Maya grinned, cuz yeah, that did sound like Riley’s mother.
“Maya, Cory is my best friend; my brother. Do you know who my other best friend is?”
“Stuart Minkus.” She deadpanned.
“Nice try, but no. Topanga is, without a doubt, the second most important person in my life. In some ways, I’m closer to her than I am to Cory.”
“Why?” She sounded so forlorn and lonely as she asked that he wanted to pull her into his arms, but this was too important.
“Because we balance each other out, but our common bond is our love for Cory. We both want the best for him, and that brought us closer than anything else could have. Topanga is more pragmatic than starry-eyed Matthews. Part of it is just her personality, but part of it is her background. Did you know her parents got divorced when we were in high school?”
Maya shook her head, wide-eyed. She remembered all the times that Riley’s mom had held her hand as they walked home from school, the easy acceptance and quiet encouragement when Maya had begun coming over every morning for breakfast and every day after school, often staying through dinner and sharing Riley’s bed with her. The warm hugs and shoulders to cry on. The knowing look in her eyes when the teen had confronted her father for the first time in that very cafe.
“She’s one of us too.” She murmured.
Shawn nodded, giving her another moment to collect herself before he continued. “So we had that in common, and she was there for me, and I for her, in a way that Cory just -couldn’t.” He half-smiled. “Plus she’s also the only person to consistently go toe-to-toe with me when I was being deliberately obtuse. Anyway, back to your original question. My crush on Topanga,” he reminded her when she looked confused. “Like I said earlier, of course I did. We grew up together – she was familiar and cute and I trusted her. We were a lot like you and Lucas, from what I’ve heard.” He raised his brows. “I went from teasing her and making fun of her being a girl, to noticing that she was a girl.”
She winced. “You know everything already.”
He laughed. “I may not be a parent, Maya, but I know better than to go into any conversation with a teenage girl blind. If nothing else, Riley has taught me that.”
She smirked; her best friend’s quirky way of thinking and blunt questioning caught a lot of people off guard, which she suspected was deliberate on Riley’s part. You got a lot more information out of someone when they didn’t have a chance to think about their answers.
“So what happened with you and Topanga?”
“I asked her out to a party in seventh grade. Cory was still waffling, so I made my move.” He grinned, remembering. “A lot of our classmates were rooting for us because of how good we looked together – the pretty blonde and the dashing, good looking brunette.” He flipped his hair, making her laugh again.
“Of course.” She agreed dryly.
“Problem was, we were too much alike to get along, and so we were always sniping at each other. Everyone else saw sparks, but it was really just smoke and mirrors. Without Cory, we had nothing to talk about.” He grimaced. “And kissing her was like kissing my sister. No spark.”