I talked with Tyler that day for a few hours and after I really said goodbye to him as my friend. I never asked for details about the bet, his break up with Cindy or anything about that period of our lives, because I was afraid of the truth.
Since I entered college, I spoke with him over the phone weekly, sometimes even daily and it always was easy and fun with him. I had known that I could call him any time of the day and he will pick up and will cheer me. Tasha didn’t approve of this relationship. She said to me that I became too attached to Tyler and his life. But most importantly she was scared for me. That I won’t stay only friends with him when I will see him and I will be hurt again. I told her that it’s ridiculous, that I know better not to sleep with friends, especially with friends like Tyler. Of course, Tasha was right again.
Tyler came back home to visit his mother on winter break in our freshman year. He invited me to dinner and it was very good. We spoke and laughed for hours as if we never talked by phone this whole time. He drove me home and gave me a little peck on the lips as a goodbye. He apologized for that, telling me it’s just a habit and he won’t do it again. I never said it aloud, but just from this peck, I felt butterflies in my stomach.
Tasha was against me meeting with Tyler alone, so she suggested for us to go to the bar with our friends from college. She thought it will be safer that way, but the mistake was in place and surroundings. On our dinner, I didn’t drink alcohol, but at the bar, I couldn’t refuse to do some shots. I wasn’t too drunk, but after some time I realized that Tyler’s hand rested on my thighs. He was caressing me here with his fingertips, sending tingles all over my body. I ended that night with him in the bar’s bathroom. Hell, it was like fire again. I wasn’t thinking straight after it when I was with him. It was too good to end this and just like that, Tyler and I became friends with benefits. Again. Just like Tasha predicted.
I was afraid to tell her about me and Tyler, but I didn’t want to hide something from her ever again. She was angry, but soon she gave up with her attempts to change my mind. She said not to overthink things between us and just have fun. I never was like that, I was living to the fullest and soon I fell in love with him. I believe actually, I’ve never stopped loving him, just suppressed these feelings. When it was time for him to go back to New York, I was heartbroken. But of course, I didn’t show it to Tyler.
Tyler and I were friends for several years, I couldn’t see him for months and still was craving for his touch. I even didn’t try to go on dates with boys, they all couldn’t compete with Tyler. He, on the other hand, never was alone. Every time when he met a new girl my heart was aching, but I didn’t allow myself to show it to him. Tasha had been telling me over and over again, that I will be the one, who will be hurt in the end.
“He’s just a guy, Vera. He can’t read your mind! Every time when he had been leaving for New York or he had been meeting a new girlfriend – you became depressed and sad. Do you really think that I don’t know, you’re crying because of him? You have feelings for Tyler for years! Why don’t you tell him the truth?” Tasha told me at the beginning of my sophomore year when we were planning our winter break trip to LA.
“I told him that I want to be only friends with him! Maybe if everything will go as planned and you and I will move to New York, I will tell him. Tyler is not the type for a long-distance relationship! For now, I am good like that”.
“But what if he will meet someone? Someone with whom he will want a serious relationship?”
“Tyler? Serious relationship? You have to be kidding me!” I laughed from her words, but inside I felt uneasy. What if she was right?
And of course, she was. It was a real knockout for me. One day I spoke with Tyler like usual, but he was a little distant. Like something was bothering him. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he met a girl and she’s constantly on his mind, like she’s someone special. My heart almost broke from his words, but I reminded myself that it’s Tyler. He couldn’t be serious with anyone since high school, I even thought maybe it was because of me. Maybe, he was also waiting for me... Silly me! I continued to be his friend and I was familiar with his relationship with this girl. She was a model from Columbia, named Daya. They fought a lot, but when they weren’t bickering – he was really happy with her. He started to call me less often because he was spending most of his free time with her. I was jealous and hated that girl.
It was the end of sophomore year, almost June when Tyler returned to the city from New York. Like usual he wanted to see me. We met and during the dinner we reminiscent of our whereabouts through this time when we didn’t see each other. Of course, we talked by phone or by messages all this time, but we liked talking to each other in person, it was a pattern of our friendship. Eventually, he told me, that he recently broke up with Daya. He had been saying that this break up made him realize just how much he missed me. I ended up in my bed with him this night, it was a record even for me. Usually, I needed at least a day for it.
I was happy. I loved this man. I had been letting him back to my life every time when he decided he wanted me back. I hoped that this time everything will be different. And it was. We were happy together, we were spending a lot of time with my friends, we were going out for dinners and having unforgettable sex like we always did. It was almost 2 weeks since he returned to our hometown when he proposed to me to go to Costa Rica for a vacation with him. I was on a cloud nine and started to make plans for our trip. We didn’t talk about the type of our relationship, but as we acted like a couple, I thought that we were finally dating. For me it was natural. But I was too afraid to ask about clarification.
When it was only a week before our trip, we woke up in the middle of the night as he received a call on the phone. Usually, he didn’t pick it up, but this time it was different. I tried to go back to sleep when I realized it was almost twenty minutes and Tyler still wasn’t in the bed. I got up and silently walked to the dining room. He was there, sitting on the couch and still on the phone.
“Of course, I still love you... Yeah, for me too... I missed you like hell! Well, tickets to Costa Rica still there, if you want to go with me...”
I couldn’t stand here anymore, so I just went back to bed. I was waiting for him because I needed an explanation this time for sure.
“Oh, I see, you couldn’t go back to sleep?” He said returning to the bedroom 30 minutes later.
“I take it, that I won’t be going with you to Costa Rica?”
“You’ve heard...” Tyler even didn’t try to deny.
“Yes, Ty. What did you not tell me three weeks ago?”
“Listen, Vera, I’ve never planned it like this. What I said to you that the other day was true. Just... Daya and I planned to go to Costa Rica together and I... I even proposed to her, so badly I am in love with her... But she said “no”, said that she’s too young to be a wife or to have a family. I was devastated and you were the first on my mind when I thought about the way to cheer me up”.
“I should be flattered I guess... Is that what are you expecting from me?”
“Fuck. Of course not...”
“Doesn’t matter. What does your perfect girlfriend want?”
“Daya said she’s sorry. She misses me and realized that she still loves me... So she asked me to give our relationship another chance. She told me all that just now... Vera, I really thought that everything was over, that Daya will never be with me again! But hearing her voice made me forget everything and I just want to see her”.
This time something changed inside me. Maybe my heart couldn’t bear it anymore, so I just sat there staring in the darkness without any tears. Like all of my feelings were off, I didn’t feel anything.
“Do you really love her so much, Ty?”
I was silent for about 10 minutes, so was he. Perhaps he sensed that something was wrong, perhaps he was frightened that I will throw a tantrum, I don’t know.
“If you do, I would say - give it a try! You deserve to be happy and if this girl is doing it for you then I guess I will be happy for you too. Actually, you should check when will be the first available flight to NY. I believe a really hot woman is waiting for you there. Besides, there isn’t too much time to prepare for a vacation.”
“Vera, you’re amazing, do you know that? I had so much fun with you in these three weeks! Thank you, you’re my best friend!” He said getting up. He took his suitcase and collected all his clothes in 5 minutes. I figured he already checked the flights and maybe he even didn’t plan to say anything to me. But I said nothing, I wanted to stay alone as soon as possible. So I just pretended to be happy and supportive.
In another 30 minutes, he was gone and gone for good this time. I cried till the morning came, but after it, I got up from the bed and decided to start a new life, without Tyler in it. And I made it. I haven’t seen him since that night, it’s almost four years already. I talked to him from time to time, but I tried to end these conversations shortly. I had been avoiding meeting him when he had been coming to visit his mom. He knew that something was different, but didn’t ask me about it. Last of our conversations was in my senior year when I finally decided to move on from this masochistic relationship with him. I agreed to give it a shot for love and started dating with my classmate, Clay. We were together almost six months when one night Tyler called me.
“Hey, gorgeous! Do you know how sexy your voice sounds? Damn, I missed it.”
“Tyler... What do you want? It’s 2 in the morning!”
“I want you. That’s it. I said it. I am in Rome and trying to find a flight home, to see you and mom.”
“I think it’s a bad idea...” Mentally I was slapping my face right now, while in consciousness I was numb.
“Why not? I didn’t have a chance to see my beautiful and seductive friend for almost a year and you’re telling me it’s a bad idea? It’s bullshit, Vera. You’ve been avoiding me whole this time and I am tired of it. I want to see you.”
“But I am not...” I trailed off with my words hesitating.
“You’re “not” what?” His voice was demanding, as always.
“I have a boyfriend, Tyler and he’s good and trustworthy. I like him and most importantly I don’t want to ruin our relationship.”
“I see... How long have you been together? Our talks were rare this time, but still, you didn’t mention him even once.”
“For 6 months now, things are pretty serious right now between us.”
“....” He was silent waiting for me to continue.
“I can’t, Tyler. All of our meetings had been ending the same way, but it was okay since I was single. Right now I am in a happy and healthy relationship and I want it to stay like that.”
“So... You’re telling me that you didn’t even miss me?”
“It’s not what I said.”
“Vera, tell me, you can’t or you don’t want to see me?”
“... Both... I think we shouldn’t see each other. You and I are like a bad habit and you know it.” Here, I said it. But why do I feel so miserable?
“Gorgeous, you can’t be serious! We have a history together and our sex... Hell, it wasn’t that good with anyone!”
“Not even with Daya?” Fuck, why I needed to say it? He broke up with her not long after their trip to Costa Rica, turned out she was only interested in his money. “Sorry, Tyler, it was rude of me to say this.”
“Well, I guess I deserved it. I will ask you again. Should I look for flight tickets?”
“No, not for me anyway. I won’t be meeting you. I believe we should say each other “goodbye” and this time... really for good. It was nice to hear from you, Ty, but I won’t pick up the phone next time...”
“I don’t want to end us like that, Vera! It’s crazy!”
“There is no “us” and never was! For you, it always was just about sex! I can’t pretend anymore that it’s okay for me too. I wanted a relationship, real feelings based on friendship and passion... and oh god, Tyler, we had exactly this kind! But it was always just me, who saw it that way.”
“Vera, are you fucking kidding me? You were the one, who told me that you want to be only friends with me! I thought it’s what you wanted! You and I were friends for years and you never told me that you wanted something different!”
“Maybe, you’re right! But tell me, had you ever thought about a long-distance relationship? To commit yourself only to me, while I will be miles away from you? To never spend time with a parade of your hot supermodel’s friends, because it may hurt me?”
“Shit, Vera! I don’t know! I never thought about this!”
“Exactly, Tyler! But I thought about it and figured it’s not what you will want. So I kept my mouth shut all this time. Did you even notice that I was always single? I was waiting for you! How could I even be with someone, when you could come back into my life and to my bed at any moment? I was pathetic! Every time listening to stories of your hook-ups or dates with all these women and not allowing myself to show how it was affecting me!”
“Vera, I didn’t know... You never said a word about it!” Tyler’s voice cracked a little.
“Tasha always had been saying to me, that I needed to tell you about my feelings... While I was too afraid to tell you... That you will disappear after hearing it... However, I will tell you something right now. Only just once. Because it doesn’t bother me anymore.”
I fell silent for a few seconds, I needed them for courage.
“When you came here last time, I thought that maybe this time we were on the same page. That you finally noticed how much I loved you, how much I wanted to be with you... But you left me for Daya, without any hesitation... Without asking yourself, how it was for me to hear that man, with whom I spent almost 3 weeks making love in bed or going out for dates, was in love with another woman and even wanted to marry her. I don’t know now, how I survived it, Ty... You hurt me like hell last time! Moreover, you even didn’t notice it! You broke me. Tasha was the one, who collected me from pieces and now I don’t want such pain in my life again!” Words were like a waterfall because they were there for a long time.
“You loved me?” He almost whispered it.
“You’re dumb if you didn’t understand it without me telling you! Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter anymore. Something changed in me. I loved you, Tyler, with all of my heart... I wanted to be with you, to spent my life with you, but after the last time, I realized... That you saw me only like your friend, with whom you could have some fun when you bored... Your father, your business and your girlfriends were always between us! Now I don’t want to see you or hear from you for the time being! Goodbye, Tyler!” I said and hung up. The next morning my eyes were swollen from tears and I even passed out at classes because of a sleepless night and all this stress. Needless to say that my relationship with Clay didn’t last longer than a month after this... And Tyler? He never called me back.
As Tasha and I always wanted, we moved to New York after graduation. I never doubted this decision, even if I knew that Tyler had been living here too. He and I are from two different worlds, so I didn’t have to worry that I will see him one day. Of course, I saw his photos on the news and I know that he’s engaged now, to the daughter of some businessman or whoever he is. But I don’t care anymore. That man broke me. I can’t be serious with men, because I compare each with Tyler and it’s always not enough. I hate that, but I couldn’t help it.