One last tank top tossed from my closet, and I fall to my knees, blowing a million strands of hair from my face at the same time.
“Are you seriously still looking for something to wear?”
Madison’s voice barrels from the hallway straight to my frustrated ears inside the closet. [definitely not the only frustrated thing inside this “closet”.
“Yes!” I exasperate.
I hear her pad her way over my clothes covered floor, “Are we or are we not just going to Aiden’s birthday party, I mean there isn’t some Fergie-Glamor-iscious stop along the way, right?”
She finally makes her way to my pouting grounds [the closet, naturally, and spreads her arms to either side of the open doorway, a healthy mixture of annoyance, humor, and pity written across her face.
“No. No, we’re going straight to Ashley’s.”
I hang my head low, sighing in defeat over my serious melodramatic misfortune. I feel her eyes looking down on me with some amusement, before she sighs to herself.
“You are so high maintenance, I mean I thought I was pretty bad, but you...” I finally look up to her chuckling face, finding one stern finger pointed straight at me, “...You, Spencer Carlin, take the maintenance cake.”
“Ha. Maintenance cake. Good one, Duarte. So witty, you are.” I tilt my head all the way back, eyes shutting with the biggest, fakest smile ever.
She laughs lightly as I feel her reach above me.
“Here...” a black off the shoulder long sleeved shirt drops onto my pitiful lap. “This paired with those jeans and we just might get you laid tonight.”
She winks and I blush, immediately thinking of the one person I want to lay more than any bag of chips.
“Look at you, you’re so thinking of someone right now! Tell me, Carlin, who’s got you all flustered and taking five hours to get ready?”
Oh. Crap. Sarcastic deflection tactics here we come!
“Aiden, obviously, I’m thinking tonight’s the night. After ten years, it’s high time I gave that ride another wirl, I mean this girl’s learned some new tricks in her old age, he won’t even know what hit ‘em!”
I quickly stand and turn away from her, hiding my on-fire-face while throwing on her selected garment.
“Bull. Shit.” She gives me her best Matthew Mcconaughey impression, while I fiddle around with my shirt “...your sarcasm deflections don’t work with me, Missy, now do as I say, and spill.”
She’s right. If there’s anyone who reads me better than Ashley, it’s Madison. But that’s not all that surprising. I suppose being best friends with someone since basically birth does that to a relationship.
Yeah, we practically share a brain.
“I’m waiting.” She orders from behind me, and I know she’s wearing a shit-eating grin on her face for being right.
Deep breath. You can do this Spencer. All you have to do is lie to your best friend and build Rome in a day.
“Mads, there’s no one...” I stop fidgeting, turning my head to the side, giving her my profile “...really, absolutely no one, and I’d totally tell you if there were.”
She’s silent for a moment.
“Uh huh. Sure. Whatever you say.”
Finally fully turning around, I begrudgingly leave the safe haven of my closet and make my way towards her.
“You are such a nudge, you know that?”
“Yup, damn proud of it, and some day soon I will nudge it out of you.”
“That’s gonna be pretty impossible, considering the little fact that there’s NO one to nudge out of me.”
“You’re so hopeless. Hot and adorable, but hopeless none-the-less. Now if you just tell me who, we can give you hope and make it happen. So, come on, fill me in girl!”
I shake my head at her, before a smile creeps over my lips, an idea popping into my head. Slowly, I saunter her way, knowing she’ll never give up unless I give her reason to.
“Actually...there is someone.”
“Yeah?” Her eyes light up like a Christmas tree.
”Yeah. I’ve been doing some thinking, and I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, but I just can’t keep it in any longer...”
“Oh Spence, it’s gonna be ok, we’ll figure it out.”
Her weird, but genuine, concern doesn't strike anything in me but a sliver of guilt for what I’m about to do, but then again, I need this conversation to end, so really...I don’t feel all that bad.
“Ok...” I sigh, seriously “...Madison, I think it’s time that we, you and me, well I think it’s time we took our friendship to the next level.”
She’s nodding her head in such disappointment, but is still biting her lip to keep from laughing.
I twirl my foot to the side with an innocent, shy, smile, “So what do you say?”
She stands, scoffing through her laughter, “You are unbelievable.”
“Oh baby, you have no idea.”
“Shut up, ass, and just get ready. We’re leaving in twenty minutes, not a minute later. And believe me Spence...I’m going to remember this. When you come to me, asking and pleading for help, I’m going to remember this time when you so RUDELY rejected it.”
She’s only half serious as she leaves the room, and I feel a pit land in the bottom of my stomach. Thinking over her words, thinking over their meaning and intention, I'm feeling slightly queasy.
Wait a minute...does she...does she know? Was that her way of giving me an out? Was she really just trying to actually help me?
The pit only grows, and as I stand in the middle of my disheveled room, I can only remember the last time I felt a similar pit.
O’Neill’s is packed and dim with a smoky cloud hanging above every tipsy head [even though smoking isn’t even allowed inside this place. Glen swaggers his way back to our corner booth, drinks overflowing from his hands. He smiles in that little big brother way, that’ll never grow old no matter how old he grows.
“Guinness for my baby Sis, touche by the way, I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, well, because someone was in such a girlish rush, I now have to drink my dinner tonight.”
I take a long sip, glaring at his smirk, while he hands out the rest of the drinks to our group; Clay, Chelsea, Aiden, Madison, and Jack [Madison’s boyfriend.
“So when’s this broad gonna show up, huh?”
Glen drops down in his seat, throwing his arm around both the back of the booth and Madison [who totally just rolled her eyes, giving me reason #3829734 why I love her so freakin’ much.
“She does have a name, you know?” I ask, somewhat annoyed, and not just because of his blatant rudeness. No, I’m definitely not thrilled with having to introduce Ashley to Glen. However, I was the one who made this concrete bed, so I guess I’m just going to have to carve me a place to sleep in it.
“Yeah, Ashley, does have a hot name to go along with her hot body.”
Aiden is such a perv, why did I invite him again? Actually, why do I even keep him around in the first place?
“So you better respect, Man.”
Ahh yes, that’s why, cause even through his perviness, he can still be a gentlemen...well kind of. He, at least, tries...well, sometimes. Oh, whatever, there is a reason, and I will remember it some day.
“Yeah, yeah. Why aren’t you going for her then?” Glen throws back, and I just drink more. Oh please, let’s not go where this is heading.
“Because I’m...Actually, I’m not really sure.”
Aiden’s starting to think about it, like really think about, and knowing how rare an occurance this is, I need to stop it.
“You know something, I’m so over boys fighting over girls, really it’s so high school, and I don’t care to go back there, so let’s move on.” Madison effortlessly squashes that conversation, and turning towards Aiden, asks with the enthusiasm of a log, “ How’s the team doing this year?”
Mentally hugging Madison, and not really caring enough to hear about Shaker Highs Basketball team, I slide out from the table. Making my way for the bar, not even sure why, but knowing I need a break from that oppressive table...full of my family and closest friends.
Sliding my frosty glass on the dark oak of the bar, I lean over it, with the weight of the world on my elbows.
Yup. Tonight is gonna suck.
A soft voice somehow flutters inside me, and before I know it I feel Ashley pressed against me. With it being a Friday night and O’Neill’s being a hot spot, she naturally has to squeeze impossibly close to me, to get a spot at the bar. I nervously glance towards her, seeing enough of her to know she’s barely wearing anything, and feeling enough of me drool inside to know I appreciate it.
She warmly smiles at me, a soft hand moving to silently sit on the small of my back, as she quickly glimpses at the bartender [not even five seconds at this packed bar, and she already has his attention
“Kettle on the rocks.”
Taking a line from my brother, I nod her way, “Impressive.”
“Well...” She looks me straight in the eye “...maybe I’m trying to impress tonight.”
“You look great, by the way.”
She shyly smiles, looking down at the non existent space between us, and I have no words. No, really, I have none, and the smirk she’s wearing suggests that maybe she knows it. Suggests that maybe she’s enjoying it.
“So...tonight’s gonna be fun, yeah?”
Her lips show a different smile from the smirk. This one’s innocent and somewhat vulnerable, and it finally allows me to find words again.
“Yeah. It is.”
Her drink has been delivered to the bar, but she doesn’t move to take it. The bartender shouts her total while walking away, but she doesn’t move to pay it. No, neither of us are moving to do anything.
Both of us are perfectly content. Perfectly happy remaining right where we are. Tightly pressed together. Smiling goofy smiles meant for one another.
“So that’s the big NBA star, eh?”
She nods behind me, “Your brother?”
“Oh...” my smile fades, as I glance over my shoulder, watching Glen tell some lame-ass story to a table of rolling eyes “...yeah, that’s him.”
Sigh, yup, sucky night here we come.
“Guess we should join them, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess-“
“Or, we could just chug our drinks and make a mad dash for the door, you know, leave before anyone notices.”
Now, THAT has my attention, as I snap my smiling face forward again. She seems giddy, and I know I seem it too [because I am, and suddenly all I can do is giggle like I’ve never been higher [and in a way, I never have
“Oh see now I think that idea has ‘good time’ written all over –“
“Baby Sis! Stop hogging the hottie and get over here!”
“Wow, Spence, you didn’t tell me your brother was so chivalrous.”
She smirks, and I cringe.
“Oh yeah, he’s a big time gentlemen.”
We remain where we are, for a brief moment, before she sighs. “Guess it’s too late to act on Plan B, huh?”
“Yeah...too late” I practically whisper.
I’m sad. No, I’m pretty much sulking, and I don’t even care if she notices. Because part of me believes she is too.
“Well...” She pushes off the bar, which only pushes her further into me, and suddenly I can’t breathe cause she’s leaning and whispering so softly right inside my ear “...we’ll just have to pick up on it some other time, then.”
Pulling away, with one big questionable smile, she walks away, leaving the gulping mess I’ve become behind. Slowly, I turn around, watching her stride towards our table, confidence and ease oozing off her every step.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Glen’s very happy with who I’ve set him up with. And it doesn’t take a genius to see I’m so not happy about who I’ve set him up with.
No, it doesn’t take a genius to know that only a moron would set up this whole ordeal. And through a bitter laugh, I have to chug my cake of a beer, swiftly ordering a shot of Patron once I’m done.
Because, I’m smart enough to know that moron is me.
“Spencer! If you’re not out of that room in .25 seconds, I’m coming in there, and I promise you, it won’t be pretty.”
Blinking rapidly, I find myself back in the middle of my messy room, right back in the middle of “now.” Grunting, I roll my eyes towards no one, and huff-n-puff my way out into the hallway; finding a cross-armed, foot tapping, Madison.
“Jesus H Christ Maddy! How much Maintenance Cake did you eat tonight?”
Even I want to snort at my own wittiness, but something tells me it’d be inappropriate.
She’s holding her unamused face further away from her body, the words “excuse me” written everywhere, while her eyes squint daggers into me, and I feel the guilt over my rude attitude. I mean it’s not her fault my own foolish memories have gotten me so riled up.
She’s been silent for way too long, and yeah, it’s time I did some apologizing.
“I’m sorry, Mads, I don’t know why I’m being so grumpy.”
This seems to have done the trick, cause her face cracks into the hugest smile.
“Oh I know why; you need to get laid.”
Before I can say a single thing, she’s already turned around, walking to our front door like she owns it [which she does, but just go with it
“And if you’d just tell me who you want to get it by already, we could take care of it.”
I can practically hear her know-it-all smirk as she opens and walks out the door, leaving me behind. Leaving me to sigh and whisper to no one but my lonely self.
“If only it were that easy.”
Before I can self deprecate any longer, Madison hollers for me to “hurry the hell up.” With one last sigh, I waste no time in following her out the door, bracing myself for one long evening with all I love and all I can’t have.
But, somehow, I manage a small smile, because I finally remember that tonight I get Ashley all to myself. And, really, isn't that what I've always wanted in the first place?
Yeah, it is.
And suddenly, just like that, the pit at the bottom of my stomach dissolves away. The smile on my face taking it's place, only growing bigger with every step I make, bringing me closer and closer to the girl of my dreams.
Also known as my brothers wife.