Parking my car in the driveway, I rest my head on my hands. Taking a deep breath, I try to steady myself. Closing my eyes, I will my heart to stop racing.
Ha! Fat chance of that happening!
After what feels like forever, I lift my head and find Sam sitting in one of the two chairs on the front porch. He is bent over the chair with his elbows on his knees and his profile faces the car. He has been watching me. Waiting for me.
His face is in the shadows so I can't see the expression he wears.
A pang of guilt stabs me in the stomach. Sam. My Sam. I'm so sorry I hurt you.
Opening the car door, I step out and head to the front porch. I climb into the seat beside him and pull my knees to my chest.
Sam turns his face to me, the porch light casts a soft glow on his face. His serious blue eyes study me. The light shows the different strands of gold and bronze in his hair. His eyes say it all.
We sit there in silence like that for several minutes.
Unable to take the silence one minute longer, I start, "Sam. I'm so sorry."
Sam flatly says, "You said that already."
I feel like someone just punched me in the gut. But I guess I deserve that.
Running a hand through his hair, he questions, "Remember that Fourth of July when we both just had to have those sparklers? Our parents finally gave in and got them for us. We were so excited. I think we were eight."
"Nine," I say, interrupting him.
Sam continues, "Remember how you burned your toes? I snuck you inside so we wouldn't get into trouble. Carried you the whole way."
I interject, "Actually, I think it was more like I used you as a crutch."
A small laugh escapes him. He says, "I think I used two tubes of antibiotic ointment and about 50 band aids."
He pauses, giving me a small smile. I smile too. Remembering that day. Remembering how much fun we had. Remembering how we were at that age. Remembering how much time we spent together. Remembering lots of things.
Suddenly, Sam rises from his seat and kneels in front of me, face hovering inches from mine.
"Maddie," Sam whispers. "Picnics. Barbecues. Birthday parties. Holiday celebrations. Graduations." He pauses. "It's always been the two of us. Lifting the other one up when one of us would fall. Making each other laugh. Encouraging one another. Supporting each other."
"Best friends," I whisper back.
Sam declares, "And now...something more. I don't want to go back to being just your friend."
The look he gives me is so intense, so open, so wanting. I feel butterflies in my stomach.
He reaches out to cup the side of my face, "Maddie, I love you. I want to be with you and I think in your heart you want to be with me too."
Finding my voice, I declare, "Sam, I do love you."
Smiling a sad smile, he says, "It's clear you need some space. I 'll give it to you. I will wait for you, Maddie."
Closing the distance between us, he leans down and lightly brushes his lips to mine. Then deepening the kiss with all of the emotions and things left unspoken. I lean into him, my heart strings unraveling. He pulls back slowly, brushing his nose with mine. That's so Sam.
Standing, he turns to go, walking off the porch, towards his truck. He stops halfway there to look back at me.
Raising his voice to be heard over the night, he says, "Maddie, I believe you will choose me. Because you know we are right for each other. Always have been."
With that, Sam hops into his truck and drives off.
Sighing, I lean back into the chair. Oh Sam. I do love you. So much.
But am I in love with you?
Happy New Year!
Here's your present - another piece of the Maddie/Jake/Sam puzzle.
Did you miss them?