Your eyes dart up to the door, and then between Michaela and Peyton.

 

You arch your brow suspiciously, more so at the former. “You have more stuff planned?”

 

“Nuh uh,” she shakes her head as she takes another sip. “You expecting someone?”

 

You promptly set the highly-disconcerting paper aside, groaning as you struggle to your half-asleep feet. “Not even a little bit.”

 

Another knock follows.

 

“Just a sec!” you call out, worming your way to the door.

 

You swing it open…and your mind stops dead in its tracks.

 

Adam stands in front of your entryway with a soft, endearing grin on his face—and a colorful gift bag in his hand.

 

A burst of sobriety quickly douses your champagne-fogged brain.

 

“Adam…hi,” is all you can manage, staring blankly at him.

 

This day is just full of surprises.

 

“Hey,” he waves, hints of nervousness lacing his signature, dimpled smile.

 

Your eyes search his, asking the question that seems to evade your lips.

 

“Sorry for showing up without calling first,” he offers perceptively—and sheepishly—holding the gift bag up to you. “I wanted to offer my congratulations. I heard you landed the Earth Capital internship. That’s major.”

 

“Oh…thank you,” you breathe, your fingers grazing his as you take it from him, still stunned that he’s shown up here—and more so that he knows about Earth Cap. You never even told him you applied.

 

Impulsively, you whip your head around, your eyes narrowing at Michaela accusingly, figuring she must be the culprit. She stares back at you unfazed and shrugs, a wide, amused smile plastered across her face.

 

You grit your teeth, forcing a smile of your own as you turn your attention back to Adam.

 

“You really didn’t have to. Please come in,” you step back, gesturing for him to enter.

 

His gaze briefly darts over your head, clearly noticing Michaela and Peyton before meeting yours again.

 

“Thanks, but I can’t really stay. I just wanted to drop by to tell you in person.”

 

“Oh…I see,” you mumble, your tone involuntarily betraying the words that carry it, unveiling a tad bit of disappointment. While his presence is completely unexpected, it’s certainly not unwelcomed.

 

Now you’re the one who feels sheepish. “Sorry for not saying anything before,” you offer, suddenly apologetic. “I was going to call you to let you know.”

 

He smiles warmly, a lick of surprise flashing in his eyes.

 

You fiddle inconspicuously with the gift bag handle, realizing that you really should have told him about it as soon as you got your acceptance letter.

 

“But don’t worry,” you assure. “It won’t affect my duties or position as VP. I’ll still be involved in all activities and be present for every organized event, even if most of our day-to-day correspondence will be over the phone and email.”

 

His countenance seems to fall ever so slightly. “That’s all right. It can’t be helped.”

 

There’s a brief but noticeable—and slightly uncomfortable—pause and, suddenly, it feels a bit weird, like neither of you knows what to say next. Just as you’re about to open your mouth to ask him if he’s sure he doesn’t want to come in, he beats you to the punch.

 

“I’m really proud of you, Connie,” he smiles again, and you feel your heart swell when you see the candidness in his eyes. “See you later,” he waves, starting down the hallway.

 

“Later, Adam,” you whisper after him, unsure if he can even hear you and, soon, he’s completely out of sight, disappearing into an elevator.

 

In a matter of minutes, he’s come and gone. In and out.

 

Well…out and out.

 

It’s so out of the blue. And, even though he seemed fairly mellow, the visit feels….hasty, somehow.

 

Inconclusive.

 

You close the door behind you, and when you turn back to face the other occupants of the apartment, they both have these stupid, knowing smirks on their faces, both their gazes latched onto you.

 

“What?” you frown, more than a little thrown off by their sudden, intense stares.

 

Pshhh,” Michaela scoffs. “As if you don’t know.”

 

Your grimace deepens, your forehead creasing in confusion. It’s like it’s the only thing you’re supposed to feel today.

 

“What?!” You search her eyes, and then Peyton’s, hoping to get clarity on whatever it is they’re alluding to in the more reasonable and logical of the two.

 

But Pey sighs as though you’re a lost cause, her shoulders physically slouching, seemingly for dramatic effect. Michaela seems to be rubbing off on her quite a bit today. Maybe it’s the champagne.

 

You certainly hope so.

 

You can’t even begin to imagine consistently dealing with two Michaelas.

 

Tell me you didn’t see the way he was looking at you,” Pey raises a flawless brow emphatically, her gaze serious.

 

You instantly scoff, incredulous beyond belief. “Wh-what? What the hell are you talking about?” You eye your best friend like she just grew another head, and when she stares back like nothing is out of the ordinary, your eyes flick over to Michaela. “And why did you invite him without telling me?”

 

“I didn’t invite him, I swear,” she insists. “I was just as surprised as you, but at the same time, not really.”

 

You set Adam’s gift bag on the table, looking inside. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“He’s obviously into you,” she huffs, like she’s dealing with a difficult child. “Of course, he’d show up to support you.”

 

You shake your head genuinely. “You couldn’t be more wrong.”

 

You reach inside, pulling out a gorgeously-constructed, biodegradable container of organic, fair-trade coffee.

 

Woah…

 

You recognize the high-end brand instantly, your eyebrows damn near shooting off your face as you regard the extra-large package.

 

Last you checked, just the sample sizes of this stuff cost damn near thirty bucks a piece.

 

You can’t believe he went all out and got something so expensive for you. You can already feel your taste buds cheering, your mouth watering in anticipation from the powerful aroma alone. You set it down delicately, reaching inside the gift bag for the other item. You pull out a large box, pleasantly surprised as you read the label.

 

HOME GARDENING KIT

 

Your eyes drift lower, settling on the highlighted text and imagery. You can’t stop the wide, befitting smile that hijacks your lips.

 

Tulips.

 

My favorite

 

You must have mentioned it in passing at some point, probably years ago.

 

You can’t believe he remembered.

 

“Adam’s just a friend.” It’s such a considerate gesture, especially since you’re not particularly close. “A really good friend.”

 

“I’ll bet,” Michaela drawls with a wicked smirk.

 

“It’s so not like that,” you sigh, irritated by the insinuation only because you know that, if anything, the opposite is true.

 

Just when I think I’m totally over you, you go and do something like this…

 

You exhale again, conflicted over your new presents; simultaneously loving them and hating that you love them so much. Aside from Peyton, you don’t think you’ve ever received such remarkably thoughtful gifts from anyone before.

 

“Then why did he come over here with a whole bag o’ goodies when he could’ve just called?” she pushes, not leaving it alone.

 

“Because he’s a kind, generous person,” you gripe defensively. “Seriously, he’s cool like that. He’d do this for anyone in the group.”

 

You’re certain of the words you tell your cousin, and yet, somehow feel a strange, subtle sense of disappointment knowing that that’s the truth.

 

Michaela arches her brow, unconvinced. “Are you sure?”

 

You can’t suppress the exaggerated huff that propels out of you, your head tilting all the way back as you roll your eyes, both tired of and baffled by this line of questioning that you can’t even voice the countering “Are you serious?” tap-dancing on the tip of your tongue.

 

But clearly, your reaction doesn’t faze Michaela. “Groan all you want, freckles. Did you see how disappointed he was when he saw us?”

 

“I know!” Peyton chimes in. “Poor guy. He was totally hoping you’d be home alone.”

 

You can’t stop yourself from rolling your eyes yet again, floored by how ridiculous they both sound.

 

“I really hate to burst your delusional bubbles but I’ll have you know, Adam has a girlfriend.”

 

There. That should shut them up.

 

“Uh huh,” Michaela quips. “And I bet Adam’s in the mood for some forbidden fruit.”

 

Pey inserts a playful whistle. “Dayum. I guess all those years of Sunday school and Bible study paid off, sister!”

 

You can’t stop yourself from getting in on the amusement even though they just blatantly ignored your statement about his relationship status and its clear implication of him being both unavailable and off-limits.

 

“Did you even hear what I just said?” you choke through punctuated chuckles, almost actually choking on some champagne in the process.

 

More jokes and sexual puns at Adam’s expense and yours are made and even more laughter erupts as a result. You eventually give up on talking about him altogether, never mind trying to convince these two crazies that your relationship is strictly platonic.

 

“Whatever,” you wave them off before reaching for the deck of cards, taking another swig from the champagne bottle. You raise it in celebration, getting back to your pre-Adam activities.

 

“Another round of donkey poker!”

 

The pair chorus in unison, finally conceding to something you say.

 

“Hear, hear!”

 

***

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