7.

"Done." Sophia said as she ran her hands across my finished braids.


"Thanks." I stood up and went to the mirror to admire her work. "You know I'm taking these out, right?"

She got up and wrapped her arms around my waist, "Yeah, I know. I think I should know by now. Not because they're ugly though, right?" She laughed.


"Of course not. I just like the extra curls."


"Mind if I help you take them out?"


"Not at all." I took her arms off of my waist. "Now, it's time for that favor."


"Which you still haven't told me about."


"Because I'm about to give it to you. Be patient!" I laughed as I went into the bathroom and got some oil. I came back to find her looking out my favorite window. I walked up beside her and admired the scene with her. "This is my favorite window."


"I can see why." She said without taking her eyes from the view.


"So, I've got the first ingredient to that favor I want to give you." She looked down and saw the oil.


"What do you plan to do with that? Am I getting a full body massage?" She looked up at me. I sensed a little hope from her direction.


"That'd be nice, wouldn't it?" I smirked.


"Yeah, it would be. I've always liked your hands to be completely honest with you." She grabbed my free hand and began to run her fingers along my palm.


"You have? Well, this is just perfect then, isn't it?"


"So, you are giving me a full body massage?"


"I'm not..."


"Oh... Then what are you going to do with that?" A look of disappointment accompanied her question.


"I was going to do your feet if you don't mind."


"Michael...the legs thing was sexy... But foot fetishes are just weird." Sophia laughed.


I made a face, "I do not have a foot fetish. What kind of guy do you think I am?" I laughed.


"What?!" She was hysterical at this point. "Then what do you mean, 'do my feet?'"


"You're right. I was going to massage your feet. But hey. You want that full body massage?"


"Sure." She giggled. "Underwear on or off?"


"Keep them on. Save those goodies for someone else." She needs to calm down. If she was really about that life she wouldn't have even asked. She would have just done it. But since she gave me the option I just told her to keep them on. Had I said she should take them off or if she had done it off of instinct, there would have been a different kind of party that I do not wish to partake in.


"Michael, I was just kidding. You don't have to if you don't want to. You look like you don't want to." Sophia said as she discontinued unbuttoning the shirt she was wearing.


"I really don't want to. I can give you a massage the next time you come over."


"Did I ruin the mood?" She looked down.


"Yeah... But you don't have to leave. You can stay."


"Are you sure about that?"


"Yeah." I put the oil on the counter and lay in my bed. Sophia lay beside me with the shirt still partially unbuttoned.


"Why didn't you want to? Didn't you want to see me that way?"


"See you in what way?" I turned around to look at her.


"Ya know... In a sexual way?" She bit her lip.


I sighed, "Sophia, I can't look at you in that way."


"But how? You just offered-"


"You're a gorgeous woman. Don't get me wrong, if I wanted you, I could have you. But you deserve so much better."


"So much better? Michael, I deserve you."


"You don't deserve me. I'm definitely not the one. Trust me when I say that."


"So, you're the one for that other woman, aren't you?"


"No. She's got a man. I'm definitely not the one for her." I sighed looking away from her. I'm not the one for my girl. Drew is obviously the one for her if she likes being beaten all the time. It seems as though she's the one for me though for many reasons that I don't try to meditate on. I think she sees it. She's the one for me. But I will forever keep that tucked away. "Sophia, look. You're a gorgeous woman. You deserve the glitz and glamour and all that other great shit." She smiled. I laughed, "I can't really give you that. I have a different lifestyle on my hands. On top of all that, you have to take care of your sister. If I was part of your love life, there would be no way in hell that you could help your sister."


"I understand." She nodded.


"You understand that we can only be friends, right?"


"Yeah... Can't we be friends with benefits though? I mean, I do really like kissing you unexpectedly at times." She laughed.


"No, I really don't like the 'friends with benefits thing.' It makes it sound like sex is involved which is not the case. I just want to be friends with you, Sophia. Just that. Whatever happens, happens. You never know what will happen in any relationship. Like whenever I admire you, I didn't know that would happen. I mean, you're a gorgeous woman, but I didn't know I would actually tell you that I loved admiring you. I never know when you kiss me. It just happens. Sophia, I think it's best that we're just friends. Nothing more and hopefully nothing less. "


"Oh, I understand." She looked down.


I sighed, "Explain to me how you feel right now."


"You just want to be friends. I understand that. That girl or woman you're with has you sprung; you're dedicated to her only. I completely understand that."


"See, I didn't even mention her, Sophia. You did. I know you like me. I've known for a while. I'm sorry I don't have the exact feelings for you that you have for me. You can't force love."


"So, you love her."


"I do."


"Why? When she already has someone?"


"All things happen for a reason. I can't explain to you why I love her. It just happens."


"Like me loving you. I can't explain why I love you, it just happens."


I sat up taking a deep breath, "Sophia, you don't love me. Trust me when I say that."


"But, I do, Michael!"


"Why?"


"The way you carry yourself. You don't give a fuck about anything, you're a gentleman, and you and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. How could I not fall in love with you?"


"Sophie, in order to fall in love someone has to be there to catch you. If you're not caught, you're going to get hurt." I sighed. I noticed her eyes getting watery, "I told you...not to fall in love with me. When you said you liked me, I warned you not to fall in love because I wouldn't be there to catch you. Now, as a friend I love you. But in a romantic type love, I'm not there for you. Trust me when I say that." At that she was in complete full-fledged tears that I certainly did not mean to cause. "I'm sorry, Sophia. Look, there's a man out there for you that will be so in love with you that you'll forget all about your quote un quote love for me. "


"Michael?" She sat up and took my shirt off of her.


"Yes?"


"I can't stay here."


"I can understand why." I feel like I put it in the nicest way I could. I didn't know how to put it in any other way. She thought she was warning me in telling me that she could fall in love with me, but I told her deliberately not to fall in love.


"No, I mean. I can't come back...for a while." Sophia put her dress on and hurried to slip on her shoes.


"I'm sorry..."


"There's no need to be sorry. You don't have to be sorry for something that you don't feel."


I got up and followed her to the front door, "I can't let you go out at this time of night. It's dangerous out there."


"I'll be fine, Michael. Trust me." She forced a smile, her lips quivering.


I felt bad at that moment, "Stay here for the night. You can't go out there."


"Michael, you just told me you're not in love with me. You don't want me. I understand that. What I can't understand is why you won't let me out when you just said you don't want me."


"I never said I didn't want you."


"Oh, then what did you say?"


"I said we should just be friends. I never said I didn't want you."


"What if I don't want to be friends? What if I want to be more than friends? What then, huh?"


"Then...we can't be friends." This was really making me tense.


"Exactly. Excuse me, Michael."


"You're ending our friendship because I don't want to be with you?" I made a face, "That's quite stupid if you ask me."


"No, Michael. I'm ending our friendship because I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to get your attention but never getting anything in return. I'm tired of wanting you but you don't want me back. I'm so sick-"


"This is nonsense. Many people fall in love with their friend but when they're rejected, I'm pretty damn sure they don't take a fit like this. This is uncalled for, don't you think? Just because I don't want to be with you doesn't mean you have to have a hissy fit over it."


Sophia lips quivered, her make-up was smeared and black tears were now rolling down her cheeks, "I have to go." She hurried past me and left. I shut the door in a polite manner. I can't believe that. We've been friends for years and she's going to end this over something so minor. Obviously she has some other underline issues that need to be resolved. I'll call her tomorrow to see how she is. I went to the kitchen and got some vitamin water. I poured out enough in the sink to reach the first ring and poured vodka in it until it was filled up again. Just as I was about to put the top back on, my phone rang. I reached in my pocket and pulled my phone out to see Ravenna calling me. It's been a while, I guess I could answer.

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