When we got back to California, Aiden took me home.
"I guess now you have to spend time alone with James," he said with a disappointed look on his face.
"Yeah. But I'm glad I went with you to Washington. It was nice."
"I'm glad you were there with me. Now I don't have to feel so sad. I can think of the happy memories with my dad."
"Yeah. Well, I'll see you Monday. I gotta call James to let him know I'm back."
When I went up to my room, I tried to call James, but there was no answer. So I tried texting him. Still no answer. So I decided to drive to his house.
When I got there, I knocked on the door, but no one came. Then I noticed it was unlocked, so I let myself in.
"James," I called out. "Are you home?" All of a sudden, I heard voices coming from his room.
I walked upstairs and saw his door was open.
"Hey, babe," I said as I walked in. "I tried call-" I stopped short and looked at him with wide eyes. There, on his bed with him, was another girl.
"Oh, uh, hey, babe," James said, rubbing the back of his head. "When did you get back?"
I didn't even answer him. I just ran out of the room and down the stairs, crying.
"Babe, wait," he called after me.
"Don't 'babe' me. How could you?"
"Well, you were with Aiden in Washington so..."
"So what? You thought you could be with someone else while I was gone? James, we were supposed to spend time alone together when I got back. That doesn't mean you can spend time with someone else while I spent time with Aiden."
"I know. I'm sorry. I was lonely."
"Uh huh. Well you know what? You can have her."
"But, Anna. What about us?"
"I guess you have a lot of thinking to do, too. It's me or her, James?"
"See? I can do it, too."
When I got home, I called Aiden and told him what happened.
"Wow, what a jerk."
"I thought he loved me. Why would he do this?"
"I don't know. But I'm still here."
"I know. Can you come over?"
"Of course I can."
When Aiden arrived, we sat in my room, and he comforted me all night. I felt safe in his arms, like he would be there for me through anything, just like I was there for him when his dad died. He made me happy and made me feel safe.
Then I realized that the guy I wanted to be with had been there all along. When James and I had a fight in the courtyard, and now. He had always been there. I just didn't see it. I knew I missed him. I just didn't know how much. So I knew I was ready to make my decision.
"Hey, Aiden," I said, looking up at him. "I think I'm ready."
"I'm ready to make my decision. Aiden, I choose you."
"Aiden, we've been best friends our whole lives, and when you left, I felt like a part of me was missing. When you came back, I knew I never wanted to lose you. And all that time I was helping you get through your dad's death, I knew I wanted to be there for you always and make you happy. Just like you make me happy. Aiden, I love you, and I wanna be with you."
"Oh, Anna, you have no idea how happy that makes me."
"Oh, I think I do."
As he pulled me close and leaned in for a kiss, I knew I made the right choice.