We went out onto the back porch. I put my hand out and touched Sam’s arm. I took a deep breath. “Sam. Listen. I like you as a friend. I really do. But Robert and I are serious.”
Sam looked surprised. “I know,” he said.
“I know you and your girlfriend broke up, and I, well, I can’t really see us getting back together,” I continued.
“Us? Us who?” asked Sam, looking even more surprised.
I felt like a big dope. Had I misinterpreted Sam’s actions?
“Us, as in you and me…” My voice trailed off.
Sam stared at me. Then to my surprise he blushed.
“Stacey!” he said. His voice was reproachful. “I still like you. A lot. But I think of you as a friend, someone who is fun to goof with. Someone I can be myself with. Sort of a, uh,” he ducked his head, “best girl friend, but not girlfriend, you know?”
“Oh,” I said stupidly. I was relieved. And humiliated. How conceited of me.
Then Sam made me feel better. “But I do like to flirt with you,” he said. “It keeps me in practice for my next girlfriend.”
“Oh, you,” I said, swatting him on the arm. Then I linked my arm through his and we trudged down the back steps.