Tonight did not end the way I wanted it to at all. I wanted to take Sophie back to my room and finish what we’d started in the bar. Instead I ended up alone in my hotel room taking a cold shower. I hear my phone chime again and I reach for it with a smile on my face expecting it to be Sophie. Instead it’s a text from Evan.
Evan: Need to talk. Open your door.
Me: It’s late.
Evan: Who cares? Opening your fucking door.
I throw back the covers and reach for a pair of shorts I have sitting on top of my bag. This better be important. I’m already pissed at him for the little show in the bar and I’m still not convinced he didn’t have anything to do with the slumber party going on across the hall no matter how many times he swore it was all Rachel’s idea.
“Come in.” My voice sounds surprisingly harsh so I try hard to tamp down some of the anger I feel towards him right now.
“Sorry. I’m just going fucking crazy and need to bounce my thoughts off someone. You’re my best man. It’s your duty to listen to me.” He throws himself into the chair by the table and then leans forward, opening the minibar and scanning the alcohol for something to take the edge off. “What the hell? Where’s the vodka?”
Shrugging, I sit back down on my bed and run a hand through my hair. “I don’t know. What are you freaking out about?”
His hands drop to his lap and he leans back in the small chair. “What if I’m making a mistake?”
His words weigh my stomach down with a heavy feeling of panic. “What do you mean?” I ask.
“What if I’m making a mistake marrying Rachel? What if I go through with it and then I’m miserable? Our parents have put a lot of money into this for us and I know they won’t help me get out of it if I change my mind.” He throws his head back and looks at the ceiling. His face is pinched in concentration. “I love her. I know I love her, but I love Sophie too.” His hand reaches up and rubs at his forehead like the thought is causing him physical pain.
“You don’t love Sophie.” I say, very certain I’m right.
“How the fuck would you know?” His head lifts up and his icy stare meets mine. “You aren’t me, man. You have no idea what I’m feeling.”
“I know because if you loved her you would’ve never hooked up with her best friend after she had only been gone a short while. She left, and you moved on like she never even mattered,” I tell him. I watch his jaw tick right before his expression falls. I know that look—it’s guilt. He tries to wipe it away with the palm of his hand, but it’s too late.
“Rachel was more than willing to help with the loneliness. What was I supposed to do? Sophie was in another state. I was an eighteen year-old boy. It had nothing to do with love.” He pulls a small bottle of whiskey from the bar. “Don’t judge me for banging her friend. You would’ve done the same thing if you were in my shoes.”
“Fine. You were young. But now you aren’t. You’ve been with Rachel for a long time now. Don’t you think you should’ve figured your shit out before you asked her to marry you?” I have to tell myself this is just cold feet so I don’t punch him in the face for dragging Sophie into this crazy last minute tailspin.
“I thought I was ready. I haven’t cheated on her in six months. That sounds like I’m settling down right?” He’s completely serious and I move to say something but he continues, “Now that I’m here and we’re going out partying again I realize that maybe the last six months have just been too busy for me to try and get with other women. Tonight at the bar it felt so good to be out with the guys again. I want more nights like this. I need to be out where everyone is having fun. When Rachel and I get married, she’s never going to be cool with me doing that without her.”
I can’t believe he’s telling me this a few days before his wedding. “I think this is cold feet. Totally normal. Go back to your room and sleep the booze off. You’ll wake up in the morning feeling better and happy you’re about to seal the deal with Rachel.” I stand up so that he will too, but he doesn’t.
“If being trashed was causing the cold feet then I would’ve woken up yesterday feeling secure about marrying her. I think having Sophie here has made me realize I made a huge mistake. I know you’ve seen how she’s changed. Fuck. It’s like someone is dangling a carrot right in my face.”
I bite down hard to keep from saying exactly what’s on my mind. “If she was the right one you would have been thinking about her instead of making wedding plans with Rachel. That ship has sailed my friend.” I take a step towards my door but he doesn’t budge.
“Maybe that’s because when she left, she was this meek little school girl. Sure we had sex, but it was always so boring. It was like she just had to do it to keep me around. Rachel was different. It was like she had something to prove.” His lip curls up on the side and I want to beat that smug look off his face.
“See, Rachel’s your favorite. Now go get some sleep.”
“I wonder what she’s like now?” I stop dead in my tracks on the way to my room door. Circling back around, I look into his hazy eyes. He drinks the small bottle of whiskey down in one swallow and then wipes at his mouth with the back of his hand. “You can’t tell me that she hasn’t changed. She’s fucking hot as hell. It’s been four years. I bet she’s learned a lot in that time.”
“Evan, I’m your best friend. Listen to me when I say that you should leave that question unanswered. It’s going to get you into trouble. You’ve caused enough problems between her and Rachel. Go back to your room and sleep this off.”
His smirk diminishes and is replaced by sadness. “I made a big fucking mistake Andrew. I’m trying to tell you that I’m still in love with Sophie. She was too far away, but this week she’s close. Maybe now that she’s done with school she’ll come back to Florida. We could have a real shot at making things work.”
I move to stand right in front of him. He has to look up to see my face. “Don’t be an asshole. You don’t know anything about her anymore. Let her go. You crushed her four years ago when you broke up with her. Then you proceeded to sleep with her best friend and start a relationship with her. You made your choice back then. Make the best of it.” It’s horrible advice to give a best friend a few days before his wedding, but right now my heart is with Sophie. I don’t want him anywhere near her.
He pushes up from his chair, “You’re right. I made a choice back then that I thought was the best one for me at the time. I was wrong. I know that now. I just don’t know what to do about it.” He takes a few steps towards the door. “You’re my best friend. I though maybe you could help me figure out what my next move should be before I make a bad choice worse.” I feel my shoulders slump in defeat. He’s right. We’re supposed to be friends and I’m letting my feelings for Sophie, his ex, get in the way of my loyalty to him. As if to make me feel even more like an ass, he pats my shoulder. “Seeing you with Sophie tonight made me realize that I never really stopped loving her. It fucking hurt to watch her have fun with you. I wanted to be the one to put that look on her face.”
I don’t think I would ever get over Sophie either, so part of me doesn’t blame him for feeling torn up about shutting that door forever. He let her go to be with her best friend. That should be enough to give me the right to try and pursue something with her, but just because he made an asshole move doesn’t mean that I should.
He opens the door and then turns around one last time. I turn to look at him when I don’t hear the door shut. He smiles at me but it isn’t a happy smile. If I had to describe it I would say it was resigned. “Do me one last favor as my best man.” I nod my head, agreeing to what he asks before he even says the words. “Give me a few months to settle into my marriage before you go after her. I just don’t think I can take it.” I nod my head again. I’ve never seen him like this before and it makes me worry about where his head is. “Thanks man. I knew I could count on you.” The door shuts and I’m alone again.
I stand for a minute at the foot of my bed trying hard to figure out a way this can go down that no one will get hurt. I think through every angle but always come up with the same result. Someone is going to suffer. I take off my shorts and climb back into bed, my thoughts racing around as if set on fire. It’s when I finally close my eyes that the most terrifying thoughts push their way to the front of my consciousness. What if she still loves him? Could I really live with myself if I were the one who talked him out of sharing his feelings with her?
I tell myself that I could forget about it, but I know it would plague me forever. She has the right to know how he feels just in case there is a part of her that’s still in love with him. Telling her is the right thing to do. I turn over and pull the covers up higher, suddenly feeling a chill at the thought of losing her before she’s even mine.