Nathan, Audrey, and I have finally reunited. We currently sat in a booth at our favorite fast food restaurant as we waited for our order. Nathan sat beside me while Audrey sat across from us.
She wore her signature attire, light blue ripped jeans, red mixed black sneakers, and a oversized t-shirt with a dragon design that matched her shoes. Nathan wore navy blue jeans, white sneakers, and a jean jacket over his skin tight white tee. My attire consisted of black jeans that matched my sneakers and a black mixed white hoodie over my black t-shirt. The sleeves of my hoodie were rolled up to my shoulders.
Nathan and Audrey were currently discussing about Nathan’s absence, more like Audrey was expressing her concerns. I understood why she was pressing him for answers. They knew each other longer than Nathan and I did, and had a bond of siblings. His lack of communication made us both anxious. Even if he could take care of himself, it didn’t mean we cared any less.
“You went God knows where for work doing who knows what and left us worried.” Audrey pouted. “I thought we were closer than this man.”
Nathan sighed. “I went to New York. I travel with my boss or go to where my boss sends me a couple times a year.”
“He’s kind of like an assistant,” I told Audrey.
Nathan simply nodded and sent Audrey a small smile. “I’m sorry. I promise I’ll keep you both updated on my whereabouts.”
“Good,” Audrey nodded. “If anything does happen to you then I’ll be sure to beat the shit of whoever hurt you. Emma will pull me back before things get too far.”
“You aren’t going to beat anyone up.” I rolled my eyes.
“Can’t promise anything, mom.”
I grimaced, “stop calling me mom.”
Nathan chuckled as he watched us before being interrogated once more by Audrey. I leaned further back into my seat. As I sat there, listening to my best friends, I realized how much I had missed this. How much I missed them.
Although Audrey and I had kept the most contact since high school, I felt a change from the moment we went our separate ways. I was proud of her and everything she had accomplished thus far. I could still remember the beginning months of our senior year. The stress Audrey went through when filling out information for financial aid and her college applications. It hurt me when she talked herself down, thinking she wouldn’t get accepted because of her ‘not so perfect grades’. But in the end she did get accepted to a few. I remember when we and her parents celebrated our graduation and Audrey’s acceptance into the school she was now attending.
I was happy for her, but in a way, it hurt me that I hadn’t gone through the same journey as her. I had to stay to save up before I could join her.
Nathan was kind of in the same boat as me in the sense that he didn’t apply to any colleges. He didn’t need to when his current job was what he wanted. He didn’t get to celebrate with Audrey and I since his job began after our graduation. There was nothing much Audrey and I could do but be happy for him, and we were — truly.
I was brought back from my thoughts when I heard my name being called. I left my best friends and went to pick up our tray of food. Upon setting it on our table, Nathan stood to get our drinks while I settled back in my seat.
• • •
Nathan and I waved as Audrey drove away in her car, back to campus. “Ready?” I glanced at him, keys in hand. I nodded and followed him to his forest green Jeep Wrangler. I would’ve come by myself, but Nathan insisted on driving me here and back home. I didn’t bother denying him.
“I missed this,” I confessed.
Nathan grinned as he pulled out of where we were parked. “The Three Chillies meeting again?” We both let out a small laugh at his reference of our group chat name. “Same here.”
“When are you heading back?”
“After tomorrow,” he answered. My heart ached at the thought of not being able to spend more time with him. “But I’ll visit more often. Now that I got the hang of the job I can make more time. I promise.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” Our grins reached just below our eyes.
“Please do. Have Audrey spam my phone if I don’t.”
We chuckled at the thought. A comforting silence filled the air as we drove by a few streets. Nathan slowed the car upon seeing the green light turn yellow, stopping as it hit red.
I could hear the tapping in his steering wheel before he spoke. “Who were the two working with you the day I stopped by?”
My gaze left the window and landed on his face. “Sasha and Lincoln. Friends I made there.”
He nodded and cocked up a brow. “Does Lincoln have a thing for you?”
“Lincoln?” I snorted. “No he doesn’t. We’re strictly friends.” Now it was my turn to ask. “Why would you think that?”
At that moment, the light turned green. Nathan released the brake and continued our drive. “He kept glancing at us when we sat after your shift. You more than me. Probably looked at me since he’d never seen me around.”
“Like you said, he was probably wondering who you were since he’d never seen you before. Plus I don’t usually stay to chat with anyone after my shift so yeah.” I looked back out the window.
“So you’d say no if he asked you out?” He turned into a street.
“He won’t ask me out, but yes I’d say no. I don’t see him as more than friends.”
“And if I asked you out?”
I snapped my head back in his direction. “You what?”
“You heard me.” His cheeks were kissed with a veil of red. The car came to a stop. I looked around and realized we made it to my apartment complex.
I turned back to Nathan. “You’re serious?”
Nathan parked the car and looked at me. “Yeah I am.”
Now it was my turn to blush, profusely. “Why?”
“Cause I like you.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Have for a while.”
Oh, I thought. He likes me. It seemed as it took my brain moments to register what was going on. He had confessed.
You need to give him an answer, unless you want to confess to him too.
No. No confessions, at least not yet. “Okay,” I nodded. Okay? Really? “Uhm when would you wanna go?” The heat on my face intensified.
Nathan smiled. “Does tomorrow work for you?”
“Yeah,” I returned the smile.
My smile grew the more a stepped closer to my apartment. Once inside, my cheeks stung but I didn’t mind. Nathan asked me out. My best friend who I have liked for years. Why wouldn’t I be happy?