I got home and started getting dinner ready. Threw the potatoes in the oven, got the salad ready, and put in a couple of steaks to marinade. I took a shower and changed into shorts and a tank. Itís hot. Tracie got home right when she said she would and I met her at the door, "There you are." I hugged her and kissed her.

"Wow, what did I do to deserve that greeting?"

"Make up for me being such a bitch the other day. It was your first day coming back here to me and I was in a shitty mood. Iím sorry."

She kissed me and played in my hair, "Itís fine. I didnít take it personal."

I pulled her into my lap on the couch, "It isnít fine. If you were a new girl I was seeing I would never do that. Jump as soon as you get here. Iíd chill and just enjoy being with you. AJ and I talked about this today. The girlfriend rules donít apply. Some of that is good, but some is bad."

"Kev, I think you being able to bitch without me taking it personal is good."

"Yeah, but itís takes away from the fact that I am very happy with you coming home to me, or me coming home to you. Knowing that Iím going to see you." I held her close.

"I like that too."

This was one of those bad things. I felt very vulnerable where if she was a new date I wouldnít. "Even right now, having said that I feel stupid."

She ran her fingers through my hair, "Baby, why?"

"You know Iím glad to see you, but this is glad to see you in a different way. I donít want you thinking itís some line, because I wouldnít do that to you. I donít know how to talk to you as a girlfriend without it sounding like bullshit because youíre already my friend. I was getting shit ready for dinner and thinking how I wanted it to be a nice romantic dinner, candles, music, all that." I noticed her smiling, "Then I get hit with feeling like that would look fake and be stupid. WE donít do that. That is what I do with a girlfriend. You know that, I am sucker for romantic shit. Oh god, I swear this is gonna make my head explode!"

She had the softest look on her face, "Weíve jumped right into the middle of a well working relationship, havenít we? We do all those things that couples do except the romantic stuff. Now weíre trying to do that."

"Yep." I let out a big sigh, "Itís fine then itís hard, then I feel like an idiot."

"Would it help to know that when you said you wanted to make this a romantic dinner I felt really good?" I shook my head. "I guess weíre so far in we missed those little things like trying to impress each other. All those dating lines and romance. I know when Iím being fed a line, sometimes I just choose to believe it. If you tell me I look nice, or that youíre glad to see me, or that I smell good I believe you. You donít have to tell me those things so I know that youíre a nice guy and worth going out with, or to try and fuck me. I already know that youíre a nice guy."

That seemed to call for a kiss. It gets so confusing. I get screwed up because weíre friends then seem to forget that because weíre friends we can talk about this and itís not a big deal. And that weíll work it out. Neither of us is hung up on sex where it would change everything, but it sure feels like it would. Maybe Iím wrong, maybe sex does change everything. Binds us together. "Trace, you are everything I looked for in a date. Beautiful, smart, funny, wonít take my shit, and you have your own life. You donít have to be with me, but I want you to want to be with me."

"Kevin, believe it or not I am very much a girl."
"I know that." I smirked, I could feel it.

"Pig! I mean I like to be romanced. I like candlelight dinners, and moonlight walks, and flowers. I donít date men who arenít good to me. I like to do things for the men I date too, to take care of them." She stopped and stared at me, eyes wide, "Damn, Kevin! Thatís it." She got up and started walking around the room waving her arms as she talked, I sat and watched, "Last weekend we went on a walk on the beach in the moonlight. A romantic walk. Weíve done all sorts of things together, but weíve never walked on a beach holding hands. Thatís it. That crossed the line and made me look at you differently. Youíre my friend who I love more than anything, but we donít do romantic shit. Itís not that we donít, itís that we just hadnít. Thatís the only difference between us as friends and us now."

"Tracie, weíve talked about this." I didnít get how this was an epiphany, this is what weíd been talking about for days.

"I know, but thatís it. I didnít know what did it. Why I went from not seeing you as a friend to seeing you as a lover. Thatís it! That moment."

She was still pacing and flailing her arms when I got up and wrapped my arms around her, "Knowing how this happened is really important to you."

"Itís not to you?"

"Iím just glad it did. Maybe weíre thinking to much."

She laughed, "No way, not us."

"Yeah, right. We keep looking at how things are so different. Theyíre not so different. Neither of us are so hung up on sex that that would make such a difference. Weíre still friends. Maybe the only real difference is in feelings. And that is the one thing we havenít talked out. We talk about the words and all that, but not the feelings. When I first date someone itís all about feelings, Iím not thinking about every thing. Itís about if I feel good, if I trust her, if I think I make her feel good, if we have fun. Except for making out and having sex we are doing exactly the same things, but the feelings are changing. Changing isnít the right word . . . growing. I still feel like youíre my friend, and thereís more there."

She understood, of course, "This is just something else we do, not changing everything else. Weíre leaving the friendship intact, weíre just adding in romantic walks, and holding each other, and candlelight."

"One more thing we do together."

She laid her head on my chest, "I like that. Thatís feels good. Hell, this all feels good. Does it freak you out to hear that? I know feeling stuff to early wigs me out."

"Trace, weíve been at this for over a year. How can that be too early? And no, baby, it doesnít freak me out. I like it." We held each other for a while longer. "Why donít you go upstairs and change while I put the steaks on."

"Ok, Iíll be down in a minute."

I smiled as she walked away. We may have hit the key. Not so much the things, but the feelings. That made me think of what AJ had asked, was I in love with her. If I wasnít I was falling fast.


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