I sat across from her as she ate the breakfast I prepared for us and wondered if I was doing the right thing. She told me how important trust is to her and how badly Evans betrayal had hurt her and I held back the information about him cheating on Rachel until a few months ago. It might be a huge mistake that will come back to get me, but for right now I think it’s best if she doesn’t know.
Telling her about the cheating would put her in the middle. If she didn’t tell Rachel, and Rachel found out she knew it would surely end their friendship. It would eat away at Sophie keeping that secret from her best friend even if she never found out. If she told Rachel about it, it could have a huge effect on their marriage and Sophie would always be seen as the girl that helped to break them up. For now, I just have to know I’m doing what’s best for her and hope she will understand.
Listening to her talk about California was both exciting and heart breaking. She loves it there and plans to live there for a long time. Her face lights up each time she talks about her roommates and how wonderful it is to walk outside without being hit by that humid, stale air we have here in Florida. At the same time, knowing she is going to leave in two days to go back to her life there without me hurts. I feel like I finally got my chance to show her how much I’ve always cared about her and she’s leaving.
We hang out at my place all morning and take a walk downtown to have lunch a few hours later. I hold her hand and even stop and kiss her a few times right on the street because I don’t want to waste a minute of the time we have together. I don’t care who sees how much I love her, but know that keeping a low profile around the wedding guests is truly what’s best for her. She’s already had to put up with years of shame and constant rumors about what had happened between her and Evan. I won’t pull her back into that spotlight with any of my actions.
At lunch, over a sandwich we shared, she told me about how hard it is at times to be away from her family. I understand that feeling well, both my parents left Florida for the much drier climate of Arizona to help with my father’s allergies and arthritis. I try to visit them as often as possible, usually stopping in when I travel back and forth to California. I think leaving your friends and family just out of high school makes you a very courageous person and probably ages you quicker than your peers. I know each time I look into her eyes that she is an old soul, wise beyond her years.
“Where are you boys going tonight?” she asks as I run my hand down her hair. Her finger is tracing circles on my bare chest as we lie in my bed. I love having her head on my chest and her body pressed closely to mine.
“A strip club. Nothing says cheesy bachelor party like greased up silicone, five inch heels and gold stripper poles.”
She giggles and I feel my own smile stretch across my face. I could listen to her laugh all day. It’s like being back in grade school when I would do whatever it took to make a girl laugh. She brings out the playful kid in me. It’s amazing just how much she brings out in me period. One minute I’m like a child, messing around and having the best time, and the next I’m all grown up thinking about white picket fences and two point five kids.
“Well, as long as one of them is named after some type of baking ingredient—Sugar, Chocolate, Cinnamon or something, I think your mission will be accomplished.” She’s sarcastic and I love it.
This time I laugh, peeking down at her as she looks up at me. “What about the girls? What are you doing?”
“Drinking and dancing,” she rolls her eyes. “Can’t say we achieved bachelorette party success unless everyone wakes up tomorrow with sore feet and regrets.”
“I’m pretty good at massages. Keep that in mind when you’re all liquored up and looking for a place to elevate your feet.” I try hard to keep a straight face but fail when she pretends to be shocked. We both laugh and I pull her up higher on me so I can kiss her lips. “I’m serious though, stay the night with me again. I’ll give you my extra key.”
“You just want me to help with all the left over excitement from the strip club. Maybe I’ll wear my five inch heels.”
“Strippers aren’t really my thing. I’m sure the girls will be lovely, but I prefer the girl next door to lubed up tanning bed addicts. But, you should definitely wear the heels just incase.”
My phone rings from the side table next to my bed. I pick it up and see that it’s Evan. Sophie lies back down on my chest as I answer the call. “Hey Evan, what’s up?”
“Where are you? We’re going to leave early and grab a burger before the club.” I can hear some of the guys in the background and feel a little bad for not being there with him.
“What time is it?” We haven’t paid much attention to the time. After returning from lunch, we headed straight for my bed and haven’t been out of it since. I don’t keep a clock in here.
“Shit. Sorry. I ran home to do a few things before the club. I’ll head back now. Just text me where you’ll be and I’ll catch up. I can drop my car back off after dinner.”
Sophie sits up, pulling the sheet with her as she gets out of bed. I watch her go, hating that I can’t just stay here with her tonight. She smiles at me over her shoulder as she makes her way into my bathroom.
“No problem. I’ll text you when we’re on our way. You might even make it back to the hotel before some of these douche bags are ready to go,” Evan says. I hear the sound of the phone moving across his chin as he purposefully yells, “They take longer than the fucking girls. Hurry up and finish putting on your make-up, some of us are hungry.” I chuckle when I hear the curses and insults being flung his way from some of our friends.
“Thanks. I’ll see you in a bit.” I hang the phone up and make my way into the bathroom. I might not have all night here with her, but I do have at least another twenty minutes before the guys get their shit together and head out.
I drop Sophie off at the front of the hotel. I don’t want to run the risk of anyone being in the lobby if I were to walk her to her room. She promises to text me when she’s on her way back up tonight and I give her one last kiss. I text Evan and he lets me know that they just ordered their first round and burgers. His next text is the name of the burger joint. It isn’t my favorite, but at least I know where it is. Sometimes my partners and I stop there after court to grab something to eat before heading home.
As I drive the short distance, I can’t stop smiling. It finally feels like everything is falling into place. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I know it has everything to do with Sophie being back in my life. I’m a twenty-two year-old man who is hoping the night at the strip club will go by quickly so that I can rush back to be with her. I shake my head and laugh as I pull into the parking lot.
Once inside, I push the thoughts of her out of my mind and tell myself to focus on Evan. We order another round of drinks and I open a tab for all of the guys. We eat our burgers and a few of the guys flirt with the waitresses. Evan of course flirts too, but I decide to cut him some slack since this is technically his last nigh of being unmarried. My phone vibrates in my pocket and I slide my finger across the screen, pulling up a message from Sophie.
Sophie: Do these heels match my dress?
My heart races and I feel heat rush throughout my body. Attached to the message is a picture of her in a skin tight dress, so short I know there is no way she has any plans of bending even a little. Her breasts are pushed together giving me a perfect view of smooth cleavage. She’s wearing a delicate necklace that rests on the curves of her breasts. It takes me a minute to even notice the heels, but as soon as I do I feel my lips curl up into a grin.
She has on the highest pair of heels I’ve ever seen. They might even put stripper heels to shame. Her long toned legs rise out of the bright heels and seem to travel for miles before any fabric makes an attempt at covering the apex of her thighs. She’s so unbelievably hot I’m having trouble closing the image on my phone. Me: I have no idea if they match, sweetheart, but they’re perfect. Maybe I’ll have you keep them on.
I send the text and then tuck my phone back into my pocket. If she sends me any more pictures tonight I’m going to have to cut the evening short and crash the girl’s party instead. I look up to see Evan’s eyes on me and an angry scowl on his face. I don’t look away, deciding it’s time he realizes he lost his chance.
“I can’t believe you man,” he says when the guys leave us alone at the table to try to firm up plans to meet up with a few of the girls after work. “I thought we were friends. Now you’re swooping in to take my sloppy seconds.”
“There’s nothing sloppy about it Evan. Get your head out of your ass and realize it’s been four years. I’ve waited long enough.” I tip the beer bottle to my lips and keep my eyes on him as I drink.
“Whatever. You’ll get bored like I did after a while. She’s the marrying kind, not the fun to fuck kind. Don’t burn that little black book just yet.” I know he’s already drunk from pre-gaming in his room and the few rounds we’ve had here, but hearing him say those words has me wanting to rip him off his chair and beat the shit out of him.
“Maybe you just didn’t know how girls worked back then. Don’t worry about me my friend, I know what I’m doing.” With my words his face turns red. I finish my beer and place the empty bottle back on the table. “We’ve been friends for along time now Evan. I didn’t let her get between us in high school, so don’t put her there now. That was the last time I’m going to sit back and let you put her down. Next time we are going to go outside and handle it like men. I’ll leave our friendship at the door and beat the shit out of you.”
The muscles of his jaw twitch as he clamps his teeth down but doesn’t say anything. He sets his beer bottle down next to mine and pushes away from the table. I watch him stalk over to the guys who are chatting up the two female bartenders. I know as I watch him lean in closer to the woman behind the bar that our friendship is not going to recover from this. I’ll do my duty tomorrow as his best man, and then I’ll step away from this friendship because there hasn’t been a benefit in it for me in years. Sometimes it’s just time to realize it’s possible to out grow your best friend.