I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I don't want her to get the wrong impression by going out to lunch with her alone...
Nathan rubbed his neck again, but then reached over and gave Susan's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "If we leave for lunch, we might miss the announcement," he said, trying to soften the blow. "Let's let Rita order this pizza and wait it out. And besides, if she's willing to pay..."
"PIZZA FOR EVERYONE!"
It had only taken that one note of approval from the writer to have Rita standing on a chair, making her announcement. Her declaration was met with a mixture of confusion and mild applause as she hopped down and set about placing the large order. Susan, for her part, sighed and sat down, propping her elbows on her knees. Nathan knew she was disappointed.
"Hey..." He sat down next to her and turned her way, even though she still looked at the ground. "Susan, I know you wanted to go out, but..."
"It's not that." Her cheeks darkened as she lifted her head, looking askance at him. "I... I-I guess I just wanted some more time with, well, just you."
Nathan swallowed loudly. He knew where she was going with this, and knew he was being put on the spot for a response. Absentmindedly, he began twisting the ring on his finger. "Not now, Susan," he told her as calmly as he could. "I... I need more time before I think about that."
Susan frowned and looked up at him, her brows knotted. "What? Why?" Before he could answer her, she happened to glance down and notice he was fiddling with his ring. Slowly, her cheeks and ears became even redder as her mouth dropped open in shock. "You're... engaged?"
"Yes," Nathan said reflexively, then winced and went to quickly correct himself. "I mean, no. I mean, I was, but..."
"Why didn't you say anything?" Susan cut in. She didn't seem to hear anything beyond the initial yes, her look of surprise starting to morph into anger. "Wha... you're engaged?!" Her fingers clenched into the fabric of her skirt. "I can't believe this... how come I've never seen her? Did she even visit you while you were in the hospital? Is that why you live in an apartment alone? So no one knows? Does she know? Is that why you keep avoiding me? Is it? Why didn't you just say that you're taken instead of dragging me along? Or was that the idea: to see what you could get away with? Scott told me you were single... is this a plot between the two of you? Oh my God... you think this is funny, don't you? You think I'm stupid! You're only doing this to toy with me! You even arrogantly wear your engagement ring like I would never figure it out!"
By now, the auditions had come to a standstill while everyone stopped to watch Susan's steadily increasing distress. A few of the women had already started discussing amongst themselves what this could be about, and Enya, the only other person who knew the truth, was nowhere to be seen. Nathan sank in his seat, dread creeping up his spine while Susan continued her accusations.
I should tell her. I need to tell her that Marni's dead, but with so many people watching... God, why did it have the be here? Why now? Why couldn't she have noticed later? I am Marni's fiance. Can I betray her by telling Susan I'm not? What do I do? What do I do...?