WARNINGS: Mild Language
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Lee tried to stay awake for when [HN] called but by 10:00 she couldn’t keep her eyes open. You spend the next hour doodling on a writing pad from the desk drawer. You’re compiling reasons, well lists possibly, so you can figure out what to do.
WHY? Heads one list under which you’ve written: ‘Why what? Why do I like him? Why am I more myself when he’s near? Why does it make me not care that he has a girlfriend? Why does his touch send signals through my body? Why does the smell of him make me feel safe? Why do I wish I were the only woman in his life?’ The simplest answer would just be ‘Why not?’, but that leaves you exactly where you already are.
IF NOT, heads the other list. ‘If not him then who? If not now, then why am I here? If he doesn’t have the same feelings what do I do? If I’m not meant to be in his life, again, why am I here?’
This is the one troubling you. He's the one that reached out once you once you arrived; the one who continues to reach out. You aren’t complaining obviously but you’re the one that has fallen into the ‘he’s more than a friend to me’.
The last half of the page is filled with question marks, swirls, and occasional words. ‘How do I just be a friend? Can I be? Do I want to be? What is there to go home to?’
At 11:00 your phone rings, you step out onto the patio so as not to wake Lee.
“Hi.” The state of mind you’re in, you can’t come up with anything better. You just shake your head and realize that being this way might drive him away faster than anything else.
“[YN], you received my flowers, good. Thank you for answering, how are you?”
“Not too bad actually, how was your day?”
You hear nothing on the other end for a bit, he finally says,
“It was good thank you. How many times did he try to call today?”
“Call? Oh, I don’t know maybe 10. He texted more, I stopped counting after 50.”
“And you say you aren’t too bad? You don’t have to lie to me, lying would hurt our friendship, I would be terribly disappointed by that.”
“Honestly, I’m not lying. I don’t know I may be in shock but I really don’t care. It’s like I already knew but I didn’t, I’m sure that doesn’t make any sense. “
“Like you knew something was up or wrong just didn’t know what?”
“Yes, exactly. I’m just distracted by other thoughts, those have me more upset.”
“Oh? Care to talk about them? I’m not tired.”
You laugh at the thought; wouldn't that be ironic.
“No, thank you. Just something muddling around in my head I have to figure out. So, how is your girlfriend? Everything still good?”
He pauses a minute, “Why would things be bad? She is good, she says Hi by the way.”
That takes you by surprise. “She’s there? Why are you on the phone with me if she’s there with you?”
“Oh no, no.. I’m sorry you thought that. She asked about you when we were on the phone this morning. It was she that called during breakfast.”
“Yes, I remember. She is very trusting and beautiful; you must have worked hard to earn that trust.”
“It is not hard work if you are simply honest. We have been together many years; she is one of the most beautiful women I know, inside and out.”
You smile, if you’re going to be his friend, you need to let him talk about his woman and not be jealous.
“Tell me about her. How did you two meet?”
You hear him chuckle, “You don’t want to hear about that, especially after just breaking up.”
“Not true, she's an important part of your life. Friends talk to each other about things that are important to them as well as things that interest them.”
“Very well; one day I will tell you about her, but not tonight.”
He changes the subject to a book; saying that he actually ordered the book that you quoted last week. You discuss the possibilities of reading the same book, at the same time so that the two of you can discuss it. Your thoughts wander to what that means, you are only in town for another week and a half. You can read books that fast, but can he with his busy schedule?
Around midnight, you feel as though you’ve taken up enough of his time and that you should let him hang up. As you try to say that without sounding pathetic, he once more changes the subject.
“[YN]… is everything alright between us? I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s what happened with your boyfriend or if it’s something I've done. Why you’re not yourself tonight.”
You don’t know how to answer that. The truth is you don’t know how to act around him now that you’ve figured out how you feel and that Chad is out of the picture. It was easy and safe before; now you have feelings involved.
At your pause he continues, “Did I cross a line last night? Or this morning? I know our cultures are different; my only intent was to comfort you. Was I wrong to do so?”
He sounds so sincere and sad that you’re fighting back tears.
“You’ve done nothing wrong.” You laugh hiccup as you try to not let him hear you cry. “In fact, you’ve done everything right. Not sure where I’ll ever find a man that treats me better. Thank you, it’s meant a lot to me.”
Tears have started falling of their own accord; you need to get off the phone before it’s obvious in your voice. “I’m suddenly more tired than I thought. Do you mind if we say goodnight?”
You try again. “I really have to go. Thank you for the flowers, they definitely added sunshine; and thanks for checking up on me. … Good night.”
You quickly hang up and clap a hand over your mouth as a sob makes its way past your lips. Maybe the shock of Chad being a cheating asshole and discovering your feelings for [HN] has finally hit you. You’ve lost it. Your phone rings and without thinking you pick it up, prepared to tell Chad off.
“Seriously Chad, take the hint! I don’t want to talk to you, EVER! I don’t care what you did or to who as long as I’m not involved! Get it?!? Now lose my number!” Before you can hit the END button you hear a soft,
Shit. You bring the phone back to your ear.
“[HN]? I’m sorry, I thought you were Chad, I didn’t look at my screen. Is something wrong?”
“I’m coming over.”
Your eyes widen and you quickly wipe your face with your sleeves.
“Why? Has something happened to someone? What’s wrong?”
“That’s what I intend to find out. I just didn’t want to surprise you.” And with that he hangs up and you’re left staring down at a silent phone.
You quickly make your way to the bathroom to wash your face. It doesn’t matter how many times you splash it with water or use eye drops, the fact that your eyes are still tearing is the problem. You don’t know exactly what’s wrong; you don’t know what to tell him when he gets here. Blame it all on Chad you tell yourself. He’ll expect it, figure your shock has worn off and that you’re finally grieving. You convince yourself that will be the plan and mentally rehearse what to say to him.
At the soft knock on the door, your heart starts racing and your anxiety soars; can you really pull this off? You don’t want his pity. Pitying you for Chad is one thing but pitying you because you are like every other female on the planet and have fallen for him? Not acceptable.
You take a deep breath, look through the peep hole and release the chain. As you open the door, he’s standing there in a hat, sunglasses, and a dust mask. His hands are in his pockets, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet waiting for you to answer. His get up brings a smile to your lips; only idols and druggies are out at 1:00 in the morning in sunglasses. He moves past you, not saying a word. He places his sunglasses, hat, and mask on the table and turns to you.
That’s all it takes, the concern in his eyes is your undoing. As tears begin to pool in your eyes again, he steps forward and wraps you in the comfort of his arms.