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It takes an extra push to open the door to Starbucks. A couple of people glance my way as I make my entrance. My nostrils catch on the delectable scent of coffee cakes and my mouth waters. The bright light brings a bit of life into my soul in comparison to the night-like environment outdoors. At 7:00 a.m. it’s difficult for me to be in all my senses. Yet, he asked me to come.
I spot him in a distant corner with his green eyes locked on me. A small lamp lingers over his head. I feign to look around to settle my trepidation. The result of not seeing him for over four years. Four terrible years of not having him near me. Not having him smile warmly at me. And now here he is. Here he is after leaving without notice.
I stagger hesitantly towards him. Four years haven’t changed the intent green eyes that caught my attention when I first saw him here. He appears to have a more stern look. For the first time, I notice his eyes look sort of weary and his curly hair lays much more flatly.
By the time I lift my eyes off him, I’m sitting down in front of him. There’s an awkward silence between us for a couple seconds. After a while, neither of us speak a word and I begin tracing circles on the table. He places his hand on mine but I snatch it away quickly.
“Why did you ask me to come?” I inquire angrily.
My furious tone catches him by surprise. His eyes open wide an I attempt to evade the bubbly feeling growing within me. “I thought that you were…”
“What’d you think?” I interrupt. “That I was going to be happy to see you after waiting for you after you left without saying a word.”
His hand slowly tires to hold on mine but I move it as far as way as possible. “I meant to say something,” he tries to explain.
“Well apparently you didn’t,” I argue, part of me wishing I hadn’t come. But deep in me I know that I had wanted to come.
He stares at me closely.
“Why are you staring at me like that,” I ask, agitated by his awkward behavior.
He smirks. “I can’t tell if you missed me.”
I look away knowing that if I stare, I can’t lie. “That’s easy. I didn’t.”
“So you’re saying that if I left again you wouldn’t feel anything,” he proposes.
A knot forms at the back of my throat. Those memories of pain float around my mind with the absence of him. He left without notice. The times I regretted for not telling him how much he meant to me are countless. Those terrible night I spent imagining I would never encounter him again torment me. And now he returns as if nothing happened.
“I…I …why’d you leave?” I ask, fearful of him deciding to leave again.
“And why would you care?” He’s not acting nice anymore. More like indifferent to pay me back.
I pause. “Because I care for you.” I shut my mouth before I speak anymore. If he finds out my feelings he’d just leave.
“I left because I couldn’t handle a situation here anymore with someone,” he confesses in a quiet voice.
Something strikes my heart. A twinge of jealousy is there but what hurts most is the fact of someone.
“Do I know her,” I ask indifferently.
“Oh,” I say resentfully. It’d be easier to hate someone I didn’t know.
I tap my fingers on the table. Every thought floats around my mind. My mouth can’t pronounce what my mind thinks.
“D…did she tell you anything bad?” I stutter while my heart falls.
He sighs. “No,” he pauses. “That’s the problem. I can’t hold anything against her.”
I imagine myself drowning more and more into deep cold waters.
“Did you ever tell her something?”
“Never. She never say me as anything more than a friend.”
“You could’ve tried at least,” I advice, knowing that’s the best thing I can do.
He looks a bit aggravated. “In all our years of friendship she never showed anything.”
I look into his eyes. “You could have taken that risk.”
His eyes fly open in disbelief as if I had said the most absurd thing possible. “So you’re saying that if I had taken that risk, you would’ve at least told me if I had a chance with you. Because it never seemed that way.”
My body paralyzes. The world stops spinning. I feel numb. My heart stops beating. For a moment I forget to breathe. Nothing seems real. I don’t know what to feel at all.
Suddenly, all the memories spin. Every second that I had spent with him hits me a thousand times. I remember all those years of secretly glancing his way and encountering his eyes. Nothing of him meant something significant. I was just a friend. Nothing more than a friend.
“Why…why now?” I manage to say.
He reaches for my hand and I don’t move it away. An unknown force holds me still. “Because I knew you felt nothing and I couldn’t risk losing you.”
I had almost lost him and I can’t bear the thought. Somehow I know this moment is what I’ve been waiting. He patiently awaits my response. My heart thumps loudly. I open my mouth to pronounce those hidden words. “I love you.”
He lets go of my hand. “You what?” he says, not believing my words.
“I love you,” I repeat more clearly.
“I love you, too.”
He leans over the table. His hands cup my face. His eyes close and I close mine, too. His breath is on my face and I want to close that distance. Then, his lips softly meet mine, hesitating, and I press mine to answer yes.