"I don't know why I wasted so many years with that jackass. I want to be with you."
Will and Jaelyn had been broken up for a couple weeks at this point, so I figured I'd given him time be single before I sprung it on him. It felt so good to say it. I didn't even realize how badly I'd been wanting to say that, or how long he'd been waiting to hear that.
He looked shocked. Then confused. Then torn. I could read each emotion as it passed his adorable little-boy face.
"I'm sorry I waited so long to tell you."
We were supposed to be studying for an upcoming final. We'd had a few drinks (or, uh, brain fuel), so my lips were slightly tingling when I talked. I was confused about why he wasn't saying anything. In my mind I pictured him grabbing me, saying, "FINALLY!" in his too-loud indoor voice, and planting a big kiss on me. A kiss that I'd been thinking about, obsessing about ever since that day with the psychic.
Why was he just sitting there on the opposite side of the couch with that look of frustration? Had he already given up on me? I mean, I couldn't blame him. I did break his heart and then date a woman beater instead of him. My bad.
Then he shook his head, lowering it, and placed his hand over his forehead.
Finally, he spoke.
"You couldn't have told me this sooner?" He asked, not looking at me yet.
"I know, I know. I'm ridiculous. I realized it a while ago but I didn't want to get in the way of things with you and Jaelyn. So now that you're single... well, I just had to tell you."
He shook his head again, and finally looked at me, sitting on the other side of the couch, tapping my pen against my notebook.
"Jaelyn and I just got back together." He said it with an incredulous expression. It was almost as if he'd said, "SERIOUSLY?? What in the hell is wrong with you?? Are you out of your damn mind? I confessed my love for you two years ago, and now, NOW you want to be with me?"
Now it was my turn to be shocked. I sure didn't see that one coming.
"Wow. Umm. Forget what I said! Can we rewind? Pretend like I didn't just say that?"
I looked back down at my notebook and pretended to study the words on the page, but they could have been written in an entirely different language for all I knew. I couldn't make sense of one word. Even the letters looked unfamiliar. Then I realized it was because I was looking at them through a wall of tears, just on the verge of rolling down my face. I tried to will them back inside my tear ducts. I thought maybe if I inhaled really hard through my nose I could suction my tears back in. But instead I made a sudden awkward snorting sound and Will jumped.
"I really wish you would have said something earlier," he said. I felt him looking at me, but I didn't want him to know I was on the verge of tears. I knew with one blink the tears would drop onto my notebook and smear ink across the page. Instead, I looked the other way, away from him, toward the kitchen.
"Want another beer? Seriously, just forget about what I said. No worries. Beer or champagne?" I had a thing for $4 Andre champagne. The bubbles tickled my nose and after a few glasses my head felt like it was full of helium. The next morning was another story. An Andre hangover was worse than a Jell-o-shot-and-cocktail hangover. But right then, I didn't care. Andre was going to rock me to sleep that night.
On my way to the kitchen I blinked rapid fire and secretly fanned my face in an attempt to dry my eyes. I grabbed a beer out of the fridge and let the cold air cool my burning cheeks. I contemplated sticking my head in the freezer. I poured myself another glass of bubbly. Concentrating on the bubbles, I composed myself. Champagne made me happy.
I walked back to Will, who still hadn't said anything, and handed him a beer.
"Thanks," he said, and then looked at the can like it were a foreign object. I could tell his thoughts were in his own mind, his reality was just a haze.
I sat back down on the other side of the couch and stared at my notebook, reading the same sentence over and over again without noticing. We were both quiet for a while. I snuck a glance at him and saw that he was texting someone. He caught me looking.
"I was just texting Jaelyn. Told her I'm just going to crash here because I've been drinking. I shouldn't drive."
He was going to sleep at my place? After we'd both been drinking? After I'd confessed my feelings for him? Did any part of this sound like a good idea? No, but I liked knowing he'd be there, in the living room, just on the other side of the wall from my room. Maybe I could sneak out of my room and watch him for a second, see if he snores, see if he sleeps on his right or left side, back or stomach. I knew so much about Will, but I had no idea what he looked like asleep. I couldn't wait to find out.
We both went back to studying. Tension filled the room. I wanted to reach out and touch him. I wanted him to wrap me in his arms and tell me we'd make the perfect couple. No, no, no. He couldn't do that. He had a girlfriend. An adorable, sweet girlfriend. And Will was one of the most loyal people I knew.
My thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. I set my notebook down and walked to the door. I assumed it was my roommate's boyfriend. Imagine my surprise when I saw Jaelyn on the other side.
She looked right past me at Will sitting on the couch.
"Will. Out here. Now."
It was as if I wasn't even standing there. Will started to stand up.
"I'm taking you home. Now." She said, her arms crossed. With that expression, I sure as hell didn't mind being invisible at that moment.
Will's the nicest guy I know, but Will doesn't do what Will doesn't want to do. He'll stand his ground. He's not a pushover. I could tell my presence wasn't needed there, so I grabbed my notebook and escaped to my room without a glance at Will. I didn't want Jaelyn to see us make eye contact.
Moments later, I heard the door close. I waited to see him walk through my bedroom door. It didn't happen.
Will was gone.
I changed into my pajamas and finished my champagne while studying at my desk in my room. I wasn't sure why I was studying. I'd already memorized the whole thing. I was just using studying as an excuse to hang out with Will.
I brushed my teeth and headed to bed with a sense of relief and frustration. I was almost asleep when my phone rang.
It was Will.
"We just broke up. I'm coming back."