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It Was Always You

by Emma Rushlow 4 months ago in Love

The Sweetest Beginning

It Was Always You
Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash

“Hey,” I motioned to the waiter with my hand as I sat down on the tall bar stool. “Can I get,” I searched the wedding dessert menu in front of me with a numb expression. “A slice of chocolate cake, please?” The waiter nodded and walked to the back to get it. I sighed and laid my little black purse on the granite counter as I turned my seat to face the dance floor. Everyone was still eating their dessert, fortunately for me, no one had begun slow dancing. It was hard enough going to these weddings alone, where two people swore to devote their love and lives to each other. But seeing them dancing across the floor, looking into each other's eyes like that, it was just too much for me to take. The waiter came back with a little silver plate and a huge slice of cake. My mouth watered with expectations. I thanked him and reached for a fork, ready to eat my feelings, when suddenly…

“Natalie?” I heard a soft voice behind me and I didn’t need to turn to know who it was.

“Hey,” I took a bite of my cake, hearing the stool legs next to me squeal as someone sat down. Jack leaned against the counter and stared at me with a smirk.

“Whatcha doin?” I stuffed my face with another piece before looking at him.

“Eating my emotions. You?” He chuckled before motioning to the waiter. “I’ll take a piece of chocolate cake too.” Ever since second grade, we had both shared a common love of chocolate cake, nineteen years later and not much had changed. Jack rested his freshly shaved chin on his hand with his elbow, looking at me like he had most of my life.

“What?” I mumbled with a mouth full of icing.

“Nat, what’s wrong? Come on. Tell me,” I rolled my eyes.

“Nothing’s wrong. I just like cake.” He laughed.

“I know you like cake, but I’ve also been your best friend since we were 7.” He leaned closer as he always did when he wanted to let me know that he was there for me. “What’s wrong?” I sighed and jammed my fork into the rest of my slice.

“It’s just,” I swiveled my chair to face the dance floor again as an older couple began waltzing. “Them,” I pointed to the couple.

“You’re mad at the 90 year old’s dancing?” He had a hint of laughter in his voice.

“No, not them.” I shook my head and dipped my chin. “Love.” From the corner of my eye, I saw his expression soften just a little.

“You’re mad at love?” His voice was still gentle, but with a hint of sadness.

“Yeah.” I swallowed hard as I felt a throb in my throat. “Ever since Aaron and I broke up,” it had been over a year and his name still made me ache. “I just wonder if I’ll ever have that-” I pointed to the couple. “You know, that kind of love.” I felt a tear slide down my cheek, luckily it was the side away from Jack so I hoped he hadn't seen it.

“That make’s sense,” He wrapped an arm around me for support. “He hurt you. You deserve better, someone who will give you that kind of love.” My lips rose into a smile.

“Thank’s Jack,” I leaned my head on his shoulder and was surprised to hear his heart beating quicker. He sighed.

“Look, you deserve someone who knows you better than anyone else. Who knows that you love old Disney movies but not the remakes. That you love live plants but can’t keep them alive to save your life,” I laughed at his truthful insight but stopped when I heard his voice grow serious as his hand wrapped a little tighter around my shoulder. “Someone who knows that you are compassionate and understanding to every living thing. That you hold the door open for everyone at work. That you sent out ‘get well soon’ cookies to your neighbor's grandma who was in the hospital, and you didn’t even know her.” He smiled warmly. “That your beautiful smile is the best ‘good morning’ anyone could receive.” He pulled away to look me in the eyes. To my shock, I felt my heart start to race as he stared at me like that. He had never looked at me in that way before. His hands rested on my shoulders as he smiled. “You deserve someone who knows you inside and out.” He swallowed hard.

“Natalie,” He said my name like it was the oxygen to his lungs. The crowded room and music seemed to fade away as I met his gaze. “I have no idea how I’m saying this, but I know that I’m gonna go crazy if I don’t.” His chest rose and fell once before he continued. “I love you. I’ve always loved you. And, I guess I never wanted to ruin the incredible friendship we’d grown, so I didn’t say anything. But Natalie Blake,” he pulled me closer as his lips creased into a smile. “I’m in love with my best friend.” I saw the senserierity in his eyes as they filled with gentle tears. I brushed them away with my thumb before smiling as my heart pounded.

“Jack,” I whispered his name and wiped away my own tears. “Would you like to dance with me?” He chuckled and nodded, taking my hand and walking me gently to the dance floor as other people joined in, but I didn’t seem to notice anyone else. For the first time in my life, Jack was the only person I could see in a crowded room. I’m not sure if I was still in shock of what my best friend had just confessed or if I wanted the moment to last forever, but I didn’t say anything as we danced. Maybe I was too distracted by the rush of feelings that arose when his strong fingers wrapped around my waist. Or maybe I was overwhelmed with unexplainable emotions when he stared into my eyes like that. But as we swayed with the music, I felt a change come over us. A change that had taken nineteen years for me to see. But that night, I saw it. I felt it. The way he smiled at me, held me close to his chest… I didn’t know how I hadn’t seen it before. He loved me. Jack loved me. But did I love him? He had always been there for me. Through my parents divorce, through my highschool cancer scare, through my makeups and breakups; Jack was always there. I think part of me had always loved him. But now, knowing that he truly had deeper feelings for me than being my best friend, it made a difference to me. And as my heart rested in the gentle thought of loving Jack, I knew that there wasn’t anyone I’d rather spend my life with. Yes. I loved Jack. My heart filled with emotion as I leaned closer to his ear, whispering the words just loud enough for him to hear it.

“I love you too, Jack.” He gave me a quick glance of complete joy. I smiled back with more happiness than I’d ever known. As if by some magic force that had brought us together, our favorite 80’s love song began playing over the speaker. We both laughed at the coincidence but wrapped our arms around each other and continued dancing across the floor. He leaned in and kissed me on top of my head, sending warm chills down my spine.

“Thank you for waiting for me, Jack,” I pulled away to look at him. His eyes sparkled.

“I would’ve waited a lifetime for you.” And with that, we kissed. It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget. His soft lips pressed against mine was the first of many to come. We would get married two years later and raise a family together. He would be there for me as he always had, and I would be there for him. To this day, he is still my best friend and someone I couldn't imagine life without. It was at that wedding fifteen years ago, when I discovered that the one guy who knew me the best, with all my quirks and issues, who knew everything about me, that guy, loved me. And I loved him. And yes, we still both love chocolate cake.

Love

Emma Rushlow

I love writing and traveling 🌿

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Emma Rushlow
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