He raked his fingers through his disheveled hair, frustrated. It was no use. He couldn’t concentrate on his work. He had come here to the cottage to work on the manuscript which was due in a couple of days. The quiet, solitude were exactly what he needed to get him going but his mind was refusing to focus. His eyes shifted to the time at the bottom of the screen. All he could think about was her with someone else… Muttering under his breath, he jumped to his feet and walked over to the window.
He looked out at the mountains as they loomed in the distance. The lake was calm. He envied it. Sometimes, he wished he didn’t feel anything. It would make life so much easier. Right now, he didn’t want to feel the pain that gnawed at him. Why on earth did he break his own rule and fall in love with his best friend? They had known each other since high school. Back then, she was a skinny girl with the terrific smile and who wore glasses that were too big for her face. She wasn’t pretty like the other girls but she was smart and he liked hanging out with her. They were interested in the same things.
Over the weekends, they went to Art galleries, museums, poetry readings and the theatre. They weren’t into parties or hanging out at the mall. They went to the prom together and enrolled in the same university. His major was Creative Writing and hers was Journalism. Whenever he wrote a story, he would have her read it. She was his best critic. She was more excited than he when his first story was published in the local newspaper. And it was she who encouraged him to consider writing novels. One snowy day, he sat down and crafted his first novel which he dedicated to her. It was a bestseller.
They were friends for life—inseparable until her career as a journalist took her to LA where she got to work at the magazine she had always dreamed of writing for. It was too great an opportunity to pass up. It was when they were facing each other at the airport that he realized that he wasn’t just saying goodbye to his best friend but he was saying goodbye to the girl he had fallen in love with. When they hugged, he closed his eyes and buried his face in her hair. He didn’t want to let go.
When they drew apart, she gazed up at him, her eyes brimming with tears. “We’ll see each other in the summer and for the Christmas holidays,” she said. “We’ll keep in touch every single day.”
He smiled even though his heart was breaking. “Yes, we will.”
“I love you, Jonas,” she said, reaching up and touching his face.
He swallowed hard. “I love you too.” He knew that she loved him as a friend but he was telling her that he loved her as a man loved a woman.
“Take care of yourself.”
“I will.” He watched her walk away, taking a part of him with her.
The drive back to home had been a depressing one and when he got in, he went into the study and sat down in front of the laptop to write. Writing was the only thing that gave him any comfort and purpose.
They kept in touch through texting, emails, phone calls, Facebook and Skype. They saw each other during the summer and over the Christmas holidays. She had changed somewhat. Gone was the awkward and shy girl. In her stead was a glamorous and confident woman. Gone were the glasses and in place of the braids was her natural hair. She looked great. Although they had both changed, they still connected. Neither was dating. That changed however, last summer when he visited her for Christmas and was introduced to Roger, the man she had started dating.
They met at some function or the other—he couldn’t remember. His heart was aching. Pain and jealousy consumed him. He smiled but it was a facade. It masked the hurt he was feeling. He thought that was the worst moment of his life until that afternoon when they were walking through Seward Park where she told him that she was engaged. It was too much. He couldn’t hide his distress. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I can’t do this. I can’t pretend that I’m happy for you when this is killing me. I have to go.” He turned and walked away.
That was the last time they saw each other face to face. She had called him but when he saw her number on the display, he let it go to voicemail. She sent him emails but they sat unopened in his inbox. Last week, she left a message about him going to LA for Christmas which was a week away. He couldn’t go. He couldn’t face her. He couldn’t bear to see her with Roger. He couldn’t do it. That was why he came here instead. He wanted to lose himself in his new novel but it wasn’t working out. All he could think about was her. He was losing his best friend. He was losing the woman he loved. How was it possible for a person to live with a broken heart? Right now he couldn’t see past the pain.
I need some fresh air, he decided. He moved away from the window. Grabbing his coat, he left the cottage and went down to the lake where he stood, gazing at the mountains. What a magnificent view. The sun hovered over them, enshrouding them in its golden hue. What he wouldn’t give for Rose to be there right with him now. Just the two of them, alone out there, no interruptions. They would sit by the lake and or go for a swim. Afterwards, they would go and have a bite to eat or go for a drive. At night, they would sit out on the back porch and watch the stars.
He closed his eyes in despair. They soon opened. It was so faint that at first he thought he imagined it. Then he heard it again. He turned. His eyes widened in disbelief when he saw her running towards him. “What are you doing here?” he demanded when she reached him.
“I’ve been trying to reach you,” she said, trying to catch her breath.
“What are you doing here?” he asked again.
“I came back,” she cried, her expression earnest as she looked up at him. “I left my job in LA and moved back here where I belong.”
Jonas stared at her, dazed and confused. “You moved back to Seattle?”
“But what about Roger?”
“I broke off our engagement.”
“I broke it off because I love you, Jonas.”
He blinked. “I’m sorry, but did you just say…?”
“Yes. I love you. I tried to tell you that when I called and emailed you.”
“I didn’t want to talk to you or to read your emails. I didn’t want to hear anything about you and Roger.”
“That day in the park before you walked away, you said something that made me realize how you really felt about me. Before that I had no idea. I had hoped but I thought you said that because you didn’t think that Roger was the right guy for me. I didn’t think…”
“Yes. I was hurt, jealous and angry. You have no idea how much I wanted to tell you that I loved you. It was too much to deal with so I walked.”
“I wanted to run after you but I was afraid that I would make a fool of myself. All the way back to LA, I couldn’t stop thinking about what you said and the way you looked. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I called Roger and asked him to meet me at a café near my apartment. He took it well. He suspected that I was in love with you. After we say our goodbyes, I went home and typed up my letter of resignation. Then, I booked a flight to Seattle. And here I am.”
“How did you know I was here?”
“I didn’t. I went to your place and your neighbor told me.”
Jonas stared at her. “I can’t believe that you’re standing here in front of me.”
“This is where I belong, Jonas. Here with you.”
He pulled her against him, his eyes darkening on her upturned face. “Yes, it is,” he agreed huskily. “Now, I really won’t be able to get any work done…”
She smiled. “So, you’re working on a new novel?”
“Yes, but it can wait.” He bent his head and kissed her.