Brian was firm in telling me to take a seat and not move. He insisted he would bring all the groceries in himself, he didn’t want me to carry anything heavy.
My insides flipped and I couldn’t help but notice the gentlemanly potential.
So I stayed seated, watching him bring in all the bags. When he was done I began to unload them while he watched “So... I guess I should be going then” he said, looking as if he truly didn’t want to go.
And honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted him to leave. I enjoyed the company. I shrugged acting as if it didn’t matter, when honestly it did. If he left i would sulk, I’d slip into a depressive state and mop around with nothing to do. “If you want to stay, you can. ”
He shrugged out of his coat and smiled, his eyes holding warmth and joy “Great. It’ll be lunch time soon. What are you thinking?”
I laughed as I set two boxes of cereal in the kitchen pantry. “Well if you hadn’t noticed, I’m not really hungry for anything at the moment, but be my guest and make whatever you want. I think I’ll stick with a cup of tea”
He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck, looking embarrassed but I doubted he actually was “Right. I almost forgot that you almost threw up on me”
I turned sharply on my heel at his remark, my mouth hung open in surprise and shock. He had a teasing grin on his face, “I wasn’t even close to throwing up on you” which was a lie. I had been so close to throwing up all over him and the grocery store floor.
“Cas, you were literally green in the face. I figured I was going to have to go buy a new shirt and or jeans and call a maintenance crew to clean up the aisle. ” he said beginning his search for something to eat.
“Oh whatever” I said waving a hand at him in dismissal. He laughed and began pulling out items to make himself a sandwich.
“So does that happen often?” He asked.
“Getting sick like that?”
I nodded, leaning back against the counter “Yeah, the morning sickness isn’t as bad as what I’ve heard it could be but-like earlier- when I walked past the bakery and smelt whatever they were cooking, it just didn’t sit well with my stomach. Certain smells do that”
He looked thoughtful for a moment before taking a bite out of his sandwich. He glanced up at me as he swallowed, he seemed hesitant as he spoke “So how is Alec taking all of this?”
I shifted on my feet, “He’s doing fine. He’s happy”
Brian nodded, “He should be. He’s finally gotten what he’s always wanted”
I let that sink in, hoping it was help ease my doubts. “What about you Brian, what is it you want?”
Brian looked thoughtful for a moment, he seemed to really be thinking about his answer. His blue eyes connected with mine and i held my breath “I want to go back to school, I want to finish my classes and become the doctor I almost became. At some point, I want a family. I also want to keep our friendship. I like that we can talk about anything and still be comfortable with each other, I like that I can rely on you despite what we’ve been threw.”
I took what he said in, my mind was scrambling to grab hold of the “our friendship” statement. We were friends, and that’s all we ever could be. If we even took one step further into another direction all would be lost. I hated this internal battle. I just wanted Alec to be here, to make things better. “So why don’t you go back to school?” I avoided the last bit of what he said, i wasn’t ready to approach the subject yet.
He smiled, his eyes shining with happiness “actually I have” he said. Happiness bloomed in my heart for him. He needed this. His brothers death had taken a toll on his future and he needed to move forward. “After Christmas, I’ll be leaving. I’ll be heading back fo the university. I’ll be there for a few years and then I’m hoping to come back here and get a job at the clinic or even the hospital, I just don’t want to stray to far from home considering everything mom is going threw”
Tears stung the backs of my eyes and I gave a wobbly smile before stepping away from the counter and pulling him into a hug “I’m so happy for you Brian. Really, I am. This is great!”
He nodded, his arms closing around me in a warm heartfelt embrace. It felt nice, comforting but it wasn’t like being Alec’s arms. “So what do you say we hang out for awhile and then we can make dinner and celebrate?”
I stepped back and palmed my small bump of a stomach, “I can’t celebrate with you”
He gave me a cheeky grin, “You don’t have to drink to celebrate, besides I’ll drink enough for the both of us and I promise I won’t water your lawn again”
We both couldn’t stop laughing at the memory.
Thankfully I didn’t feel sick as we cooked the food. We’d decided on burgers on the grill, curly fries and while Brian downed a beer I drank ginger ale as it usually helped calm my upset stomach. I figured I’d try and catch any sickness ahead of time by doing so.
As I took the fries from the over my cell phone rang. I grabbed it from the kitchen counter and smiled, Alec was calling.
“Hello?” I answered with a smile.
“So you wanna tell me why you’re going grocery shopping with Brian?” The voice on the other end was harsh and spiteful.
I took a deep breath, my heart pounded against my chest and i suddenly felt guilty “I was going to wait to talk to you about this when you got home, but seeing as if can’t wait I’ll explain” I said.
“Please do” he growled out.
“Brian and I are just friends. He apologized for everything a week or so ago. There is nothing romantic going on between us Alec.” I explained. I didn’t have to ask how he found out Brian had gone grocery shopping with me. The town was buzzing with gossip and his mother and or father must have heard about it. They’d no doubt called him and told him. “I’ve needed a friend. I have no one to talk to, the entire town hates me. Even my mother is turning against me, believe it or not the only sensible one right now is my father” which was odd, but seeing as I didn’t have many people behind me, supporting me I’d take all the help I could get.
“He slept with Sarah and was feeding her information” he said still sounding angry but I could tell he was beginning to calm down. “I don’t trust him Cas. Especially not with you. He likes you Cassandra, more than a friend should”
I sighed and glanced out the kitchen window that was open to the backyard where Brian was currently cooking the burgers “He May Alec, I’m not going to lie to you. He may. But he and I both know nothing will ever come of it. Besides in a few months he’ll be leaving, he’s going back to school to become a doctor. So he won’t even be here and who knows maybe he will find someone”
There was a long pause on the other end of the line before he sighed, a deep heavy sound “Ok Cas, but one wrong move and you let me know got it?”
“Agreed” I replied. I was happy we were actually able to talk threw it. That normally didn’t happen. I felt like I was gaining ground beneath my feet. “So how was your day?”
“Boring. I miss you”
My heart skipped a beat and my cheeks warmed with excitement , “I miss you to. I can’t wait for you to come home”
“I can’t wait to be home” he said. There was distinct male chatter in the background and he let out a small curse, “I’ve got to go, I’ve got to get to this dinner. I’m going to close this deal Cas and then I’m coming home to you”
I couldn’t wait. “I love you”
“I love you to”
I hung up feeling my fears drift away.
The backdoor opened and Brian walked in carrying our burgers. We made our plates and took a seat in the living room. We watched a comedy and just enjoyed each others company. It was nice to have a friend again.
He sipped on his third beer and leaned his head back “So I heard my mother talking the other day”
“And it sounds like she wants to close the shop” he said sounding slightly irritated.
I sat up straighter and stared hard at him, “What? Seriously?”
He nodded before taking another swig from his beer “Yep. I over heard her and my father discussing it in her office. She doesn’t think she has the strength, mentally for physically to do it anymore”
Silence followed his statement and I slumped against the couch. I loved my job, I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t want to find another job.
Then an idea occurred.
“Maybe, if she does end up closing, I could buy it from her” it would be a great investment. The shop made a good amount of money, enough to live off of. I had enough for a good sized downpayment saved up and I knew I wouldn’t have a problem getting a loan. The idea of owning the shop excited me. I wanted this.
He looked over at me, a look of wonder crossing his face “That’s a great idea!”
I smiled “she hasn’t made anything official so I can’t exactly make any moves towards it right now. But should she, I’d love to own it”
He looked thoughtful for a moment “What if I talked to her about it?”
I shook my head, “No. just let her make her own decisions. If she decides to sell then I’ll move forward with what I want to do, if she doesn’t then I’m ok with where I’m at”
He gave me a look that said he didn’t believe me, “Are you though? I mean you’ve been working for my mom for a long time and even after my brother died, when she opened back up she offered you a job back and you were so quick to leave your other job to pick up the one she offered and I think it’s because you like the business and I also think one day, that’s what you want to do. Own your own floral shop”
That’s true. I don’t know why I enjoyed working around plants and flowers. While everyone else was out getting jobs at large business companies or going to college to become something better, I preferred to arrange bouquets. But I didn’t want to push Mrs. Holtz into anything, I wanted her to want to sell because she wanted to not because I wanted her to.
“Some day I will get what I want. It’s all about patience ” I replied back.
He laughed and glanced back at the screen “I have none.”
I stood from the couch and stretched enjoying as I cracked my back. Glancing at the dining room clock I couldn’t believe it was already ten pm. Time had flown by.
“Brian we will have to continue this conversation a different day. I’m exhausted and it’s getting late”
He glanced at the clock and seemed as surprised as I was with the time “shit. I hadn’t realized how late it had gotten. I’m sorry Cas, I know you need your beauty sleep” He teased the corner of his mouth turning up in a playful smirk.
I scowled at him , “You’re a jerk”
He shrugged, “The truth hurts”
I shoved him away laughing and walked him to the door. He slid his coat on and looked down at me, I bit down on my bottom lip and took a deep breath “thank you Brian.”
“For?” He seemed confused.
“For being here for me. For being my friend. I needed like a night like this like you wouldn’t believe. I’d fallen down a dark hole without Alec and I thank you for helping drag me out of it” my doctor had warned me of post partum depression and I hadn’t believed her until recently.
He gave me a knowing look, “you’re welcome. Anytime you need me I’ll be there, I promise”
He left and I watched out the window while he pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street disappearing from view.