1. Mandy's Point of View
When Mike pulled up his sleeve, when he revealed the design he'd been hiding from me for months, my vision went fuzzy.
I was actually thankful for the disturbance.
I didn't want to look at it.
Not when it was on him.
This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.
I was supposed to find a sexy stranger and get to know him, little by little.
I was meant to meet his family and ask him about his dreams and take him skiing with me.
I already did all those things with Mike.
We already knew everything about each other.
What fun would falling in love with him be?
I lunged forward, tumbling off my bed, and grabbed his wrist.
He didn't move, even when I used my own sleeve to rub at the design, testing its permanence.
It had to be a phony, right?
Mike had just rambled on about how some men fake their designs to get laid.
But he would never trick me, so...
I guess we were meant to be.
Why were the two of us considered soulmates?
Why was he destined to be my husband?
Why was the last thing I wanted to happen actually happening?
I loved him like a friend, not like a lover.
Instead of asking one of the offensive questions swirling through my head, I just asked, "Why would you hide that from me?"
"It's only been a week.
I haven't been hiding it," he said, but he yanked down his sleeve as he said it.
"Well, you didn't show me right away."
"Well, you've seen it now."
I placed my forearm against his to compare the designs.
The touch didn't send a jolt of electricity through me.
It didn't make my heart flutter or my palms sweat.
That's why I scrutinized every line and curve of the image.
After a pregnant pause, I said, "Look at that second leaf.
Do you see it?
On the olive branch.
Yours looks a little bigger than mine.
Maybe they aren't the same."
He shook his head, laughing in the way he always did when he was pissed.
I pulled my arm back, biting down on my lip until I left indents in it.
I felt like a bitch for upsetting him.
He was my best friend.
I didn't want to lose him.
But I definitely didn't want him as a boyfriend, either.
I doubt he wanted me to be his girlfriend, anyway.