He sounds bitter, angry almost, and it's his tone I pick up on first, before even letting the words sink in.
"Oh," is all I can say, my hand still on his arm. He's been avoiding my gaze, though now our eyes meet and I see a whole array of emotions in his. "Okay."
"Okay? Em, do you realise what this means?" There's more of that cold laugh in his voice, shaking his head almost violently. "He's my best friend, and he's in love with you."
I'm holding onto his arm tighter now, my other hand on his cheek, almost forcing him to look at me. "And he also loves you, so he'd never do anything to act on that. Besides, he's got Matt, and this is probably-"
"Not anymore," he breathes, "they broke up. That's probably why, or so he says. He's in love with you, Em, and I can't...."
All of this makes a lot of sense. The whole break up thing, mostly. Matt's sudden need to spend a lot of time sleeping, them not being as dynamic of a duo anymore. The way Brie avoided my gaze, how awkward he acted in the dare, or the way he acted when he actually walked in on me and saw me half-naked.
"Nothing will happen," I slide my thumb over the scruffy skin of his jaw, smiling weakly. "He shared it with you, which means he has no intention of acting on these feelings. Like he said himself, it's probably just him dealing with this whole messy break-up thing, Luce. He attached himself to the first woman his brain could think of, and it was me."
It must be difficult for him, dealing with heartbreak and seeing us happy and madly in love. Then, I get planted onto his lap in a sexual position, and he sees my breasts all over the course of twenty-four hours. I'm not sure if that played any part in him falling for me, or if the feelings were already there, and honestly I'm afraid to even think about it for much longer.
"That doesn't make it okay, though! None of this is okay! I had to force it out of him, pretty much, or he wouldn't have told me! He would have just lusted over you until he either grew out of it or he would've acted on it. I.. fuck, I can't believe this!" He truly seems angry, but more at the situation than at his friend. He knows, somewhere deep down, that it wouldn't be fair for him to hate his friend for this. We both know that love is something you have no control over, and that crushes can happen.
"Luce, baby," I'm moving his face again so we can look at each other, his eyes having drifted away to some place else. "This situation is difficult, but we've faced worse things. It's going to be fine. I love you, and no one else. Brie's just going to need some time."
He lets out a loud sigh, the fire in his eyes slowly having died a little, though I know it only takes a tiny flame to light it back up again.
"Did you tell him you were going to tell me?" I ask, carefully, now placing my other hand on his upper arm that feels weirdly tense.
"No," he mumbles. "I wasn't sure I was even going to. I... I've never been in this situation before. Sure, Brie has literally fucked my ex girlfriend, but that was different. He wasn't in love with her, she wasn't in love with me, it was all consensual and I was aware of it. But that was then, and this is now, and I can't deal with this right now."
"Then don't," I tell him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "Don't deal with it right now. Come back inside with me, have a glass of wine, let's sit by the fire, and then we'll go to bed early like I said before. We could both use a good night's rest, and we'll deal with it in the morning."
"How?" he asks, mind still visibly racing. "It's not like it's all going to be over tomorrow morning. I'm still going to have to spend time with him, be in the same house, know he might be dreaming about you, looking at you, thinking about you..."
"And you're going to have to trust that he won't. He has literally been avoiding me all day, and I know for a fact that he's trying his hardest not to let his mind wander. Brie is not like that, Luce, and if he does think about me, there's nothing you can do about it. All we can do right now is let it go, because we can't control what he feels. You and I both know," I smile at him, my thumb tracing across his lips, "you have no control who you fall in love with."
For the first time since he came back inside from his chat with Brie, I see a smile on his lips. It's a small one, and it's not one hundred percent convincing, but it's a smile.
"Maybe tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, you can decide what our next step is. Maybe talk to Matt, or see if the boys at least want to tell everyone they've broken up. It'll take a lot of the tension away, and they don't have to pretend anymore. I can't imagine it being easy, sleeping in the same bed as your ex just because you don't want to tell people you've broken up. Maybe, once that stress has dropped, so will Brie's feelings. And if not, we'll cross that bridge when we get there."
I kiss him, softly. The worry is still on his face, though he does a damn good job hiding it.
"Maybe we should at least set a rule of no more truth or dare," I joke, trying to clear the air. I'm not sure if it helps, though I spot another tiny smile. "The only man I want is you."

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