“So, did you bang her last night or not?” Patrick crossed his arms and stared at his friend.
“What?” Jonathan swiveled his head around to look at him. “What are you even talking about?”
“You know exactly what, or rather who I’m talking about. You always crinkle your nose, when you lie. And don’t worry; I’m the only one who knows this.” Patrick’s lips curled up in a smile. “So, you did.”
“Well, I wouldn’t call it ‘bang’, but yes.” Jonathan sighed and looked around for a moment, if anybody was close to hear them talking like this.
“No, you wouldn’t. And you shouldn’t. Because for you, she’s not a one night stand or a woman you’ll just have fun with.”
“What do you mean?”
“You like her.” Patrick uncrossed his arms and grabbed the bottle of beer he’d put down on the table next to them. “You liked her right from the start; otherwise you wouldn’t have taken her home with you and offered to help her. I know you weren’t thinking about any of this when you wanted to help her, but she’s good for you. Being with her obviously makes you happy. Even Sharpie realized that.”
“Calm down.” Patrick grinned at his friend. “You arrived here with a big smile on your face and so did April.”
“Is it really that obvious?” Jonathan sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. He hadn’t thought that he’d been that bad. Sure, he didn’t smile like this all that often, but they couldn’t guess it from just his smile, could they?
“Don’t worry, not everybody sees that and it’s nobody’s business. If she makes you happy that’s the only thing that counts.”
Patrick was right. It was nobody’s business, but he still appreciated his friend’s opinion, because it mattered to him. The only problem was that Patrick hadn’t spent that much time with April. But that was about to change this evening. While Jonathan talked to a couple of the guys, Patrick got outside on the back porch to keep April company. She’d put on her coat to get some fresh air. The champagne she’d had, had made her a little fizzy. And it was so warm inside that the cold air out here was a blessing.
“Is it okay if I join you or do you want to be alone?” Patrick asked zipping up his coat and hiding his hands in the pockets.
April turned around to him, the tip of her nose pink from the cold, her cheeks flushed and a smile on her face. “Don’t be ridiculous! Of course it’s okay if you stay out here with me. I’d actually like that very much.”
Patrick took the place next to her, leaning against the railings to look into the garden. There were little lights put everywhere. It looked a little like fairies, at least that was what Abby had had in mind. “Are you getting used to living with Jonny?”
“I am. And I can’t tell you how thankful I am that he helped me.” April still looked at the garden. Whether she did that because she didn’t want to look at him or because the garden looked so beautiful, Patrick didn’t know. It didn’t really matter anyway.
“I hope he treats you right.” Patrick looked at her profile. She really was a beautiful girl, with curves in all the right places. She looked different from Amelia, thank God, and was just the girl he’d like to see at his best friend’s side.
“Are you kidding me?” With a smile on her lips, April turned towards him and looked in his eyes. “He treats me better than anybody has ever treated me in my whole life.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Should he tell her how much Jonathan cared about her? He wouldn’t tell her himself. Probably not in a million years. Just when he was about to tell her, she changed the subject.
“You look tired. Are you alright?”
“I haven’t been sleeping well for weeks. Nightmares.” So much for that. It was probably better that he hadn’t told her. Jonny would have killed him.
“I know what that’s like.” She sighed. A wry smile curved her lips the tiniest bit. “It helped me a lot to talk about it. I met someone at a bar a while back and we just started talking. Since then I haven’t had that many nightmares anymore. And lately I haven’t had any. So, if you want to talk, I’m here. And I won’t tell anyone. Promise.”
Should he talk to her? He didn’t have anything to lose. April was hardly one to judge him after the way she and Jonny had met.
“It’s a little bizarre for me to be honest.” He scratched his chin ad looked at the tress at the back of the garden. He didn’t want to look in her eyes while talking about this or he might stop. “I have this recurring dream. I’m talking to a woman, then we’re dancing or having a picnic or whatever. It’s always the same woman. Same voice, same infectious laugh, same hands, but I can’t see her face. All know is that I’m happy with this woman and then suddenly she’s taken away from me and I’m sucked into some kind of black hole. And then I wake up covered in sweat with my heart racing.”
He felt April’s hand on his shoulder before he even looked her way. Had he really just told her all that? Jonathan probably thought he’d been having completely different nightmares, which had been one reason not to tell him about this. It felt safe telling April about this, even though he hardly knew her.
“You want to know what I think or is it fine as it is?” She smiled up at him.
“I’d really like to hear what you think.”
“See, you meet a lot of girls, but this shows that you want to meet that one person that genuinely makes you happy. Not just for a night or two, but for a long time. You want that you want her, but at the same time you’re afraid that you’ll lose her. I guess you’re afraid that that might happen. And if it actually happens, it can tear you apart. I know what I’m talking about.” Since Patrick had told her about his problem, she should probably share her little story with him. “A few years ago, I was in love with someone. We were happy, but then he got in a horrible car crash and was taken away from me. Ever since then I’ve been scared of falling in love again, but then I met Dan, my ex-boyfriend. It hurts for some time, but it’s worth the try, Patrick.” She wouldn’t tell him that she’d never really loved Dan. She’d been attracted to him, had felt good with him, but love? Not really. But telling him that would destroy the positive bit in this story.”
“You might have a point.” Patrick would have to give this some serious thought. He kinda enjoyed his single life, but April was right. He wanted that happiness. The happiness that he’d seen on Jonathan’s face earlier.
“April?” The door to the porch opened and there he was. “Are you ready to go?”
“Just a second.” She turned to Patrick once more and gave him a quick hug. “Thank you.”
“No, no… Thank you! And enjoy your Christmas.”
She returned to Jonathan and said goodbye to everyone. It was already late and they all wanted to get some sleep. Well, maybe do some other things, but at least spend time alone. It had been fun to be with Jonny’s teammates and hear some stories, but April was happy to get home now. She’d maybe have a hot chocolate and take a bath or watch a bit of TV.
“What were you and Patrick talking about?” Jonny asked her when they got out of the car again.
“He asked me if you treated me right.” She wouldn’t tell him about the nightmares. There was probably a reason Patrick hadn’t talked to him about this.
“Really?” Jonathan laughed at that. “Well, that means he likes you. He’s watching out for you.” He unlocked the door and let April step inside before he followed. They took off their coats and shoes. April was just about to go to the kitchen, when Jonathan grabbed her wrist. “Not so fast. I want to give you your Christmas present?”
“What?” Slightly shocked she looked in his eyes. “No! I don’t have anything for you.”
“Having you here to talk to me is present enough.” He pecked her lips before handing her the envelope. “Go on. Open it.”
April looked at him for a moment longer before she opened it. Slowly she peered inside, then took the contents out of it. There were two tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s concert in Chicago in there. It was another three months until the concert, but she didn’t care. Her heart picked up its pace, making her gasp for air. She’d never been to a Springsteen concert. She’d always wanted to go, but never had the money or anybody who’d go with her. “Oh my God,” she mumbled to herself.
“I take it you like it?” Jonathan tried to hide his smile, but failed.
“I love it!” She put the envelope aside, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.