Nate inhaled the last puff of his cigarette and snuffed it out on the sole of his shoe, then tossed the butt in a trash can before opening the door to the coffee house. I entered the building behind him, inhaling the warm aroma of cappuccinos and lattes as I slipped my coat off. The two of us approached the counter to order a coffee, then found a table close to the windows and took a seat.
He took a sip of his drink. “Ah. That’s the stuff. Really warms you up.”
He chuckled quietly.
“I was just remembering something from middle school.”
I lowered my head and fidgeted with the cup in my hands. “Oh?”
“Remember the first time the three of us decided to be grown ups and drink black coffee?” He smiled. “It was so awful. You spit yours out all over Lee’s face. We were laughing so hard. He didn’t even seem to care that there was coffee dripping from his hair.”
“We did stupid stuff like that all of the time.” I shook my head. “Like trying to climb the water tower and you falling and breaking your wrist.”
“You remember that, huh?” He laughed. “What about the time Lee and I tried to surprise you for your birthday and nearly burned the kitchen down trying to bake a cake?”
I felt a smile form on my lips and quickly covered my mouth to hide it.
“Sometimes I forget that we were all idiots.”
“We were teenage boys.”
Nate fidgeted with his cup. “I remember being so confused when you guys started dating. It was so weird seeing my two best friends fawning over one another.”
I frowned. “It’s not exactly normal.”
He shrugged. “It’s not weird now. It was just weird when we were fourteen.”
I leaned back and stared out the window, watching snowflakes fall to the ground. “I really miss him.”
“Yeah.” He sighed. “Me, too.”
We sat in silence for a moment.
“Do you think you’ll ever be able to move past Lee and fall in love again?”
I studied him from across the table. “I haven’t tried to. So I don’t know.”
“You haven’t tried to be with anyone else?”
“I’ve been with others, but I haven’t sought to develop feelings for any of them,” I explained. “Though, until recently, I’m pretty sure I was unable to develop feelings.”
“Before meeting Kit, I was pretty empty inside, you know?”
He smiled. “He changed you then?”
“I think so.”
“You haven’t developed any feelings for him?”
I blushed. “N–no.”
“He’s an idiot,” I explained. “He was a complete stranger that decided to help a worthless person like me, he puts himself in danger for my sake, he buys me expensive gifts, he talks about me to his family… He’s an idiot.”
Nate grinned. “You don’t actually think he’s an idiot.”
“Sometimes he is,” I commented. “He punched my father in the face because he was bad-mouthing me. Only an idiot would do something like that.”
“Or someone who cares about you.”
He chortled. “I’m not sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong or anything. I just want to see you happy, man. You’ve improved so much since the day I arrived. It’s good to see you doing well again.”
I exhaled. “Thanks.”
“I mean, you asked me to hang out. That was a big surprise.”
“Well, you are my friend.”
He smiled. “It’s good to hear that from your own mouth.”
A buzzing sound interrupted our conversation and Nate quickly retrieved his cell phone from his pocket.
“Ah, sorry. My girlfriend wants me to pick her up from work.”
“You got a girlfriend?”
He beamed. “Yeah. It’s recent. But I’ll introduce her to you guys soon.”
“I look forward to it.”
“See you tomorrow, Alex,” he said as he climbed to his feet. “Don’t forget what I said.”
I watched him quickly throw his coat on and scoop his cup from the table, then wave before running out of the coffee house.
I smirked. “We’re all idiots, aren’t we?”
Containing all things romance.