Julie saw him. She actually saw him. It might have been weird if someone saw her staring, but she didn’t care at that moment. She wondered why she hadn’t noticed him before, but the answer quickly came to her. Julie's mind had been caught up in a guy who would never be hers and she had become blind to her surroundings. Julie felt foolish for falling for a guy like him and to think that he would someday date her. When she heard friends talking about a girl and him, she didn’t want to believe it. She saw them together. They looked so in love. She knew whatever she had with him was truly over. It might have never been real.
It took time, but Julie eventually stopped liking him. She could now talk to guys without feeling guilty, for she used to compare all guys to the perfect version she had of him. Julie did not want to like anyone after him, but something changed when she looked at the new guy that night.
“Oooh! Julie has a crush!”
Julie quickly looked to her right and lightly pushed her friend. “I do not… And stop speaking so loud.”
Julie’s friend, Ana, laughed. “I saw you looking at Bryan. Don’t even think about denying it.”
Julie decided she wouldn’t deny it. She looked again towards her left and found him looking at them.
Maybe Ana had spoken too loud.
She felt a blush coming on, so she looked past him and happened to lock eyes with the guy leaning on the wall. They held an awkward eye contact, until Julie couldn’t take it anymore and looked away and focused on the person giving the presentation up front.
Bryan had seen the girls looking at him. He wasn’t blind. He heard one of them say something, but he had not been focused on them well enough. He would have to stand in his position for a few more minutes, so why not listen in?
A few seconds passed and he hadn't heard a thing. Then a loud laugh resonated in the room and he turned to see who it was, along with other people around him.
Ana. He had liked her in the past, but her lack of interest in him forced him to stop. He remembered that she would make crude remarks towards him and would flirt with other boys in his presence. She knew about his infatuation with her, but Ana never had the decency to tell Bryan that she would not reciprocate his feelings. It got to a point where he realized the unfairness in that she would speak to him one way when they were alone, but speak differently in front of others. She was a completely different person. After her, he wanted nothing to do with a girl.
Julie turned away from her friend and looked at him right before he got the chance to look away. He looked into her eyes for just a few seconds, but felt something when he saw her smile awkwardly and look away as if to pretend she had not been caught. Most of the time he saw her with Ana, but when she was alone, she was quiet. He had spoken to her when he was trying to swoop Ana off her feet but nothing more. Something about her that night called out to him, though. He felt a connection. He felt weird about it. He wanted to go with the feeling in his gut, but then he remembered. Anyone who associated themselves with Ana were like her. She may seem shy and nice, but that was just a cover. She must be a fake too.
He turned to look to his side. He saw his best friend, Andrew, looking his way, but not at him. He was looking at Julie. He felt something in his chest but he ignored it. He could do whatever he wanted. Bryan focused on his listening for his cue to go up front.
Andrew’s gaze kept going back to Julie. She had caught his attention when he met her at a camping trip. They spent time together throughout the week, whether it was alone or in the group. He felt a connection. At the end of the trip, he was still into her. Messaging each other became a part of their daily lives and he liked it. He also began to see her more often. The only thing that stood in his way from getting to know her more was her older cousin, Max, who was one of his best friends. There was a bro-code. His feelings for Julie were rapidly growing and he felt ready ask her on a date, something he'd never done before, but Max found out. He told him to stop messaging Julie and Andrew listened. He valued their friendship too much. He no longer answered her when she tried to contact him. Andrew made it a point to refrain from looking her way. Her messages soon stopped. She had gotten the point.
Soon after, Andrew met Ana. They kept it a secret in the beginning for Julie's sake but Ana stopped caring what Julie would think and went public.
He would never forget the look on Julie's face when she saw them. From then on, she ignored him when he was around and it was her who looked the other way when he caught her eye. Her once bubbly personality was now a don't-talk-to-me one. He ignored the tightening of his chest and focused on watching the people in the audience.
Ana saw her boyfriend. She saw him glancing at Julie when he thought she wasn't looking. Andrew loved her. She knew that for sure. He just had those leftover feelings for Julie, the shy girl who never did anything wrong. The girl who had lost Andrew to her. She felt no remorse for taking him.
The first time Ana saw him was when Julie wouldn't stop staring in a certain direction and blushing. She had turned in her seat and saw him. Ana knew she had to have him no matter what. She tipped Max on what was happening and two weeks later, Julie was a mess. Ana had to play the role of the supporting best friend and comfort her when all she wanted to do was go plan on how to get Andrew to fall for her. She caught him alone one day and talked to him. They connected. Apparently that wasn't enough for him to stop liking Julie. So when she saw her friend getting heart eyes for Bryan, she took the chance. She had been waiting for a moment like this. It was a perfect plan and she would be telling Andrew all about it later that day. She could finally focus on the messages coming in on her phone.
On opposite sides of the room now, Julie and Bryan unintentionally looked towards each other and locked gazes.
A smile. That was all it took for the butterflies in Julie's stomach to go crazy. He had smiled at her and her insides went mushy. She had no idea why, but she did know one thing: What she was feeling at the moment could not be normal.
Her blushing face. That was all it took for Bryan to make a decision. He couldn't judge her just because she was Ana's friend. He needed to know more about her. Something in him was telling him to do so. Bryan felt Julie calling out to him. He felt himself being drawn to her.
She knew what he was doing when he looked directly into her eyes and started walking her way. She went to meet him halfway.
People were rushing to leave. They lost sight of each other. Julie believed it was a sign that she shouldn't be there. She felt so ashamed for believing that he was looking at her. That there was a connection there. He was probably looking at someone else.
Julie was walking back to her position when she felt someone grab her arm. She felt it then.
She knew who it was before she turned around. He smiled. He couldn’t help it. Her blush intensified.
Those simple words were the beginning of something new.