I originally planned for the Texas Heat series to be a four part serial. When beginning work on part 4, I realized where and how the story needed to end. That is with a final chapter in Part 3. I have now added this final chapter to the end of Part 3. For those who purchased part 3 prior to the revision, and expecting a Part 4, I have included the final chapter on this page.
Sam returned to the apartment to find Josh packing. Neither spoke for the first few minutes. Finally, Josh went into the kitchen where Sam was making a strong pot of coffee.
“You didn’t come home last night,” Josh said.
“I stayed with a friend on campus,” Sam replied.
“Heather?” asked Josh.
Sam paused a moment then offered a one-word answer. “No.”
Josh gave a slight knowing nod of his head. He didn’t want to ask because he didn’t want to know. At the same time, he suspected Sam had slept with Nick. Sam turned on the coffee maker and then turned around to face Josh.
She crossed her arms and leaned into the kitchen counter. She had on her jeans from last night, but her top had been replaced with one of Nick’s University of Texas tee shirts. It was large on Sam. But she asked if she could wear it home as it had the smell of Nick’s cologne.
“That his shirt?” Josh asked.
“Did you sleep with him?”
“I don’t think that is really any of your business,” Sam replied.
“You’re glowing,” he said. “I can tell you had sex last night.”
“What if I did? I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“No?” said Josh. “You lose your virginity, and it isn’t a big deal?”
“I didn’t say it wasn’t a big deal,” said Sam. “I said it wasn’t any of your business.”
“Okay. So this is how it is going to be between us?” said Josh.
“I don’t know,” said Sam. “It’s the way things seem to be now.”
“I hope you enjoyed your first fuck,” Josh said. He turned to leave.
“You’re such a prick!” Sam shouted. “You just have to find more ways to hurt me. What has happened to you, Josh?!”
Josh whipped around and his eyes bore into Sam. “What’s happened to me?! What has happened to us?! Oh, wait, I know . . . you rejected me. You told me you weren’t in love with me and we would never be anything more than friends.”
“Best friends, Josh. I didn’t want to lose my best friend.” Tears were now streaming down Sam’s face. How many times had Josh made her cry in recent weeks?
“Well,” said Josh, “I guess that ship has sailed.”
“It doesn’t have to be like this,” Sam said as she wiped a tear away.
“I can’t stand to see you with anyone else. Don’t you get that?”
“I know it must be hard for you, but I thought we were going to move past –”
Josh interrupted. “I can’t.” He hung his head and looked at the floor. “I’m going on a tour. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. When I get back in two weeks I’m moving out. You can start looking for a roommate.”
“I’ve already made up my mind,” said Josh. “I think it is for the best. We both need to move on with our lives.” Josh turned back toward the doorway and walked out of the kitchen. Sam watched as he turned and headed down the hallway toward his bedroom. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
After a good cry, Sam stood straight up. “No,” she said out loud to herself. “No,” she repeated. “This is not how it is going to be.”
Sam exited the kitchen and walked down the hallway to Josh’s bedroom. She pushed open his door and stepped into his room. Josh turned around, surprised. He dropped a stack of underwear into his suitcase.
“No, Josh!” Sam exclaimed. “We are not leaving things like this. I don’t care how long we need to stay here and discuss this, but I am not giving up on us. And I won’t let you give up on us, either.”
Sam stood in the doorway to Josh’s room and crossed her arms. She tapped her right foot rapidly. Josh knew the look. He’d seen it before. Whenever Sam got really upset she crossed her arms and tapped her right foot very fast. He knew she meant business and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
“Fine,” Josh said. “Let’s talk.” He tossed the suitcase on the floor and sat on his bed. Sam stayed where she was for a moment.
“No yelling,” said Sam as she began ticking off a list on her fingers. “No cursing. No storming out of the room. And, in general, no being an ass.”
Josh couldn’t help but grin at Sam’s last remark.
“Something funny?” asked Sam sternly.
“No. You’re right, though. I have been an ass. A major jerk. So let me start by saying I am sorry.” Josh turned his head and looked directly at Sam. “I’ve hurt you . . . repeatedly, the past few weeks. It came from my own place of hurt and anger, but it was uncalled for.”
“That’s a good start,” said Sam. She padded across the room and sat on the bed next to Josh. He turned to face her. Sam noticed a tear in his eye. She could only remember Josh crying once when he was seven and broke his arm.
“You’ve been more than a friend,” Josh said. “You were the sister I never had. A sister where the brother and sister really loved each other and got along. I lost site of that, Sam. I’m sorry.”
Sam nodded her head and placed her hand on top of Josh’s.
“I said things I didn’t mean,” Josh continued. “Things I wish I could take back. I know I can’t, but if I could take them back, I would.”
“Why were willing to walk away . . . from us?” asked Sam.
“I wouldn’t have. I didn’t mean any of that. I was thinking about everything as I’ve been packing, and if you hadn’t come in here . . .”
“You would have come to talk with me?”
“Yes,” answered Josh. “How could I just walk out of your life? I felt ashamed, Sam. Ashamed of how I have been acting toward you. Ashamed of how I tried to push you away as some twisted way of dealing with my own hurt and anger.”
“Josh, I know how disappointed, hurt, and angry you have been. But I need you to know I never wanted there to be a wedge between us.”
“I know,” said Josh. “I overreacted.”
“To say the least,” said Sam.
Josh smiled. A crooked, half smile. But it was a smile, nonetheless. “You we’re right, of course,” said Josh. “About not wanting to risk our friendship. And look what I did. I went and risked it. The very thing you wanted to avoid.”
“We can get past this,” said Sam in her most comforting voice. “If we really want to.”
“I do,” said Josh. “I can’t promise I will just magically be okay with everything . . . you dating Nick. You having sex with Nick.”
“I never said I had sex with Nick,” said Sam.
Josh gave her a ‘are you kidding me?’ look.
“Okay,” said Sam. “Fine. That didn’t even convince me.”
“Does he treat you well?” Josh asked.
“Yes. He is very sweet,” said Sam. “If you gave him a chance,” she continued. “You would like him.”
“One step at a time,” replied Josh. “This is going to be a work in progress for me.”
“I understand,” said Sam.
“One thing I am certain of,” said Josh. “Is I don’t ever want to lose you. As my best friend. I’ve missed that. We had a special bond. I know what I said about my feelings for you, but when I realized I could lose everything with you . . .”
“That is how I have always felt,” said Sam. “Josh, you mean everything to me. I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it. And more than just being a part of my life, but being my best friend. Being as close as we’d been up until a few weeks ago.”
Josh held Sam’s hand and looked into her eyes. “I realize now how special our friendship truly is. I mean, I always knew it . . . I guess I just got lost in a moment. A moment that spun out of control and nearly cost us all we have shared.”
“I know it may not seem like it now,” said Sam. “But I think we might end up stronger because of this.”
“You are probably right,” replied Josh. “I certainly know what you mean to me and how I almost let that slip away. I’ll never take you or our friendship for granted. And I’ll never again question what could be for what is. Because what we have is amazing, in its own right.”
“There is nothing better than a true best friend,” said Sam. “I’ve always counted on you to be that for me.”
“And, if you’ll let me,” said Josh, “I want to be that for you again.”
“I’d like that,” said Sam. “Very much.”
The two best friends hugged. Sam knew it would take some time to restore her full trust in Josh. He knew it as well. But he committed himself to doing the hard work of proving himself worthy of being Sam’s best friend.
As time passed, both were able to appreciate the deep love they shared. A love they had been cultivating since the day they met on the playground in kindergarten. Josh regained his appreciation for his friendship with Sam, and they grew as close as they had been. He felt, perhaps, even closer.
Sam and Nick’s relationship grew as they fell deeply in love with each other. Eventually leading to marriage and children. Nick became a star in the NFL and later a head coach. Sam earned her undergraduate degree and PhD in History and became a professor.
Josh fulfilled his dream of becoming a full-time musician. He had numerous hit songs, several gold and platinum albums, and even was the half-time entertainment at a Super Bowl – the same Super Bowl in which Nick coached his team to victory. Josh also met and fell in love with his music producer. They married and had children of their own. Their family often joining Sam, Nick, and their children on joint family vacations.
As Josh sat with Sam on his bed, he accepted he would never know being Sam’s boyfriend. He’d never kiss her on the lips or have sex with her. He realized they were not meant to be together in that way. And he was perfectly fine with that. How could he not be? He had the greatest best friend he could ever hope to have in his life.
The friendship that Josh Bailey and Samantha Vargas had stretched back to their childhoods, had weathered a tumultuous time, and would endure into the future. Many years later Josh would come to understand the Rolling Stones song where Mick Jagger sang of not always getting what you want, but getting exactly what you need.