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Lovers and Friends


Chapter Eleven

We lay there breathless. I managed to say, "What was that?"

Paul turned over and looked at me. "What, you forgot already? Do I have to show you again?" He leaned over on top of me.

I weakly pushed him away. "Oh no, I'm fine. Just fine," I said breathlessly.

We lay there talking about the music in our lives. He entertained me with stories of good and bad gigs. I told him about late rehearsals with the ensembles I was in and the dictator-like style that University Choir director Dr. Kerr had that nobody appreciated. We had completely lost track of time when we heard a key in the door.

"Shit!" I whispered. "Dan tried to see me naked for months. He's not about to see me now!" Paul wrapped the sheet around him and met Dan at the door. As I slid completely under the blanket, I saw all our clothes in a sloppy pile on the floor, with my bra right on top. 'Like he's gonna miss that,' I thought.

Paul stopped Dan in the doorway. I heard them whispering something and Paul came back in. "We're alright for a few minutes. Get dressed."

I was so embarrassed. I wanted to crawl under the bed and not come out until graduation day. I had almost walked in on Anne a few times during our 4 years of living together, and I remember her telling me you haven't felt embarrassment until you almost--or do--get walked in on during sex. I didn't want to face Dan again in the hallway, or for a while, for that matter. Paul & I got dressed in silence. As we left the room, we agreed we'd go for a walk. It was a nice night, and it was about time for me to get back to my dorm anyway. We walked out into the hall, and sure enough, there was Dan coming back to his room. I looked down at the floor. Paul whispered a "thanks" to him as we passed. Dan grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him. He whispered, "Hey, what's this guy have that I don't have, besides a cool accent?"

"Tact, for one thing," I snapped, as I jerked my arm back and walked away from him. Dan was never one to mince words. He always let you know what was on his mind. We met through a mutual friend freshman year, at a freshman mixer. He was a cousin of a friend of mine from high school that had gone to IWU, too (she was a senior when we were freshmen), and she introduced us. He had been a good friend through the last few years, but he was a bit cocky. I guess if anyone had reason to be he did. He was about 5'11", nice build (broad muscular shoulders and narrow hips), the biggest blue eyes I had ever seen, and this gorgeous mass of brown curly hair that most girls were insanely jealous of. He was also sharp as a tack--straight A student, physics and philosophy double major. He also was on the tennis team and sang tenor in the University Choir. My parents were sorely disappointed that we didn't work out. As friends, we were great...but as more, we just didn't click. He was always used to getting what he wanted, and was a little shocked when I turned him down. It was almost like I brought him down to earth, if only for a bit. But I didn't want to think about Dan right then; I wanted to think about Paul.

Speaking of Paul, we walked in silence outside on the quad, holding hands. We sat down on a flat rectangular stone sculpture (a gift from the Class of 1902) and I looked up at the sky. Damn, I thought, too cloudy to stargaze. Paul had seemed like there was something on his mind since we left Dan's dorm. After we had sat down, he finally opened up. "I'm a bit concerned about something. Don't take this the wrong way luv, but I just want to make sure you're not moving to England just for me. We're goin' all over the place right now, who knows what will happen." He turned to look at me and took my hands. "I care for you, Jill. A lot. Maybe more than I thought before. I...I think I'm falling in love with you. I know that we've been apart a lot in the past year, but just being around you these past couple days has been fantastic. It's almost like it's made me sure of what I only just wondered about before. We're great for each other, Jill, I know that. And it may seem daft that I'm suspicious and asking you about your intentions and expectations, but I just don't want you to get hurt because you don't know what you're getting yourself into. I have no clue where or how I'm gonna end up. We're successful now, but later, who knows? I don't know if I will be able to support a family. I just don't know..." His voice trailed off as he looked away from me.

I put my hand on his knee. "Paul, I understand. Well, I don't, but I do. I've never been in this situation before. And you're right, I don't really know what I'm getting myself into. I'm not moving to London just because of you, but I'd be lying if I said you weren't a consideration. Auntie offered me the job totally unsolicited. I wasn't begging her to come over. If we're meant to be, it will happen. Whenever you perform in the London area, let me know and I'll come see you. We can be together when we can." We hugged and sat there with his arm around me for a few minutes. "I'm getting tired, will you walk me back to Pfeiffer?" I said as I stifled a yawn.

"Sure, luv." We got up and started for the dorm. "So, when will you be in London?"

"I'm not too sure yet. I want a couple weeks with my family before I leave. I'm estimating middle of June. Do you know where you're going to be then?"

"Not off the top of my head, Brian takes care of all that for us. We have gigs all over England now. It's a bit hard sometimes to get a day off...but whenever we're in London I'll be sure to look you up!"

"You know where to find me, you know the number," I replied with a smile. By that time we were at the door. We kissed goodnight, and I told him I'd call him in the morning.

***

The next few days were great. He was leaving Monday morning, so we had Saturday & Sunday left. We went shopping and just hung out together both days. This was Paul's first trip to America, so he was as excited to be there as I had been when I had first visited England! Dave came down to visit Anne that weekend, so the four of us went out to a couple bars Saturday night. Dave was a really nice guy. I thought to myself how proud I was of Anne--after all the losers she seemed to attract, she had finally met someone who would treat her right. They got along great. The fact that Dave was pretty cute helped, too! In fact, he looked a little like Paul--about 5'9" or so, brown hair, big brown eyes, thin, cute nose...Anne and I determined that we were so "in sync" with each other that we subconsciously (and thousands of miles apart) tried to pick the same guy! We even joked about getting Dave to get his hair cut like Paul's.

As roommates often do, Anne & I had a big talk Saturday night, (one of those where you're both lying in bed in the dark trying to sleep but neither of you can shut up), mostly about the men in our lives. I tried not to think about Paul leaving soon. I kept thinking to myself that I would be over in England in a couple months, and if things were going to happen, then they would. If not, I guess I could handle it. But the more I thought about it, the more I went back to our conversation on the quad. I hadn't been able to get it out of my head. He had told me that he thought he was falling in love with me...and as clearly as I could remember, I didn't say anything to that effect to him. Did he think that I didn't feel the same way? Come to think of it, I really wasn't sure how I felt. I knew that I really cared about him...but was it love? Had I ever been in love? Nate in high school was one thing...at the time I thought it was serious, as did a lot of my friends with their relationships, and a lot of them had married their high school sweethearts. I had grown so much in the past few years since I went to college--my ideals, thoughts, views, and philosophies had changed. That's why Nate and I had broken up by Christmas our freshman year. He was at University of Illinois, and we tried to still see each other, but our lives just went in different directions. Would the same happen with Paul and me? After thinking all this in my head, and telling Anne what happened that night on the quad, she asked the question for me.

"So Jill...are you in love with him?"

Why did she have to ask that? She knew me too well. I thought out loud. "Well, I don't know, to tell you the truth," I laughed nervously. "There's definitely something there...I'm pretty sure that I love him, I guess, but I don't know if I'm in love with him. I mean, I know that I love you, but I'm not in love with you!" We laughed.

"That's different, silly! This is a guy, a man, a potential husband, and a possible soul mate, even someone that might replace me as your best friend. I just want to make sure you're not getting hurt or in over your head." She hung over the edge of the bunk to look down at me, her long blonde hair blowing in the breeze from the fan. "See what I mean, Jilly?" She climbed down and sat on my bed with me. "I think this guy's got it bad for you--do you think that he would come over on his personal vacation time that I'm sure he desperately needs to catch up on sleep and the like, to fly overseas to visit a friend? Even a good friend?" She got a serious, maternal look on her face. "I'm glad you're going to England, and I truly hope you two work out. I really think you will. He's a good guy, and he really likes you."

I was a little confused at her confidence. "How can you be so sure?"

"Remember late Thursday afternoon when you were at your lessons and Paul said he just wanted to stay in and sleep for a bit and listen to the radio?" I nodded. "Well, he was actually with me. He called me and asked if I wanted to get together for an early dinner. We went over to Tobin's for pizza, and he just poured out his heart. He told me that he knew you & I were best friends, and he wanted to know from me how you felt about him. I didn't want to pour it on too thick or give his ego too much of a boost, so I just told him that you probably liked him more than you'd even told me. I didn't say anything about London. But anyway, he told me that he really likes you, but didn't know how to show you. And...well, that's pretty much it."

"Oh." I sat there a little bewildered, trying to sort through all the stuff flying around in my head. I asked her, "Anne, how can I tell when it's love...when I'm in love?"

"That's the question of the day, isn't it?!" She laughed and patted my knee. "Jill, if I had the answer to that, I would be a very rich woman! Seriously, um, there's nothing really to pinpoint it...you just know. It goes beyond infatuation, beyond puppy love, beyond writing 'I love so-and-so' in every notebook you have. One day, you're just sure that this is it, this is the best that love can get. This is the person that you want to grow old with."

She climbed back up on her bed. I lay there in silence, listening to my clock ticking, until I fell asleep.

***

Paul had to get on the 6 a.m. bus Monday morning, so I got up early and picked him up at Dan's dorm. When we got to the bus station, I was fighting back tears. I wanted to avoid a long goodbye--I hated goodbyes; that's why I always said "'Til next time" instead. I pulled up to the curb, and got out to help Paul get his bags out. He saw that I was struggling, and gave me a comforting hug. That only made the tears burst out of me. He petted the back of my head and said, "Luv, we're going to see each other soon, everything will be alright. Please write." He lifted my head up and looked at me. "You're even beautiful when you cry," he said softly. That made me smile. I closed my eyes as he kissed my forehead. He picked up his bags and walked into the station. I watched him as he walked in the building. He turned around and waved to me and blew me a kiss. I blew him one back, and got in my car and drove back to Pfeiffer so I could hopefully sleep some more before my 10 o'clock voice lesson.


On to Chapter Twelve
Back to Chapter Ten


Copyright © Winona Patterson, 1999-2006.