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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2225854-Ambivalence
by JD
Rated: E · Novel · Romance/Love · #2225854
Chapter 3: The Offer
I leave my quiet house in a rush, eager and excited to meet Sam at the coffee shop near our neighborhood. We have so much to catch up on, including her illusive and somewhat shady text to Ryan last night. I think she’s hiding something. It doesn’t help that she’s been averting my concern the last week or two. Every conversation we have is pointed back to me. And when I do get her to talk about her feelings, she puts on a sweet smile and says, “I’m good, Ally. Really. Stop worrying about me.”

As I pull into the parking lot, I remind myself to be calm and understanding. Whatever secrets my best friend is hiding must be dealt with carefully. She’s still fragile in every sense of the way.

A chilly breeze wisps my hair over my eyes as I step out of my car and onto the pavement. With a shiver, I cross my arms over my hooded sweatshirt and swiftly make my way towards the entrance. Christian’s hoodie happens to be my go to article of clothing on this cold, winter night. The fit is definitely over-sized, but it’s so warm and cozy and goes perfectly with leggings and warm, fuzzy boots.

After forcefully brushing the hair out of my face, I look for Sam through the window, observing the large number of people already inside. It seems rather crowded for a Sunday evening.

I take in a strong whiff of coffee as I open the door, sighing in pleasure once fully inside. The brewing and blending can be heard over all the noisy chatter in the room, which somehow brings a comforting sound to my ears.

It’s not long before my attention is grabbed by Sam’s vigorous hand waving. Her beaming self is nestled in the corner near the front window. Her strawberry-blond hair is pulled half-up and looks stunning against her ivory sweater.

As I get closer, I notice there are three drinks on the round, orange table. I furrow my brow in curiosity at the extra beverage, but quickly choose to point out a more exciting observation.

“You got a boot,” I say in surprise.

“Yes!” Sam proclaims, lifting her foot to show off her new footwear. “I got it on yesterday. I’m so glad to be done with crutches. I never want to see those sticks of pain again.”

I chuckle while pulling out the chair next to her and take a seat.

Sam’s recovery from the car accident on New Year’s has been incredible, both physically and emotionally. But I’m still worried about her—and most of all curious. How does one go from anguished and mopey to chipper and giddy so quickly after losing a loved one? It’s a mystery, and one I plan to find out.

“I feel ya,” I admit, scooting my chair in. “I hate crutches. Seriously, if I sprain my ankle one more time...”

Sam grins as I quickly knock on the table for good luck.

“I ordered your drink already,” she explains, pushing one of the paper cups my way. “It was pretty busy when I got here.”

“Thanks. Yeah, I noticed.” I glance behind me at the long line of customers, and then take a sip of the warm, caramel latte.

As Sam takes a few swigs of her coffee, I notice a few nervous tendencies. Her eyes keep flickering towards the front door and the fingers on her cup produce a wild tapping sound. Something has her twitching, and I don’t think it’s the coffee.

“Who’s this one for?” I ask, pointing to the obvious, unclaimed drink.

“Oh, that’s for Bryce,” she says, like I’m supposed to know who that is.

“Who?” I ask, perplexed.

“The guy I really want you to meet. He should be here any minute.”

I reach for Sam and grip her forearm. “You better start explaining and fast. What’s going on?”

She breaks into a smile to help ease my motherly concern, but it doesn’t change my look of a worry.

“Bryce and I met a couple weeks ago. Oddly enough, his office is in the same place as my physical therapy. It’s a massive building. Anyway, I was on my way down from the tenth floor and this gorgeous man in a navy suit enters the elevator. A conversation sparked and we immediately hit it off. We’ve been talking constantly ever since. Last night was our first official date... Ally, he’s so wonderful...and incredibly smart.”

“That’s great. I’m thrilled for you. But why did you wait till now to tell me? Did you think I’d be mad you met someone new?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Ayden hasn’t been gone that long. Though some days it feels like forever. But also...Bryce is quite a bit older, so I haven’t told anyone about him yet.”

“Really, Sam?” I tilt my head for dramatic effect. “I’m the last person to judge a relationship based on age difference. Ryan and Christian are both older. You know that.”

“He’s twenty-eight.” She blurts out, eagerly awaiting my response.

Ten years isn’t enough to shock me, but it does sound older than I expect. Still, I push away my doubts and encourage my best friend.

“Well, you’re both adults, and like I said, I have no reason to judge. But I do want to know more about him. Is that who you meant to text last night, instead of Ryan?”

“Yes, of course,” she replies, nodding her head.

“Why did it sound like you were being pressured? Is he asking you to do something you don’t want to do?”

Within seconds I watch her happy, assured face turn to distress, and it saddens my heart. Her words fly out in quick defense.

“No, not at all. We were just messing around. I was being silly and—it was nothing. OK?”

“Sam, it didn’t sound like nothing. Are you—“

“He’s here,” she interrupts in a whisper.

My eyes peer to the door and make contact with a tall, dark-haired man, dressed in gray slacks and navy button-up shirt. His appearance resembles Ryan, but with sharper features, especially the jaw. He moves towards us in a rapid, confident stride.

“Sorry I’m late,” he says, addressing Sam with a slight squeeze to the shoulder. “I was inconveniently held up.”

“No worries,” she replies grinning ear to ear. “Please sit. I got you a cappuccino.”

“Thanks, beautiful,” he says, taking a seat across from me.

He quickly stretches out a hand. “I’m guessing you’re Ally.”

“Yes, hi.”

It’s easy to admire Bryce’s silver-blue eyes as we shake hands. They’re gorgeous.

After taking a sip of his coffee, he aims polite conversation my way. “So Sam tells me you were recently in Northern California. How was your visit?”

Unprepared for his question, my response comes out short and vague. “Oh, I came back late last night. It was just a short visit.”

Bryce surprises me with more knowledge about my life.” I imagine it must of been hard—leaving your boyfriend so quickly and so far away.”

“Definitely,” I say with lingering sorrow, shifting my cup back and forth. After a moment of self pity, it finally registers how much Bryce seems to know about me and how little I know of him. “Can you tell me about yourself?” I ask, kindly.

Despite being put on the spot, Bryce speaks with ease and self-assurance.

“Well, you should know I’m very passionate about my job. I knew I wanted to start my own business at an early age. After attending college in the Northern part of the state I was offered an internship at a large marketing firm in New York City. Spent a couple years learning as much as I could. Came back to Southern California and started my own marketing research firm. It’s small—only been up and running for a few years, but we’re doing well and just recently moved to the sixth floor of the Peak Towers building.”

I glance at Sam with a smile of approval. She matches my grin, only there’s a massive blush attached to her pale cheeks.

“I’m impressed,” I admit, tucking my hair behind my ears.

“You should stop by some time,” he says, putting down his coffee. “I can give you a tour.”

My eyes lift in curiosity, but before I can voice my thoughts, Bryce makes a surprising offer to Sam, reaching for her hand in the process.

“How would you feel about working for my company?” He asks, tracing the palm of her hand.

“Me?” She answers, soft.

“It would be an internship. Just a few hours after school so you could gain some work experience. It would look great on a college application...What do you think?”

The dubious expression on Sam’s face is suddenly directed at me, as if she is waiting for me to give an answer for her.

“That’s quite an offer,” I acknowledge with careful discernment. “What would she be doing exactly?”

“Basic office tasks. Making copies, filing, typing, probably help set-up for meetings. Nothing she couldn’t handle.”

I nod my head and look to Sam. By the tension in her posture, I’m worried she’s bordering a panic attack.

“Could you use two interns?” She finally speaks. “Ally would greatly benefit from the work experience as well.”

“Wait—what?” I answer sharp.

“Sure, I can make that work,” Bryce counters.

“Hold up,” I chime in, urgently. “Sam, can I talk to you for a minute, please?”

“Yeah, sure,” she replies, attempting to move.

Bryce releases his attentive hold on Sam and gracefully offers to step away. “Please, stay seated. I know that boot is not the easiest to move around. I’ll give you two a moment alone.”

After he’s out of ear reach, Sam pleads her case.

“Ally, please do this with me? I can’t do this alone. I really want this internship, but I’m clueless. I literally have no office skills.”

“I barely have any myself.”

“You helped in the counselors office at school. That’s something. Besides, you have nothing else going on and think of the experience you’ll gain. It will be so much better than sitting at home being depressed about Ryan’s absence. And best of all, we’ll be together.”

Sam makes some great points, but I honestly have no desire to work in a place I know nothing about, even if it is with my best friend.

“The offer was for you, Sam. I really don’t think you should be begging your new boyfriend to give me a job.”

She takes my hand and covers it with hers. “I know it was awkward. I’m sorry, but he seemed fine with it. Please, I’m begging you. Do this with me.”

I cover my face with my free hand and sigh. Sam needs me and after everything she’s been through, she deserves a best friend that will do anything for her. It’s time for me to step it up, but I have a feeling I’m going to regret my decision, even if it’s the right thing to do.

Once Bryce returns, he comes back with a slightly new offer. “Look, I know I basically sprung this last minute. I gave both of you a lot to think about. So how about you talk it over with your family and let me know your decision later tonight. Say by midnight?”

“Sounds good,” Sam replies, smiling with her big hazel eyes.

The look of content growing on Bryce’s chiseled face is pleasing to watch, but it quickly disappears with Sam’s pointed suggestion.

“Hey, Ally—look who just walked in.”

I turn my head and instantly smile. My heart flutters at the sight of Christian. The badge hanging around his neck swings a little as he makes his way towards the dwindling line in his usual, attractive swagger.

“That’s the cop that pulled me over on the way here,” Bryce admits with a hard expression.

“Really?” I ask, confused. “He’s a detective and they don’t usually make traffic stops.”

“Yeah, I know. Which is why I was surprised when he pulled me over. I guess he didn’t like my driving.”

“Hmm...” is all I can manage to say. Not knowing the circumstances makes it hard to have an opinion on the matter. Plus, I’m biased. I trust Christian would have a good reason for pulling someone over.

“That’s her Ex,” Sam whispers, leaning forward in her chair. “You should go say hi, Ally.”

The nudge to my arm isn’t enough to persuade me, but I appreciate her enthusiasm.

“Why would she make an effort to speak with her Ex?” Bryce asks, interlocking his fingers with Sam’s.

“Their still friends,” she explains. “It’s complicated.”

Bryce stares with keen interest as I try to reason my way out of the situation. “He’s got his holster on. I don’t want to disturb him while he’s working.”

Sam giggles at my excuse. “He’s getting coffee. I’m sure he can manage to squeeze in a hello. Just go.”

I’m not sure why my reluctance to speak to Christian is suddenly an issue. I had a great night with him last night. I think deep down a part of me knows it’s best to avoid any interactions with him because of how he makes me feel.

I love Ryan, and I know I can be loyal and committed in our relationship. But I also enjoy Christian’s company and that remains to be dicey—at least where my heart strings are concerned.

“Is it because you’re wearing his sweatshirt?” Sam asks.

Peering down at myself, I reply, “No. I forgot I was even wearing it.”

Bryce conveniently changes the subject and inquires about Sam’s next physical therapy session, and I’m grateful. I listen to them vaguely as I keep on eye on the line.

Christian, being the observant guy he is, eventually notices us in the corner. With his coffee in hand, he leaves the pay counter and sends a delighted grin my way. I convince myself it’s rude not to make an effort to say hello at this point.

“I’ll be right back,” I explain, getting up from my chair.

Unfortunately, I’m a little too excited with my approach and bump into a table on my way to greet Christian, banging my leg hard.

Heat washes my cheeks at the sound of his laugh.

“You OK? He asks, helping me balance while I nurse my knee.

I frown. “You’re not supposed to make fun of me.”

Letting another chuckle slide, he says, “I didn’t mean to laugh, but you walked right into that table. How did you not see it?”

My head shakes in disapproval. “If you were anyone else, I’d hit you right now.”

“Oh, really?” He asks, highly amused.

“Yep,” I insist, wearing a faint smile.

Unexpectedly, he sets his coffee on one of the display tables next to the wall and relaxes his stance. “Go for it. I can take a punch.”

“Heck, no. I’m not injuring my hand. You’re body is like a brick wall.”

Christian’s snort is adorable and helps me forget about my throbbing knee.

“Why didn’t you look surprised when you saw me?” I ask, standing to normal.

“Which time?” He inquires, picking up his drink.

“Just now. When I saw you smiling at me.”

“Ally, I know it’s crowded in here, but this coffee shop is not that big. I saw you before I even entered the building.”

“Really?” I ask, interested.

“I can promise you I didn’t become a detective at a young age by experience. I’m very observant when I want to be. So yes, I quickly saw you through the window. Then there’s Sam. Her boot sticks out like a sore thumb. Poor thing. And don’t get me started on the Ryan-look-alike. What is that about, anyway?”

The assertiveness in Christian’s voice amuses me, and I can’t contain my giggle.

“What’s so funny?” He asks, gently tapping my foot.

“You’re certainly vocal tonight.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come across critical and irritable. It’s been a long night.”

“No, I didn’t mean it in a negative way. I just think it’s funny...and that guy is Sam’s new boyfriend.”

His pause is long and worrisome. “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”

“He said you pulled him over. Why?”

“He was speeding and swerving around several cars. It was very unsafe. I didn’t have a choice.”

“Wow, that’s certainly something to keep in mind. Sam seems smitten by this guy.“

“How do you feel about that?”

I cock my head, thoughtfully. “I don’t know yet. Too soon to tell.”

He nods his head and fidgets with the keys in his jacket...“Listen. I gotta run. I’m meeting a witness for an interview and she’s already bailed on me twice. But I want you to keep me posted on this, OK?

“Definitely. You have a good night.” Reflexively, I tug on the corner of his black, canvas jacket. “Be safe,” I add.

“Always. We’ll talk soon.” Christian guides his steps towards the door, but then halts for a moment, briefly turning. “By the way, I love that sweatshirt on you.”

His compliment brings me a coy smile and a speechless brain, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. He leaves with a pleased smirk.

I return to the table and do my best to hide my blush, but Sam is quick to acknowledge the obvious.

“Someone enjoyed themselves,” She says, brave and unafraid.

“He made me laugh, so yeah, I guess I did.” I push in my chair and indicate my departure. “So I’m gonna take off now, and let you enjoy some quality time.”

“That’s not necessary,” Bryce says, shifting in his chair and opening up his fit frame. “Please, join us.”

“Yeah, we want you to stay,” Sam inputs.

“I appreciate that, but I’d like to go home and talk to my family before it’s gets too late. It was very nice to meet you.”

“Let me walk you out,” he suggests, standing from his chair.

I shake my head and start to retreat towards the door. “No, that’s not necessary. I’m good. This is a safe neighborhood.”

Bryce continues to follow me. “No, I insist.”

I shrug my shoulders and wave bye to my grinning best friend. I don’t know if this protective initiative is meant to impress me or Sam, but either way, I find it sort of sweet.

Our walk is a short one, but its enough time for me to realize that he wants to talk to me some more. Alone.

“This is me,” I say, pointing at my car.

“Nice Jetta,” he says, resting his hand on the hood.

“Thanks.”

I move to the driver side and lean against the window. Bryce lets out a deep breath and steps my direction. He actually seems nervous under the pale moonlight.

“I want you to know I think Sam is pretty special, and I have only the best of intentions where she is concerned.”

I cross my arms and speak my peace. “Sam has an incredibly kind and gentle spirit. She needs someone who will nurture those things. Someone that is stable and well-balanced. Someone to push her out of her comfort zone. But most importantly—she needs someone she can trust.”

“I know... and I truly believe that’s me. I want to be everything she needs. You and I both know she values your opinion. It was very important to her that I meet you. That’s why I was pushing for more time. I just hope I made a good impression, for Sam’s sake.”

I take a moment to reflect, tightening my temples in an attempt to make him sweat a little.

“I think your career resume is impressive, but honestly, I’m still deciding on the rest...“

Bryce nods his head and suddenly appears defeated.

“...But to be fair, I think Sam met you at the perfect time. I think this job will be good for her.”

“I agree...Does that mean you’ll be joining her?” His eyebrows peak with curiosity.

“Maybe. You’ll have to wait till midnight to find out.”

His bright smile accompanies a quick tap to my car. “Thank you for your honesty, Ally. I enjoyed meeting you.”

I open my car door and toss my bag inside. “Ditto. Thanks for sharing your heart.”

“Take the job and you’ll definitely hear more,” He offers, baiting me as he backs away.

Unwilling to fall for his trap, I lift my hands undecidedly, teasing him with a quiet smile.

He shakes his head in disappointment, but the grin on his face suggests he’s slightly amused. “Drive safe.”

“Thanks, you too. No more speeding,” I warn him, wagging my finger.

“Very funny,” he projects loudly.

I pull my keys out of my sweatshirt and open my door further. Before I get a chance to slide into my car, Christian appears from behind, startling me.

My squeal is low, but intense. “What are you still doing here?” I ask, struggling to breathe normal.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. My meeting was canceled again. I’ve been in my car working on my lap top. Did you have a nice chat with—what was his name—Rice?”

The giggles inside me return. I don’t know if Christian is intentionally being funny or if it’s by accident, but he’s cracking me up.

“It’s Bryce,” I pronounce slowly. “Not Rice.”

“Right...I’ll tell you one thing, Bryce certainly has a way with words.”

“What do you mean?“ I ask, pulling my hood over my head.

“Besides being arrogant and rude, he made some passive aggressive threats my way—even after I told him my stop was just a warning.“

I tuck my hands in the pockets of my sweatshirt in an attempt to warm my icy fingers. ““Do you think he was just having a bad night?”

“I don’t know, but that’s why I’m concerned for Sam. My first impression was not a good one...She knows how old he is, right?“

“Yes, which is why I think she was hesitant to tell me about him in the first place. But if he’s dishonest, or worse, I’ll be around to find out.”

Christian angles his head with his next question. “Are you sure Sam is on board with that?”

“She insisted. Bryce offered us both an internship at his company. Initially, I wasn’t interested, but with Sam’s persistence and persuasion, it’s pretty much a done deal.”

“So you’re both gonna work for this guy?” He asks, hinting at his disapproval.

“Yes, I think so,” I answer, timid. “But this is a good thing, because now I can be there for her, while also making sure Bryce is a decent guy and not a creep.”

Releasing a hand from his pocket, Christian puffs out a sigh and rubs his jaw line. “I gotta be honest with you, I’m not a fan of this plan.”

“It’ll be fine,” I assure him, briefly grasping his wrist.

“There’s something about him that raises a red flag. Many red flags. I think you sense it, too.”

“A little, yeah,” I admit, quietly.

I watch Christian’s face soften as he starts playfully tugging on one of the cords of my sweatshirt, distracting my thoughts for a moment.

“I’m glad we agree,” he says, smiling.

“I still have to do this. For Sam,” I confess, remembering her desperate plea.

Sadly, the displeased look on Christian’s face returns.

“What does Ryan think about all of this?” He asks, shuffling his feet to stay warm.

“I haven’t talked to him about it yet, but I will tonight.“

“Good.”

The breeze picks up and I start to shiver hard, and I’m not the only one curling my arms in front of my waist—Christian is freezing too. If we were still dating, I’d hug him for warmth.

I should get home,” I say, chattering my teeth.

“Yeah, of course.” Leaning one arm over the top of my door, he expresses, “Ally, I meant what I said. If you ever need anything, or if you’re ever in some kind of trouble, you call me. OK?”

I don’t know if it’s the bone chilling air that finally gets to me or if I’m just overwhelmed with Christian’s compassion, but something pulls me to him. I reach my arms around his waist, and he gladly accepts my notion, squeezing me tight against his warm chest. It’s not a long embrace, but a quiet one.

I pull back and slowly peer up, smiling. He mimics my face and then rubs my shoulders up and down for a few seconds, providing me some extra warmth.

“Drive carefully,” he says, moving away.

“OK, but please don’t follow me home. That creeps me out.”

“I won’t.” He chuckles. “Good night.”

As I close my door and drive away, I start to feel guilty—and not from the innocent hug. The guilt comes from my residual feelings towards a man that cares so much about my well-being and the well-being of my best friend. I realize an important fact on my short drive home. Girlfriend or not, Christian isn’t going to make this transition to friendship an easy one.

When I get home, I spot Kelly snacking in the kitchen by herself. I slide onto one of the bar stools across from her hunched over posture and steal a few of her crackers from the counter.

With a mouthful of crumbs, she asks, “Where you been?” But before I can even explain, her train of thought drastically changes. “Wait. Why are you wearing Christian’s sweatshirt?”

“Because it’s comfy,” I answer, swiveling in my seat.

“Do you really think that’s a good idea?”

The judgment in her voice alarms me.

“Why would it not be?” I ask, confused.

Kelly props herself up from the island and gives me an unexpected expression.

“For starters, he’s your ex,” she explains, sharply. “How do you think he would feel if he saw you in it?”

Already knowing the answer, I reply quickly. “Happy. Amused.”

“OK, let’s say that’s his reaction. Don’t you think that might give him the wrong impression?”

My defenses continue to go up as I pull my hair back with my hands.

“We’re friends, Kel. He knows I’m in love with Ryan, and Christian has a girlfriend now. I’m not leading him on, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Ally, I know you think it’s just a sweatshirt, but wearing it could give Christian a false hope. And I know that’s the last thing you want to do. Just put yourself in his position.”

I realize Kelly is right and knots begin to form in my gut. Christian deserves more consideration and sensitivity on my part. I promised myself I would never hurt him again. And tonight, I wore one of the first things he ever gave me—from the night we first met.

“Kel, I messed up,” I admit, releasing a deep sigh. I lean my elbows on the counter and face plant into my palms.

Kelly travels around the island and aims her sympathetic voice my way. “Hey...talk to me.” She turns my stool her direction and lifts my chin. “How did you mess up?”

“I ran into Christian tonight at the coffee shop...wearing this.” I pull the dangling strings towards her. “Clearly, I’m a terrible Ex-girlfriend.”

“Come here,” she insists, taking my hands and heaving me into a hug. “You’re not terrible. You’re young and you have a lot to learn.”

Grateful for the hug and advice, I sigh in both comfort and agreement.

Kelly releases me with a strange squint. “Why do you smell like Christian?“

I sniff the arm of my sweatshirt and take in the pleasant, masculine scent. “I might’ve hugged him tonight,” I confess.

She rolls her eyes before pulling me into another loving embrace. “What am I gonna do with you?”

Later, Kelly takes my hand and leads me to the family room, and we have a nice talk on the couch about everything that unfolded at the coffee shop. Her thoughts on Bryce are pending like mine, especially after I mention Christian’s unpleasant experience with him.

I’m not surprised when she agrees with my decision to intern with Sam. She shines at being supportive. But she makes me promise to give it a real shot. In other words, I have to take this internship seriously.

Nerves are starting to build as I imagine navigating through an unfamiliar place with new challenges and experiences. It dawns on me that Ryan must be feeling the same way. He starts his first day of graduate classes tomorrow.

After a quick shower, I video chat with him and repeat the same info I told Kelly, but much quicker. I’m so wound up I barely let him get in a word.

“What do you think?” I finally ask him.

“It sounds like you already made up your mind.”

“So you think I made the wrong decision? I ask, hesitant.

“Sweetie, as much as I would like to tell you what to do, I can’t. That’s not my role as your boyfriend. You have to make this important decision on your own. But I will give you some advice. Taking this job to spy on Sam’s new boyfriend isn’t a good reason, and I think you already know that. Take the internship to learn something and gain some experience. Enjoy the experience with her. That’s what Sam would want. You can still support each other.”

He’s right. I love that he’s right.

“Thanks, babe. I can always count on your support. I was a little worried Christian might call and try to get you to persuade my decision.”

“Well, actually...” Ryan’s thought stalls as he runs his hand through his beautiful, dark head of hair. “I just got off the phone with him before you called.”

“Seriously?” I ask in haste. I drop my phone on my head, embarrassing myself for the second time tonight.

“You OK?” He asks, addressing my absence.

It takes me a moment to show my face on the camera. I finally adjust my phone and respond. “Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry. What did he say, exactly?”

It’s weird to see Christian’s protective side now that we’re broken up. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in this instance, I’m not sure I like it.

“First of all, don’t be mad he called. I asked him to look out for you and this is his way of doing that. Keeping me informed. He gave me the facts and then let me decide what to do with them.”

“I don’t need him running to you every time he’s worried about me.”

“I know. We’ll figure something out. OK?”

I shake my head in silent agreement and lean against my pillow.

“Man, I really wish I was there with you right now,” Ryan confesses.

My voice drops at his longing words, leaving me flooded with sadness. “Me too.”

I can see his black, leather couch in the camera as he leans on the edge of it with a worried expression. After spending so much time on that sofa, it’s so strange to see it on video instead of in person.

The sympathy in Ryan’s voice emerges with the sight my watery eyes. “I’m sorry you’re upset.”

“I’m just missing you like crazy. I know I saw you yesterday, but it feels like weeks.”

“I know. You’ll be here soon and we can make up for lost time.”

Seeing Ryan’s gorgeous and comforting face should be enough to satisfy me, but it’s not. I need human contact. I need to hold his hand. I need to snuggle and kiss him. And I need to return the immense pleasure he gave to me.

It’s only day one of our long distance relationship, and I’m already struggling. Luckily, our phone conversation continues for hours, until I realize it’s almost midnight. Ryan convinces me that in time the distance will get easier, and then we say our mushy goodbyes.

I send Sam a text at 11:59 letting her know I’m taking the internship. Her reply makes it all feel real:

Yay!! I’m so excited! We start tomorrow!

My fingers quickly respond:

So soon!?!







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