Besties II
Published May 13, 2018

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Ash was silent along the way home as her and her girlfriends left the dance. She was still fuming from her kiss with Aiden. She hadn’t said anything on the car ride back and was hoping no one from school saw it. As soon as she opened the door she ran up the stairs and threw herself onto her bed sobbing. Eva heard the commotion and entered the room worried about her sister.
Eva: Can I come in?
Ash nodded without facing her sister. Eva scooted next to her Ash on the bed and finally, she sat up to explain the night’s event to her.

Eva: So your first kiss…
Ash: I can’t believe he ruined it.
Eva: How did you expect it to be?
Ash: I don’t know. Not like that.
Eva: What was wrong with it?
Ash: There was nothing wrong, it was just that it was Aiden. How could he? He said he thought I wanted to. I don’t know what that means. I’m never talking to him again.
Eva: Well………..
Ash: What?
Eva: I don’t know if you should act that way. He said it was a mistake. He said he was sorry. It’s not as if he did more. Did he?
Ash: NO!
Eva: Good. But I just think you need time to cool off. You’re upset because he took a moment you wanted to remember with someone you cared about. Someone you considered your best friend. Someone that knows you and you know them more than anyone else. Someone you trust.
Ash: I see where you are going there.
Eva: Believe me, Ash. This too shall pass. And if I could have my first kiss with someone as caring and thoughtful as Aiden it wouldn’t matter. So it was him and not the man of your dreams. Who knows when that is going to be or who that is going to be. Consider this practice.
Ash: I'm still upset with him. I feel so embarrassed. It happened in front of everyone at the dance. Now they are going to think we're a couple.
Eva kissed her sister on the forehead goodnight and left the room. Ash laid on the bed thinking about that night. She touched her lips. The kiss wasn’t that bad. It was nice. She remembered the feeling that rushed through her and how she wanted to do it again. But it was Aiden. Someone, she considered her friend and safe. She wasn’t interested in being anything more than just his friend. Aiden sat on his balcony contemplating how much he hurt Ash. He didn't mean to. She just looked so different that night. It was as if he was looking at her with an entirely new set of eyes. Something came over him and a kiss felt right at the moment. Ash held a small note in his hand and looked at it again. Frustrated he tore it into little pieces. Once finished he let the wind blow the tiny pieces out of his hand and into the air. He cursed himself for what he did. He was going to give her space and not call her. The balcony door opened. Ash: Hey.
He sat up straight when he heard her voice.
Aiden: Hey.
Ash walked a few steps closer. She swallowed hard and took another breath.
Ash: I came by to say I’m sorry.

Aiden was shocked. He was sure he would be the one apologizing. He turned around to make sure it was her.
Ash: I overreacted last night. I should not have been mean to you. It’s just that..
Aiden: I know. I get it. You wanted your first kiss to be special and with “the one”. My mom explained it to me. We had a long talk last night. I’m just sorry I stole your moment.

Ash: But that’s just it. I didn’t have an idea of what my moment should have been like.
Aiden: I should not have gone there. We're friends.
Ash: The best of friends. And I was wrong for freaking out like that. I was thinking about my own feelings that I didn't think about yours.

Aiden: I took the kiss from you. I didn't ask you first and that was wrong for me to do.
Ash: I would have told you no.
She smiled pushing her shoulder into his chest.
Aiden: I guess it’s a good thing then.
They sat staring into the morning sky.
Aiden: Ya know. I wish we could go back to freshman year when things were not as complicated.
Ash: I know what you mean.
Aiden: Let’s promise to never stay mad at each other. It’s too exhausting to keep saying sorry.
Ash laughed: As long as you promise to stop doing dumb things.
Aiden: deal. Eva: I'm telling you Lula, your son, and my sister will end up together. I just know it. It's fate.
Tammy: And what makes you think so.
Eva: It's in their stars. They are best friends and have been for the last three years. Everyone knows the story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls for the girl but won't tell her until it's too late. Then she realizes she loved him the whole time.
Lula: I like to stay out of my son's personal life. I'll just take a backseat and see how things play out.
Eva: Oh, I'm going to do the same. But I can tell something's gotta give. They are meant to be.
Lula: What if Aiden or Ash marry someone else?
Eva: Like I said. They are going to realize at the last moment how they feel. And they will live happily ever after. I give it about 5-6 years.
Senior year went by fast for both of them. Everyone was getting ready for college and the best friends were part of the crowd. There were only a few months left before the end of the school year. The seniors were spending their weekends at the peaks sunbathing by the pond and hanging out by the campfire. They treated every moment as if it was their last. Trent: So who are you taking to prom?
Aiden: I don't know.
Trent: I heard Vira has been waiting for you to ask her or are you going to go with Ash?
Aiden: Ash and I haven't really talked about going. And I don't think Vira would say yes.
Trent: Are you kidding? I heard that she told Sue, who told Linda, who talked to Jerry, who told Karen that she liked you.
Aiden stopped listening to the guys as they talked about the girls across the pond. He and Ash promised that if no one else asked them, they would go with each other. That way they would definitely have a date. But with the news Vira Lakely, Ms. Pleasant View High, wanting to go with Aiden, this changed everything. He had a crush on Vira since they were in middle school. But playing in the band was not the coolest look. Kim: Really Ash? Aiden?
Ash: We made a promise. That way we wouldn't go alone.
Kim: But what about Braxton?
Ash: What about him?
Kim: Don't act like you haven't noticed him, noticing you. Star athlete with the cheerleader captain. Epic storyline.
Ash blushed thinking about Braxton. He was the Lacross captain and was on his way to UNC on a full scholarship. All the girls liked his bad boy look but preppy boy charm. And Ash was one of them. She tried not to notice how often he noticed her. But she could feel his eyes on her making her skin warmer with each glance. With only a month until prom neither Aiden or Ash had dates and had decided to go with each other. Tonight was the annual senior sunrise. Everyone gathered at the Ruins and partied until the sun came up. Then the party would end and everyone would watch it.
Ash came with her friends and was hoping to meet up with Aiden later that night.
Braxton: There you are.
Ash: What? Me?
Braxton: Yeah. I've been looking for you.
Ash: Wha- Why?
Braxton: To talk. To ask if you were going with anyone to the dance.
Ash: Well, I was going with Aiden- but just as friends.
Braxton: Would he mind if I take you?
Ash was ecstatic. This had to be a dream. She just knew she was going to wake up and find herself in her room. She pinched the inside of her arm just to make sure. This was real. And without hesitation agreed to go to prom with Braxton.
For the rest of the night, they spent time at the bonfire and talking into the early morning with everyone. She forgot to look for Aiden at the party.
By morning Aiden heard Ash and Braxton were going to prom together. It was Vira who accidentally told him what everyone else had already known. Although he was a little upset finding out from Vira and not his best friend that she was asked, he brushed it off.
Vira: So now that Ash is going out are you going to go by yourself?
Aiden: Not exactly....
Vira and Aiden were the second favorite couple that night. Even though he was happy to go out with the prettiest girl in school, he kept drifting over to another couple at the dance. Ash and Braxton were crowned King and Queen of the Pleasantview Court. Ash was not as comfortable with all the attention she was getting. She was only happy that she was able to be with her high school crush, wrapped in his arms on the dance floor.

The night was perfect and with school ending this was definetly going to be a page in her diary.
The days until graduation were getting close. Both Aiden and Ash were accepted into the top choice universities and would be across the river from each other. They sat at their favorite place. It had been a while since it was just the two of them.
Ash: I can't believe high school will be over next week.
Aiden: I know. The years have gone too quick. We're practically adults.
Ash: Remember the first time we met?
Aiden: Yep. Who knew I would be best friends with a jock.
She pinched his side.
Aiden: So what happened with you and Braxton?
Ash: Honestly. He's been wanting to go all the way.
Aiden: And...
Ash: And after I refused him so many times he broke up with me.
Aiden: Want me to beat him up?
Ash: No. I talked to my sis about it. It hurt but I'm over it and over him. I'm saving myself.
Aiden smiled. He was relieved to find out she was no longer with Braxton.
Ash: What happened to you and Vira? You didn't last that long after prom.
Aiden: She was too much into herself.
Ash: I feel like we are never going to meet the right person.
Aiden: Speak for yourself. We still have more years
Ash: I was thinking about our pact for prom. And wanted to make a new one for us.
Aiden: There aren't any more dances.
She wrapped her arm in between his. He knew what this meant. It was her go-to move when she wanted to get her way with him.
Ash: I know. It's just that. When know. I want it to be special with someone special.
Aiden tried to clear his dry throat. He felt the hair on the back of his neck raise up.
Ash: If we haven't found...the one by the time we graduate college, I want you to be my......
Aiden cut her off before she could say anything else.
Aiden: Don't worry. You will find the right one.
For the remainder of their time, she sat with her back against his chest and talked about their futures. He was going to college and become a world-renowned writer and producer. She was going into computers and creating the best games.
If only she paid close attention to Aiden. She would have noticed that his heart was beating twice as fast just being next to her. He kissed the side of her forehead and she laughed. He really enjoyed moments like this with her.

Sim University was one of the most prestigous colleges to attend. And Ash earned a full scholarship to attend.
Ash lived her first years in the dorms. It was cheaper than living off campus and it was easier to go to class. College was an easier transition for her than she expected. She studied.... and met a wide range of people. And with Aiden just an hour away they would make quality time for each other. It was good to still have someone she knew close by when she was so far away from home.
Aiden was also having his fun in college. Being multitalented meant he was the center of attention to many female students. While in high school, he was often seen as a geek if it wasn't for Ash's popularity, in college he was a playboy. He could have anyone he wanted. Unfortunately, no one kept his attention for long. At least not at his college.
Pamela: So let me get this straight. You have never.
Ash: No.
Pamela: You mean you're still a
Ash: Yes.
Pamela: Oh my goodness. What are you, the last unicorn?
Ash: I'm waiting for someone special.
Pamela: What if it's years, decades before someone special comes along. Then what?
Ash: Then I will wait.
Pamela: But what if you die?
Ash: What?
Pamela: Then you will never know what it's like.
Ash: I can't believe we are having this conversation.
Pamela: I'm just looking out for you. As your sorority sister and best friend, I am only thinking of your best interest.
Ash: My best interest
Pamela: Exactly. What if you meet the one and when you do it, you don't like it. Then your first time will be your last time and it will be awful. Or you think he's the one and then you break up. You let some guy be your first and now he's gone.
Ash: Pam, please.
Pamela: Think about it. I wouldn't want my first time to be a disaster. You're nervous, you don't know what to do. And then the stress of what to do after all is done. Waiting for "the one" is so cliche. You're an adult now.
Pamela was not the brightest person to talk to. But Ash had to admit, some of her words made sense. She didn't want her first time to be stressful or awkward. And how would she know how to feel if she had nothing to compare it to.
She had to talk to someone. Someone she trusted and would understand.
Aiden: So, let me get this straight. You want
Ash: Yes.
Aiden: But I thought you wanted to wait.
Ash: I do, I did. But I started thinking. And it makes sense. If I am going to be ready for my future I have to prepare now.
Aiden: This isn't some test Ash. It's your life. What if you regret it? What if this ruins our friendship? I'm flattered that you asked me but I think you are doing this for all the wrong reasons.
Ash: I've never been so sure about anything lately. I want my first time to be with someone special. And you are special to me. You are my best friend and I trust you more than anything.
Aiden: I don't know Ash. This is crossing the line of our friendship. I don't want to lose you.
Ash: This won't change anything. I will still be Ash and you Aiden. I trust you. And I want it to be with someone I can trust. You have been there for me through the rough times and I want to have this experience with you.
Ash saw the hard look of concern on Aiden's face. He barely touched his food and for the rest of the dinner, he barely made eye contact.
Aiden didn't know what to say or how he should feel. Ash had always been there for him and he would do anything for her. But this was something completely different. He finally raised his eyes from his half-eaten meal.
Aiden: Alright.
They walked to his apartment in silence. His roommate was gone for the weekend so they knew they could have some privacy. Both of them were nervous. He led her to his room. She took a deep breath as she crossed the doorway. It smelled like the vanilla and sandalwood candle that was on his dresser.
He turned on the radio to his favorite jazz station. She followed him to the bed. He rubbed the side of her face, caressing her cheek and massaging her neck. His hands felt good and she was becoming less nervous. She closed her eyes.
Aiden: Ashley. Look at me.
She opened her eyes to his long gaze.
Aiden: Can I kiss you?
Ash: Yes.
His lips were soft against hers. And the deeper he kissed her the more comfortable she felt. He held her closer and she wrapped her arms around him.
Aiden: Are you okay?
Ash: Yes.
Aiden: Are you sure you want this?
Ash: Yes.
The sun peaked through the blinds and awakened Aiden. He sat up and realized last night was not a dream after all. He turned to Ash and kissed her forehead. She opened one eye.
Aiden: Good morning.
Ash: Morning.
Aiden: Hungry
Ash: Famished.
He kissed her again and went to the kitchen to fix them breakfast.
Greta: So...what happened the other night.
Ash: Nothing.
Greta: Really? Cause you didn't come back to the house after your night out with Aiden.
Ash was quiet. She was not good at lying so instead she said nothing. But there was a look of guilt on her face that said more.
Greta: YOU DIDn't
Ash shushed Greta.
Ash: Not so loud.
Greta: You and Aiden?
Ash: Okay, yes. Yes, we did IT. But you can't tell the sisters.
Greta: I can't believe you weren't going to tell me. I tell you everything. We've been roommates for two years.
Ash: I know. It's just that I didn't want to talk about it like it was a big deal.
Greta: Was it that bad?
Ash: No. It was nice. It was really nice. But I didn't want to come off like I was bragging.
Greta: and Aiden. Are you a couple now?
Ash: With Aiden, no. He's my best friend.
Greta: Let me get this straight. You finally decided to woohoo with someone. All this time you said you wanted it to be special with someone special. You chose Aiden but you're still going to be just friends.
Ash: Yeah.
Greta: I can't believe it.
Ash tried to re-explain her logic to Greta as she had done with Aiden.
Greta: Well if that's what you feel then so be it. I'm just surprised that the two of you are still cool after this.
Ash: We have a special bond that no one can break. And we get each other.
Just as she was talking their conversation was interrupted by a text. She looked down at her phone and laughed before typing back. A few more messages followed and she turned back to Greta. Ash: See. That's him now. He's playing this weekend at one of the bars in town. Want to come?
Greta: You bet. I want to see this magical friendship in action. I just don't get you two. How can two people -
She cut her words short. She shook away her thought and went back to her computer.
Meanwhile, Ash had already begun drowning her out and typed a response to Aiden. Aiden had been waiting all week for his debut performance. He had been writing songs since he was in elementary and now he was going to play to a live audience. He was nervous, but knowing Ash would be there was comforting. He needed to see a familiar face in the crowd in case he blew it. He took one long breath to ease his nerves before coming onto the stage.
Aiden: How is everyone doing?
There was a small clap from the audience and then he heard a single loud voice from the crowd.
He looked for her and as promised she was there. Things hadn't been the same for Aiden since that night they spent together. It was also his first time and he was just as nervous as Ash but tried his hardest to play it cool. Aiden was happy that his first time was with someone he cared deeply about. No matter if he couldn't tell her the truth about his feelings for her.
Ash watched proudly in the crowd with the rest of her girlfriends. And by the time Aiden was finished with his first song the crowd applauded and whistled.

She left her entourage to walk over to the bar to order drinks. She reached in her clutch to pay for the drink
Elliot: I got this.
Ash looked up from her purse to see the young man motioned to the mixologist.
Elliot: Put it on my tab.
Ash: Thanks but I'm good. Besides, I ordered for my girls over there.
Elliot: No problem. Ashley, right?
Ash: Do I know you?
Elliot: Elliot Peters. I sit across from you in Professor Rashad's class.
Ash: Oh yeah. You've asked to borrow a pen from me a few times.
Elliot: I was actually just trying to get your attention. But every time I tried to say something the only thing I could think of was to borrow a pen.
Ash laughed.
Elliot: I've never seen you here before.
Ash: Just enjoying the scenery with friends.
She thanked him for the drinks and walked back over to the table.
Diane: And who is that?
Ash: Who?
Diane: That guy you were just talking to. He is on point.
Ash: Just someone from class. Nothing big.
Diane: Well if that is nothing big then why does he keep looking over here at you.
Ash glanced over to the other side of the club. She made contact with him again and it made her blush.
Ash: I told you....nothing.
Aiden played another set of songs and the crowd cheered louder than the first half. By the end of the night he was no longer nervous but excited each time he ended a song. He finally felt good about his music. The loudest of them all was Ash. Each time he played she made sure to be right in the middle of his sight so that he could always find her when he looked up. She swayed to the songs and joined with the other girls when the tempo got faster. Every now and then she would look up from her dancing and notice Elliot was still watching her. He was with his own group but made sure to look over to her when he got the chance.
It was getting late and after saying goodbye to Aiden, Ash and her friends headed towards the exit.
Elliot: Ashley!
She turned to the sound of her name. She was rarely called Ashley and it sounded different from anyone else.
Elliot: I was thinking that instead of asking you for a pen tomorrow in class. I could just ask you out on a date.
Ash: A date?
Elliot: Unless you have a boyfriend or something.
Ash: How about we start slow?
She grabbed his phone and dialed her cell number.
Ash: Now you have my number. We can talk about a date in the future.
Elliot: Great. I'll call you tomorrow.
Ash walked quickly to her friends who were waiting in the parking lot. She turned back to the direction she came from. He waved back at her before leaving the lounge as well.

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