It was only 3 weeks into the summer and Gage Matthews was in love with her best friend’s boyfriend.
Sullivan was the kind of cliche guy who was captain of the soccer team, but also had amazing grades. In school his own miniature fan club followed him around the halls, blushing when any amount of eye contact was made. His smile was like a cool breeze on a scorching hot day. It was refreshing and made your legs feel weak and wobbly. Sullivan strictly wore khaki pants with a wide selection of sweatshirts. But the most attractive part of him, was that he wasn't obsessed with his ego. It didn’t matter if his fellow teammates saw him studying hard in the library. It was the self confidence that made his looks ten times hotter.
Gage’s best friend, Kelly Anderson, had the great privilege of being his girlfriend since just last year. Of the two girls, Kelly was more of the letting loose and going to parties one. She was gorgeous with her high cheekbones, flawless skin, and full lips. At one of those stuffy and overcrowded parties was where Kelly and Sullivan met for the first time. Shortly after, they made the relationship official.
Hoping she could make a few extra dollars this summer, Gage managed to snag a job at Sullivan’s Ice Cream Parlor. The Roger’s had named the local shop after their son, who would end up making her next few weeks a rush of emotion. As the first few days on the job rolled by, the two started talking and discovering things about each other that most people didn’t know. Maybe it was because he was off limits, but Gage started liking Sullivan more and more as they hung out. Had that light brown birthmark always been on the edge of his amazingly defined jawline? He made her stomach turn and her hands feel sticky. This was going to be a harder job than she planned for.
She had told him that Harvard was her dream college and that waiting for the letter was excruciating. He listened intently, staring right at her face with the most purest look coming out of those soft brown eyes. It wasn’t until one night in early July while they were closing up the shop, that Sullivan told her something that would cause a feeling inside of her.
He put down the mop that he was using to clean the floor with and took a seat on a nearby stool. As he brushed his hair out of his face, he had a look that showed he was contemplating whether or not to actually say it. After a deep breath, he said, “My dad has this whole plan for me after I graduate from high school. He wants me to take over the business completely.”
“Wow that’s a big deal, running this all on your own.” Gage replied.
“I’ve never told anyone this, but I want to go to law school and get my degree. I don’t want to be stuck in this town while people like you are taking chances out in the world.”
When he said people like you, Gage could only imagine what he meant. Was he feeling this odd connection between them too, or was it just her? She knew he would never cheat on a Kelly, and she wouldn’t do that to her friend either. But she couldn’t help how she felt.
A week passed, filled with meaningful discussions and ending with a smile and a ‘See ya later’. After many shifts of trying to convince Sullivan, she finally got him to agree to apply for Harvard Law school. The conversation ended with Sullivan telling her that he was so glad to have her working at the parlor this summer. Gage left with a big smile on her face, feeling light butterflies in her stomach.
Realizing that it had been so long since she hung out with Kelly, she decided to head over there. They had that kind of relationship, where one could just show up whenever they wanted. Maybe she didn’t completely realize that as junior year came closer, Kelly was changing. There were multiple instagram posts showing her friend drunk as hell and Gage didn’t know how to approach Kelly about it.
Once through the front door, she headed up the stairs. The bedroom door was closed, so by habit she opened it without knocking. Immediately wishing she had, there on the other side was Kelly on her bed making out with Tom Davis, the supposedly hottie of the school. As fast as her legs could go, Gage was down the stairs and running out the door. Driving away, she tried extremely hard to pay attention to the road, but her head was full of unanswered questions.
In the confinement of her car she screamed, “Why would she cheat on Sullivan?! Did either of them see me? Why didn’t Kelly tell me about this? We tell each other everything!!” But the most important question that she was thinking was, “Should I tell Sullivan?”
Without even realizing it, she had driven all the way to his house. Before doing anything else she cracked her knuckles and thought through the situation. Checking her phone, there were no messages from Kelly. Which means she hadn’t taken a break from kissing to realize that Gage had seen her cheating. This was her best friend from 1st grade, could she really break her and her boyfriend up? She was conflicted between her childhood bestie, and a boy who was slowly stealing her heart. But really the only option was the truth, it would be even worst if Sullivan went on not knowing.
After a lot of self-debating Gage decided to tell Sullivan, but then realized that she had no evidence. As fast as her little convertible could go, she sped back to Kelly’s house in hopes of getting a picture to show him. Luckily the two lovebirds were still unaware of anything around them. Making it easy for Gage to tip toe inside and snap a picture before running out just like last time.
On the way to Sullivan’s house for the second time that day, she couldn’t believe she was about to do this. If it ever got to Kelly of what Gage did, their friendship would be as good as gone.
Even after he opened the door, her heart was pounding so loudly that she thought she was still knocking. He looked at her a little puzzled, he had definitely just woken up from a nap. The left side of his hair was matted down and he had lines on his cheek from where the creases of the pillow made imprints. But as Sullivan started to realize his surroundings, the groggy look was replaced by that bright smile Gage had come to know so well.
“You just can’t get enough of me, huh?” laughing lightly to himself.
“You wish,” Gage tried to hide her rosey red cheeks, “I have something really awkward and hard to tell you.”
“Oh no, you have me worried.” Sullivan replied, still smiling.
She whips out her phone and turns the screen towards him, “I’m so sorry but today I went to Kelly’s house and I saw her kissing Tom, I don’t know why she would do this, and I can’t believe I have to tell you but I thought you have a right to know.”
Sullivan stood there in silence staring at the picture, his smile was long gone. In this moment all she wanted was to see that familiar glint in the corner of his left eye, reassuring her that he was okay. No such luck.
He took a deep breath and said, “Thank you Gage, for having the courage to tell me even though it’s your best friend. I’m really glad someone is looking out for me.” And with that he walked back into the house shutting the door behind him.
There was a part of her that wanted to be invited in, but she knew that he needed his space. For the next two weeks, Sullivan didn’t come to work. Time was spent waiting for a letter from Harvard, and trying to avoid Kelly. Gage has thought long and hard about what her feelings are and how to handle them. She knew they needed to be said out loud in order to get rid of this nervous feeling built up inside.
4 days later Gage walked into work with the greatest smile on her face, when she got inside it grew even bigger.
“I didn’t think you missed me that much Matthews,” says Sullivan, standing behind the counter.
She runs around and engulfs him in a hug, he’s taller than her but it still feels right. He smells of Old Spice and some other scent that is special to him. His grip is firm and it makes her feel safe and warm. It doesn’t matter that a customer walked in the door. It doesn’t matter that Kelly just pulled into the parking lot. This moment is perfect, and nothing was going to ruin it.
Gage looks up into the eyes she loves so dearly and says, “I got into Harvard. But most importantly… I love you.”