Till There Was You [ 1 ]

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"Gentleman? Ha! We met in preschool."

"Yeah, but nonetheless you corrupted my innocence from that day on."

She looks at me in disbelief. "You are something else."

"I'm amazing, aren't I?" I joke.

She shakes her head and laughs. "바보."

"Alright," she then says with a clap of her hands, "where was I before . . ." A pause. "Oh, yeah—so, up until today, you've never told anyone that you love them. But now, for some odd reason, after meeting some chick—who, BTW, you have yet to introduce me to. Pfft! Some best friend you are—you've decided to go off the deep end and shatter your twenty-one-year streak by professing your love for her. In public, nonetheless."

I laugh. "You say that like it's a bad thing."

"It's not bad . . . per se. It's just, um—how do I put this in a nice way? It's um . . . just uh, very . . . out of character for you."

I shrug. "People can change, you know."

"Yeah, but c'mon, you honestly want me to believe that none of it is in the least bit strange? I mean, like, given your track record and all, you telling a girl you're in love with her is straight up bizarre."

Well, when she puts it like that . . . "I suppose it is."

Through the mirror's reflection, I see Claire rear her head back. "You suppose?" she repeats as if my words were the most offensive thing to ever cross her ears. "Jay . . . telling someone you love them is a big deal. Huge! You can't just confess out of the blue and expect that person to take it lightly. Before you take the next step, you have to be sure. And I mean sure sure."

I whirl back around, and with a mock-displeased look on my face, I place a hand over my chest. "Your lack of confidence in me hurts, Claire."

None of this fazes her though. She just rolls her eyes in return and diverts her gaze elsewhere. "I'm just looking out for you," she mutters softly, her hands clasping together, her fingers interweaving with one another. "You know that."

"I do," I tell her, "and I appreciate it. Really, I do. But you've got to have faith in me, Claire—"

"I do. It's just that this . . . this whole thing is nuts. Unnecessary really. I mean, like, why do you even need to confess in public? Why not just tell her how you feel when it's just the two of you? You know, the more intimate, the better."

I shrug. "I just feel like this the right thing to do. You said it yourself, given my history and all, she may not even believe me if I say it in private. I won't have that. I can't. Telling her in front of others is the best way to prove that I mean business, because the way I see it, once my feelings are out in public, there's no going back. I know that you may not understand it now, but you will with time. Just trust me when I say this, Claire, I've never been more serious about anything or anyone in my entire life. I'm . . . I'm over the moon for this girl."

And just like that, the finality in my voice hits her.

She gets it now.

Whipping her head back to me, her dark almond-shaped eyes are wide and her red-stained lips are parted ever so slightly. "Wow. You really are serious about this."

"Why wouldn't I be?"

She glances away. "I don't know," she says with a roll her of her shoulders. "It's just unexpected is all. I mean, like, in all seriousness, it is you we are talking about here. Straight up, Jay, guys like you don't get whipped over girls. It's always the other way around."

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