Some things never change here I am angry with Mason again. I'm really upset at his death. Plus there's no one else to hit, okay, not really hit, slap. Mason let me slap him on the arm though I only knew him long enough to do that once. Reflexes. I barely apologized and only after he apologized for making me slap him in the first place. I felt humiliated but with an underlying exhilaration. He just shrugged. That's what I'm going to miss about Mason. I was allowed to be an angry female and he always made me mad. Now that part of me is gone-and that makes me angry too.

We met at my opening and I was attracted to him, but not sexually. He was athletic yet soft and I sensed that his skin was usually damp. His fine red hair was shaped close to his skull and was cut this way in order to seal in the dampness. He smirked instead of smiled and moved in a patient, deliberate way that drove me insane. Of course, I overlooked these things at the time.

He introduced himself. I kept my hands clasped and scooted out on the flimsy excuse of needing to find the gallery owner. Had he been better looking, we both know I would have stayed. Someone gave him my telephone number and he left a message on my machine. I met him that afternoon.

The RockHouse was a new age affair of blond wood and old mountain man perched on a plateau. The cafe's newspapers and patrons were scattered just so and we ordered coffees to take onto the deck. The thin young girl pushed two mugs across the counter and that's when the trouble began.

Number one, the mugs were not warmed. Number two, Mason doubted the decaf on the serving counter was fresh; since he pointed out, it was late afternoon. Numbers three and four he refused to share the last coffee stirrer and cringed when I jammed the narrow straw into his cup after I rescued it from the dollop of cream on the counter and number five, well, number five.

Number five we sat at the last stools at the counter. They were crammed next to a thriving rosebush and I leaned towards Mason so I wouldn't get pricked. He pressed his leg against my thigh and was close enough for me to detect the moist sheen on his upper lip. Suddenly, he lunged forward and pulled me to him.

Now, had I known the icy water of the Pacific would claim Mason by summer's end, I would not have gotten angry and jumped back. I would not have tumbled slow motion backward into the tall rosebush because for once I wouldn't have been upset at Mason. Instead, for one brief instant, I would have changed. I'd have allowed Mason to hold me with his sweaty palms and I'd have let him believe that we were going to be lovers.

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