At Mattie's, she took one look at my face and asked, "What happened?"
I smiled to her as the tears welled in my eyes.
"Is everything okay?" she asked. "Did something happen between you and Tris?"
"No. Yes. I don't know."
"What is it?" she asked as she wrapped her arms around me. "Come on, let's sit down." Mattie led me to her couch. "Tell me what happened."
I sighed. "I'm not really upset. I'm just confused more than anything. Unsettled, even. But I am still happy and peaceful. It's weird."
"Okay," Mattie said, looking at me. "Start at the beginning."
"All right. I was at Brent's house and we were playing video games and talking. I told you about why we play games and nothing else, right?"
"Yeah. Watching a movie or something would seem weird."
"Yeah. Brent doesn't want me to get the wrong idea. Anyway, we were playing games and I stopped to take a break. He kissed me and…"
"What?!" Mattie shouted. "He kissed you?! That creep!"
"Yeah, well, I kissed him back before I realized what I was doing. Once I did, I put a stop to it. I got up and left and went to Tristan's and told him about what had happened. I apologized the whole time, and he was so understanding. He is amazing. I love him, and I feel so bad because of the whole thing with Brent."
"But he accepted it?"
"He didn't even seem fazed by it. He said he understood the whole thing. He told me later that he really feels that I am not to blame and that he understands it because," I paused for a moment and sighed, "because he feels the same way about Caitlin. That was somewhat reassuring, but I don't know. I love him and I trust him, but I don't know. His behavior puzzles me. I'm unsettled by the whole thing."
"What else happened to unsettle you? I know you aren't telling me everything," Mattie said, looking at me.
"The part that I guess I should be happy about. After I told Tristan what happened, we had sex."
"Oh my God!" Mattie's mouth dropped. "Oh my God! You didn't!"
"I did. Was that bad?"
"No, I don't think so. I am just, as weird as this is, I am so happy for you!" Mattie leaned across the couch and hugged me. "I knew it was coming."
"So what do you think of this whole situation?" I asked her.
"Two things. First, I think it was good, for the most part. Things between you and Brent have definitely changed, and things might be tense."
"There is no 'might' about that."
"Anyway, Brent served as a catalyst for you and Tristan. He forced you to change, to take that step forward. He pushed you closer to Tristan, physically and emotionally. Both of you opened up to each other. It began weeks ago. It took Brent as a threat to Tristan for him to tell you that he loved you. Did you notice that?" Mattie didn't give me a chance to answer. "Tristan is threatened by Brent, even if he doesn't know it. He risks losing you to Brent, and he doesn't want to. So he is opening himself up emotionally to you to keep you. It started with him telling you that he loved you. And now, with Brent kissing you, he forgave and comforted you because he cares and doesn't want to lose you. And then, both of you took a step because of Brent and made love. It pulled you closer together. I think Tristan is scared of losing you, and you are scared of losing him. But at the same time, both of you were afraid of getting hurt. Now, you had to choose between the possibility of pain and losing each other, and taking the plunge and going all the way."
"That," I began, "is very profound. And I believe that was the first time I have ever heard you refer to sex as making love."
"Well, you love him. So why shouldn't I have referred to it as making love?"
"I've just never heard it come from you before."
"So, what is your second thought on the subject?"
"That you need to have a drink and a smoke so we can toast to your having sex, excuse me, making love, with someone other than Brent and for doing it for the first time in over a year."
"Well, I didn't come here to stay sober all night."
"Let us get some drinks then."
I followed Mattie into her kitchen.
Author's Notes: This is somewhat based on my life, as a lot of things are. Most of the characters have something in common with somebody in my life, whether they are still in my life or not. The relationship between Colleen and Brent is modeled on my relationship with an ex-boyfriend. For a long time, I wanted closure with him, but I didn't have the guts to call him, so I wrote about it. By taking Colleen's life and paralleling it with mine, allowing her to do things I wasn't able to, for whatever reason, and giving Brent qualities of my ex and what I knew about him, the relationship evolved. Some of this is what I wanted from my ex: I wanted him to want me and realize that I am a great person to be around (forgive me if this sounds conceited, but I couldn't find a better way to state this), but I could turn him away. But I knew that even if this happened, I'd still wonder what could have happened. The relationship between me and my Tristan only happened in my dreams. And the whole thing with Mattie, not based on real life, but I felt it added a twist, formed a love-triangle, if you will. In the end, you, the reader, don't really know what Colleen does, and I intended to leave it open-ended. And it was pointed out to me (thanks, Sean) that Tristan seemed too perfect, but Colleen doesn't know everything about him. Naiveté sometimes has a price for the happiness that comes with it. And if there were another part to this, it would come out that Tristan isn't so perfect. I planned that, but the sequel never was written. As for how much of Colleen is me… only I know that!