Best and Honor

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Chapter 21

Sophie

I’m halfway through my second pint of ice cream when there is a knock at the front door. Reluctantly I set down my pint and make my way over. My roommates sat up with me until the wee hours of the morning, but I finally released them from their duty and allowed them to leave me so they could join the land of the living. I had no plans to do that today, still having another of my favorite flavors waiting its turn in the freezer.

It didn’t take long for my roommates to make me realize that I’d fallen for Andrew. With all the anger and disappointment I’d felt putting the pieces together that he had known about the two of them and not told me, I’d taken very little time to realize my heart still wanted to be with him. I’m starting to think Florida should be permanently removed from my travel itinerary as I’m always leaving my heart there when I return to California.

It had felt good to finally move on from Evan and open my heart up to love again, but now I’m stashed away in my dark apartment feeling right back where I started a week ago. Only now, my heart hurts all over again. Getting over Evan had been rough. He was my first and only love so I had no idea how to crawl out of the hole he left me in. Getting over Andrew is going to be just as painful, but for a different reason. Where I’d loved Evan deeply because he was my first, I love Andrew because he is the other half to my soul. If he hadn’t kept something so big from me, I’d have run to him the second I found out the truth for his comfort.

Maybe that’s why I fell deeper in the hole of heartache than ever before. I had faith in Andrew and hope that I wasn’t completely inept at relationships. I lost that faith and hope in one sentence from the mouth of the horrible monster I used to call my best friend. I swallow down the lump that’s in my throat again, a little angry the numbing cold of the ice cream isn’t doing better keeping it at bay. Shaking my head and swiping another tear, I reach for the door knob and hope it isn’t someone wanting to offer me salvation, because I just don’t think I have a nice bone left in my body right now.

My hair is pulled up in a very messy bun, and not the kind that you do on purpose, more like the knotted mess that happens when you hop a redeye home and immediately fall onto your couch in a puddle of tears and melted chocolate ice cream. I had managed to wash my face about an hour ago, but my eyes are swollen and still feel like I’ve put a handful of sand in each one. My favorite heartbreak outfit has made a return appearance and I tug at the old t-shirt and yoga pants before pulling the door open.

I don’t expect to see Andrew on my doorstep, so his image steals my breath. He looks as handsome as always, but his hair is disheveled and clearly has been abused by nervous hands and a few hours of flying. His chin has some stubble and I can see in his eyes that the night has not been easy on him. When he takes in my appearance, his lips fall into a pained expression and I immediately look away because I feel tears threaten to fall again.

Andrew’s strong hand reaches out and he wipes a small smudge of ice cream from the corner of my mouth before I can move. Having him so close to me again is making it hard to think and I’m trying to figure out if I want to throw myself in his arms so he can comfort me, or claw his eyes out and push him down the flight of stairs. Don’t judge. It’s been a rough week and I’m now functioning solely on sugar.

“What are you doing here?” My voice clearly sounding as frustrated as I feel.

“Whatever it takes to make you forgive me.” He pulls the bag from his shoulder and lets it fall at his feet. “I didn’t know Sophie. I swear on everything. I didn’t know.”

I feel the breath escape my lungs again and this time a strangled sob escapes as well. My hand covers my mouth just a second before his strong arms are around me. I can smell his familiar scent again as he holds me tightly to his chest. At first I don’t move, but as he presses a kiss to the top of my head, I relax and wrap my arms around him. Maybe I should doubt him, be a little more cautious believing what he says, but I saw the truth in his eyes. No one would fly across the country and show up on my doorstep when he was supposed to be the best man in his childhood friend’s wedding as we speak. And maybe, if I’m honest, I need to believe him because the thought of moving on without him is almost too much to bear.

“You said I needed to trust you.” If he wasn’t talking about Evan and Rachel then why did I need to trust him? His hand brushes up and down my back and I want so badly to have his words be enough. For the first time in a very long time, my instinct is to trust him and I’m praying his answer will put my head at ease and in agreement with my heart.

“Evan has been cheating on Rachel. He told me before he met up with you on the beach. I know I should have told you, but I thought you had already been through so much. I didn’t want you to have to hold that secret or to be the one responsible for the wedding not happening. I just couldn’t do that to you.” He lightly grips my arms and pulls me back so he can look into my eyes. “I wanted you to trust me to protect you and make decisions that won’t put you in a position where you will get hurt. I had no idea they were sleeping together in high school.”

His eyes are focused on mine and I can see his desperation for me to believe him expressed in them. I shake my head a little and take a small step back. “You were best friends. How could you not know?” I just can’t reconcile that in my head. They did everything together. He takes a deep breath and then slides his hands down my arms.

“I could say the same about you and Rachel.” I feel a sharp stab of pain in my heart, but he’s making perfect sense. She was my best friend and Evan was my boyfriend. I should have known. “They didn’t want to get caught Sophie. They were doing something unforgivable and while they are both the biggest idiots I’ve ever met, they were smart enough to know that they would lose you.” He tugs me a little closer and when our faces are just a few inches from each other he smiles. It’s both warm and innocent and I feel my heart leap in my chest with his words. “Take it from me, Sophie. No one can bear the thought of losing you once you’ve been in their life.”

He rests his forehead against my own and then in a voice that seems to be seeking out my soul he says, “I let you walk out of my life once because you had never belonged to me, but this time it’s different. This time I’ve had a taste of what we could be like together and it’s unbelievable. You just don’t let that kind of thing go. I’m here because you deserve a man that’s willing to wait for you, fight for you and fly across the country for a chance to stand on your doorstep and ask you for another chance with your heart.” His face pulls away so that he’s looking into my eyes again.

I feel the warm tears streaking down my face. I swallow down the emotion that’s making it impossible to answer him. I know already I’m going to give him a chance, but when I don’t answer he kisses me softly before saying, “And you don’t let the best woman to ever come into your life get revenge on the two people who so greatly deserve it without you.” His hand drops from my arm and I watch as he reaches into his pocket.

Right now if they went through with it, Rachel and Evan are getting married. They’re standing in front of their family and friends vowing to be faithful and to love each other forever. I’ve never been so grateful to not be a part of something in my life. As I look up into Andrew’s eyes I realize that they’re doing that without us because we’re a team, and being here on my doorstep is more important to Andrew than being at what might be the most important day in Evan’s life.

I’m not expecting what happens next, so when a small grin curls his lips I feel my stomach twist as he pulls a small black box out of his pocket. When he opens it, I can see it contains a large gold band and a thin diamond wedding ring. He pulls the rings from the slit and tosses them in the air between us. “This, sweetheart, is the final phase of wedding day revenge.” I can’t help the smile that spreads across my face with the recognition he has in his possession their wedding bands. He rubs his chin as if deep in thought. “So what are you thinking? Off the overpass onto the 405 freeway? Maybe watch them sink into the dark water off of the pier?”

I throw my arms around his neck and pull his lips to mine. His arms circle around my waist and I finally feel at peace when his body is pressed against mine. When I come up for air I whisper, “You stole their rings for me?”

I hear him laugh as he tucks his head into my neck and kisses a trail down to my shoulder. “I would do anything for you.”

I take a minute to feel his lips on my skin before pulling away again to look into his eyes. I put my hands on the side of his face and kiss him tenderly. “All I need is for you to love me.” My heart pounds in my chest in the moment between my words and his.

His smile melts my insides as he sneaks in one last kiss, “Sophie, I already do.”

The End

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