“Is Jennifer still here?”
“I’m just wondering when she’s going home.”
“Is that why you haven’t made a move yet? You’re afraid she’s going home?”
“She was with the guy for about as long as I was with Lori. You don’t get over that in a day.”
“You do when it is the last straw,” she argues.
“I’ve got enough going on in my life. I don’t need to be jerked around by her. It’s cool that she’s here and all. It was really nice of you. And I will admit, it’s great seeing her. But he’s gone off the wagon before, and she always takes him back.”
“Maybe that’s because you were never in the picture before,” she sasses. “I’m shocked, honestly, that you’re not more excited by this.”
“She’s been here all of twenty-four hours! And I can’t just make a move. I have to think about the kids.”
“Danny, so help me.” She stops in her tracks, turning toward me, the smile wiped from her face. “If you use the kids again as an excuse for not allowing yourself to be happy, I’m going to stop being your friend.”
“No, you’re not,” I scoff.
She’s been my best friend since the sixth grade.
“I. Am,” she says, poking her finger into my chest with each word. “One. Hundred. Percent. Serious. Danny.”
We have a staredown, neither of us allowing ourselves to blink. This is usually the part where she starts laughing.
But she doesn’t.
“Fine,” I say, giving in.
She gives me a happy smirk, grabs my elbow, and then drags me to her front porch. “Before we go inside, I’m just going to say one thing. Dani has the cheerleader sleepover tonight, and your son is spending the night at our house. You know, in case you wanted to have a sleepover of your own.”
“Danny,” she admonishes, “what’s wrong with you? You told me that, if you’d slept with her when you first met, you wouldn’t have left the bed for three days. You’ll have to do with about twelve hours this time. Although I can keep the boys busy in the morning, Dani will be back home before her eleven o’clock spa appointment.”
“You don’t think it’s too soon?” I ask.
“Soon? Are you kidding me? You’ve been waiting fourteen years for this!”
“It feels like a lot of pressure. Stop pressuring me!” I spit.
“Danny, calm down. There’s no pressure. You don’t have to invite her over. I’m just letting you know, I’ve opened up a window of opportunity. To use your terms, the offensive line is holding tight, and there’s a crease in the defense. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to keep the ball or hand it off to someone else.”
“Very funny.” I sigh. “I want to keep the ball.”
“It’s been a while. It’s obvious that it’s awkward for you both because of the baggage you’re carrying behind you, but the sparks are still so evident. Invite her over. Go slow. Get to be friends. She needs a friend.”
“I don’t want to be her friend,” I say adamantly.
“Yeah, you do. You always say you wish you had a relationship like Phillip and I have. He’s my best friend. You and Lori were never friends. I want you to have it all next time around. I want you to feel hot passion, but I also want the woman you are with to really like you as a person. Love, friendship, and respect are important for a long, successful relationship.”
“You’ve always said Lori doesn’t respect me.”
“She doesn’t, Danny. And it kills me to watch.”