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It started after Joven’s wedding. I remember seeing them kiss and thinking, she’s so lucky. Wait, what? I had no clue what had just happened, I just knew that I was jealous of her. I didn't know why. At first, I thought, maybe I’m just jealous that he’s married. I’ve got no one. Or maybe I’m jealous that he’s got a new best friend. Turns out, both of those were wrong. I realize now that I’m head-over-heels for the one and only Jovenshire. He’s nothing like Ned Fulmer from The Try Guys, he always mentions his wife. Joven rarely speaks of her. It’s almost like she doesn’t exist. But when I feel my hand uncontrollably reaching for his under the table, she’s there, in my mind, in my dreams, always keeping me in check. D*mnit. I’ve tried everything, from picturing him doing things that I consider turn-offs or things I hate, I’ve tried talking myself out of it, it’s no use. Every day I wake up, the dull ache of longing in my chest worse.

“Wes, get up! We’re playing $1,000,000 but!” Joven shakes me out of my thoughts, and his touch leaves my shoulders warm and tingly. I exhale slowly and get up from my chair. My vision is clouded with distraction as I trudge to the room. Every word Joven says is an echo in my ears. Every “but”, my brain screams It’d be okay if I shared it with you. Then I have to correct myself. And sometimes, when we lock eyes for a second, I wonder if he feels the same. I wonder if he secretly loves me too. But she’s there again, making sure I know that we’re just friends and nothing else. Besides, Defy has the whole “no dating co-workers” rule that really pisses me off.

“$1,000,000 but, every time you see a child…” Flitz starts. I look at my cards. One catches my eye. It says “the person you care about most is abducted by aliens, never to return”. That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling, so I put down that one. “$1,000,000 but, every time you see a child…” Flitz looks at the cards. “The person you care about most is abducted by aliens, never to return.” No one has a joke for that card. Everyone just stares at their lap. Tears form in my eyes and I sense Joven fiddling with his wedding ring. I turn away so no one sees my tears.

“Next card!” Joven encourages in an attempt to move on the situation, and for that I’m thankful. Sometimes, the smallest things, like saving an awkward situation, make me love him even more. Sure, he’s kind of weird and we pick on him a ton, but he’s really a sweet guy, even if there is a possibility that he’s a pervert.

“$1,000,000 but-”

“You don’t have to say that every time!” Boze complains. Flitz glares playfully in her direction, causing them to both laugh. He then continues.

“Your clothes become 3 sizes too small.” We all laugh at that one.

“Imagine being like, a teacher, and-” Sohinki starts.

“No, you show up for work and the principal’s just like, ‘Why are you wearing such big clothes?’ and you’re just like, ‘I’m prepared for the kids.’!” Damien finishes.

“No, no, no, no, no. You’re at your job interview and they’re like, ‘Anything else we should know before hiring you?’ and you’re like, ‘Um, my clothes shrink 3 sizes when I see kids’, and they just say ‘Get out!’!” Joven throws into the conversation. Just the sound of his voice makes the blood rise to my cheeks.

“But like, this could happen anywhere! You could be driving and a kid is in the car next to you! Or you might work at a Hot Topic and some emo teen mom walks in with her toddler or something.” Boze points out.

“Okay, the Hot Topic teen mom thing is super hilarious. I think this one wins already.” I voice.

“Hey! I’m the judge here! I say it wins.” Joven throws his hands in the air and I give him a high five. 

“I had the other one,” I timidly reveal.

“Dude, that’s deep. You need a therapist? Someone to talk too? A friend?” Boze asks. I know she’s just being funny, but I think I really do need a therapist. But not for the reason she thinks. I’m too deep. I’m too deep in love. Until I Joven makes a move, we’re just best friends, and that’s all we’ll ever be.