It took me a couple of seconds to comprehend that my distant best friend was actually here. Like, right now. My eyes met his and immediately teared up when he gave me a sweet smile. I threw myself at him and felt his arms wrap around my waist. I cried in confusion as he lifted me up.
“It’s been so long, Ronnie.” he murmured. He held me at arm’s length. His thumbs brushed across my tear-stained cheeks.
“You always cry when I’m around. Just the same as I remember.” his lips curled up. Heat radiated off my face. I playfully slapped him on his shoulder.
“Uh,” I froze and then realized Alice was right here.
“He was the childhood friend that I’ve been talking to you about.” I then introduced them to each other.
“Nice meeting you, Alice.” he said.
“Likewise, Jake.” She beamed at him. After that quick introduction, I took a step back to invite him in.
“I was just about to leave. I don’t want to be in the way of your reunion, guys.” Alice said. I turned to glare at her. She was bailing on me.
“It’s alright. I was just dropping by to give you these.” He said while handing me a small box. It was quite heavy, and it had that distinct smell that it came from another country. I thanked him for the package he had given.
“Hope you don’t mind if I go ahead.” she said. I turned to Jake and gave him a reassuring smile.
“Do you mind if I walk her out first?” I asked.
“Of course, don’t mind me.” He replied. I pulled Alice outside, closing the door behind me.
“I need you to fill me in on the details tomorrow.” she snapped.
“I can’t believe you’re bailing on me.”
“You need some catching up with him and it’d be silly if I was here for that.” she chuckled and added, “Besides, it is important. You obviously need time to catch up.”
“Who’s taking you home?” I asked.
“I guess I’ll call someone to pick me up.” she shrugged, a hint of blush brushed her cheek.
“Liam?” I teased. Her face turned completely red. The song Drive by The Cars suddenly popped in my head.
“Who’s gonna drive you home, tonight?”
“Don’t push it.” she muttered.
“I deserve an explanation tomorrow, then.” She nodded and smiled. I gave her one quick hug before going back inside. Jake stood by the fireplace, hands in his pocket, as he studied the living room.
“So…” He walked towards me. “Is it okay if we go to my place? I need an extra hand with stuff.” he asked. I nodded, then we headed to their house. It looked the same as before, back when I used to come over when we were younger. The place looked completely vacant. One would think it was for sale, but they managed to keep this place. Even if they were away, their housekeepers did a really good job cleaning it. The house looked spotless. I followed Jake in the kitchen, and sat on one of the bar stools. He went through a bunch of grocery bags that were scattered around the counter top.
“I’d serve you something to drink right now, but I have to unpack these first.” He said. I moved off my seat and stood next to him, might as well help him out.
“Are you here on vacation?” I asked. With his back to me, he continued his business as he talked back to me.
“Not really, I’m staying for good actually.” He answered.
“Oh.” That was the only thing I managed to say. I was taken aback so slightly. Questions ran through my head. It was weird that he just decided that now. He must’ve noticed my reaction and turned around.
“You don’t seem pleased as punch.” He frowned. I looked up and gave him a sad smile.
“After all these years, Jake. Why now?”
Something flickered in his eyes for a split second, and then his expression softened. “I’m sorry for being a stranger. I owe you eight years.” I felt a slight ache in my chest. Old scars still feel a little bit of pain, I guess.
“It’s going to take more than just a night to catch up with everything.” Our eyes locked for a few seconds until I looked away. He resumed from restocking his cupboards. I followed suit. We grew silent for a bit. I used to be so cool talking to Jake, but things have gone off way different now. I sifted through a bunch of scenarios that are just playing in my head right now.
“I hope I can manage to catch up with you again, Ronnie.”
“I’d like that.”
After a relaxing bath, I slipped on my lose shirt and silk shorts. I lay on my belly and opened my laptop. Alice and I have been exchanging messages when she got home.
Alice: I’m home safe. I enjoyed our dinner. Before you jump to any conclusions, Liam and I did not go out for a night stroll. He just drove me home.
Ronnie: No worries. I won’t pry until tomorrow. Goodnight.
Chuckling to myself, I close the laptop and placed it on my study desk. I climbed back in bed, stopping midway to look at my balcony doors. The tree was rustling outside. I don’t remember it being a little windy tonight. It was covered with curtains so I can barely see through the balcony. I tried to recall if I had locked it tonight. Just for reassurance, I skidded to the doors to lock it. A loud thud came from outside, and I immediately went self-defense mode. I grabbed the closest thing I could get my hands on and threatened whoever was outside my balcony.
“Open up, it’s me!” Jake exclaimed. I drew my curtains and saw Jake outside, dressed in a gray hoodie and red boxers. My heart almost stopped there. His eyes met mine and when he registered what I was holding, he immediately laughed.
“What the hell, Jake?” I hissed.
“I’m sorry. Old habits die hard. I didn’t know you go around and defend your house with an umbrella.” He smirked. I glared at him and he raised his hands to surrender.
“Why are you sneaking off at this ungodly hour?”
He shrugged. “I forgot to ask about your number.”
This is what got me worked up tonight. I rubbed my hand against my face. Just because of my goddamn number. “You could have asked me earlier.”
“Sorry.” He smiled sheepishly. Without hesitation, I unlocked my door to let him in. My room suddenly felt smaller with Jake here. His eyes scanned the room, as if trying to remember something. He handed his phone and typed my digits in.
“No more boy band posters, I see.” he said. I just rolled my eyes at him when I returned his phone. His hand ruffled through my hair and before I can even protest, he was already walking out. I stalked behind him.
“Next time you use the front door like a normal person, okay?”
He snorted. “Where’s the fun in that?”
I shook my head and smiled. “I just want you to be careful, silly.”
He nodded in agreement. Before leaving, he turned towards me and enveloped me in a hug. I froze, suddenly taken aback.
“I missed this.” He sighed in my ear and my heart suddenly picked up its pace. My arms slowly found its way around him. We stood there for a few seconds until he pulled back.
“Goodnight,” I mutter.
He smiles, “Sweet dreams, Ronnie.” Then he turns away and climbed back down, through the trees. I shut the door and locked it. While in bed, my head wandered back to his warm embrace. The thought of it made me smile.
‘I missed it too.’ I thought. I’m sure to expect a lot more of that, now that Jake is finally back. It was just a little something to look forward in the morning.