Seeing Ian’s face again felt like I was surfacing from being underwater. I couldn’t help but hug him for too long. We sat across from each other in this little deli near our office building, and he bought me a tomato and cheese sandwich.
“I would have gotten you something nicer, but I’m trying to be responsible with my money. And I’m totally broke.”
“No, it’s great. I love tomato and cheese sandwiches.” I wanted to tell him I didn’t give a flying fig about the sandwich or where we ate. I was just happy to see his face, and how he didn’t seem angry.
“The thing is,” he started, “my brother is a really good man. He’s got it together.”
“And he likes you, Aust3n. I asked him point blank. He said he did, but that it didn’t matter if I liked you.”
What could I say? I just tried to keep my mouth closed to keep the tomato from falling out. “And?” I asked quietly.
“And I’m moving to Portland. And you like him, too. I can tell. So.”
“-just listen. I’m not…I’m…My brother is a really good person.”
“You said that.”
“Let me get through this.” He looked away from me, into his lap. “He’s really good to his girlfriends. And from what he told me, he’s liked you for a long time.”
“I only have one brother. He’s pretty much my entire family. I need to do this, Aust3n, OK?”
I couldn’t say anything. I nodded, and then I got up and went to leave. It seemed like a cop out. He doesn’t want to be with me, so he shoves me off on his brother. “Aust3n,” he said after I stood up, “I really want to be your friend. Can we be friends?”
Friends? No. I hate him. I hate him and his stupid hipster face and his too big glasses and his broken-down Corolla and his moving-to-Portland ass. NO.
“Yes, of course,” I whispered.
He sighed. “Good. Then maybe we can hang out some time?”
“Mmm hmm,” I said and then got the hell out of there before I burst into tears. I made it onto the sidewalk, and then I called Molly in a panic.
“I know,” she said.
“Ian called me and told me. That’s why Boss was at the bar. There are like a million bars in this city. Didn’t you wonder how he ended up at the same one as us?”
I hung up on her. I officially hate her. She can join Ian in hell.
Then I spent the rest of the day at home, in my pajamas, eating a brick of Tillamook cheddar cheese.