It had started to snow again by the time that Josh, Maya and Riley had piled into the back of an uber, and started their trip home. Riley, who was somewhat of a chatty drunk, was fully engaged in a conversation with their driver, while Maya and Josh sat quietly, letting Riley's rambling fill the cab of the car. It was only 40 minutes into the new year, but the group had already decided that they had had enough of the party.
Riley hadn't exactly paced herself and was already toasted well before midnight. Josh was more than happy to go with the flow, and Maya hadn't been able to think straight ever since the stroke of midnight.
The words that Josh had said to her still rung in Maya's ears. Was it possible that she hadn't heard him right? It had been awfully loud, as the crowd around them jostled with the excitement about the fast approached new year. Had Josh really said that he loved her? And if he had said it, could he really have meant it? Was it really that far fetched? They had been dating for almost 6 months, but they had known each other so much longer than that. Had Josh just been caught up in the excitement of the party? Was he sitting silently next to her in the car, cursing himself for saying something so stupid?
But his hand was still resting on her knee, and every time Maya glanced over at him, Josh seemed perfectly content.
Putting Josh aside for a moment, the question was, how did Maya feel? Josh had told her that he loved her, but before she had a chance to even thinking about responding, the clock and stroke midnight, and the moment to return the sentiments had passed.
But if the moment hadn't been interrupted, what would she have said?
The uber pulled up to the Matthews family home before Maya could complete her thought. Riley wrapped her arms around Maya as the two walked up the front steps. Josh had gone in front of them and had the door unlocked by the time they reached it.
The living room was dark, Amy and Alan having already retired for the night after the ball had dropped.
The three crept upstairs, doing their best not to make too much noise, although it was particularly difficult with Riley in their ranks, who had an incurable case of the drunk giggles.
"Happy new years you two.' Josh whispered to them, before pulling open his bedroom door and slipping in.
Maya eased open her bedroom door and pulled Riley in after her. Riley collapsed onto their shared bed, her arms raised above her head and her head thrown to the side.
" The room is spinning," Riley muttered, trying to suppress the giggles that kept trying to escape her chest.
Maya dug threw her duffel bag and unearthed a bottle of aspirin. She shook out a few pills, grabbed her water bottle and walked over to Riley.
" Hands," Maya commanded, reaching out her arms to her best friend. Riley complied. Pressing her palms into Maya's and letting the blonde pull her up into a sitting position.
" Drink up," Maya ordered, pressing the pills and water into Riley's grasp. Riley nodded, taking the water and taking long deliberate sips.
While Riley hydrated, Maya readied herself for bed. She shimmied out of her party outfit and pulled on the ancient NYU t-shirt that she had stolen from Josh months and months prior. She ducked into the bathroom to brush her teeth, and by the time she had returned, Riley had gotten undressed, pulled on her pyjamas, and crawled under the covers.
Maya flicked off the lights and climbed into bed beside her best friend.
" did you have a good time tonight?" Riley asked, curling up on her side to face Maya.
"Yeah, I did," Maya confirmed, her thoughts still bouncing around her head.
" Josh told me he loved me tonight." Maya blurted out, unable to keep it to herself any longer.
Riley sat up in bed, turning her head to look over at Maya
" He what?" Riley asked aghast, scandalized by this new piece of gossip.
" He told me he loved me," Maya said again. She hoped that saying it out loud would make it feel more real to her.
" Did you say it back?" Riley pressed.
" No. I mean, he said it and then it was midnight and we kissed and the moment just passed." Maya explained, deflating as she said the words aloud. Riley was quiet for a minute. Both girls were laying on their backs, staring up at the ceiling, thinking over the situation.
" Did you want to say it back?" Riley asked tentatively. Maya stayed quiet.
Maya couldn't sleep. Riley had long since drifted off into the fitful sleep of the drunk but sleep evaded Maya. All she could do was lay flat on her back and stare up at the ceiling. One thought kept running through her mind.
Josh loved her. Josh. Josh Matthews. Loved her. Maya Hart Hunter. The girl who always messed up. The girl that people left. The girl who rarely felt worthy of anyone's love, let alone someone like Josh.
It didn't feel real. It couldn't be real. Maya's heart was racing in her chest. Had that really happened?
How strange was it that three words could throw her whole world into a tailspin.
Josh loved her. But did she love him? It was strange to think of the way that their relationship had developed over the course of the past few years. She had gone from the weird little girl who had been ' obsessed' with her best friends uncle, to genuine friends with Josh, to finally being together with Josh, but was she in love with him? Was he really in love with her? Was she talking around in circles to herself?
She soon realized what she was doing. She was trying to talk herself out of it. She was trying to convince herself that Josh hadn't meant it. She was trying to convince herself that she wasn't worthy of it.
After all the hardships over her life, Maya was still stuck in the notion that she wasn't supposed to be happy.
She knew how she felt, and now Josh had told her how he felt, so why was she fighting it?
Maya sat up in bed and swung her legs out to the floor. She tiptoed across the room and quietly turned the knob of the bedroom door. She wasn't sure what she was thinking, but she couldn't stop herself.
She didn't knock on Josh's door, but just turned the handle and eased it open. Josh was sleeping with his back towards her. Maya eased the door closed behind her and walked slowly towards the bed.
Josh stirred slightly as she approached and sat down on the side of the bed. Josh turned towards her, his eyes were barely open as he swam back up to consciousness.
"Maya?" Josh said in slight confusion, unsure if he was awake, or maybe dreaming.
" Hi." She said quietly, her voice barely over a whisper.
"Are you okay?" He asked, sitting up on his elbows.
" Yeah, just." her voice caught in her throat as she went to speak.
" I love you too."