Katie ignored me, parked the car in the temporary spot by the registration desk, and then disappeared inside the building without another word. Ten minutes later she was back in the car with an envelope in her hand.
She was silent as she drove around back behind the motel, then parked.
“Come with me,” she ordered, her voice breaking on the last word.
I did as I was told, and got out of the car. She then took me by then hand and led me to a room. Producing a key card from the envelope, she used it to open the door, then pulled me inside. I was thoroughly confused.
“Damn you, Billy! Why did you have to do this?”
“Do what?” My confusion was growing by the second….**
“Do what?” My confusion was growing by the second.
“You’re waiting for me, aren’t you?”
“Waiting? What do you mean?”
“Don’t give me that horseshit! You’re waiting for me to have sex, aren’t you? Don’t deny it.”
I sat on the bed and looked at her.
She came over and sat on my lap. Running her fingers through my hair, she cupped my face in my hands. “You love me that much, that you’re waiting for me?”
When I nodded quietly, she kissed my lips softly.
“Billy, I know you love me, and I love you too. More so than I thought possible. You’ve been my best friend for a long time. You’ve been there for me when no one else was. So hear me now. For as much as I love you, and it’s a lot, we’re never going to be together. It can’t happen. I’m too old for you for one. I’m all wrong for you for another. But for all of that, I do love you.”
“Yes, I do. Which is why I’m going to do something now, and even though it’s wrong in every definition of the word, I’m going to do it anyway, and that’s why. Because I love you.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Billy, do you remember your sixteenth birthday?”
“Do you remember when I said that I wanted you to pretend, just for that night, it was you and me in love?”
“How could I forget? It was the best night of my life.”
“I want you to do that for me again now. Pretend Martin doesn’t exist. Pretend that it’s just you and me, now, in this room.”
“Because just like the first time you’re kissed should be by someone who loves you, the first time you make love to someone should be too. I love you, Billy.”
Shocked beyond words, I wasn’t capable of a response. Katie was though, and respond she did. With a deep, passionate kiss first. Then later by making love to me.
The next morning, as we were dressing, she came over to sit by me.
“I really do love you.”
“I love you too. I always have.”
“You’ll still walk me down the aisle?”
“I’ll be there.”
“Thank you, Billy. You’re the best friend anyone could have. Ever.”
And I did walk her down that aisle. I put her hand in the hand of her new husband, watched as they exchanged vows, and even watched as they kissed. They were married.
I left not long after that, telling Katie and her new husband I had to work early the next morning. When I got home though, I went to my room and cried.
You might think that was the end of things with Katie and me, but it wasn’t. Life sometimes has some weird turns to it. It was thirteen years later when I got the call from Katie’s mom.
By then, I’d grown up, got a degree in finance, and made my living working from home trading stocks and bonds. I was pretty good at it and over the course of time, I’d made some good money doing it.
My dating life was still largely nonexistent, but I’d given up on trying to find anyone. So my life instead was spent working, and finding things to do to occupy my time. When Katie’s mom called that day, I was deep into learning how to cook and thinking about opening a small diner, just for fun.
Katie was in an accident, and it was bad. She wasn’t expected to make it, and her mom thought it a good idea if her friends had a chance to say their final goodbyes.
I rushed to the hospital, speeding the entire way. It was there I met her husband for the second time.
He stood there looking at me, then looked at her. Bandages, tubes, wires, and a simple gown were covering most of her body. He looked like a fish out of water, but had the presence of mind to explain what happened.
A car wreck, and a bad one. He’d been driving and had one or two too much to drink. The bastard was fine. He wasn’t touched except for a couple scratches. Katie’s life hung in the balance, and she was in a coma.
© 2016, Tim Hillebrant. All rights reserved.
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