Jade Thompson and Bryce Jordan are best friends.
As Jade is recovering from a breakup and a major loss, Bryce is preparing for his final college basketball season.
All Bryce wants is to get drafted into the NBA and get out of Jade's friend zone. And Jade, who is also months out from graduation, is on a mission to figure out what's next, now that her life-long soccer career has ended.
For Jade, it’s easy to ignore the feelings she has for her best friend. After all, she’s been doing it for two years. For Bryce, it’s not so easy.
Will their friendship survive?
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"Are you about to drink tea on purpose?" I jumped out of my skin at the sound of Bryce's voice. I was so deep in my thoughts, I forgot I wasn't alone. I called Bryce over almost immediately after waking up this morning. When he got here, I told him what happened, and he argued with me about why I hadn't told him sooner. After he calmed down, we started our Saturday routine of streaming TV and lounging around. Gabi wasn't the person to go to when you're feeling emotional, I learned that the hard way, but Bryce always knew exactly what I needed and when I needed it to feel better.
"Yes, Bryce." I sighed, releasing stress in my chest I hadn't noticed lingering. "I'm drinking tea so I'll feel good enough to play well tomorrow." The aroma of the tea felt so pure and intense, I could feel my throat healing already.
"And it's not sweet tea? And why is it that color?"
"It's green tea. And hush, I don't know why it's not actually green," He looked at my cup with uncertainty, causing me to laugh suddenly, which brought me into a mini coughing fit. I love Bryce, but it annoyed me when he constantly questioned my food choices. I reached up and pulled at his fro that he seemed to be growing out. I'm a little under a foot shorter than his 6'6, but I still made it work. "I need to play on Sunday, and I need to be able to breathe, swallow and sometimes yell while I'm running."
"So you done crying?" He's not as blunt as Gabi, but sometimes he could be just as bad.
"That's actually rude, and I'm not even trying to talk to you anymore," I turned away from him to add sugar and honey to my tea.
All of this is so fresh. I didn't want to cry. It just... happened. I barely knew how I felt, much less how to control those feelings or the tears.
"I know, I'm sorry," I put down the spoon as he continued speaking. "I just don't like to see you sad. I was hoping that part was over." Bryce wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into a hug from behind. He moved my braids that were blocking his access to my cheek behind my back and planted a loud kiss on my face. I scrunched up my nose and made an attempt to leave his grasp. It turned into an unsuccessful squirm.
"I don't know when it'll be over," I turned my body in the hug so I could look up into his gentle eyes. It was always soothing to be in Bryce's presence, but the most comfort I've ever gotten came from looking into his eyes. They were soft, just a few shades darker than his skin, but they looked at you like you were the most important person in the world. Like you were smart, beautiful, and just... wonderful. Gabi said she didn't see it - but she isn't as sentimental as I am. "But let's focus on my game tomorrow."
"Okay, after you win tomorrow," He hugged me a little tighter, "What game is next?" I love the way he thinks. A smile broke out before I responded.
"Three more games until the playoffs start."
"And then national champs, baby," He returned my smile.
"Yes..." I took a step back, and he let me go. I was nervous about his answer to my next question. He looked down at me, waiting for me to speak. "So, the national championship. It's on December 10th, on the coast," I knew we'd make it to the finals, but I didn't know if I needed or wanted him there. It was probably a little bit of both. "You coming? Can you come?"
He dug for his phone in his pocket to pull up his calendar. "We have a game that week," He grimaced. "It's away, too," He tried to make up for his words with the speed of his delivery. "But I promise I'ma watch it." I heard the sincerity in his voice, but it didn't get rid of the sadness about the conflict in our schedules. "I promise I'ma watch it. I got you, Jade."
I believed him. And I also didn't want to let his schedule ruin the time we currently had together. "Okay... Let's go watch some more TV before you have to leave."
"Deal." He grabbed me by the waist and lifted me over his shoulder in less than a second, which left me upside down. I spotted my mug – still untouched - on the counter.
"Wait my tea!" I coughed again, which made him jerk to try to avoid my "germs." "I'm still trying to heal, Bryce."
He laughed and turned back to grab my tea before he carried me back to the sofa where I agonized over Mike all morning. He sat me down on my love seat before he claimed the couch across from me. After he got comfortable, his long body taking up the entire sofa, he looked up at me. "Ready to start season two now?"
I smiled at Bryce, enjoying the peace I felt for the first time since I opened my eyes all those hours ago. "Yes, I'm ready."