At Long Last
They were on the floor roughhousing. She squealed as his fingers tickled her side. She squirmed away and laughed as he caught hold of her shirt and dragged her back to his arms, only to have his fingers dance on her sensitive skin once again.
She flailed her legs as she playfully pushed against his arms to get him to quit tickling her. He wrapped his legs around her waist tightly so she couldn’t get away from him and tickled her even more.
She fought to catch her breath between bursts of laughter. She had tears in her eyes from laughing so hard and she was weak from laughter. She couldn’t fight him off anymore. She stopped resisting and curled up into a little ball, laughing with the last of her breath.
He finally stopped tickling her and wrapped his arms around her from behind in a bear hug. Her face was red from laughter and her sides hurt from his tickling. She relaxed in his arms as he buried his face in her hair. She was still trying to catch her breath between spurts of laughter when she heard him whisper, “I love you.”
Her laughter died. Her face fell blank. Her heart stopped. Had she head him right?
She slowly turned in his arms and looked at him. She stared at him for what seemed like forever with wide, questioning eyes. He could see her surprise and confusion and smiled.
“Did I hear you right?” she asked cautiously.
He gave a small chuckle and a loving smile, “I love being with you. I love every moment we share.” He looked deep into her eyes, his smile faded. He put his hand on her cheek, “I love you, Andrea. More than anything.”
She closed her eyes before a tear could fall. She could feel the warmth of his hand on her cheek and leaned into it. She lifted her head just enough to gently kiss his fingers and opened her eyes. He was watching her with wet eyes.
She finally smiled and put her own hand on his cheek.
Oh how she had wanted to hear those words! Oh how she had waited patiently, adoring him from afar, hoping that he would never see that her friendship was actually more. She had watched him for years, going in and out of girlfriends. She was always there to support him, giving him an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. Each time her heart had broken to see him so hurt. How she wished during those long years to tell him how she truly felt.
She had always been thankful for being his friend. They were the closest friends any friend could be. Everyone always teased them about being married or being brother and sister because they were so close. Even though he had many girlfriends throughout the years, she always knew that she had a special place in his heart. He always told her that she was closer than any girlfriend could ever be. She treasured her friendship with him, which was why she never wanted to risk it by telling him her true feelings.
But here he was, telling her that he loved her. She could read in his eyes that he, at long last, felt the same towards her. A tear finally fell from her eye and ran down her cheek. He softly brushed it away with his thumb never breaking his gaze from her green eyes.
She smiled. After all these years she finally let these words touch her lips, “I love you, Mark. I’ve always loved you.”
“I know,” he said softly as he wrapped her in his arms and held her tight.