Okay, I have to admit, there was a simple and definite way to tell Derek that he couldn’t join Adam, Tina and I for dinner. I could have said that it was just us, I could have said that it didn’t seem appropriate, I could have pretended that Tina’s imaginary puppy grew wings and flew away and that she was in dire need of only our comfort. Anything! I could have said a simple, ‘no’, but I didn’t. And for the life of me, I didn’t know why; so I’m still settling on the fact that Derek threw me off by inviting himself along for the ride.
What made the ordeal even weirder was that Tina wasn’t going to spend the entire night with us. She was just going to have dinner with Adam and I and then retreat back to her life. The most annoying part about that was when she would leave, Adam and I could have been alone together, just enjoying ourselves. But now I’d be alone with Adam and Derek, a potentially damaging duo.
But let’s back up shall we? Lord knows I’ve been wrong multiple times on multiple things, so there was a good chance that tonight would go swell. Isn’t there? They were both, essentially, good guys; maybe they’d even gel more than me between either of them two. Maybe. I mean, I couldn’t really read Adam’s voice when I told him about Derek, and asked him if he could join us.
Adam sighed and then said, “Well I’m not going to say no to bringing a friend, am I?”
But I got the feeling he wasn’t all giddy about it. We’ll see.
BOSSA NOVA is a restaurant based out in West Hollywood, Hollywood and West LA that serves up delicious Brazilian Cuisine, or so the four star reviews say. I was lucky enough to book us in when a cancellation just happened; BOSSA NOVA here we come!
The ambience was just as you would expect from a place that prides itself on Brazilian cuisine. Since the World Cup was in motion, it was only fit to find ourselves in a Brazilian restaurant. More importantly, the exotic food of one of the world’s exotic nations would pull you from the outside in. The clattering of the cutlery and tittering of the patrons was enough to make anyone’s adrenaline pick up. It was perfect. What was more perfect, oddly enough, was that I was starving. Just one inhale and I’d swallow up these people’s food without knowing what hit them. My mouth was watering with eagerness and I almost forgot about Adam and Derek being together in the same room. Since taking a cab, they had been on their best behaviour the entire time.
Derek and I ended up taking one side of the cushioned booth while Adam and Tina took up the other side. I was locked in, feeling the electricity seeping out of Derek. Derek turned his gaze to me, and then to Adam and grinned. Adam, who was sitting opposite Derek, flared his nostrils. Maybe it was too soon to say that they were on their best behaviour? I’m sure they were just hungry; feed any man and he will turn into a soft kitten of kindness. Though the same would happen with me and my girlfriends. Basically every girl I knew was agitated when they were hungry!
I decided to be a little adventurous and order myself whatever was the most exotic-sounding thing on the menu. This wasn’t just to test my limits, but to also have fun. No use going to a fancy Brazilian restaurant and eating salad and drinking water the entire night!
After we ordered, we gave the waiter our menus and waited silently for our drinks. I looked at Adam, swinging my legs and grinning, excited that he was here. When he smiled back, pink started to heat my cheeks.
“So,” Derek started, looking at Adam, “I hear you’re some hot shot New Yorker.”
I shot a warning look at Derek, though he didn’t seem to pay any attention to it. Derek knew exactly what I told him about Adam and vice versa, so I knew that he was looking for some sort of subtly coated self-deprecating correction as a response.
Adam shook his head. “No, I’m just an assistant to an editor.”
No Adam, I thought, you’re not ‘just’ an assistant.
“Then why are you down here?” Derek asked.
“I see. You’re working real hard,” Derek laughed.
“He is working hard,” I said. Everyone looked at me. Tina hadn’t blinked once and Adam smiled. I looked at Derek. “He does work hard.”
“So what do you do then?” Adam asked Derek. “I hear you’re doing some volunteer work or something?”
Oh God, these guys are worse than snippy teens!
Derek narrowed his eyes a fraction of a second. “I’m currently working at an internship for a highly coveted advertising agency.”
“Oh, right,” Adam nodded, “so it’s basically like volunteering,” Adam grinned.
Tina giggled but then stopped shortly. My skin was crawling with each bat thrown back and forth. I was waiting for the clock to hit zero before the bomb went off on one of them and they snapped at each other; and at that point, I think they’d both go for the jugular.
“Drinks?” the waiter asked, cutting Derek off.
We all peeled our eyes off the game and turned to the waiter. Suddenly, we were back in the restaurant and the haze of simmering emotions of mostly frustration started to die down. With each drink called out we pointed at the person who ordered it until the waiter was left with none and then carried on.
“I have some good news,” I began, in an effort to divert the whole cattiness between Derek and Adam, “I got an internship at a new, well, different, agency. I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting at the end of the month since it was the middle or the end.”
“Congratulations,” Adam and Tina both said.
“Yeah,” Derek said, putting an arm over my shoulder and moving me side to side until finally squeezing me into him, “congratulations, you’ve done an amazing job at our agency, you’re going to do amazing jobs at this agency.”
We lifted our glasses into a toast, and the entire time I was still wrapped into Derek’s arm. I blushed every time he came down with his lips to my ear and whisper something; and my laughs were only ever of nervousness.
“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” Tina said. “Anna?”
Tina lifted her brows and widened her eyes. “Bathroom?”
I got the hint and turned to Derek. “Pee-pee time.”
As soon as I said those words aloud, I mentally smacked myself. I wished there was a hole I could crawl into because I was so humiliated. I mean pee-pee time? PEE-PEE TIME! Like really? Who says that? Adam was obviously stifling a laugh but Derek and Tina didn’t bother. I didn’t blame them.
“Yeah you go do that,” Derek said after letting me out.
There were only a couple of girls in the bathroom and they left when we entered. I stood before the mirror and started assessing how long it would take the redness on my face to go down.
“I can’t believe you said that,” Tina said. “I think you softened him up.”
I scrunched my nose. “Softened him up? Derek isn’t exactly a soft guy.”
Tina burst out laughing. “No, I mean, you know,” she winked, “softened him up.”
“Oh,” I nodded. “I see now. Yeah, well, mission accomplished,” I joked awkwardly.
“So, are you guys like, a thing?”
I shook my head. “Nope.”
“And do you have any feelings towards him or anything?”
I knew I shouldn’t be comparing a guy with another guy, but Adam showing up made me realise that there was no way Derek and I could ever be together. Derek was too much of a rollercoaster, and too inconsistent with his feelings and the way he acted. I just had a feeling he’d drive every friend I ever had or have, away. Plus, he seems so overtly jealous, and we haven’t even begun a relationship! I couldn’t begin to imagine how jealous he’d get if we were together; I’d probably never be able to speak to another guy.
I’m kind of glad he came out tonight, because I had been on the fence with him from the start; but seeing the way he was talking to Adam solidified my insecurities about him. At least I can say that at least I gave us some thought.
“Nope,” I simply answered.
“Good,” Tina said, “because he’s actually kind of hot.”
“I know, I know,” she said, waving her hands, “I can see he’s into you, but I know you’re not into him and that’s what matters right?”
I spaced out in thought. “Right.”
Tina bounced in excitement and turned to fix herself up in the mirror. “Just got to beautify myself a bit first.”
“Before you go into it,” I warned, “I just want to caution you not to expect anything back.”
I was so tense about telling her this because I didn’t want it to come off as a jealousy thing or a, ‘I don’t want you to be happy’ thing. I was genuinely worried that she was hoping for a long-term something to come out of this.
“Oh I know,” Tina giggled, “I just want to have sex with him.”
“And you’re fine with that?”
Tina shrugged. “Totally. Come on Anna, you act like you’ve never had a one night stand before.”
I snickered with her. The truth is, I can’t remember the last time I did. I think I was about to with the guy I met on the beach that one time, the one who kicked the ball at my leg, what was his name? Anyway, I think I was about to with him, but honestly, before and after that, I had no idea. I think I’m starting to realise I’m a relationship kind of girl.
Our seating arrangement changed when we got back because Tina wanted to cosy up and work her magic with Derek. I was all the more happy to sit beside Adam.
“What took you ladies so long,” Derek winked and then laughed.
Adam rolled his eyes, leaned down and whispered into my ear. “Next time, remind me to say ‘no’ when you want to bring one of your friends along.”
I threw an apologetic smile at Adam and Adam shook his and smiled back. How can he be so cool? If Adam can endure Derek, then he can do anything. Honestly.
After we had our dinner, which was delicious by the way, we took a little stroll on the street. I was coupled with Adam and Tina was with Derek. The entire time, it seemed like we were strangers tagging along on each other’s night.
“I think I should call it a night,” Tina said, eyeing Derek.
“Yeah,” Derek said, “you look tired.”
Tina quickly shook her head. “Not tired at all.”
Adam and I sneaked in a little chuckle as we witnessed the exchange.
“Adam hasn’t been back in a while, though, so we should show him a good time.”
Since when did Derek care about showing Adam a good time? “That’s alright,” I said, “you two go.”
Derek shot a confused look at me. “What?” His eyes darted between me and Adam.
“I can show you a better time,” Tina said.
Obviously, it did its wonders and Derek was paying attention. Though he shot one last confused look at me, and it seemed like he was buying the time for me to object. I smiled and leaned into Adam. Adam grinned as he wrapped an arm around my waist and squeezed me in closer. Derek’s face went red with anger, it looked like he was about to erupt with the same force of a dormant volcano, until Tina took him by his hand.
“Come on, Derek,” she smiled, oblivious. “Don’t keep a girl waiting.”
Derek grinned and suddenly kissed Tina. Even Tina was shocked. “Never,” he said, half to Tina and half to me.
Adam and I watched as they both hailed a cab and drove away. Once they left, Adam and I burst out laughing.
“What a jackass,” Adam said, leaving his arm from my waist.
I shrugged. “Sorry.”
“You’re forgiven,” Adam laughed, “but not forgotten.”
We continued walking down the street, laughing at our dinner and enjoying the rest of the night. The golden topping was the company.
“…and he really thought he was going to go home with you,” Adam said. “Did you see that?”
I nodded. “Took him by surprise when I offered to show you around myself.”
Adam laughed. “I know! His face was hilarious. Worthy of a snapshot.”
“It’s imprinted in my mind,” I said.
“As if you would ever do that anyway.”
I furrowed my brows. I mean, the jab kind of hurt considering I did consider Derek at one point. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean,” Adam laughed, “to think you would ever cheat on Daniel.”
A hard pang in my chest hit me. For one, I completely mistook what Adam said as a jab; and two, this evening was going so well with no mention of Daniel. Why, why, why, did he do that?
“How did you—”
“News travels fast,” Adam interrupted. “I knew you and Daniel would have gotten together, anyway. It was only a matter of time.”
It seemed news didn’t travel that fast. He still had no idea that Daniel and I were broken up.
“Yeah,” I breathed out shakily and in thought.
“Anyway,” Adam shrugged, “I just know you’re not that kind of girl. That’s one of the qualities about you I’ve always loved; I just know you’re the type of person to be loyal in a relationship. Daniel is a very lucky guy.”
“Wow,” I breathed out in too much of a quick huff to be heard. Adam is just so sweet.
“I’m glad you’re happy, Anna,” Adam said. “Honestly, I am.”
I was relieved it was dark enough that Adam couldn’t notice the tear creeping out.
“I’m always happy when you’re around,” I said, nudging Adam lightly with my elbow and smiling at him once I composed myself.
Adam pulled me in for hug. “Same here.” He then picked me up and twirled around; I yelped at the surprise.
“Was not expecting that,” I laughed once my two feet met the sidewalk.
Adam laughed with me. “Come on,” he said, “Let’s get a cab.”