The Best Friend’s Contract

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Chapter 30

Aidan

Black. Sadness. Respect.

The amount of people being here shows just how much he was a good man. A great man. A father and a loving husband—he is going to be talk of the city and there’s no one going to deny the goodness he had when he was alive. There’s no better reason why . . . there’s no need for any reasons at all. Not even one.

John deserved better. He didn’t deserve to die this way; no one would deserve this way. His family doesn’t deserve to feel this pain and he certainly didn’t have to live like this. Either way, John . . . rest in peace. You were the best father I never had—I saw how much you loved Kenna and Julia with all of your heart, I saw her grew up to be the most beautiful woman and I saw how well you took care of your girls. You deserved more.

I look around to see the look on their faces, eyes swollen, tears drying and heart breaking. It’s not a sight worth seeing as it keeps on making my heart ache; especially by looking down at Kenna as she leans closer towards me, my arm around her waist, wanting to keep her safe and wanting to give her support.

My lips lay onto the top of her head before pulling her closer, wanting her to know that I’ll always be here for her, no matter what. She will always have me by her side as she lives her life, no matter how. She won’t come across another day without me being a part of me, no matter why.

″I can’t,″ She mutters under her breath as she looks up at me, her eyes are bloodshot red and her face somehow appears slimmer. ″I can’t stay here.″ She adds.

I nod my head as I grab onto her hand, ″Do you want to leave?″

″Yes. I want to be anywhere but here,″ She replies, her eyes showing desperation as her fingers tremble due to the fear glinting, deep in her blue eyes. The way she leans onto me and the way her hands grab tightly onto my arm shows how anxiety is taking control.

It doesn’t take me long to take her away from there, away from the grave and away from the crowd. She doesn’t need to force herself to stand there in sadness because her legs were giving out, her heart was beating faster than usual and her lips were slightly trembling, she was going to pass out—she was going to break apart, I saw the pain she wanted to hide.

We step inside my car, closing the door to block any sound coming from outside.

I immediately cup onto her face as try to meet her eyes, ″Look at me . . . hey, look at me.″ My lips curve up into a small smile before her blue eyes actually pierce into mine. ″You don’t have to force yourself, okay? You don’t have to hold it in. You don’t have to hide it away. You can show me everything, Kenna. You can show me the pain and I’d still be here with you,″ My voice almost inaudible as the tears slip from her eyes, down her cheeks.

″Why him? Why now?″ She sobs, wrapping her arms around my neck as I pull her close; quickly wrapping mine around her body, securing her.

Her sobs are only getting louder as I soothingly rub onto her back, snuggling closer towards her by letting her place her chin on my shoulder—letting her tears wet my shirt as we both stay in an embrace, pouring her every amount of sadness; something she has been trying to hide since she found out about his death.

--

The ride home to Julia and John’s apartment was quiet, neither of us said a word but it was a comfortable silent. We both needed that kind of treatment especially Kenna because she knew the pain was eating her alive and all she ever needed was a moment of silence; something to clear her head from all of those unwanted thoughts.

I watch as she walks up the stairs, slowly which worries me as I follow her. She pushes onto her bedroom door open, some things unchanged and somehow remaining the same ever since she moved out of this house and decided to get her own apartment.

My eyes remain onto the back of her body, the way her shoulders drop as she sighs deeply and how her eyes just stare into oblivion—not as lively as how they used to be. Even if I stand still at the same spot for exactly five minutes, she doesn’t seem to move either. She doesn’t seem to notice anyone being in the room.

I sit beside her onto the bed, grabbing onto her hand which catches her attention; making her turn to look at me, her blue eyes are staring deeply into my brown ones.

We don’t say a single word as we just stare at each other, appreciating the silence around us before placing her head on my chest, wrapping her arms around my waist—closing her eyes due to the comfort. I, on the other hand, starts to play with the tips of her hair, wanting for this moment to remain . . . somehow wanting a different situation, though.

It took me awhile to realise that her arms around my waist have somehow loosen and her head is almost falling down onto my thighs which causes me to slowly place her properly onto the bed, taking in her features, again. The way her thick eyelashes are tightly closed and her lips are somewhat slightly ajar, there’s exhaustion written all over her face.

I run my thumb onto her fallen tears, wiping them away.

Just like that, I remain seated beside her as I watch her sleep after slowly pulling onto her favourite blanket and place it up to her waist. I look down at her chest moving up and down, calmly and for some reason, it eases me to know just how much this can be her escape. Escape from the pain she hated.

My right hand goes to grab onto hers, gripping tightly as I look down at the wedding ring on her finger—remembering back when John met me a week before the wedding:

″You love my daughter, right? More than enough that you want to marry her?″ John asks as he stops to look at me. ″I don’t want a maybe . . . I want a certain answer where I can just be sure that you will take good care of her. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve always been a good friend to her and you’ve never once made her unhappy but . . . marriage is a lifetime promise, Aidan. Can you promise to keep her happy, for the rest of your life?″ He asks, again.

My lips are somehow sealed, unsure of the words I’m about to let slip but I nod.

″I really love her, John. More than you can imagine,″ I breathe out, the lie slipping out of my lips was somehow clear and honest—it slipped away from his mind that I was lying, I was just faking this whole thing and our marriage is based on something we both agreed on.

″I don’t have to worry, then.″ He chuckles as we both continue to walk out of the fancy restaurant.

″I hate lying, Kenna. Truth be told . . . I don’t want to lie.″ I mutter under my breath as my eyes remain onto the wedding ring, ″But, why do I have to lie? Why do we have to keep on doing this when we know that we don’t have to? We don’t need to. We can just admit the truth,″

I clench my jaw as I let out a deep breath, ″Don’t tell me that this is a one-sided thing because you were there. You wanted what I wanted. We want the same thing. We’re just stupid and scared . . . even when we’re no longer kids.″ I soothingly rub onto the back of her hand, seeing her body staying still and still sleeping soundly.

″What if I say it?″ I furrow my brows.

″What if I say that I want more than this? Would you want that too?″ I let the words slip without any intention of taking them back because I know how much of a fool I am. There’s nothing better than confessing the truth but I’m a coward . . . a damn coward.

Without me realising, I’ve already leaned closer towards her face, eyeing down at her lips for a few seconds before placing my lips onto her forehead, closing my eyes. Just like that, I start to lean back—standing up straight, away from her.

″I guess I will never know,″ I mutter.

I walk out of the room and straight down the hallway, seeing Mia staring out of the window with her hand gripping tightly onto her phone. My legs make their way towards her, immediately catching her attention as she wipes away her fallen tears. ″Hey,″ She says.

″Hey,″ I reply before taking a seat.

″You okay?″ I ask, looking at her features and how her brown eyes move to look at me; it appears dull and somehow sad but aren’t we all, today? Question of the day.

″Yeah . . . I guess. Just a lot on my mind. Where’s Kenna?″ She replies as she tucks a few strands of hair behind her ear, pulling her knees up to her chin—her eyes are slightly swollen and she seems to be out of place, somewhat her body is here but not her soul.

″Asleep.″ I frown, ″Are you sure you’re okay, Mia? You can tell me anything. Problems in school or problems with Tony? Did he hurt you?″ Tony—Mia’s boyfriend of two years, they’ve been together since they first started university and things have been fine. I assume. When she first fell in love with some kid back in high school . . . or more like a crush thing, she was miserable when things didn’t turn out great but Tony made her realise how he was her first love, all along.

She chuckles, ″Tony wouldn’t hurt me, Aidan. He’s not like that,″ She replies as she turns to look out at the sky through the window. ″I’m just going through a hard time. Every college student go through that . . . don’t they? I’m sure you were as miserable as me,″ She smirks.

I smile, ″I was miserable. Not fucking miserable but things were hard. Just don’t worry too much, okay? Shitty things like this will pass and you won’t even have to turn back and see how it went because fuck it, right?″ I stand up to mess with her hair in which she groans before pushing my hand away, laughing.

″Great advice, bro. Great damn advice,″

--

That night,

After changing into a plain shirt with shorts, I glance at Kenna to see her still sleeping soundly since earlier—causing me to smile, realising how she’s going to feel slightly better when she wakes up after all of the crying and heart aching moments she went through a couple of days ago.

I step out of the room and walk down the stairs, surprised to see Julia sitting all by herself in the living room, staring onto a stack of albums.

″Oh . . . Aidan, I didn’t see you there.″ She says after realising that I’m currently standing in the middle before gesturing for me to take a seat, ″I thought you were already asleep. Where’s Kenna?″ She asks, wiping away the tears on her cheeks.

I take a seat, ″Kenna’s still sleeping. She was tired,″

Julia nods before pointing at the albums, ″His favourite songs. I still remember how we used to sing each one, all the time, in the car. He never gets bored of it even though he listens to them, every single day.″ She clears her throat, ″I was just playing some.″

I look down at her phone, seeing her putting it beside her before tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear. ″I’m sorry . . . Julia. I’m really sorry,″ I mutter as the room falls silent, not a single sound is heard—only the sound of our breaths, ″He deserves so much more. I swear,″

″It’s just . . . unexpected, Aidan. Yes, he deserves to die differently. John was a good man, a great father and a loving husband—he was everything to me and I’m sure he was everything to Kenna, too. He gave us everything we needed, he gave us all the love he had and he had never once disappoint me or his daughter. I’m sure he deserves so much more,″ She replies.

I keep quiet, listening to her.

She breathes out, ″You will take good care of Kenna, won’t you?″

″I will for as long as I can,″ I reply with a small smile creeping up my face as a sudden pain hits my chest, making me realise that this lie is only getting deeper and deeper. There’s no way out of it if we keep on making the wrong choices such as lying about this marriage, lying about our undying love.

″I’m sure you’re a great husband, Aidan. You were a good friend to Kenna. John admitted that, too. We were worried if Kenna was going to marry someone odd or different but when we were told about the engagement, we were more than happy. We were thankful. We know there’s no one better out there for her than you,″ She smiles, sighing.

″One day . . . when you both are ready, you’ll be a great father, too. I’m sure of it,″ The way her words sinked deeply into my heart—somehow causing me to look down at my own hand, not sure of what to say or how to respond to something like that; something that won’t ever happen for us unless we’re with different people.

That kind of future will be dragging us in a different direction. One of us will be unprepared for that kind of change of course and I’m sure the person prepared would be me. It’s hard to admit and it’s hard to even tell anyone because Dimitri was right . . . I’ve started to fall for her. I don’t know if it’s an adrenaline rush or something worse but every time I’m close to her, there’s just something flickering in me.

There’s a possibility.

There’s just not much hope.

My mind wanders off to imagine what kind of life it would be: being able to hold her whenever I want to, kiss her lips, admire her features and even travel the world with her. Something that seems too real to be true but we’re somehow halfway there, we’re here and we’re married . . . it’s just that our marriage isn’t something that would last for a lifetime.

We both lied. Lied to the person who died and we’re both going to regret it for the rest of our lives. No matter how this ends, we will be reminded of this day and we will always think back of how we could’ve made different choices.

It’s insane how I have to admit. Dimitri was right all along. He knew things like this could happen and he warned me—he told me not to continue this foolish plan because this will all be something Kenna and I will regret. He was right . . . unfortunately, it’s just me who began to realise it a bit earlier than her.

Maybe because of his experience with his ex-wife or with different women lately, I was probably too naive to even notice. There’s no such thing as avoiding ourselves to not fall in love with someone especially with someone as attractive, as nice as Kenna. Look at her . . . anyone would see that she’s the perfect package—the kind of woman you want to take home to your parents instead of out to party.

″I’m going to get some rest. You should, too.″ She starts to stand up before patting onto my shoulder, ″Don’t stay up for long.″ She adds, walking up the stairs.

″Goodnight,″ I reply.

I’m way too deep to drag myself out of this but what if I end up hurting myself? What if she won’t see the way I see things? What if she’s determined to just end this the way it should be? What if we can’t even have a future other than staying as friends? What if we’re both stuck in between and all we want is a better life? A better someone? What if I’m just overthinking?

If I’m in a storytelling contest, I know this would be one hell of a story and it might even have an unexpected ending.

Well . . . it all started with a girl named Kenna and she was the death of me.

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