Whenever she's not in class, twice or three times a week at various coffee shops they would meet to discuss work while Kelsey attend her classes. They made tremendous progress just by brainstorming, making phone calls and work on Julie's laptop. Sometimes Kelsey skipped class to join them, to see what the work was like but then she was bored after a few hours and decided that she was better off in class.
Julie went to the counter to order some coffee and snacks when Preston approached her. "Hey, I thought I'd find you here," he greeted her. He was standing really close to her, their arms rubbed with each other and it made her uncomfortable.
"Hey Preston," she replied in a monotone.
"My birthday is coming up, I wanted to invite you," he said.
Julie shrugged, "Oh I don't think I can come, but thanks for inviting me, I'll let Kelsey know."
"Come on, Jules, this been going on for too long already," Preston turned to look at her in a somber expression.
Julie glanced at Preston. He looked like he just woken up, his eyes were still droopy. He tossed his hair to one side with a brush of his fingers. His nails were painted, he was still wearing the ring she gave him along with his other rings. His dark blue eyes, wide and narrow, one look at them made the hairs on her arms stood up. She couldn't rest her sight at his face for longer than two seconds, but he stared her down so she would look at him when they speak.
"I really want you to come," he knew she had been avoiding him since that night. "I miss you." Those words made her stomach turned.
They were best friends, a little different than what she had with Kelsey, romantic friendship is the term used for it. But there were boundaries, which they stepped over one night and changed everything, at least for her.
She inhaled deeply, "I don't know ... Preston, you know I'm not big with parties, I mean, Kelsey's gonna be there I'm sure," she wasn't going to let his words get to her.
"Yeah she is, but I want you to be there too ... that's why I'm here, I'm begging you ... please ... pretty please ..." he pressed his palms together and leaned his face closer to her.
She hesitated, "Why would you want me there anyways? You'll probably be wasted by nine with all your friends."
"Because you're my friend ... right? Are we still friends? You know I hated what happened as much as you do ... and I've been ..." he hadn't finished his sentences when Julie stopped him with her palm on his chest.
"I don't wanna talk about it, please," she looked away.
They never really talked about it, Julie just decided that she needed to avoid him forever while he sometimes followed her around like a puppy wanting to play.
Preston exhaled in frustration, "Will you come, though? It's my 21st birthday," he sounded desperate.
She looked down and thought for a moment, "Maybe," she said.
There was an instant glow on Preston's face, "That's good enough for me," he stole a kiss on her cheek that made her pulled back. He smiled widely, "I'll see you then," and he left.
Her heart was beating fast, she closed her eyes to steady her breathing. After all those time, Preston still managed to do that to her. She wished she could find someone to fall in love with and what happened between her and Preston wouldn't matter at all. If only there was someone that could distract her from Preston, it would've been easier to keep their friendship alive. But that wasn't the case, it was hard to be friends with him before, and it's even harder after. She picked up the tray with two hot caffee latte cups on it and walked back to her table.
"Who was that?" Nathan asked, it didn't go unnoticed how distraught she was after that encounter.
"Oh ... that's Preston," she replied.
"Preston? The one who's having a birthday this weekend?". Julie nodded as she sipped her coffee. "Kelsey mentioned it this morning, I guess we'll be there discussing our projects while people vomit around us," he joked.
Julie laughed, "I don't know ... I don't really wanna go."
Nathan looked disappointed, "Why not? I guess we can hang out once everyone's wasted, just bring your laptop, I'm sure we can find a quieter place to do some work." It didn't seem to bother him, the fact that he too wasn't much of a party goer, but he was willing to be there for Kelsey. Suddenly, the idea of bringing work to Preston's party sounded like a win win solution to the problem.
"I guess we can try and do that," Julie said with a soft laugh, not completely convinced it was doable.
Nathan told Kelsey later that day about Julie coming to the party, it surprised her. "Really? She told you she's coming?"
"Yeah ... well, she seemed reluctant at first, what's with her and that Preston guy anyway? She was weirded out right after he left ... distant, I suppose," Nathan wondered.
"Preston's a pretty delicate spot for her ... she used to have a big crush on him ever since we started college, they have this weird friendship, she's pretty tight shut when it comes to sharing intimate details, you know?"
She was exactly the opposite of Kelsey where she shares too many details about her love life, or sex life for that matter. "We used to be pretty close, the three of us, but then something happened before summer, and she just shut him down, didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore," Kelsey continued.
"What happened?" Nathan was curious.
"She wouldn't tell me at first, I had to get it out of Preston ... that slut ..." Kelsey sounded pissed. "They were close, I mean like really close, I guess I can relate 'cause we've been best friends since we were small, she has this warm personality that made it easy to be close to her ... most people wouldn't catch that from the first get go, but ... anyway ... Preston had a girlfriend, and they often get into fights and Julie was there ..." the problem started to come to form.
"He always talked about it with Julie because she listens to everything, I mean half of the shit I told her ... some people would just walked out on me, but Julie ... I guess Preston felt the same about her too, so one night, Preston had a fight with his girlfriend, he was drunk and alone, he came to our dorm, I wasn't there ... and ..." Nathan raised his eyebrows, she didn't have to explain any further.
Kelsey took a deep breath, she seemed uneasy telling it to Nathan, "You have to promise me that you will never ever talk to her about this, she'd kill me for telling this to anyone." He promised. "Julie was a virgin ... and Preston was an idiot, they woke up in the morning and realized what they did the night before, obviously Preston was cheating on his girlfriend with Julie and that was something she would never forgive herself for, all hell broke loose," she finished the story.
Nathan grimaced, "God, that's horrible." He was genuinely empathetic to what happened, Julie was becoming his friend too, and he understood what Kelsey said about how easy it was to be close to her.
"Yeah, and Julie is savage, you know, she can open up to you and drew you in like you can be best friends with her 'til death do you part, and then she can cut you off just like that, like you don't mean anything to her ... I guess I'm lucky, I've seen how she cut off ties like it was nothing ... and Preston being the latest victim," she told him.
"Preston said that it was the biggest mistake in his life, not because he didn't want to sleep with her in the first place, but he never wanted to lose her as a friend ... I think Preston is hooked on Julie like a love sick puppy, if you ask me, they're really good together as friends, it's like they have the need to be with each other, and that one night kind of made things weird."