The club was packed, just like it was every Saturday night. I was standing against the wall watching Jesse grind up against a shirtless dude who looked like he was never going to age past eighteen, just like I did every time we went clubbing.
Sweaty bodies with breath that smelled like beer and bad choices approached me and asked me to dance, but I declined. It was my job to keep an eye on Jesse. Ok, sure, it was a self-appointed position, but it was important to me to watch out for him. My best friend, my soul mate, the love of my life.
Jesse waded through the crowd and stepped close to me, giving me his phone number acquisition update. I smiled and nodded and watched him disappear back into the crowd of half-naked men moving in unison to the latest dance-pop song blaring over the speakers. I nursed my one beer of the night. Another self-appointed position, designated driver.
I pulled up to the curb in front of Jesse's apartment building, stopped the car in a red zone and watched him stumble out.
"I'll help you inside," I said, shutting off the engine.
"I'm good," Jesse slurred his words and stumbled again, face planting onto the small grassy area in front of his building.
We slowly made our way up the walkway, Jesse's arm draped over my shoulder, nearly all his weight pressed against my left side. I punched in the security code and managed to open the big metal gate with one arm and one leg. We stopped at Jesse's door and I held my hand out for his keys.
"Pocket," he said, leaning his head against the wall.
I knew what he was doing, and yet I reached into his left pocket, brushing against something I knew was not keys. Those turned out to be in the right pocket. My hands were shaking and I had to steady myself just to open the lock on the door.
Jesse's apartment was tidy and smelled like vanilla. On the nights we went clubbing he would spend the day making it shine in case anyone was coming home with him. Most of the time it was just me dragging his drunk ass into bed and leaving him there to sleep it off.
We slowly made our way to his bedroom, me dragging him along while he continued to brag about his phone number acquisition. I smiled and nodded at him as if I was proud while internally screaming at him for being an idiot.
I let go of Jesse when we reached the edge of his bed. He slumped onto the comforter. I pulled his shoes and jeans off, doing my best not to let my eyes wander. Once I was satisfied he would be comfortable I covered him with the comforter and turned away.
"Ryan." I was halfway out of his bedroom door when I heard him call my name. I went back to the bed and sat beside him.
He took my arm and pulled me close to him. "Stay with me," he whispered.
"Not tonight Jess," I kissed him on the forehead.
"You're not fun," he protested and proceeded to pass out cold.
I made my way out of the apartment building. The lingering smell of alcohol on Jesse's breath helped remind me that his request meant close to nothing. The flapping of the parking ticket against my windshield topped off the night.
"Perfect," I said under my breath.
I showed up at Jesse's apartment to check on him. He was laid out on his couch with an ice pack on his head. Still in his boxer briefs and still reeking of last night's club outing. I set a Venti Cappuccino on the table next to him.
"How you feeling?" I asked him.
"Shhh, don't talk so loud," he groaned.
"You owe me 85 bucks," I said smacking his feet out of the way and sitting at the end of the couch. He put his feet in my lap.
YOU ARE READING
Ryan and Jesse have been doing a delicate dance between friends and something more for over four years. Jesse couldn't be happier. Ryan, not so much. Will their friendship survive their opposing views on what it means to be in a relationship?