“Honestly, I don’t know if I can even be friends with you, Cameron. Nothing was simple after you left, and maybe some of that is still unresolved for me. Being around you is mixing it all up again, things I put away a long time ago. I’m not sure I want that in my life right now.”
I couldn’t speak for a long time. She’d dropped a lot on me, and as usual, I wasn’t prepared for any of it. These impromptu reunion meetings were not my forte. How could I blame her though? I’d left suddenly and severed contact. We didn’t even have a chance to fight it out. So much had gone unspoken between us. I turned to face her, trying to rapidly collect my scattered thoughts.
“If we’re being honest adults, then I’ll admit that being around you now makes me feel like I want more than friendship. But you’re not the only one who’s worried that even considering it is a terrible idea.”
She nodded, her gaze cast to the ground. Her body language was so subtle, a slight hunch in her shoulders, a sad kind of aura settling over her features. My heart twisted at the thought of her hurting, especially because of me. I reached out, grazing the curve of her cheek.
“I still care about you, Maya. That’s never going to change.”
Her gaze flew up to mine, her eyes like warm caramels. She could always captivate me with a look. Her lips parted. The fear in my gut dissipated, replaced with the urge to hold her, to make her believe it again. That pull was returning with greater force each time we met. An inexplicable energy drew me to her, to her lips and her body. I wanted us so close that neither of us could think straight. But I couldn’t rush us into that.
“Why don’t we just try to get to know each other for a while? It sounds strange to say, but it’s been a long time and I don’t know you that well anymore.”
“I’ll save you the suspense, Cam. I’m not the girl you used to know. My life is…different.” She waved her hand, returning it to rub her forehead anxiously. “Just a hunch, but I have a feeling we have very different lifestyles that even friendship may not be able to accommodate.”
I nodded. The fear that we’d already grown too far apart rooted in my gut, but I pushed past it. I couldn’t give up before we’d even started. That was worse than disappearing from her life years ago, a mistake I intended to rectify if given the chance. “We’ve both changed. That’s obvious.”
“Maybe it’s not a good idea to go down this road right now.” She tucked her hair behind her ear. “I mean, we can stay in touch. Facebook or whatever.”
She laughed. “Okay.”
“Start by seeing me at the gym next week.”
She looked away for a minute as if she were restoring her resolve. “You really think you’re going to get me to work out every day?”
“Give me a week.”
I hesitated a second. “No cocktails.”
She canted her head to the side. “Says the guy holding an empty pint glass.”
“This is an exception. Darren coerced me here. The bar isn’t really my scene.”
“Now I know why he calls you old man Cam.” She gave me a crooked smile. The gesture saved me from bristling at Darren’s insulting moniker for me.
“I don’t find mingling with random inebriated strangers especially fulfilling, no. I guess that makes me old.”
“I’m not a stranger.”
“No, you’re not,” I said quietly. Her long bangs fell across her forehead, resting on her eyelashes. I wanted to reach out to her again, to remind us both that we weren’t strangers. Even if it felt that way sometimes.
“Okay, I’ll do the workouts, but I’m reserving the right to a nightcap,” she said, lifting up her finger to make her point.
“You breaking the rules already?”
She quirked her lips. “Are you going to be a stickler?”
“Old man Cam. I have a reputation to live up to. Plus I’ll have a better chance of converting you to a paid gym member if you experience a full week of healthy living.”
“And what if I decide that your workout regimen isn’t cutting it?”
“Your confidence is noted, but shouldn’t there be some sort of counter effort after I bust my a*s and deprive myself for a week?”
I shrugged, unconvinced that she’d possibly feel that way by the time we were through.
“How about I take you up on this proposed week of fitness hell—because I can already see that it will be—and then we can celebrate my way. I can show you how I blow off steam and you can tell me how they compare.”