter."
"Hi Rosie, good girl. I like that name."
Lux looked around the small apartment while Eric fed Rosie. It was a mix of masculine and comfort. The bookshelves were lined with first edition novels & travel books and Eric had an extensive vinyl collection that Lux made a note to ask about later. Eric came over and turned on some music and together they unpacked the food.
"I like the apartment, it's very you."
"It's very me huh."
"Yeah, it is, from the leather sofa to the big screen TV, it's all very you Minnesota."
"Well maybe I'll give you a tour of the rest of the apartment after dinner."
"I'd like that, you know I never got to see your apartment in Portland but I imagined what it was like and I thought it would be a lot like this."
"You know I was pretty much a gypsey after I left Portland. I traveled around Europe for years. I don't think I could stand being on the same continent as you. I heard you were valedictorian of your senior class."
"Yeah, I was. How'd you know?"
"Math sent me a text, I guess he wanted me to know you turned out okay. It's the only time I ever heard from him."
"You know you were the only reason I could have ever done that. You gave me the confidence and the skills to succeed in school."
"No Eeyore, you did it all on your own."
Together they cleaned up dinner and cleared the table. Eric took Lux on that tour of the apartment, which consisted of seeing the laundry room, bathroom, and his bedroom.
"Sorry, I would have cleaned up had I known I was going to have company."
"It's fine really, your place is very neat and organized. I like the burnt orange walls, its very cool."
"Oh, you like that do you, my mom picked out all the colors and helped with the decorating. I think she was just so excited that I finally came home."
"That's my fault, that you stayed away from your mom and your family for so long. I'm so sorry Eric. Maybe I shouldn't have come here, this isn't fair to you to just show up back in your life after all this time."
Lux turned to leave when Eric grabbed her by the arm. "Don't you dare say that was your fault. I had a choice to make and I chose wrong. But for the life of me Lux I would do it all over again if it meant I got to help you."
"You did help me Eric, so much."
They embraced for the first time in five years and neither of them wanted to let go. It was Rosie that broke them apart; she needed to be walked.
"I should be going anyway, it's getting late." Lux said.
"No, you can't, we haven't even really talked yet. You can't just walk back into my life to walk back out of it so quickly. Look stay, I'll call in sick to work tomorrow and we can spend the entire day together. I'll take Rosie for her walk and you can take a shower and get ready for bed, use anything of mine you want." Pulling out a dresser drawer he showed her where his t-shirts were for her to sleep in.
"Are you sure." was all Lux could manage.
"Yes, I'm not letting you go, actually I can't." with that Eric left the room with Rosie pulling his bedroom door shut behind him. Leaving Lux standing in Eric's bedroom thinking of the words that he had spoken to her years ago on a school bus coming back from a camping trip.
Lux heard the front door close and with that she grabbed one of Eric's t-shirts out of the drawer and went into the bathroom for her shower. All the while thinking how when she got off the plane this morning she felt so alone and now she felt whole again.
When Eric got back from walking Rosie he knocked gingerly on his bedroom door. Lux was already out of the shower and had crawled into Eric's bed. "Come in" Lux said. When Eric opened the door the sight of her wearing his t-shirt in his bed was almost too much for him. "I hope you don't mind." she said referring to being in his bed. "No, no not at all. You just kind of took my breath away that's all." Eric said. Lux blushed.
"I'll just grab a pillow and blanket and go sleep on the couch." Eric offered.
"No, don't you dare. It's a big bed, we can share, besides its not like it's the first time we've ever shared a bed."
He got his pajamas and went into the bathroom to shower and change. By the time he came out Lux had already drifted off to sleep. She was barely aware of Eric slipping into bed. And as he said Good Night he barely made out Lux saying "Good night Jones, I love you" in her sleep. As if Eric wasn't already going to have a hard time sleeping tonight. He couldn't believe that just this morning seeing her again was only a dream but now she was here in his bed...saying another guys name.