The next day broke bright and early and we were up packing not long after sunrise. There was one last breakfast at the small table by the windows in the kitchen and then it was all over.
Standing in the entryway felt odd. This house had become home during my stay and it felt horrible to leave. "You've got my number, right?" asked Emma.
I nodded, laughing, "You already asked me, Em. Four times if my count is right."
She smiled back, "I just want to make sure you have it. We have to get together soon! I never could go visit Tom at Cambridge unless I wanted to try to find a hotel in town, but now I can since I could stay with you!" We had worked all this out during breakfast. I hugged her before moving to my right to Tom's other sister, Sarah.
"Take care, will you?" she asked teasingly before bringing me in for another hug.
Last was Tom's mother.
"I wanted to give you this," I said as I pulled out the frame I had picked out for her on one of our trips to town. It was carved wood, and matched the theme of her house. Inside was the picture we had taken of all of us when we went out to dinner a few days after Tom and I arrived. "I saw it and thought of you. I hope you don't mind that I'm in it, it was just the only photo I had-"
I was cut off as she pulled me into a tight embrace. "Don't you apologize for that dear, you're as much my child as Tom. I wouldn't want this picture any other way." I hugged her back, a surge of love flooding through my heart. When we pulled away, there were tears in both of our eyes.
"Thank you so much again for having me, I had a wonderful time."
"You're welcome back any time, we'd love to have you." Tom's mother smiled brightly before I turned to Tom, ready to go.
With final goodbyes, Tom and I were out the door and back into his car. As the countryside rolled by outside my window, I hoped I would return soon. We turned the radio on, singing to each other and laughing constantly.
About two hours into the drive, a familiar song came on.
"I don't care if Monday's blue,
Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too,
Thursday I don't care about you,
It's Friday I'm in love!"
Tom turned the radio up and we sang along, before ending in a fit of giggles. "Do you remember how different things were the last time we heard that song?" I asked, turning the radio off.
Tom looked up at me and laughed, remembering the drive here and singing those same lyrics, just two friends on a trip.
For the rest of the drive, we chatted about the trip, laughing at so many different memories. When we finally pulled back onto campus, it felt like a splash of cold water to the face as reality swept into view. Classes began again the next day and I was already dreading the lectures and coursework.
Tom parked the car in front of my dorm and helped me bring my things inside. "I'm going to go put my stuff away at my place. Do you want to have dinner? How does St. John's sound?"
"Sure!" I said, hoping to be able to fight off real life for a few hours more. "Just give me an hour to unpack, change, and shower."
"Marvelous! Pick you up at eight, my love." With that, he placed a light kiss on my forehead and was gone.
I wasted no time, throwing my clothes into the hamper before immediately getting into the shower. I washed my hair and shaved before getting out and proceeding to stand in front of my closet in a towel for 20 minutes trying to find a suitable outfit. St. John's was an extremely nice restaurant, so I had to look dressed up, but I didn't want to overdo it.
I ran through countless combinations in my head before finally settling on a crimson evening dress with small jewels adorning the top. I had brought it from home when I came and it was one of my nicest dresses. It cut off right above my knees and was simple, but gorgeous.
I pulled my curly hair into a French braid that draped over one shoulder, before applying light makeup. Looking in the mirror, I gave myself a nod of approval.
Just as I was applying a nice rouge lipstick, I heard a knock at the door.
There stood Tom, looking dashing in a simple black suit and tie. "You look.....breathtaking," he said to me. I smiled, unsure of how to respond.
"Thanks," I blushed. He held out his hand in a gentlemanly fashion.
Dinner was superb, the food cooked to perfection, a live pianist, and great wine. When we finished, Tom paid, waving off my attempts to split the bill, and we left again for our dorms.
Facing my door for the second time that night I hesitated. These past few weeks felt a bit like a dream and I was afraid that I would wake up tomorrow and things would be just like they used to be: Tom and I, the best of friends but nothing more.
These worries were washed away when Tom bent down to press a feather-light kiss to my lips. He tasted like wine and pudding; sweet and tangy.
"Goodnight darling," he whispered.