Eric handed him a mug of coffee—triple milk with two sugars—and he took a grateful sip. He was worried about Jenna. She was quiet and chewing on her lip. Both were indicators that she was overthinking—making mountains out of mole hills as his mother would say.
“Sweetheart?” he asked quietly.
She turned to him. “Please tell me you thought about how hard this is going to be? Eric, I believe, understands, but I don’t know that you do.”
“Of course I’ve thought about it, but it shouldn’t matter to anyone who we love.”
She shook her head. “Oh my god, you really haven’t considered this.”
Eric laid a reassuring hand on Jenna’s shoulder. “He has, he just has a different perception.”
She shook her head. “That’s not good enough. We need to be on the same page because we all have very different perspectives. I had already heard the rumors about you two. And trust me, you two came off looking like ‘big men’ or total studs, whereas the girls you dated were described in less glowing terms.”
Luke felt his mouth drop open. He had no idea that anyone had been talking. “I didn’t know anyone was talking about them. We tried to be discreet and they weren’t…” He couldn’t even bring himself to say the word.
Jenna rolled her eyes at him. “Of course they weren’t. And neither am I,” she said as she dramatically drew her hands in to point to herself. “But people talked enough that even your mother knew. I learned a long time ago that we don’t get to write our own narrative.”
Luke sighed. He wanted to argue, but he knew they would look at his parents and friends and accuse him of being sheltered. He wished they would have told him what was being said behind their backs.
He ran a hand through his hair. He wanted to believe this could work, but what if he was wrong? What if the only way the three of them could be together was to hide it? Can we live with that? he wondered, already knowing he couldn’t. He wanted more.
“I don’t want to hide this,” he told them.
“Wouldn’t be possible anyway.” She shrugged. “Some people already think because Eric’s back, naturally the three of us are together. The only thing keeping the tongues from wagging is that we’ve given them so little fuel for the fire.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Eric asked and Luke realized he hadn’t stopped touching her. He was scared to let her go, scared as he was that she’d run.
“I wasn’t sure what you wanted. What you both wanted.” She leaned forward and rested her forehead on her hands, looking weary of it all. “We’ve been doing really well as friends all summer.”
“You’ve been thinking about this a lot?” Luke said, slumping down into the chair next to her.
“I’ve been thinking about little else.”