Two bottles of wine lay discarded on the floor, and two empty mason jars sat on the coffee table. The warmth that came with being wine drunk was the reason that I found myself entwined with CJ on the couch. The thought that kept gnawing at me as I felt CJ's hand trail around my thigh was that maybe it wasn't just the wine. If the CJ and Kaitlyn of last year would be on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother on a Thursday night, CJ would have had his arm around me, and I would have my head on his shoulder if I was getting sleepy.
But this was the new CJ and Kaitlyn, friendship heightened by the fact that 1. CJ had admitted to having feelings for me and 2. CJ and Sarah were not talking, which put me at the top of his priority list. The hour was growing later, and my roommates had already returned from their Thursday bar adventures to find us cuddled up underneath a blanket on the couch. None of them batted an eyelash, except for Emily, the only roommate not to live in the house last year. Her and her boyfriend Tyler gave us a curious look when they arrived, and I was glad we had the blanket to disguise that underneath we were holding hands. Not just holding hands like we would do while dancing, like fingers wound around each other's. We were also not just holding hands, our legs were wrapped up like we were playing an elaborate game of twister where the goal was to have the most contact with the other person. CJ's arm was around my leg, and his hand kept exploring from my ankle to my upper thigh. My free arm was wrapped around his waist, where it settled on the exposed bit of skin between the waistband of his jeans and the folds of his t-shirt.
If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was turn his head to the left and our lips would have met.
All six of my roommates had left for the bars again, which left only CJ and I alone in the house. Out of the entire apartment, we were both laying on my twin bed. Sam Smith's album was playing from my laptop which was abandoned on the floor in favor of the two of us laying inches across from each other. We were talking and laughing and occasionally wrestling. In a moment where the entire empty house was filled with laughter, CJ had tried to throw me over the edge of the bed, only to end up on the floor with me. We were crumpled on the ground, and I felt my abs clench with laughter. I had my best friend back.
But there was something about our physical proximity that made it feel like we couldn't just call each other best friends. We were studying each other, both in the words we were saying, and with gazes that couldn't look anywhere else than right into the other's eyes. If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was lean three inches forward and our lips would have met.
"Do you guys need a moment? I can go to the bathroom, or something?" Cassie said with a teasing grin.
CJ and I were sitting across his kitchen table from our friend Cassie. It was the infamous ballroom Guys and Girls Night, and Cassie and I had stopped in at Girl's Night just long enough to shove three bottles of wine in my purse and grab pizza and cookies. Armed with food and drink, we took a few block's walk to CJ's house to hang out before the entire team got together for the real festivities at the end.
You know when a boy had a crush on your in elementary school and he would constantly be mean to you to hide his affection? That was CJ and I throwing insults at each other which eventually resulted in CJ biting my arm, trying to shove my lipstick out of my hands as I slicked a coat of deep plum on my lips when we got ready to go to the party, and me shoving a drunk CJ backwards out of his chair and onto the floor.
We returned to the party just in time for me to hop in on leaning the dance that the girls did when the guys would join us. A few minutes later, the guys trooped down the street to the ballroom house and the girls gathered on the lawn and I found myself in the front row to perform our racy dance routine to Buttons by The Pussycat Dolls that involved unbuttoning a shirt. The guys all sang I Want It That Way by The Backstreet Boys, and at the end of the routine, each guy produced a red carnation from behind his back. A nervous newcomer reached out and gave me his carnation, and I blew him a kiss in thanks.
I found CJ sitting on the porch, polishing off a bottle of wine, "Why did you guys use those shirts if you didn't actually take them off?"
"I don't know, I didn't do the choreo," I shrugged, pulling my white A&F button down tighter over my gold dress in the chill of the January evening, "If I did the choreo for this thing, it would be so much sexier."
"You can't use yourself and sexy in the same sentence," CJ teased, his familiar smile spreading across his entire face.
"You are such a little bitch!"
"Do something sexy with that shirt, I bet you can't."
"CJ!" I giggled, crossing my arms firmly across my chest as CJ wrapped his legs around mine and pulled me closer. When he reached for my hand, he grabbed the one that clutched my carnation and accidentally popped off the top of the flower, "YOU BROKE MY FLOWER!"
I was conscious of the people going into and out of the party who were passing us on the porch as we stood closer than any pair of friends should.
A little while later, we had left the cold and parted ways to enjoy the many offerings of ballroom parties, but it wasn't long until I felt a hand wrap around my waist and I found myself at CJ's side once again.
"Let's go dance," I said with a tempting smile, and without even finishing his conversation, he pulled me onto the dance floor.
Even with the small amount of room that we had, he spun me around, and following him felt as natural as breathing. If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was lean down as he dipped me and our lips would have met.
I was sitting at my desk, watching the snow come down in endless sheets as I saw CJ's familiar car pull up in front. He had offered to drive me to work in the current snowstorm so I didn't have to take the bus. Really, I knew he was 1. still trying to make up for the summer of not talking to me or 2. wanted an excuse to see me.
When I let him in the door, my heart stopped a little bit.
"Sorry for breaking your flower last night," CJ held out a single red rose.
"CJ, you didn't have to," I cocked my head, studying him.
He shrugged simply, and our eyes met.
"Thank you," I smiled.
One shift of work and 3/4 of the super bowl later, CJ and I left a party together to do homework, which was interrupted by the announcement of a snow day tomorrow. We cracked open a couple beers a second later, and popped on How I Met Your Mother after finishing our homework. Just like Thursday, we were snuggled under a blanket. Unlike Thursday, we cuddled up in a way that was more friendly, less thigh-touching this time.
When drowsiness began to overtake us, CJ followed me to my room, finishing our conversation as I pulled back my bed.
If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was pull me into him, the red rose glowing bright in his peripheral vision, and our lips would have met.
The floor boards were creaking. I sat bolt upright in bed just in time to see CJ preparing to strike with a pillow in hand.
"Nice try," I smiled sleepily, reaching around for my glasses on the bedside table and watched CJ's form come into focus. His wavy black hair was sticking up in the untidy way it did when whenever he just woke up.
My dryer was broken. My laundry had been piling up for the past few weeks and today CJ and I decided we were going to use our snow day for laundry day. After I showered and made us a breakfast of fried eggs, turkey bacon, and spinach on honey wheat bagels, I grabbed my bags of dirty clothes and we went back to CJ's house.
Unfortunately for us, the foot of snow that had been dumped upon us last night was completely covering the door to CJ's basement. CJ showered as I began some homework and we headed to the laundromat, CJ armed with an entire semester's worth of dirty clothes and me with my two A&F bags worth of laundry.
"Can you read over this cover letter for me?" CJ asked me when we got all of our laundry going, "I actually give a shit about this job and you can write."
"Let me see it," I said and CJ slid his laptop across the table to me, "Oh God CJ, this is really bad, you suck at writing."
"Help me, history major," CJ gave me a pleading smile.
I read it over again, "Can I just rewrite the entire thing?"
"Yes, please! Go to town!"
And as the washers spun behind us, I rewrote the cover letter, occasionally asking CJ to clarify what he was trying to say.
Twenty four minutes later when we went to go switch our laundry to the dryers, I put on a concluding sentence, "Done."
CJ slid over onto the bench next to me, putting his arm across my shoulders, and reading, "That's so much better than mine."
I raised an eyebrow, "You're welcome."
"Thank you, Kaitlyn, you're the best," CJ put his other arm around me and squeezed me tight.
"If you get an interview for this job, I take full credit," I smirked.
There was something about having that one guy friend who you give no shits about. And by give no shits about, I mean I didn't care that he was across the table from me as I folded my underwear. He was that friend who I didn't care if I popped my retainers in in front of before we went to bed. This morning I had walked out of my bedroom wearing my pjs and no bra and didn't care (not completely true but my bathrobe was in the bathroom so I had no choice). Twice since the rejuvenation of our friendship had CJ walked out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel in front of me. Our own nonchalantness seemed to fit our accidental friendship.
"Let's go do work back at my house," CJ said as we finished folding our laundry, "You made breakfast, so I'll make dinner."
"Deal," I smiled.
CJ set to work in the kitchen while I played all of the music from my iTunes that I had wanted to share with him for the past eight months of not talking. When we finished eating, we set to work getting our homework done. Sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, I let the magnitude of the past few days sink in: the past two days had been back to friend-status, but the two before that... CJ seemed to put a toe over the line. Thursday was the day that scared me: according to my roommate Lindsey, Emily's boy toy, Tyler, had said to them, "I didn't know Kaitlyn had a boyfriend." after seeing CJ and I together. And then Saturday at the ballroom party, one of my friends had asked me if CJ was single.
I chucked the book I was supposed to be reading down on the table and yanked my laptop toward me. In a flurry of anguish, I opened blogger and began to write.
"I think it's getting colder in here," CJ said a bit later.
I shrugged, "I'm fine," CJ had given me a blanket to warm up for him while he was cooking and I was still wrapped up in it, "Do you want the blanket?"
"Now I feel bad taking it away from you," CJ sighed.
"You could go get another blanket," I nodded my head toward his bedroom.
"But that's so far," CJ rolled his eyes, "Better idea," CJ pulled his chair over to my side of the table and I have never closed out of the blogger tab so fast in my entire life.
When I let CJ have some of the blanket, I grudgingly picked up my textbook and began to read; my thoughts flying so far from the content of "The Beginnings of Big Business."
I kept asking myself the same question: we might be just friends today, but what would tomorrow bring?