Laila stared at her phone as it vibrated in her hand. This was the 17th time he had called that day and she was beginning to feel herself giving in.
"Don't answer it," she heard Tennille say.
"I won't," Laila said confidently and put her phone on the table beside her. She looked at her food and then back at her former roommate and her boyfriend. They hadn't changed much. Tennille was slimmer than she remembered, something she attributed to her new school and all the dance classes they offered. Tate's hair was longer but he was still as handsome as ever.
"Thanks for letting me crash here this weekend."
"Will you stop thanking us?" Tennille said with a roll of her eyes. "I haven't seen you in months and all you can say is 'thank you.'"
"Sorry," Laila smiled.
"Well, I'm not saying you're welcome until you tell us what's going on."
Laila had been avoiding the subject all day, claiming she wasn't ready to talk about it. Her two friends knew something was wrong and by dinner that evening, after they had watched Laila avoid Sterling's phone calls all day, they had both figured out something had happened between the happy couple.
So Laila took a deep breath and started her story. She retold the events leading up to the night of the party with as little bias as she could, Tennille and Tate nodding at her as they followed along. But then she arrived at the events of the previous night and she began to cry.
"I saw him kissing her and I just lost it. Will caught me outside and walked me home and then…" Laila sniffled. "And then he walked me home and tried to kiss me. It was horrible because it proved that Sterling had been right and I had driven him away because I was too stupid to see it."
"So, why aren't you answering his calls?" Tate was the first to speak, confusion now written all over his face.
Tennille slapped his arm. "Because he kissed another girl!"
"But he was wasted and she clearly wants to forgive him."
Tennille's mouth dropped and she glared at her boyfriend before turning to Laila. "I'm sorry, don't listen to him."
"I don't know what to do," Laila admitted. "I'm so angry at him but I miss him so much."
"Don't do anything just now," Tennille advised and Tate agreed with a nod of his head. "Give it until tomorrow and see how you are feeling."
"I didn't know anything could hurt this much."
"It's going to be okay," Tate smiled at her.
"You two will either get back together and forget this ever happened or you'll move on and realize that you just weren't meant to be," Tennille added.
"I know," Laila said, her voice laced with misery. "But I don't know which one I want right now."
"Of course you are going to be confused. But you'll figure it out when you are ready."
Laila nodded but then jumped as her phone rang again. "Tate, will you please answer it?"
She pushed the phone across the table and Tate picked it up hesitantly. "Hello?"
There was a brief pause but eventually Sterling spoke. "Tate? Is she with you?"
"Can I talk to her?"
Tate glanced at Laila who shook her head. "No, she doesn't…she's not ready to talk."
"Well, is she okay?"
"Um, kind of."
"Tate, please? Let me talk to her." Sterling sounded absolutely desperate and Tate hated being put in this position.
"I can't. Or, she won't." He could hear his friend swearing on the other of the phone. "I'm sorry."
"It's all right," Sterling's words didn't hold much confidence. "Will you just tell her that I love her and that I'm sorry?"
"Yeah. I'll tell her."
"Thanks," Sterling whispered and then quickly disconnected the call.
Tate looked across the table at Laila who was staring at him expectantly. "He says he is sorry and he loves you."
"Asshole." Tennille spoke before her friend.
Laila gave her an appreciative smile.
"So, this Will guy," Tennille continued. "Tell me about him."
Laila sighed. "He's brilliant. He's the editor of the school newspaper, he's funny, and he's kind."
"But Sterling doesn't like him because he could tell this guy was crushing on you?"
Laila nodded. "I should have known. I mean, I guess part of me did know, I just didn't want to see it because I thought one day Sterling and Will could be friends."
Tate shifted in his chair, looking as if he wanted to say something but knew Tennille would yell at him.
"Tate? Just say it," Laila wanted nothing but the truth from her two friends.
He took a deep breath. "If Sterling told you about his apprehensions, why didn't you believe him?"
Laila shook her head. "I don't know."
"Did you not want to believe him?"
"That's not it," Laila said, choking up again, no longer able to hide the truth from herself of her best friends. "I didn't care that Will wanted to be more than my friend. I knew I would never cheat on Sterling, I knew that I would never let Will come between us. I just…no one like Will has ever paid attention to me before. I guess I liked it."
"Are you sure you don't like him? More than a friend?"
Laila tried to blink back her tears. "He's so different from Sterling. I appreciate so many things about Will, but there's no comparison. I love Sterling more than anything."
"Has Sterling not been there for you lately?" Tennille asked quietly.
"No, he has," Laila was crying again. "He's been so great and I'm just stupid and selfish. I don't deserve him."
Nobody spoke for a minute as Laila's crying eased.
"What are you going to do about Will now?"
"I don't know. Sterling and I aren't together but I don't think I would feel right seeing Will in any capacity."
Tate and Tennille were both looking at her with sad and understanding eyes. Laila wiped the tears from her face and smiled at her two friends. "Can we talk about something else?"
Tennille nodded but it was Tate who spoke up. "You'll never guess who we saw last weekend."
"Julian and Tasha."
Laila grinned. Harper's gossip was a welcome distraction. "How are they?"
"Still together," Tennille said with obvious disbelief. "They looked really good, actually."
"How do they like Columbia?"
There was a short pause before Laila spoke again. "Did they say anything else?"
"Um, no," Tennille lied. They had asked about Laila and Sterling and she had told them that things between the couple were great.
"Has anyone seen or spoken to Chase?"
"Julian didn't say anything about him. I heard he was in rehab somewhere in South America," Tate offered.
"South America? That's…random." Laila smiled and Tennille chuckled.
Tate smiled. "I guess."
"Thanks, you guys," Laila said quickly. "For everything."
"You're welcome," Tennille said quickly.
"We're just glad you finally made it up here," Tate added, trying to reinforce that he and Tennille were glad to see their friend.
"Even if I'm being completely lame and crying all over the food you cooked for me?" Laila laughed at herself.
"That's it!" Tennille stood up and grabbed her former roommate's hand, yanking her out of her chair. "This pity party is officially over. You're in New York, I don't care what brought you here and I'm done letting you feel sorry for yourself."
Laila and Tate's eyes went wide, both waited to see what Tennille would do next.
"Let's go climb the Empire State building or take a carriage ride around Central Park…something completely cheesy and touristy. Something that you can actually thank us for."
"Can we go to the Met?"
"You are such a nerd. But yes, we can."
"Thank you," Laila smiled up at Tennille innocently.
Finally Tennille laughed. "Just go get your coat."