"I am sorry to burden you with all of this talk," he said. "It is just that this year has been...difficult. I am so pleased to have a friend to talk to about it."
Friend. Maggie felt her heart sink a little. What had she been hoping?
She would certainly consider Alessandro a friend, so why was she upset by the idea of being good buddies with this kindly man who had made her time in Milan more pleasant?
Of course he didn't see her as anything but a friend: He'd just gone through a painful divorce. She sighed to herself just a little. What she'd secretly hoped for in the back of her mind would probably never happen with Alessandro.
He must have noticed her silence. "I did not mean to upset you."
"Oh, Alessandro. I'm so sorry. I was just taking it in," Maggie said, ashamed of her own selfishness. Why shouldn't a friend be able to pour his heart out to her without judgment? "Please, I didn't mean you should stop talking."
His smile was just a little sad. "Ah, Maggie. Thank you, but there is little more to say. It has been such a hard time in my life and I have had no one else to talk to. When Fiona and I divorced, I found out that many of the people I thought were my friends were most definitely not."
She saw so much pain in his eyes that she couldn't resist placing a sympathetic hand on his.
Alessandro looked surprised at her gesture, but quickly caught her hand. "I think perhaps I will now make better choices with friends," he said, and squeezed her hand in his.
Maggie glowed. Even if everything she'd secretly hoped in some hidden part of her heart couldn't happen with Alessandro, she was overjoyed to be sharing her bench with such a new and delightful companion.