Music plays, I’m at yet another one of these work parties. It’s interesting the way my boss looks at me, I’m not exactly sure what it means. He sets down his drink and starts walking towards me, and suddenly I think I know all too well what he means. He must be incredibly drunk. That’s why I always hate coming to these things, almost everyone drinks but me. I pretend I didn’t see him and walk quickly over to Shawn, my best friend.
“Dance with me.” I whisper frantically.
“Sloane? Okay.” He shrugs, confused. He pulls me out onto the dance floor, and moves me slowly to the music.
“What’s going on?” He chuckles softly. “It better be important, I was talking to a really hot one.”
“First of all, she has a name. I think it’s Tiffany. And second, because I’m pretty sure my boss was about to come hit on me, he had that look in his eye.” I glance cautiously back at him, and Shawn does the same.
“Really? Roy? Well, he does look pretty disappointed. You’re gonna break the poor man’s heart.” He mocks.
“Ha. Ha. Well unlike you, my arrogant friend, I don’t want a relationship in the office.” I roll my eyes.
“Why not? You get way more benefits that way, especially with your boss!” He encourages.
“Why are we friends?” I ask sarcastically.
“Best friends.” He stresses.
“I hate you so much.” I laugh, shaking my head.
“And I love you. I think it seems pretty fair. Anyway, the song is ending, and I need to get back to it… I mean her.” He grins. I hit him.
“Yes, and I simply must go back to sitting alone, completely sober.” I sigh, like it’s the glamorous life.
“Poor you. Remember, I’m sober too. Yet I have plenty of fun.”
“Shut up.” I smirk, pushing him away. He bows deeply before turning back to Tiffany. I laugh. Shawn’s always been a ladies man. Granted, he’s only really dated the stupid girls, but he could get any woman easily. It’s just, who he is.
A little while later, Shawn gets up with Tiffany, walking over to the door and helping her with her coat before putting on his own. I sigh. That’s my cue. I always leave when Shawn leaves because the only reason I ever come to these idiotic parties is because Shawn makes me. He gets me donuts every time I do, and sometimes that’s still not enough to get to me, and so he throws in something extra. He’s weird like that.
I look around and Roy catches my eye, and I think he’s been staring at me for a while. I get up uneasily and make my way to the coat rack. Somehow, the drunken Roy manages to stumble in front of me and I nearly run into him.
“Oh sorry, Roy.” I apologise, about to move on.
“That’s alright, Sloane. I- I wanted to- to ask you something.” He stutters, barely able to stand. Oh great, here it comes. I really want to leave. Those donuts better be worth it.
“Yeah?” I question.
“Listen, sweet baby. I’m just a guy, and you’re just a girl, what more can I say? We’re made for eachother.” He slurs, his drink spilling periodically.
“Uhuh, seems like you’ve had one too many, Roy. Want me to get you a cab?” I offer, just wanting him to leave me alone. I’m not usually the one to deal with this kinda thing.
“No!” He shouts, spilling his whole drink. I take a few steps back. “I’ma party all night!” He slips in his drink and crashes to the floor. A few heads turn our way. I chuckle awkwardly.
“Someone should probably confiscate his keys.” I warn, walking around him and grabbing my coat and scarf. A rush of relief washes over me as soon as I shut the door behind me. Okay, I’m never doing this again.
Chilling Winter air hits me when I walk out onto the streets of New York. I shove my hands into my red gloves, and pull my grey, wool hat on. I kind of like the cold. It’s far more appealing than the choking heat of the party.
“Hey!” Shawn’s voice calls from behind me. I turn and smile as he jogs to my side.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” I ask.
“Um, I sorta ditched Lindsey.” He shrugs.
“It was Tiffany!” I lecture, completely annoyed.
“Oh yeah… that must be why she made a weird face whenever I said her name. Oh well. I guess I left for the greater good.” He insists.
“Well, you usually at least wait until morning to ditch them. Which, is actually more cruel, so good for you. I guess.” I scrunch my nose at all the one night stands he’s had.
“Hey! I’m not that cruel.” He jokes, but I can tell he is actually a little hurt this time.
“Actually you kinda are. Do you realize how disappointed they are when they find the man of their dreams is missing, and then see him later at work or a bar, with some other woman. You’ve broken a lot of hearts.” I say in the nicest way possible.
“Well it’s not like any of those women have given me a reason to stay. They’re all the same! Forgive me if I’m looking for a little more.”
“Excuse me?” I ask, shocked. I’m so done with men tonight. “Have you ever given them the chance? It seems to me that sleeping with them isn’t that much of a conversation. And leaving directly after isn’t, in the slightest, giving them the opportunity to prove themselves to ‘your majesty’.” I mock. “They’re all the same because you make them all the same! They’re all just a bunch of one night stands to you, but believe it or not, they’re people, just like you.” I take a big breath. I’ve been wanting to say that for a long time. He’s silent, we continue walking.
“Well what do you think I should be doing?” He asks, trying to be sarcastic, but the way he says it, it sounds like he really wants to know.
“Well, for starters, try to get to know them before you sleep with them.” I respond. He scrunches his nose at the thought. “And once you’ve got that down, then you can see if they’re what you’re looking for or whatever.” He looks down.
“I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for.” He murmurs. Hm.
“Really? Well don’t you want someone who’s intelligent? Someone you can carry an interesting conversation with?” I ask.
“Yeah.” He marvels, like it’s a revelation.
“Okay, see? It’s just stuff like that. Like you should probably look for a girl you can talk to easily, and confide in. A girl that you can respect.” I say, surprised at this conversation. Maybe he'll actually put effort into his dating life.
“A girl who’ll keep me in line?” He notes.
“Exactly. You need to look for that someone you can trust, the girl who brings the best out of you.”
“Yeah?” He asks, seeming amused.
“Yes, and I really think you shou—” I’m silenced, and it takes me a moment to realize that he’s kissing me. He’s grabbed me by my arms, pulled my lips to his. The kiss is gentle, but it’s earnest, like he’s afraid I’ll push him away at any moment.
But I don’t.
After a moment he pulls back, looks into my eyes, smiles. I touch my lips, the soft tingling still present. He still holds me.
“Why—” I whisper.
“As you were describing what I should look for in a girl, the only girl I could think of was you. Sloane, my best friend.” He says, brushing an invisible hair from my face. Shawn, my friend for five years, I’ve never once thought about kissing him. Honestly, the suggestion almost disgusted me. But here I am now, and this was the best kiss since… since ever, I guess.
But I can’t do this, right? I know Shawn. Sure he has potential, but he is the worst boyfriend I’ve ever come across. He’ll probably dump me after a few days, and then we can’t be friends again. At least not the same. Do I really want to risk that? And he’s really not my type. He expects girls to sleep with him after one night. I’m not like that. What if he expects the same of me? And he hasn’t even technically asked me out yet. Why am I freaking out like this?
“Sloane?” He asks, sounding slightly concerned.
“No.” I whisper inaudibly.
“What?”
“No.” I say louder. “I can’t let you ruin our friendship. You’re going to leave me, just like every other girl you’ve dated.” I accuse, escaping his grasp.
“Sloane, I—”
“No. It just won't work. I’m not like the girls you’re into.” I interrupt.
“Exactly! You’re not like anyone I’ve ever dated, and that’s one of the greatest things about you! You’re different, Sloane. You’re exactly what I want. But I don’t expect anything from you. You don’t have to go out with me, Sloane. I’m asking you, I’m not telling you. But I just want you to know that I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I want to be with you. Even though you’re way out of my league.” He confesses. He has a look of complete admiration in his eyes. He’s been thinking about this for a while. I’m in awe of what is happening, I’m not sure how to react.
“And I know that there’s a chance it won’t work, but there’s a bigger chance that it will.” He takes a deep breath. “Sloane, would you like to go on a date with me?” He asks. And it’s the first time someone has asked me so sweetly, and I can’t believe it’s coming from him. I… I don’t know. I don't think I can handle this. I turn on my heel and start walking. I get only a few steps when he grabs my hand and pulls me to him, placing his other hand on my back. He kisses me again, a little more confident, but still incredibly gentle. I push him back, my hands on his chest, trying to think past the elation.
“Um…” I say, my voice trembling, attempting to create just one thought. I want to say yes, but I have to say no… right? I want to walk away, but I don’t think he’ll let me until I answer. I hate him, but oh, how I love him. I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to make this decision. Can’t someone else do it for me? I sigh, and I rest my head on his chest, wrapping my arms around him.
“Sloane? I’m gonna take this as a yes, so…” He shrugs. I laugh quietly. He puts his arm under my knees and lifts me, carrying me like a princess. I shriek a little as he does.
“What are you doing?” I giggle.
“I’m taking you out on our first date.” He states. “Wow, you are crazy light. Maybe it’s the lack of alcohol.” He jokes.
“Wait, what? Now?” It’s past midnight.
“Right now. I can’t trust you won’t change your mind tomorrow.” He says.
“Who said I’ve even made up my mind yet?” I challenge, even though I'm pretty sure I have. He ignores the question, pushing the door to our apartment building open. We live in the same complex, and work at the same office. I think our proximity was the main factor in our friendship. As he puts me down (keeping my hand in his), he retrieves his keys and opens up his apartment. I’ve been here a few times before, but we usually hang out at my place.
“Wait, so you’re really doing this?” I question, a little stunned.
“Yep. We’re doing this.” He nods, guiding me into his apartment. I flop onto his couch, a little uneasy.
“So, what exactly do you plan on doing for our…”
“Date?” He laughs. I nod my head nervously. I’m usually so comfortable around him. How is he so collected?
“Yeah.” I breath, ringing my hands together.
“Well, first I planned on taking your coat. Is that cool?” He proposes, completely amused by my flustered appearance. I nod, standing while he slides my coat and scarf off my shoulders, then hangs it on a hook. I take my gloves and hat off before shoving them into my purse. I need to calm down. This is Shawn. This is Shawn. One night stand Shawn. Heartbreaker Shawn.
No, stop psyching yourself out.
“Then, I was hoping we could watch a movie and eat some popcorn. Sound good?” He asks.
“Yes, great. And then what?” I choke out, dreading the answer. If he says what I’m thinking, I’ll leave. Yes, I’ll leave immediately. My home is just across the hall.
“Then you should probably go home. It’ll be pretty late by then.” He assures. I wonder if he knows what I was thinking. Relief washes over me. Thank goodness. I can feel the color return to my face. Okay, now I can pretend this is just like any other visit, not a date.
“Are you alright, Sloane?” He laughs. I nod, because now I really am. “What did you think we were going to do after?” He teases. He probably knows exactly what I was thinking. He enjoys making me squirm.
“Oh, shut up.” I laugh half heartedly. “I know how you are with the other girls, I wasn’t sure…” I trail off.
“I know.” He sighs, his expression turning serious. “I’m sorry. I haven’t exactly been a model boyfriend. But I’m going to try this time, Sloane. I respect you, I'm not going to treat you like the others. I’m going to try to be worthy of you.” He smiles. This makes everything a lot easier.
“That’s… thank you. I was a little nervous…” I admit.
“I know,” He laughs. “I could tell.” I hit him in the shoulder, and relax a lot more.
“What movie did you have in mind?” I ask.
“I was thinking Sleepless in Seattle. You know, that chick flick you forced me to watch a couple weeks after we met?” He teases.
“Ha! Sure, let’s do that. Just so I can watch you squirm.” I joke. He chuckles as he removes the disc from its case before placing it in the DVD player.
We make some microwave popcorn and watch the show. Mostly in silence. I enjoy the show, but mostly my head is filled with ‘what if’s, and my heart pounds at a mile a minute when he interlocks his fingers with mine. By the end of the movie he’s holding me and I’m practically sitting on him. It’s nearly 2 am, and I’m tired but I don’t want to leave this position. It feels warm, safe.
“That was fun.” I say, meaning it.
“I agree, I finally got to hold you without you freaking out.” He chuckles. I laugh with him.
“You know, this might not be so bad.” I admit wearily.
“That’s why I couldn’t let you think about it overnight. Pick you up for breakfast tomorrow?” He asks, completely charming.
“Yes. You also owe me some donuts.” I say, curling up on him, like it’s all natural.
“Oh yeah. But we can’t have donuts and breakfast at the same time. And donuts for lunch isn’t healthy… I suppose we’ll have to spend practically the whole day together. That’s the only way we can fit it all in.” He sighs.
“I suppose so.” I giggle.
I end up forgetting my coat and shoes when I walk across the hall to my apartment. I think suddenly that this has been the greatest night of my life. And then I also think that maybe the good times are just getting started.

The End