You were laughing at a joke one of the guys on the team had made, until you weren’t. You glanced over at James, sitting at the bar with a girl you couldn’t identify and you were jealous. But you shouldn’t have been. He was your best friend. Just your best friend. Just the guy you flew to Vegas to visit since he moved across the country to play hockey. Just the guy you dreamed about being with. Just your best friend.
“You’re gonna kill her with your stare alone,” Nate said, smiling at you from his seat next to yours.
You looked away. “What do you mean?” you asked, trying to play dumb. The last thing you needed was anyone on the team thinking you liked James. You couldn’t. You wouldn’t. It would ruin everything.
“Don’t give me that, you two are like two little puppies. Two little dumb puppies who have no idea what they’re doing,” he said and you looked at him, confused.
Nate rolled his eyes. “You guys are in love, practically married. It’s disgusting,” he said. You glanced back over to where James had just bought the brunette at the bar another drink.
“Oh yeah?” you asked. “Then why’s he cheating on his wife?” you asked, trying to prove a point but it came out wrong.
Nate just smiled. “I’m gonna get you to admit it.” He had a mischievous smile as he finished his drink and got up to get another.
You just stirred yours at the table, waiting for someone to come occupy your time so you didn’t have to think about your best friend flirting across the room with someone else. You liked it when his attention was on you. When he laughed at your jokes and let his hands rest on your body, even if it was innocent. It wasn’t like that tonight apparently. Soon enough into the night, like a five year old, William had run up on you. “Hey,” he said, red-faced and out of breath. “I need you to come with me,” he said. The blonde pulled on your hand and you let him tug you along, out of the ballroom and into the back hallway.
“What are you doing?” you asked, as he stomped down on the carpeted floor. “
You’ll see,” he said. You shook your head though he held onto your hand strong enough to pull you along. “I don’t like this. Is this one of your dumb pranks?” you asked, but instead of answering, he just shoved you into one of the small conference rooms.
It was dark and you instantly banged on the door. “What're you doing, Will? Let me out,” you shouted.You jumped when someone else spoke from behind you.
“You too, huh?” he asked.
You were relieved when it was James. “Schmidty threw me in here,” he said. You sighed and sat down at one of the tables.
“I don’t-” you started, but before you could finish you could hear Nate from the other side of the door. “You two are dumb and stubborn. I’m not letting you out until you’re making out,” he said. You closed your eyes, hoping this wasn’t real. James yelled a strong ‘fuck you’ at the door before giving up and sitting next to you.
“We could try the windows,” he said, looking at the small glass panes.
“Doubt it, hotel windows don’t open,” you said. “Plus we’re on the third floor.” You got up to look out the window, seeing the city night sky. It was the only light coming into the room. Finally James stood next to you, looking at the view, his hands in his pockets.
“What do they want us to do?” he asked. You laughed. “Make out, apparently,” you told him. He chuckled. Because that was ridiculous. You were best friends. You weren’t going to date. Ever. Still an awkward silence fell over you both.
“Why’s that?” he asked finally. Like he was going to be the one to start the conversation. “Nate’s convinced I like you,” you told him. You brushed it off like you usually did. He laughed. “Ah,” was all he said. Again, an awkward silence. “Is that- would that be so out of the question?” he asked and your heart skipped a beat.
“For us…to like each other?” you asked, making sure you heard him before you spoke. “Yeah,” he said. You studied his face. You’d done it a million times before but tonight it was different. He looked good, of course, but he looked at you like you might actually have a chance. “I don’t know.” You were a coward. His face fell. You sighed. You gave up.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” you started. “It’s so…out there, like how would we ever…” you couldn’t complete a thought. You couldn’t put into words the idea of you and your best friend being together. He looked at you, annoyed.
“What? What would you do? What would you say? If I said I wanted to be more than friends? Is that a crazy idea? Would you shoot it down? Because I think you would, and I just never wanted to deal with that,” he said, kicking his feet. You felt happy but sad all wrapped in one. What had you ever done to make him think you didn’t love him.
“I’d say the same thing about you,” you told him. It was like a weight was lifted from both of you, both shrugging your shoulders and putting them at ease.
“We’re the worst,” he said through laughter after a minute. “Mhm,” you said.
You rested your head on his shoulder while he pulled you into a hug. “You’re still my best friend,” he said, making sure you knew.
“That’ll never change,” you assured him. After your moment, you both walked to the door, banging on it again.
“You both better still be out there so I can kick your asses when you open the door,” James yelled.
“Excuse me, I believe I said you had to kiss,” you heard Nate call.
You blushed. You had dreamed of this moment. Not this soon and definitely not like this but James rolled his eyes. “You can’t even see us,” he said back.
“I’m trusting the honor system right now, okay?” he said back and you giggled when James leaned his head down to press his lips to yours. You wanted more but you wanted the door open more than anything. Nate unlocked it, and pushed it open for you. You were greeted by the two young hockey players clapping, but you and James flipped them both off on your way out of the room.
“Do you wanna get out of here?” he asked you.
You couldn’t answer because Will did for you. “Please. We’re not letting you stay,” he said, throwing his arms over the both of you and walking you to the door.