“I don’t know.” Hildreth said. “My girl doesn’t have the same sound as Marauder or Frizzy-Headed Wench. But I think I can make it work.”
“Are we still good?” Jeff asked.
“You and me? As long as you don’t turn into a complete creeper/stalker, sure. We’re good.”
Jeff looked relieved. “Good. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Hildreth raised the doughnut hole box and waved it back and forth. “You’d have to eat all of these little darlings all by yourself. Oh, such strife and agony.”
Jeff laughed. “You dweeb.”
Hildreth plucked a chocolate frosted doughnut hole out of the box. “Mm mm. mmmm! Such loveliness. Mmmmmm!”
“Are you gonna eat it or are you planning to mmmmmmm it to death?”
Hildreth laughed. “Mmmmmmmm it to death? Sounds like you’re censoring yourself. Question is, what word are you blocking out? I hope it isn’t anything too perverse, because—” He sadly shook his head. “—that would be a despicable waste of such deliciousness.”
“I don’t even want to know what you’re thinking.”
“I could tell you.”
Hildreth bit into the doughnut hole and drifted into a chocolate frosted nirvana.
Jeff cast a quick glance at his friend. “You’d better not get chocolate stains on your shirt. Elsie would kill you.”
Hildreth swallowed the last bit of the doughnut hole and sucked the frosting off his fingertips. “Mmm mmm mmmm. Such lip smacking goodness. Definitely not gonna waste it by getting it all over my shirt. Mmm.”
Jeff focused on the road ahead of him. “Hildreth. you’re my best friend. I want to be honest with you.”
Jeff drove in silence as he tried to sort all of his thoughts into something understandable. “Laura was my light. I loved her. I still do. I’m still struggling with her being gone. Maybe it isn’t as bad as it used to be. I’m not crying myself to sleep every night anymore. But that aching sense of loss is still there. I still think of her. I talk to her. I dream of her. I don’t think that will ever change.”
He lost himself in a small memory of just him and her. “I will always love her. As for Elsie, I don’t know how I feel about her. Maybe.” He tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m being stubborn. Maybe I don’t want to accept the possibility of feeling anything for another woman. Maybe it scares me. Maybe it feels like disloyalty to Laura….and to you.”
“But you are attracted to her.” Hildreth set the box in his lap.
“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. All I do know for certain is she does not look at me the same way she looks at you.”
Jeff stopped at a STOP sign. “She will never look at me that way.” He chuckled. “Maybe you don’t realize it, but you have her heart tight in your hand. There’s no way I’d be able to steal her from you. So, I surrender.”
He turned in his seat to face Hildreth. “I won’t fight for her. I won’t pine for her. I won’t stalk her or be all weird and creepy about her. Elsie Vansing is all yours. I will gladly stand at your side as you pledge your life and love to her. I will be honored to be there with you. And that is the truth.”