“I’m just going to the drugstore. I’ll be back in a jiffy,” Alison called out to her cousin, Derek who was visiting from New York and staying at her place. It was good having him around, even if it was for just a few days. He helped to take her mind off Richard or least distract her from her misery as much as was possible.
She grabbed her handbag and headed to the door. When she opened it, she was startled to see Richard standing there. “Richard!” she exclaimed. Her heart lurched. Joy and dread mingled at the sight of him. How she missed him. It had been about two weeks now. She longed to throw her arms around him and tell him how much she loved him but she didn’t. She couldn’t. They were just friends.
His face was pale and his eyes were restless on her face. “I had to see you, Alison,” he muttered. “I miss you.”
She swallowed hard. “I-I was on my way out,” she told him when what she really wanted to say was, “I miss you too.”
“Please let me come in.”
She stepped aside and let him in. She closed the door and leaned against it for a moment. He turned to face her and was about to take a step closer to her when Derek walked into the room, talking to someone on his cell. He stopped when he saw them.
Richard looked at him and then at her. His expression darkened. “Is he the reason why you haven’t been returning my calls?” he asked. “Are you and he–?”
“No. Derek is my cousin. He’s here from New York. He came for the Caribbean Carnival. He leaves tomorrow.”
Derek finished his call. He looked apologetic. “I thought you had left,” he said to Alison. He turned to Richard. “Sorry, Man, I was just leaving. I’m Derek, by the way.” He held out his hand.
Richard shook it. “Richard.”
“Richard, I’ll be with you in a minute,” Alison told him. He went over to the sofa and sat down.
“Is he your boyfriend,” Derek asked in a low voice.
Alison shook her head. “No. We are just friends.”
Derek looked surprised. “Really? Well, when he saw me he acted more like a jealous boyfriend than a friend. I’ll see you later.” He called over his shoulder, “Nice meeting you, Richard.” And then he was out of there.
Alison closed the door and walked slowly over to the sofa. She sat down. Richard was staring at her. “How have you been, Richard?” she asked.
“How do you think I have been, Alison?” he demanded. “It has been two weeks since we last saw or spoke to each other. I have been miserable. Why have you been avoiding me? Have you met someone? Do you think he would have a problem with our friendship?”
“I haven’t met anyone, Richard.”
“Then why haven’t you called me or visited or answered my calls? I thought we were friends.”
She got up agitated. “That’s the problem,” she said. “I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.”
He jumped to his feet and taking her by the shoulders, he turned her round to face him. He looked distraught. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Why don’t you want us to be friends anymore?”
With him this close, his eyes penetrating hers, she couldn’t think straight but she had to tell him the truth. She owed him that much. “I want to be more than friends, Richard. I have wanted it for a long time now.”
He looked stunned. Then, his countenance brightened. “Oh, Alison,” he cried. “You really had me scared. I was going to tell you that if I couldn’t have your heart, at least I could still have your friendship but, when you said that you didn’t want us to be friends anymore I nearly lost it.”
Alison’s expression was frank. “You have my heart, Richard,” she confessed. “You have had it for a long time now. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t know if you felt the same way. And I couldn’t go on pretending that I was fine with just being friends.”
“And that is why you stopped seeing me for two weeks? You have no idea how much I suffered during that time and until now. I thought you had met someone and I was out of my mind with jealousy, wondering who he was. And when I saw Derek, I thought–well, you know what I thought. Yet, I would still have wanted to be your friend. It would be better than not having you in my life anymore but I was relieved when you told me that he was your cousin.”
“Derek was right. He said that you were jealous.”
“You have no reason to be jealous of anyone, Richard. I love you.”
“And, I love you, Alison.” He bent his head and kissed her.
Moments later, she drew back to look up into his flushed face. “Derek won’t be back until later. We have the apartment all to ourselves.”
He smiled. “That sounds good. You and I have a lot of catching up to do.”