There are so many feelings swirling around in my body right now. I’m disappointed I won’t get to see where a night with Andrew will take me, but also relieved we’ll have avoided a possible awkward morning after. I feel curious and if I’m honest, suspicious about Evan’s behavior. I know he isn’t a big fan of Andrew and I spending time together, but I thought maybe he would see the hypocrisy in that and know to keep his opinion to himself. Instead, he looks so angry and flustered I’m a little worried he might start something with Andrew when Rachel and I are no longer around.
The boys are walking a few steps behind us as I turn towards my room. Sliding the key in the door, I open it wide for Rachel and she steps inside without so much as a look behind her. As I close the door, my eyes meet with Andrew’s and I can see the disappointment in his crystal gaze. A small wink from him just before the door shuts lets me know he isn’t angry, just as frustrated as I’m feeling.
“Wow, this place is really nice,” Rachel says as she makes her way to the window at the far end of the room. She pulls the curtains back slightly so she can look out over the beach as the moon reflects light down the shore.
“Yes. It’s one of the nicest rooms I’ve stayed in. Didn’t you get to preview the rooms before you had them reserve a block for your guests?”
She shakes her head as she still peers out instead of facing me. “We only looked at the honeymoon suite. I guess we didn’t really think too much about other people.” Her voice fades away at the end as if she might feel a small amount of regret for that. I sit down on the end of the bed so the feeling of slowly spinning can reside. I let out a small laugh without humor not thinking and quickly look to her to see if she heard me.
Her head is bowed and she has a tight grip on the curtain still in her hand. “I know you think I’m selfish Sophie.” At her words I feel my stomach knot so hard it makes me flinch. “I’m hoping one day you’ll truly forgive me for falling in love with him. I swear I didn’t mean to.”
I let myself fall back onto the bed and suck in a big breath as I wait for her to continue. She still can’t look at me. “We tried hard not to. I think we both just missed you so much that it brought us together.” Will my vomit actually taste like strawberries when she finally makes me throw up? “We wanted to wait until it wouldn’t hurt you. You know I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you on purpose.” Her head finally turns in my direction, but I don’t want to look at her.
“Rachel, I trust that you wouldn’t have tried to hurt me.” I need to. If I thought she had made choices knowing how badly it would hurt me then our friendship would be over. I’ve put a lot of time into us and it breaks my heart to think she could throw it away so easily.
“I think when you find someone for yourself it won’t even matter anymore. We can both move forward without all of this between us. I can’t be happy if you aren’t happy for me. I know how selfish that sounds, but it’s the truth. I love you,” she says. I feel the bed beside me dip as she moves to sit on the edge.
“I love you too, Rachel. I’m fine, really. I’m here to watch my best friend marry the man she’s in love with. That’s the important thing about this week.” I open my eyes and reach out my hand to hold hers. She smiles down at me and then lies back, still holding our hands between us.
“My mom wasn’t happy when I told her I was going to ask you to be my maid of honor. She told me I was selfish to ask you. Her and dad act like I’ve committed a horrible sin dating him after the two of you were together so long. They said I’d be lucky if you even showed up,” she confesses. She turns her face to me and a tear falls down onto the comforter below us. Reaching out with my thumb I brush away the wet trail on her cheek.
“I wouldn’t have missed your wedding. I’m a big girl. I can handle this. They’ll see we can still be friends.” I give her hand a tight squeeze. Rachel’s parents have always been hard on her. They forced her into so many activities and clubs when we were kids. She had to be the best at everything. I know many times her father had asked her why she couldn’t be more like me just because he knew it would sting and she’d inevitably try harder at whatever it was she was doing.
I never felt competitive with her. Sure we were in the same grade and I often did better in my classes, but she was a better musician and I was always envious of the way she seemed to play the piano as if she’d been born to do it. I had more success in high school, holding office in leadership and volunteering my time on the weekends to various organizations, but Rachel had also given her time to worthy causes. Where I had thought we complimented each other, at times she had felt that she had to do better so her parents would be happy. I never wanted that for us, but there was nothing I could do as a teen to stop it.
“They can’t wait to see you tomorrow.” She smiles at me before turning her face back to the ceiling. “Dad can’t stop talking about how proud he is that you graduated from college early. I swear I could kill your mom for telling him that.” She laughs and I know she’s only half joking.
“It’s not what you wanted Rachel. If you did, you would have been able to graduate early too. I wish you’d stop letting them push my goals on you. We’re different people.” I watch as she nods her head.
“They really love Evan. I really love Evan.” Her laugh makes me smile. I can see how much she loves him and as hard as it was for me to accept, I’m happy for her. “They were a little angry with us at first, but I knew they’d get past it. They’ve known Evan since you started bringing him around in high school. Dad loved talking sports with him and Mom always though he was so polite.”
I feel my lips curl into a smile at her words. She’s bringing back such sweet memories of all of us hanging out at her house after school and in the summertime. They had a pool so of course out of all the houses we could go to, theirs was first on the list on hot days.
“I’m sure once they see you and I are fine it won’t be an issue for them anymore.” I don’t tell her my parents have been worried about me too. It seems everyone but her could see how hard this was going to be on me. I appreciate their concern, but I know it’s been four years since he and I broke up and surely if he had dated anyone else but her they would all be telling me to get over it instead of attacking Rachel. I actually feel bad for her. Here it is the week of her wedding and she’s feeling judged by everyone.
“Thanks, Sophie. As always you’re the best.” We both laugh softly because she’s been saying that sarcastically since we were little. It became a joke between us over the years.
“You’re welcome. Now get to sleep so your face isn’t all puffy for your bridal shower tomorrow. What kind of maid of honor would I be if I let you show up looking like you had to fight your way there?” This earns me another giggle. She lets go of my hand and turns her whole body to face me. Extending her arm out, she invites me in for a hug. It feels good to have some of the air between us cleared.
“Goodnight.” She let’s me go and climbs up my bed to tuck herself in, kicking her heels off just before she pulls her feet beneath the large comforter. I follow behind her, vowing to take a shower first thing in the morning and to ask for a fresh set of sheets so I don’t have to tuck myself into a bed that smells like a bar tomorrow.
I lie on my bed with a heart that feels marginally lighter. What’s done is done and there’s no going back to change any of it. Hearing that being with my ex had been a hard choice for her was something I had needed. If she was willing to face all the opposition thrown her way by the people that love us both, then maybe her love for Evan is more than my love for him had been. I know I was never in love with him so deeply I would have destroyed my friendship with her to keep him.
Tomorrow afternoon we’re going to celebrate her new life with Evan by showering her with gifts. Both of our mother’s will be there so I know in order to make the day go beautifully for Rachel, I’ll need to hold back any negative emotions until I’m alone again. She needs me to show our mothers what she has done doesn’t continue to hurt me. She needs them to see our friendship has survived and I accept that she loves him more. Maybe then we can all believe it was always them who were meant to be together.
I finally close my eyes having stared up into the darkness for a long time after her breaths have evened out. I’m one day closer to being back in California with my friends. I tell myself I’ll be a different person by the time this week is through. I will have my head up again and my shoulder back, no longer weighed down by the burden of carrying this betrayal for so long by myself. When I see them vow to love each other for the rest of their lives, I can finally let go of the idea this was just a passing thing between them that Rachel has so carelessly gambled our friendship on.
My phone chimes from my small clutch and I slip from the bed to switch it to vibrate so it doesn’t wake Rachel.
Andrew: If you need help burying her body don’t hesitate to wake me. I thought of a great place while plotting Evan’s murder until he swore the sleepover was really Rachel’s idea.
Me: Thank you. Sorry about how the night ended. Enjoy your day tomorrow.
Andrew: Nothing a cold shower couldn’t fix. Paintball for the guys tomorrow. It would be impossible not to enjoy shooting some of these douches.
Me: Be careful. I think Evan was pretty pissed tonight.
Andrew: I’m not afraid of Evan. One day he’ll learn hurting people is a risky game. The consequences can be high.
Me: Are we still talking about paintball?
Andrew: We could talk about something else. Like maybe what you’re going to wear to bed…
Me: We wouldn’t want that cold shower to have been for nothing. Goodnight.
Andrew: Too late. Goodnight and good luck tomorrow.
I switch my phone to vibrate and crawl back under the covers. I can’t help the smile that stretches across my face as I picture Andrew tucked into his bed across the hall. If no one would notice, I would ditch the bridal shower tomorrow and tag along with the guys. The opportunity to shoot Evan, even if it’s only with paintballs, is almost too tempting to pass up.