A moment of silence passed between Gabriel and Chachi before Gabriel said, “That shouldn’t have happened,” but made no move to distance himself from her.
Chachi nodded, “I know, but it did.”
Gabriel searched her face and smiled, “And it was great.”
“So what now?”
Gabriel shook his head, “I’m not exactly sure.”
“Well,” Chachi started, “We can, A. Pretend this never happened because 1. It could just be the alcohol. And 2. I don’t want one kiss to mess up what you and Leah have. Or B. We can continue to explore these feelings and see where it may or may not go.”
Stepping away from Chachi, Gabriel crossed his arms and thought for a moment. “I can already tell you option A is not gonna work for me, but I also don’t want to lead Leah on. I do love her, but–”
Cutting him off, Chachi said, “You don’t have to figure things out right now. How about we call it a night and talk about this later, okay?”
He nodded before giving her a hug and a kiss on the forehead. “Night Chachi.”
Chachi listened as he walked back into the living room and told Leah he was ready to go. She waited until she heard the door shut before going into her room and flopping down on her bed. She pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes and said to herself, sighing heavily, “I hate being the adult sometimes.”
Chachi was laying on her bed with her eyes closed when she heard her bedroom door open.
“I don’t have enough energy to even open my eyes, so whoever you are, please go away.”
Chachi felt someone sit on her bed, and then Melanie spoke, “What’s the matter, Chach?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“It wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with what transpired between you and Gabriel, would it?”
Chachi sat up quickly. “You saw that?”
Melanie nodded. “Ohhhh yeah! Talk about McSteamy! Which is why I’m confused why he left with Leah? … Unless he’s coming back?”
Chachi flopped back down. “Idk. He said he didn’t want to pretend like it didn’t happen, but he also implied that he didn’t want to end things with Leah just in case things between us don’t work out. And I’m at the point where I don’t really care what he does as long as he comes back to me, someway, somehow.”
Surprised, Melanie asked, “You really like him?”
“Why didn’t you tell anybody?”
“Tell you what? That I’m a walking cliché? That I’m in love with my best friend who, or course, has a girlfriend? There’s nothing you could have done or can do about it, so can we just drop it, please? I’ll let you know if anything happens, but until then, I would really like to be alone.”
“Well, you kinda are hosting a party …”
Chachi groaned. “I’ll be out in a few minutes. And please, not a word of this to anyone?”
Melanie nodded, “Of course. But just between you and me–and I’m not just saying this because you’re one of my besties–he’s gonna come back, Chach. It may be out of pure curiosity, but you have this magnetism that’s hard to resist which is undeniably what attracted him in the first place. From there, the rest is up to you. Stop being so concerned about other people’s feelings. Be selfish for once in your life and tell him you want him!”
Melanie left the room and Chachi allowed herself a few more minutes of wallowing in self-pity before rejoining her friends in the living room.
Eh eh eh eh … If you’re ready come and get it! Nah na nah na nah na nah na nah na nah na. If you’re ready come and–
Chachi fumbled for her phone, pressing answer without looking at the caller ID.
“Hello?” she croaked.
Chachi squinted her eyes at her alarm clock: 5:27. She shut her eyes and said, “Go away.”
“But I’m outside. At least let me in. It’s kinda chilly.”
Chachi groaned and sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She was exhausted, having only fallen asleep about an hour and a half ago, but Gabe had come back and was waiting for her, even if it was at this God forsaken hour.
“Give me five minutes,” she said and hung up the phone.
After a good stretch, she began to navigate her room in the dark, grabbing the first pair of socks and pants she could find. She slipped on her Chucks, threw on a jacket, fixed her ponytail, grabbed her keys, and was out the door.
Gabe was sitting on the front steps waiting for her.
He smiled, “Good morning, Chachi.”
She glared daggers at him and started walking.
Catching up with her, he said, “I’m sorry. I know you’re not a morning person. I tried to wait, but I couldn’t. I needed to see you.”
Those words coming from his mouth should have made her weak in the knees, but she was still too tired and too angry that she was awake at this hour to fully care. She gave him a look that said Go on.
“I mean, I guess … Leah was the first person I met when I got here. We were both new, so we kinda just stuck together; and you see the end result. But then I meet you, and it’s like: you’re funny and intelligent, and I can talk to you about all these things that most other girls shy away from. We have the same vision for the world, and you don’t agree with me just to keep me complacent. Obviously, you’re absolutely beautiful–inside and out–and I find myself thinking ‘What if I met her first?’ and then, ‘Dude, you have a girlfriend who you care about immensely.’
“So here I am just confused because I know that I love Leah, but I also know that I’m insanely attracted to you. At first I think that’s it: it’s just attraction, but then we kissed and it felt like more. It felt right, like … the first two pieces of puzzle that you found fit together. However, like you said, it could have been the alcohol talking, but if it wasn’t, I don’t wanna pass up this chance.”
Chachi stopped walking, and Gabriel stopped with her. She turned to look at him, and just stared for a moment, thinking.
Her head was telling her to let it and him go, to just stay happy being friends. That way she wouldn’t get her heart broken if she gave him a choice and he didn’t choose her, but she remembered what Melanie had said: Be selfish.
Melanie was right: she was always putting other people’s feelings before hers. She deserved at least a shot at getting what she wanted. She wanted Gabriel, and if she couldn’t be honest with him, who else could she trust?
Chachi took a leap of faith, stepped towards Gabriel, took his face in her hands and kissed him gently. When she pulled away, she looked him in the eyes and said, “This may be hard for you, but it’s easy for me: I want you. I want us. I want this. Even though I hate the morning, I will take walks every day at 5:30 in the morning as long as they’re with you. I want to hold your hand on those walks. I want you to put your arm around my shoulder and kiss me softly on my temple, and I know I’ll smile because I’ll be happy that I’m with you.
“I know I kinda gave you the idea that I would be the other woman until we figured things out, but I won’t. I don’t and shouldn’t have to hide my feelings for you. I want to be able to kiss you without fear or regret that someone might see us or someone else’s feelings might be getting hurt. I love you, Gabriel Ryan Núñez. I want you to be happy, but I won’t be your second best.
“You know where I stand. The rest is up to you. I’m gonna go back to my apartment and go back to sleep. You know how to reach me if you need me.”
Chachi turned and walked the way they had just come, leaving Gabriel and his decision with him. All the way to her apartment, she hoped that she hadn’t but her heart out on the line for nothing.
“Alright, Gabe, you’re up. What’ll it be’ truth or dare?”
Melanie steepled her fingers over her mouth looking contemplative. “Interesting … What do we all wanna know about Gabriel?”
“I’m not that interesting of a person,” Gabe said in response.
“We’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much! Guys! I need ideas!”
Tabby leaned over and whispered in Melanie’s ear. Melanie shook her head.
“No. Not juicy enough.”
Melanie sat thinking for a few moments and was just about to ask Gabriel a question when her phone buzzed. She quickly scanned the text she’d just received and a mischievous grin spread across her face. She looked across the room at Brea and said, “That’s why you’re my best friend.”
Brea shook her head and pointed to Renee. “It actually wasn’t my idea.”
Melanie shrugged and said, “Well, I guess I found a new best friend.”
Brea scoffed while Renee smiled and clapped. Melanie threw her hand and said, “You’ll get over it,” before turning back to Gabriel.
“So Gabe, Melanie started.
“Yes . . . ” he said hesitantly.
“What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done or thought about doing with Chachi?”
Caught off guard, Gabriel’s faced scrunched up in confusion. He shook his head and asked, “What?”
“Gabe,” Chachi started, “You don’t have to–”
“Shut up, Chach! Answer the question, Gabe.” Melanie smiled.
Arms crossed across her chest looking thoroughly pissed, “Yeah, answer the question, Gabe,” Leah said.
Gabriel shook his head, “Nothing. I mean, I gave her a kiss on the forehead once, but I’d highly call that naughty or scandalous.”
“Seriously? You’ve never thought about kissing her or seeing her naked?” Melanie pushed.
“Technically, that’s three questions, but no. Chachi’s my best friend. Why does there have to be more to our story?”
“I guess there doesn’t have to be, but it would have made for one hell of story if there was.”
“Whatever,” Gabriel said. “I’m officially out of this game.” He got up and walked into the kitchen.
“Boo! You’re no fun!” Melanie called after him.
Leah got up to follow, but Chachi beat her to it.
“Let me talk to him first, Leah. I’m sorry for my friends’ lack of indiscretion.” Chachi shot a death glare at Melanie. Leah sat back down as Chachi turned toward the kitchen.
When she walked in, Gabriel had just finished downing a shot of Jim Beam and was in the process of pouring another.
“Whoa,” Chachi said. “Did they shake up you up that badly?”
Gabriel downed his second shot. “No.”
“Then what was that for?”
“Besides the fact that Leah’s gonna tear me a new one when we leave here for even hesitating to answer that question? I was hoping the shot would help assuage my somewhat guilty conscious.”
Chachi lifted an eyebrow. “About what?”
Gabriel looked into Chachi’s eyes hoping to say what his mouth couldn’t.
“About the lie I told in there,” he whispered.
“Which one?” Chachi asked as she took a step closer to him even though she was pretty sure she already knew the answer to her question.
His eyes continued to search hers. He shook his head slightly. Chachi averted her eyes.
“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve thought about us . . . about that . . . I mean, how could I not? You’re funny and sweet and I can talk to you about anything, and God! You’re gorgeous.”
“But you’re not dating anyone, Chach.”
Looking back up at Gabriel, Chachi started, “But I know that you are; that’s gotta be just as bad.” She dropped her eyes again, “I keep thinking that if you kissed me, you’d realize . . .”
Gabriel took a step closer; he placed his finger under Chachi’s chin and gently lifted her face. He ducked his head to look into her eyes. Their faces were inches apart.
She searched his eyes, his face, for any indication that what she was about to say could result in anything other than what she had wanted for so long. His full attention was on her, and there was something about the way he was looking at her that gave her the courage to say what she was thinking. She dropped her eyes to his lips.
“I guess you’ll just have to kiss me to fi–”
Before she could finish her statement, his mouth was covering hers. One hand was in her hair, the other wrapped around her waist pulling her as close as he possible could. Chachi could feel his tongue slip into her mouth; she met his movements with her own, grabbing fists of his shirt. An indiscernible sound escaped from his throat before he pulled back, both arms wrapping around her, his breath labored; he rested his forehead against hers. He leaned in to give her another lingering kiss before he said, “Dear Lord.”
you know how when you really like someone
the littlest things they do can make you
like when they bat those long,
that frame those
electric blue eyes?
how they get so lost in a laugh
you can’t help but laugh with them,
they have so much passion
you only hope that their every wish comes
you catch his eye sometimes.
he smiles that crooked smile at you,
and your heart
feels like it’s going to break free from your chest
and you hope that
he’ll notice you.