You nod at James to let him know it’s okay to go off and talk to Jessica because Ben clearly wanted to talk to you as well. James kisses you on the cheek before getting up and leaving and the feel of his lips leave your cheek burning. When Ben sits down beside you the awkward feeling in the air is very clear but it’s better now to get this conversation out the way then to leave it lingering. You drink the last of your wine and try to relax. You’ve never been any good at confrontation so this is not something you are going to enjoy. You sit in silence and watch the waves waiting for him to talk first.
“So you and James eh?,” this is the exact thing you wanted to avoid and you keep your eyes locked on the water. Making a point to show how uncomfortable you are and hoping that Ben will get the idea.
“Yeah,” you reply, keeping it short.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” he turns your face so you’re forced to look into his eyes.
“I know what I’m doing Ben. I’m not stupid”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just care about you is all. I want to make sure you’re happy,” you feel bad for causing him pain. It’s clear in his face that he loves you and you wish he didn’t. You wished so much for him to stop hurting, you know what that feels like, and you wouldn’t want anyone else to feel the way you did.
“I am happy Ben. And I’m so, so sorry. I never meant to hurt you again,” you make sure to keep your eyes on his this time, just to prove you mean it. He sighs and you instantly feel guilty. He lifts up his hand and strokes your cheek, normally you would push him away, but you don’t want to cause him anymore pain.
“Well if you’re happy, I’m happy,” he keeps his hand on your cheek and you feel guilty. Almost as if you’re cheating on James. You smile at Ben and try to turn your face away hoping he’ll get the idea. He doesn’t. Instead he leans his head in closer and kisses you. You don’t kiss back and when you lean away he sits up and sighs.
“You know I’m always here for you Autumn,” he looks at you straight in the eye but then smiles, “And you know, if you and James don’t work out, you know where I am.” With that he gets up and walks back towards the house.
“Thanks Ben,” you shout after him. He might not be James, but he was still your friend and this time you weren’t going to forget it.
You pull the blanket up around you and wait for James to return. You can’t help but let your mind wander, without Ben there as a distraction your mind was coming up with all sorts of ideas. You just hope that it was the one where James tells Jessica to go home that was true.