Rick rolled out of bed and fought every instinct to leave before his friend woke up. He knew it would destroy his relationship with Aaron, something he would regret. The only question was if he would regret it more or less than what he was being asked to do.
Rick snagged a pair of sweatpants from the floor and pulled them over his naked body. He snatched a t-shirt from his duffle bag and put that on too. Then went in search of coffee, wishing he could have something a little stronger to go with it.
Aaron was leaning against the kitchen counter when Rick walked in. “Hey,” his friend said. “Want coffee?”
Rick nodded and accepted the cup Aaron handed him. “You’re up early.” Aaron nodded, not meeting Rick’s eyes. “You thought I was going to run.”
Aaron finally looked at his friend and Rick knew he was right. He wasn’t proud of it, but he accepted that he had intended to do exactly what his best friend feared. “I know I’m asking a lot of you.”
“Do you?” Rick snapped, his words harsher than he intended.
Aaron held his gaze for a few seconds, not backing down. Growing up they’d been like brothers, always there for each other. The night Rick left Aaron didn’t understand what was happening, but when Tara finally confessed, Aaron called Rick and threatened to kill him if he ever returned. He never did, but the men stayed in touch. Rick never mentioned Tara to Aaron, and Aaron never volunteered information.
Until the night before when Aaron told Rick exactly why he was back in town.
“I know this isn’t fair. If there was any other way I would have found it by now. It’s the only answer.”
“What makes you think she’s not going to rip my balls off?”
Aaron stared at his friend, the silence between them making Rick more and more uncomfortable. He didn’t know what he expected as an answer, but the next words to come out of his best friend’s mouth were the last words he thought he’d ever hear. “She loves you.”