I stepped out of the small pink house after spending a couple hours with my brother. As I crossed the porch, I dug in my pocket for my car keys. My head was miles away, thinking about the trip to the grocery store I needed to make on the way home, the spaghetti I was going to attempt to make for dinner tonight. I was so distracted, I nearly barreled right into Josh as I stepped off the stairs.
He caught me by the shoulders, steadying me when I stumbled. “You should be more careful,” he said quietly.
I half-smiled at him. I hadn’t seen him since the evening of Nora’s party when he’s surprised everyone by showing up with a date. As happy as I was for him, I couldn’t help but be a little hurt that he hadn’t told me himself. Not because I was his ex but because we used to share everything. I still missed being his friend. “Yeah, sorry.”
Josh started to go around me, but I stopped him. “So, how is Krys?” I asked. I really wanted to know; they’d seemed so happy together at the party. I was hoping things were still going strong.
Though he looked like he’d rather be doing anything than talking to me, Josh smiled a little when I mentioned Krys. “She’s good. Things are great, really.”
I smiled up at him. “Yeah? How great?”
“Pretty serious,” was all he said. I wanted to prod him for more details – was this girl really good enough for him? – but I knew I wouldn’t get anything. “I’m really happy for you, Josh. I didn’t really talk to her at Nora’s birthday, but she seemed really nice.”
He nodded. “She is.” His expression softened a little. “You don’t need to worry about me or whatever, Alison.”
“I’m not,” I protested. “I just miss talking to you,” I admitted. “I wanted to know how things were going.”
He sighed softly. “Well, now you know.” He hesitated and glanced at the house then back at me. “How’s Luc?” Was it just politeness keeping him talking to me or was he actually a little interested?
I smiled. “He’s good,” I said, echoing Josh. “He’s looking to graduate in December, and he’s got a job lined up at that research lab in Riverview while he works on his master’s.”
“That’s good. I’m glad he got the job. What about you?”
“Still working on my master’s and still at the company.” I laughed quietly. “Not much change to speak of for me.”
He nodded and awkward silence crept in between us. “I need to get inside. Mom’s teaching me how to make lobster tortellini.” I didn’t need to ask why he’d want to learn that recipe; he wanted to impress Krys by cooking a fancy meal for her.
“Well, don’t want to keep Hadley waiting.” I smiled a little. “It was nice talking to you, Josh.”
“You too, Alison.”
I watched him turn and walk into the house. I barely withheld my sigh. That had been one of the most awkward conversations of my life. It was like…well, like I’d run into an ex and we’d played catch up. Only it wasn’t just some ex-boyfriend – it was Josh. Despite the time that had passed, it still felt like we should be best friends. Luc had told me I might just need to accept that the bridge had been burned, but I hoped that, one day, he’d prove to be wrong.