When I first saw Sam in this hospital bed a couple days ago, I’d wanted to stroke her cheeks and kiss her forehead. She was so frail and sick. I wanted to comfort her. Now she’s starting to get her color back along with a little bit of her orneriness—a good sign—but I still have this pinched, panicked feeling in my chest. I don’t know why it won’t go away.
But now, as I look at her sleeping, that feeling starts to take on a life of its own.
Something warm is blooming in my heart and my chest. Meanwhile a strange, queasy sort of feeling grips my stomach. I don’t just want to pet her cheek and kiss her on the forehead. I want to pull her into my arms and cradle her head against my chest. I want to climb right into this bed and hold her against me, feeling her body against mine from head to toe. I want to kiss her on the forehead, and on her cheeks, and on her lips.
My heart is pounding. That warm feeling is flooding my chest, my arms, my face.
As I realize how badly I want to hold her and kiss her again and again, I feel the entire world flip over.
Is this for real? Is this what I think it is?
I look down at her hand in mine. I want to kiss that too, press my lips against her hand until I make her mine.
I look back at Sam’s face and see her like I’ve never seen her before. My breath catches. My heartbeat is resonating in my chest. Her presence washes over me and envelopes me.
This little voice inside my brain is thinking, But, but, but… we’re friends. Just friends.
We may have been friends for a long, long time, but these feelings I’m having are brand freaking new.
At that moment Ashley comes in, giving me a quick smile before looking at Sam. “Oh, she looks so much better,” she says. She deposits her purse on the counter, flips her long braid behind her, and comes over to sit beside me. “Don’t you think?”
I’m barely breathing. Ashley’s looking at Sam, but I’m looking at Ashley. Maybe my brain is just playing tricks on me. I’m tired from practically no sleep and exhausted from being so freaked out about losing my best friend.
So I try it on Ashley. I try to see her the way a man might see her, a man who hasn’t looked at her for years like a sister. But as I continue to stare at her, all I manage to do is draw her attention and make her give me a quizzical look. My heart draws a blank.
I try to imagine kissing her and can’t do it. It’s kind of freaking me out, actually.
“What?” she asks.
My voice sounds funny. I look back to Sam and it all hits me again. Bam.
This can’t be good.
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