Luke stood outside the restaurant, watching Noah and Ameera through the window. Casey’s words continued to repeat in his mind. Deep down, he couldn’t deny the truth in the statements. He knew that Casey was only speaking aloud what Luke been thinking for a while now. This whole fake marriage and pretending to be Casey’s boyfriend thing was a bad idea.
Yes, they’d done it to keep Ameera safe and had maybe even saved her life. But what was the real result? She didn’t have a real home or relationship, she didn’t have anyone besides Noah to talk to and her future was uncertain. What would happen when she and Noah divorced? Were they fooling themselves by thinking that she would just move on and start a new life?
As Luke slowly walked back into the restaurant, his heart beat hollowly in his chest. He had to do something, and the only thing he could do was going to tear him apart. He needed to be straight-forward about his feelings. It was the only way that they could work towards any solution, even if the solution meant that he and Noah could no longer be together. Compounding Luke’s own feelings was the evidence that the longer this… charade went on the more Luke could feel Noah drifting away from him. Not exactly towards Ameera, but further into the world that they had constructed. Noah was married now, and Noah being the man he was meant that the marriage vows meant something to him, even if he wasn’t aware of that fact.
Luke sat across from the couple and it took a moment before they stopped their conversation and noticed him.
“So, did you talk to Casey?”
Luke’s eyes narrowed in on Ameera’s hand as it crept closer to Noah’s on the tabletop.
“Yeah… I asked him what was going on.”
Even though Noah was talking, Luke zeroed in on Ameera.
“Do you have feeling for Noah?”
She looked shocked for a moment, but as always her eyes were unreadable.
“Of course. He’s taken care of me and sacrificed so much.”
“That’s not what I mean. Are you attracted to Noah? Are you in love with him?”
There was dead silence for a moment; the only sound Luke could hear was his own rushed breathing.
“Luke! What are you talking about? You know that there’s nothing between Ameera and I. We only got married so she could stay in the country.”
The exasperated tone in Noah’s voice wasn’t new to Luke. He’d heard it more and more lately. Noah was getting sick of Luke asking questions and not playing along correctly. It was the first time that Luke actually felt his own anger rise at the sound of it.
As he sat and watched Ameera stare at her lap while Noah put his arm around her shoulders, he had answers to all the questions he’d been wondering about. He finally looked directly at Noah, at the man that he loved. The man who was currently breathing heavily with annoyance and anger. The man who was glaring at Luke for daring to question the way things were.
He sighed and started to slip on his jacket.
“I can’t be a part of this anymore.”
Noah quickly looked up from Ameera, confusion gracing his features now while anger still flitted through his eyes.
“Luke? What do you mean? Where are you going?”
Luke stood, standing beside the table a simple arms reach from Noah that felt like hundreds of miles.
“I think that you and Ameera need to do this thing together. You can’t afford any outside distractions because it’s just going to lead to hurt or trouble. Like Casey said, we're going to get caught. How long did we think we could pull this off?”
“But… Luke, you can’t just leave. What about us?”
Luke tilted his head to the side, smiling at Noah as he felt his heart break on the inside.
“What us, Noah? You’re married. I, apparently, have a boyfriend. What kind of relationship is that? I'm not going to to live this fake life anymore Noah, I can't keep living this lie."
The two guys looked at each other for a long moment, a tableau in the busy diner that continued to move and bustle behind them. Ameera slyly glanced between their faces.
She started to pull away from Noah, and of course his attention shot back to her.
“Are you all right?”
No, I’m not. Luke thought as he walked out into the brisk wind. But at least I’m on my way now.
Luke dialed Casey's number as he walked towards the hotel. He knew that Casey was working but he needed to talk to someone and Casey was the only person who could probably understand his situation right now.
"Casey, it's Luke. I need to talk to you. When's your break?"
"Right now, since I just got fired. Are they
"No. I... listen, I'll explain it to you face to face. Can you meet me?"
"Why not. I've got nothing else to do. 10 minutes at Java?"
"Fine. See you there."
Luke slipped the phone back into his pocket, glancing at the time as he did so. Huh,
he thought. Less than an hour.
It was amazing what could happen in such a short time.