“I guess I didn’t picture you as a hockey fan?” Cindy asked in an offhand kind of way.
“I’m not really. I mean it was exciting to be there and sitting in the box with Joe and Mr. Updyke was exciting, but I don’t really know the game that well, but I’m learning.” I said taking a bite out of my croissant.
We were sitting in Tim Horton’s enjoying a lazy breakfast. I hadn’t heard from Joe since last night. I knew he had a lot going on and I wasn’t sure how long he had been at the hospital last night so I didn’t want to call him and wake him.
“That’s what I mean Cass, why are you learning? Do you like the game?”
“I don’t know? When Joe talks about it, I want to know what he is talking about.” I said back probably a little terser than I should have.
“You don’t need to get upset at me. Let’s be honest, Joe is just a friend, so why go to tall this work. If you don’t like the game, then why do it? Speaking of Joe, have you let him know he is just a friend. I mean it’s not right to dangle someone along.” Cindy said taking a bite out of her donut.
“Of course he knows were just friends, why does everyone keep asking me that? Me and Joe know, I explained it to him. So what if I want to learn more about the business he is in?” I said biting down harder than I meant to and bit my cheek.
“Fine, I’ll let it drop. It just isn’t right to string someone along if you don’t have feelings for him.” Cindy said again.
“You know he’s not my type. We’re just friends.” I said again.
“OK, I still love you, I just want to make sure you’re good. I have to meet Mark; we are going on a boat tour today. Tell me to have fun.” Cindy said standing up.
“Like I need to, but yes, have fun.” I said and she smiled and headed out.
Why was everyone so concerned about Joe and me? We were really close friends, and it wasn’t that hard to understand that we both liked each other’s company. Speaking of Joe, I grabbed my phones out.
“Hellooo.” The voice asked.
“Sorry, did I wake you? I just wanted to see how you were doing and how the kid from last night was doing?” I asked the groggy voice on the other line.
“Hey Cass, it’s fine, what time is it?”
“Ten, or a little after.” I said.
“I got home about four. His face took a nasty slash, but he will be fine. He is going to have a scar, there was nothing they could do about that. His Mom is with him, and I said I would stop back later after I grabbed a couple hours.”
“You poor thing, you must be exhausted.”
“I’m fine. Thanks for calling and waking me up. I need to grab a shower and get back.” He said still a little tired.
“OK, call me later, we can grab dinner or something, I’m sure you will be too tired to cook tonight so let me know and I will take care of dinner?”
“You cook?” Joe asked scared.
“No, I said I would take care of it, not cook it, I have lots of takeout numbers. Get a shower, you’re delusional.” I laughed.
He laughed back. “OK Cassie, thanks again for going last night, it meant a lot to me. Call you later.”
Then he hung up. I don’t know why I hung on to the phone like I did. It meant a lot to him that I went, that was good wasn’t it? Or was it?”
“Wicked, you and Joe are going to Wicked?” Cindy asked unbelievingly.
“Yeah, why?” I asked.
“The season is only half over, Mark said Joe would be all consumed till it was over for the year. That’s why we haven’t invited you two out.”
I wondered why Cindy hadn’t mentioned getting together in the last couple months. I mean it was cold out and the typical Syracuse weather, but it had been a while.
“He said it would be a nice distraction, besides the tickets were given to him by Mr. Updyke, who got them from someone else. I don’t think he could refuse. You don’t refuse someone like Mr. Updyke.” I said laughing.
“Oh, so his boss wants him to take a break for the night. I can see that. Joe does work himself relentlessly. His boss is a smart man.” Cindy said standing from her chair and getting ready to leave my office. “The next time he needs a distraction let me know and the four of us will do something together.”
“Ok, CIn, I will.” I said as she headed out the door. Cindy and everyone else were treating me like a couple now. It was weird, before she just would have asked me to go with them, but things had changed over the last few months. I liked Joe, but we weren’t romantic, and I was starting to miss that. I was pouring myself into work, and from the feedback I was getting, I was doing a great job. But I did miss the romance and the dating.
It would be so easy with Joe, we got along and we actually liked being together, but he wasn’t my type. I wanted the man with the muscles and the good looking face I could stare at for hours and get lost. Joe was, well, just Joe. He was a great friend, but we were never going to be more than that.
“I had fun, thanks for bringing me.” I said as Joe dropped me off at my door.
“Who else would I bring. You are the only one I want to do things with.” Joe said looking a little nervous.
“I’m glad. It’s always fun hanging out with you.” I said.
“Um, I have a friend coming into town, to spend a night, I thought the three of us could hang out together, so he would get a chance to meet you.” Joe said still looking nervous.
“Sure, when is he coming?”
“Saturday, he is in town to do the big Insurance seminar, so I thought afterword’s we could all get together. He was my best friend in college, we had a falling out, but then we started talking again. Someday I hope for him to be my best man in my wedding.”
“Wow, he is your best friend.” I said not sure why this would be any different. Joe had lots of friends, but this must be someone special. “I would love to meet the guy.”
“Awesome, I will pick you up at six and we can meet him for dinner and then we can all just hang out for a while.” Joe said excited.
“Sounds good, I will talk to you tomorrow.” I said unlocking my door. I turned back around and Joe was still there. He moved in close to me and put his arms around me. He pulled me close and hugged me tight.
I hugged him back. He felt warm and strong, and I wasn’t sure why, it felt good. “I really needed to start dating again” I thought to myself.
Then he started to pull away and before he got too far he kissed me. Not on the cheek, but on the lips. It was a simple kiss, and I was too shocked to do or say anything. I just stood there like a mummy. He must have sensed something because he stopped and pulled away.
We just looked at each other waiting for the other one to speak. I didn’t know what to say. We were friends, nothing more, but he was searching my eyes for something, and I was getting nervous. “Good night Joe,” I said turning to open the door.
“Cassie,” he said grabbing my arm. He turned me back around. “I’m sorry, it’s just we get along so well. I thought maybe you felt it too.”
I was too scared to feel anything. I didn’t want to hurt him, but he had to know this wasn’t going anywhere between us. “Joe, we are friends. I’m not looking for anything more, and I don’t want anything more. I will see you Saturday.”
Then I did open my door, and went inside and closed the door on the man still waiting in the hallway for something I couldn’t give.
Well that didn’t go along like I hoped it would. We had been getting so close, and I thought she was coming around to me. I was her friend, but I wanted more, and If I never showed her, how would she know? I wasn’t sorry for what I did; I was just sorry for the results.
Maybe with some time, more time, she would see why I did it. I couldn’t keep just being her friend when I felt this way about her. I got to my apartment not remembering the walk up the stairs or anything with my head still too full of Cassie in my arms.
I sat on my couch and just remembered over and over the hug and the kiss. She didn’t return the kiss; I wish she would have. I wish we would have crossed that threshold. I wanted more. I wanted Cassie to be more than a friend. I needed her to be more than a friend.
I picked up my Phone and dialed Chris Disablo, my best friend from college. I needed to tell him what happened and see what he thought. He always had luck with girls and he might be able to give me some advice.
“Hey Joe, what’s up. Got everything arranged for when I visit?”
“More or less. Hey can I ask your advice on something?” I asked the voice on the other end.
“Well, I know it’s not about hockey. No offense but I hat the sport. I’m a football guy.” He said laughing.
I knew that, hell I knew that ever since college. How could I not. We always argued about whose sport was better. “No, not sports, women.”
“Oh. Are you sure I’m the one you want to talk to about this? I mean I will be happy to help; I just wasn’t sure.” Chris asked a little skeptically.
“I don’t want to talk about it with anyone that knows the both of us, so your it. I mean you will meet her on Saturday, but as of now you don’t know her, so you’re the perfect choice.” I explained.
“OK, shoot.” He said. I explained the last few months about being friends and then about tonight trying to take it up a notch. I told him I didn’t want to be stuck in friend zone and I wanted more, and I told her about her reaction.
“Sounds like she’s been hurt. Give her a little more time, now that she knows how you feel and see if something changes. It’s all in her hands now.” Chris said.
He was right and I already knew that. I knew that before I called, I guess I just wanted confirmation. “Thanks Chris, I’ll see you Saturday. Cassie and I are looking forward to it.”
“Me too Joe. See you then.” Chris said and hung up.
I just sat on the couch thinking about Cassie. Wondering if I messed up horribly or if it would all work out. I wish I knew.
“Why are you not acting surprised?” I asked her.
“Why are you surprised it happened.” Cindy retorted back.
“Cindy, he kissed me. Joe kissed me. We are just friends and then he turned and kissed me. How do we come back from that?”
“How was it?”
“How the hell would I know. I was so scared I stood there like a freaking robot. He didn’t try and shove his tongue in my mouth if that’s what you’re asking.” I said
“Of course he didn’t, he’s a gentleman. I meant was it soft, did you like it, did it change your feelings for him?” Cindy asked scooching up in her seat.
“I don’t remember I was too shocked. Of course it didn’t change my feeling for him, unless you mean I don’t know if I can trust him anymore.” I said still upset.
“Oh my god Cassie, he just kissed you. Why are you acting like a nun? We both know you have done a lot more than kiss over the years. Why is this any different? I told you he liked you. I told you he thought of you as more than a friend. Did you never listen?”
“We were just friends. I had told him that all the time. Why did he have to ruin it? This can’t happen again. I won’t let it happen again. I needed a friend, not some ass that is trying to get into my pants at every turn.”
“Are you even listening to yourself?” Cindy yelled back. “He has been more than a friend to you since the first weekend you hung out. You’re the only one who hasn’t realized it. He’s in love with you, and unless you are willing to lose him forever, you better figure out what the hell you want.”
Cindy jumped out of the chair and left my office and slammed the door. Why the hell was she so pissed off, he hadn’t kissed her? No she was freaking fine, her and Mark were wonderful together.
I needed Joe to be a friend. Why was that so hard for everyone to understand. Why was it so hard for him to understand?