Harris had never thought much of romance. Rather than try to get a woman all in a tizzy with subtle mind games, he instead focused on the end result. Being an attentive boyfriend had always eluded him because women rarely fascinated him. And he knew how that would make him sound: more than once he had been thrown a well-timed “you’re an asshole” before the woman in question stormed out of the room.
Shortcomings? Oh, yes, he was aware of them. But somehow most women he met rarely looked past the surface. He was handsome, so of course he would be willing to make them swoon. He was charming, so of course he would have plenty of sweet nothings to whisper in their ears.
Maybe that’s why he was thirty-five with barely a handful of relationships to his name.
“You need to do some internal work or something,” his friend Alisha told him one niht. “Don’t you ever think of how you make these women feel?”
“It’s an exchange,” he said matter-of-factly as they waited for the bartender to bring their drinks. “It’s not my fault the world’s like this.”
“Have you ever thought you’re just aromantic?” Alisha asked, and the word shook him. Needless to say, the idea had turned up in sporadic therapy sessions over the years.
“Maybe,” he conceded.
“Huh.” Alisha cocked her head. “That’s rare for you. I thought for sure you’d shut me down as soon as possible.”
“Yes, well, I can’t say I didn’t think about it. Especially after Melina.”
“Ah. Melina.” Alisha nodded as the bartender came by and gave her the gin and tonic she’d ordered. “Can’t say I could forget her. You really did a number on that one.”
“She wasn’t some kind of experiment,” Harris said, a snap to his voice, and Alisha glanced at him as if she were surprised she struck a nerve. The bartender, likely noting the mood, didn’t say anything as he slid over Harris’s glass of wine. “I really thought I could make things work with her. I knew she was a special person. I didn’t mean to break her heart.”
“Is this remorse?” Alisha asked, her lips twisting as if she found something ironic around his words.