The last time I saw her was 4 years ago when we were both 20. It's funny how quickly things change when you're young. When last I saw her, she only wore baggy pants and hooded tops over a myriad of t-shirts. Now, standing in front of me was a lovely young woman dressed stylishly in khaki pants and a fitted light-blue shirt with a couple of buttons undone showing just a hint of cleavage. Her hair was layered and shoulder-length framing her face beautifully, so different from her short spiky hair she always used to have.
"Umm, hey Sam", I said, scratching my head (charming as always). Of course, it didn't help that everyone we knew was standing around watching us.
"Brian, God, it's been so long, when did you get back?" she asked, stepping close and pulling me into a hug that I didn't expect.
I recovered quickly and hugged her back firmly, enjoying the feeling of her pressed up close against me.
"Just a few days ago and I'm still a little jet-lagged" I replied, letting her go and still aware of the audience around us.
If she noticed it, she paid little attention, instead she continued, "So are you back for good or just in town for a few days?"
"I'm here to stay" I replied, "So what brings you to Yvonne's party?"
"Oh, she asked me to come, said she hadn't seen me in a while and thought it might be fun. Did she know you were coming?"
"Yeah, she was the one who invited me" I replied.
"How was London? Did you enjoy living there? What was it like?"
"London was wonderful. At first, it was difficult to adjust because life there was so much faster than it is here but after a few months I got used to it and really enjoyed myself. It's a lovely city and I think you would've enjoyed it too."
We stood around awkwardly for a few moments, neither of us wanting to take the first step. Our friends were chatting away but I could still feel their stares as they waited to see how everything unfolded.
After more than just a pregnant pause, she said, "I feel like there's so much we need to say to each other. Do you mind if we go outside to talk or are you busy with something else?"
"No, no, I'd love to talk to you. Lead the way"
She slipped her hand into mine and led me outside away from the whispers from the crowd.
We sat down next to each other on 2 chaise loungers. The pool area was deserted as the evening was a little chilly but the stars were bright and gurgling of the water set a very serene mood. She was still beautiful, even more so than the last time I saw her. The way the moonlight reflected off her face made it seem like she was almost glowing. We had so much history between us but at this moment, she seemed like a stranger to me. We had grown up together and our parents had been friends long before we were born. She had seen me through my awkward and dorky teen years and I was witness to her tom-boy childhood. She had changed so much since then.
"How are your parents doing?" she asked as she stared up into the sky.
"They're well thanks. I think they're glad to be back here. How are yours?"
"Mom and Dad are fine, happy that I'm finally finished studying."
"Yeah, they were always all over you about studying. Typical Chinese parents"
"Tell me about it. Yours were the same too"
"Chinese parents are like that all over the world", I laughed.
We sat quietly for a moment just enjoying each other's company.
"I'm sorry about what happened the last time we saw each other" she said suddenly, breaking the silence.
"Me too Sam, but it was a long time ago so don't worry about it."
"I wanted to talk to about it, to explain myself but I never got a chance to because you had to leave with your parents the next day and you never returned my calls or my e-mails"
"I know, I was upset at the time and you know how stubborn I can be."
Sam smiled, "I know, we're both the same way. For what it's worth, I'm really sorry, I never meant to hurt you and I was upset when I said those things but I never meant them"
"Looking back, I guess it would've been pretty entertaining for everyone. You, yelling at me at my farewell party telling everyone that I was a cheating bastard and a slimy piece of shit while I was dodging the vase you threw at me. No wonder everyone was watching us tonight. They were probably expecting a repeat performance"
Sam giggled, "I wasn't really trying to clobber you with the vase, ok, maybe just a little"
"Good thing I have those ninja-like reflexes then huh? Well until I ran into the pillar and nearly knocked myself out. I always hated that thing"
"I'm really sorry Brian; I really thought you were fooling around with Sharon behind my back. I should've known better than to listen to Jason. It didn't help that I saw you coming down the stairs with her that night"
I was quiet for a few seconds trying to collect my thoughts; just lying on the chaise next to her brought back so many memories. Was it really 4 years ago since we last spoke?
"I guess I can see how it looked from your point of view that night but nothing happened that night. She asked me to help her find some information from the net and wasn't sure how to use my computer, that's why we were gone so long."
She reached out to hold my hand. My heart started to do little flutters. It's amazing the effect she always had on me.
"I didn't mean to flirt with Jason that night either. I was upset and wanted to make you jealous. He told me that you had gone upstairs with Sharon and mentioned that he overheard you boasting how you were going to get it on with her. That's why I was hopping mad when I saw you coming downstairs with her. I only found out later that he always intended to break us up and stupid me, I let him. I should've known better." She said.
I squeezed her hand still staring at the stars and said, "So here's a stupid question considering where we are right now, but are you with anyone at the moment?"
She smiled, "No, I'm single, why do you ask?"
"I was just wondering whether I should be looking over my shoulder for any jealous boyfriends"
"No, I haven't been out with anyone for quite a while, you know, studies and everything"
"So what happened after I left? No one's told me anything"