Before I knew it, my wedding day was here. And I still didn't know what to do. Finally it hit me. I did like Josh, but my heart would always belong to Joe. I mean, we did grow up together since we were babies. Sometimes I thought that I knew him as well or better than I knew myself. So, I sent Josh a quick text asking him to come see me. When he got in the room, I told him that he deserved to marry someone who really loved him. And that I did like him, but that my heart would always belong to someone else. The first thing he said was,
“It's Joe, isn't it?”
“Yes, it is,” I hoped he wasn't upset, “I didn't really realize it until the surprise party you and my sister threw for me.”
“It's ok, I'm not mad,” he said, “As long as you're happy, that's all that matters. He's a lucky guy. I hope he knows that.”
“Thanks, he does, or at least he will soon,” I handed him back the ring and gave him a hug, continuing, “I hope we can still be friends, though.”
He agreed and I returned to my apartment. I called Nick, told him the news and what I'd decided and asked him if when they got back from tour if he could come up with some reason to bring Joe to my apartment. He said he would be happy to help me with that and then we hung up so I could go start my next shift at the hospital and he could get back to show prep for their next stop on the tour.
One month later, there was just one show left on the tour. My phone rang 2 hours before and my new ringtone, Thomas Rhett's 'Be A Light' started going off. I stepped out of the bathroom, one towel around me and one wrapped up with my hair. Trying to remember where I'd laid it, finally I found it on the kitchen counter. I walked over, picked it up and pushed 'answer'.
“Hi, Nick. How's your tour going?”
“It's going great. How are you doing?”
“Ok, he still doesn't know, does he?”
“You mean Joe? No, he doesn't have any idea that you called off your wedding. But I know he's been faking that he's happy for the fans.”
“Well, that's why you have to get him here.”
“Yeah, back to you. And hopefully soon back to his fun loving self.”
2 days after the tour ended, I was sitting in the rooftop garden on top of my building when Nick texted me saying that they were on their way. He practically had to drag his brother along. Halfway to my apartment, Joe said,
“Where are we going again?”
“I told you, you're headed to see an old friend who has a surprise for you,” Nick said, without giving anything away.
When they got to their destination, Nick told him to take the elevator up to the roof to find out what the surprise was. Because I had recently upgraded and moved up to the penthouse suite, my landlord had also given me exclusive access to the roof and allowed me to decorate it however I liked. I was sprawled on my couch on my stomach reading and waiting for Joe to step out of the elevator. Finally, he did and I got up, walked over to him, wrapped my arms around him and said,
“Did you have any idea where Nick was bringing you tonight?”
“No, absolutely none,” he answered, while wrapping his arms around my waist, “Why did you want to see me? I mean, I know we were best friends, but you're married now. Where is your husband by the way?”
“He doesn't exist, at least not yet,” I told him.
“Wha? What are you talking about, Bri?” He looked confused. Instead of answering, I slid my left hand into his and waited for him to realize that my ring finger was bare. I could tell he was feeling my hand thinking something was off but not being sure what that was. Finally, he looked down and began to rub my finger where my ring should have been.
“Bri? Where is your ring? You are married, aren't you?” He finally asked.
“No, I'm not, Joe,” I told him.
“But, I thought you said you were in love with him.”
“I thought I was at first, but then I realized that while I did like Josh, and still do, I wasn't in love with him. At least not in a way that I should be in love with my husband. Instead I realized that I'm in love with my best friend.” I finished.
“You're in love with me?” Joe asked.
“Yes, I am,” I told him, “ I think I always was, but that I pushed it aside when I thought you were happy with someone else.”
“You mean, when I was dating Sophie?” He stared down at me.
“Sort of,” I told him, “you dating Sophie resurfaced my feelings, but it started as far back as your relationship with Taylor.”
“Really? Bri? Why didn't you say something sooner?”
“Because I was afraid to, Joe,” I tried to hold my tears back.
“What about now, Bri? Are you still afraid?”
“Only if my bestfriend isn't in love with me.”
“Then you don't need to be afraid anymore, cause I am in love with my best friend.” He just stood there holding me until I stopped shaking and tipped my chin up to look at him. As soon as I did, he scooped me up and carried me over to the elevator. We went down to my penthouse suite but when we got to the door I said,
“You're going to have to put me down or we're not getting inside.”
He did and I dug around in my pockets to find my key card till I found it, slid it into the door lock and pushed the door open. I walked into my closet to change while Joe went into the bathroom.
I walked out 10 minutes in my favorite hot pink pair of yoga pants and pale pink racerback tank. Since I was waiting for Joe to come out of the bathroom, I pulled down the blankets on my bed and climbed in, lying backwards down onto my big fuzzy purple pillow. I didn't open my eyes until I heard the bathroom door open. I peeked my eyes open just enough to see him settle onto the couch. I then opened my eyes wide and sat up.
“Are you going to stay over there by yourself all night?” I asked him.
“I was, why do you ask?” he asked his own question.
Instead of saying anything else, I patted the bed beside me, urging him to climb in next to me. He did and we curled up and snuggled together until we both fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up when I felt my phone vibrate on the dresser next to the bed. Since Joe was still asleep with his arm wrapped around me, I stayed in bed and reached for it. I saw it was Emily calling me so, I hit “answer” and whispered into it,
“Em, is something wrong?”
As soon as she started talking, I could tell she'd been crying. “Oh, Bri, it's Momma. She was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor recommends that she should be resting, not running her store. But Bri, she won't listen to reason. She's still running it. Please, you have to come home. She listens to you. And she won't rest like she should.”
“Oh, my, goodness!” I was still whispering, but I was shocked, “Of course, I'll come home as soon as I can get a flight. Emily, don't worry, I'll be there to help you through this.” As I was saying this, I started to sob. So, we both hung up and I fell back against Joe's chest and continued to sob while he was still sleeping. I shifted off of Joe and curled up next to him and continued to cry until he woke up. He finally did and I was still shaking with sobs. So, he said,
“Bri, what's wrong?”
I turned over trying to wipe tears off my face and answered,
“Emily called me to tell me some bad news.” I started to sob again, before trying to continue what I was saying, “She said that my mom was diagnosed with cancer and that she should be resting but she's insisting on still running the store she started up.”
He pulled me into a tight hug and just sat there holding me until I finally stopped shaking and said,
“I have to go home, Joe. Emily needs me. She says that I may be the only person who can convince our mom to rest. I have to get on a flight back home as soon as possible.”
“Of course you do, Bri, in fact don't worry about that. I'll take care of getting your plane ticket and I'll even drive you to the airport myself.”
“Joe, I can't let you do that for me.”
“Come on, Bri, let me pay for my best friend's ticket. I'd love to be able to come back with you and see your momma again but you know I have the tour coming up to get ready for.”
“I know, alright, I give up. You can pay for my ticket. And I know, my mom was like a second mom to you and your brothers just like your mom was a second to me and my sister.”
“Yeah, you and Emily were the daughters that mom never had.”
Later that night, Joe drove me to the airport and he waited with me until my plane was boarding. We sat together quietly until just as the announcer said, “Flight 208 to Newark, New Jersey is now boarding” when Joe said,
“Bri, before you get on that plane, will you be my girlfriend?”
My jaw dropped as I was just about to pick up my bags to head for the plane, finally I was able to speak and said,
“Absolutely, Joe, yes, I'll be your girlfriend.” I wrapped my arms around his neck to give him a tight hug before letting going and continuing,
“However, unless I want to miss my flight, I have to go. I promise I'll call you as soon as I get to my mom's house.”