They were both drunk, and, when Sam asked her to go back to the house, she couldn’t think of a reason to say no.

It was after 1 a.m., early Sunday morning. Normally, they just went back to the house and hung out with his friends — no, their friends. But, tonight, there was something different in his tone.

“Okay.” Annie thought about it — the words and the way he had said them. “I just don’t want anyone to see me…”

Her sentence trailed off, but they both knew what she was thinking. Most weekends ended with them hanging out in the public living room. She wasn’t opposed to a change in plans, but she also didn’t want anyone to see him lead her up to his room.

It was so different to think of Sam this way. But, why not? Recently, gradually, somehow, he had grown from the platonic friend that told her about his girl problems and texted her everyday to someone she could see herself with. Someone she could stand to be a little less platonic with.

Part of her had hoped something like this was coming. And, after a year and a half of friendship, maybe it was time. She liked him, and he clearly liked her.

But an unwelcome face flashed through Annie’s mind, and she tried to ignore it. It belonged to her friend Ashley. Well, maybe “friend” wasn’t the right word.

Ashley and Annie weren’t close, but they ran in the same circles and, regardless of their relationship, Annie would never needlessly hurt her. As of recently, Sam had been the one Ashley called after late, drunken nights Uptown. Annie knew for certain that they had hooked up at least once — more than that if Ashley was telling the story.

In the time that it took for these thoughts to cross through her mind, Sam had led Annie through the house and they had run up to his bedroom. His mouth was on hers and her carefully chosen outfit was off her body and on the floor.

Soon, maybe too soon, Annie broke away.

“I can’t do this,” she told him. “I can’t do this… because of Ashley.”

“What, why?”

“You’ve been hooking up, and I can’t do this to her knowing that she might have feelings for you.”

“That was so long ago — you don’t get it. She’s irrelevant.”

But it was Sam who didn’t get it. It was so different for boys to hook up with their friends’ ex-girlfriends — they would laugh and deem themselves Eskimo brothers. But when a girl slept with her friend’s ex-boy? She got called a bitch.

Annie tried to explain this, but Sam clearly didn’t understand. Confusion clouded his face, and Annie was drunk and didn’t know how to say it better. She wanted him so badly, and she wanted him to know that — but it wasn’t enough and he wouldn’t believe her.

Annie gathered her clothes and got dressed, but Sam chased her into the hallway.

“Please stay — we can talk about this and figure it out.”

Annie left anyway.

That week, she confessed her feelings to Ashley. She told her how she felt about Sam, without revealing what had almost happened.

“Well,” Ashley had said, “I’m going to keep hooking up with him unless you tell him. If you have feelings for him, do something about it.”

Silence hung between them, and Annie could hear what Ashley hadn’t said aloud: “I don’t care how you feel.”

Annie had never risked hurting anyone’s feelings for a boy. She didn’t want that type of drama. Besides, boys were temporary and replaceable. They always had been. Though, now, Annie couldn’t help but wonder if the rules should have been different for this boy, who had been her best friend — who she hadn’t heard from in two weeks and who she used to talk to every day.

And, she couldn’t help but wonder if she had ruined it all.

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