You probably were going to anticipate a horror story for when Daniel meets Paul, and you know what, that’s understandable. I get it. You must have thought all of these possible scenarios, ranging from the mild dislike from one or both parties, to the throwing of drinks the Real Housewives of Rich-and-bored-county have made so popular. I must have thought nothing but positives; I was positive Paul was going to like Daniel; I was positive Daniel was going to like Paul; I was positive the night would fade out into the next day with ease. I was positive. Full stop.
Daniel and I were getting ready to see Marilyn Monroe come alive through Paul. What better way to have fun and see honest first reactions than to throw Daniel and Paul into the deep end with each other. Of course Paul knew was coming to see him dance and sing and imitate, and Daniel was totally fine with everything; it was just my track record with guy friends that Daniel was anxious about. He didn’t tell me but I could feel it. It was obvious, he’d get quiet and just think and smile politely, distractedly. And who could blame Daniel? Certainly not me. Again, understandable.
“I think I’m just glad it’s not a suit and tie kind of event,” Daniel said as he smoothed out his hair. “I’m not in the mood to dress up.”
Daniel was in dark jeans and a suit jacket over a casual white V-neck tee. In my eyes, he was pretty done up. My pants were biker-inspired black pontes with shiny symmetrical panels, fashionable yet subtle. I wore the most comfortable ankle boots and Calvin Klein three-quarter shirt with a deep cut and gold buttons. I started accessorising with gold pieces and went way overboard with bangles and necklaces and earrings, I just had to tone it down. Minus the necklace, a few bangles and leaving on a thin Kate Spade ring and bracelet and gold hoops showing through a high ponytail, I looked alright.
“You look beautiful,” Daniel said, wrapping his arms around me from behind. “Not just ‘alright’.”
“In other words, as good as you.”
Daniel chuckled, running the point of his nose along my neck. “Not even close.”
“We’re not too matchy-matchy are we?”
Daniel looked at me through the mirror, his brows pulled together confusedly. “What do you mean? The shirts? No,” he laughed, “no, no, just perfect.”
“You know I’ve read of couples that matched their clothes on purpose and not on purpose.”
“I feel like that’ll be me and you with our kids one day.” My heart stopped and my neck straightened up and away from Daniel’s lips. Daniel registered my parted lips and wide-eyed with immediately certainty. “Not now. Of course not now, I just mean in the future. When we’re much stable than we are now.”
I started to smile, my eyes softening. “We’re not stable?”
He switched me around and cupped my face. His warm hands making my cold skin shiver before he leaned down and embraced my lips with his. I pulled at his hair, and when we parted, remembered that he was fixing it just a second ago and I ruined it. Not that badly though; Daniel looked impeccably sexy even when he wasn’t trying.
“We’re getting there,” he said, pecking my nose. I giggled like a tiny little girl sneaking in a cupcake. “We are.”
“Daniel, this is Paul; Paul, Daniel,” I gestured between the two.
They extended their hands and shook up and down. ‘Pleasure to meet you’, they both said, nodding graciously and then sitting down at the rounded booth we scored.
“Anna has told me so much about you,” Daniel said.
“Only good things I hope,” Paul laughed nervously, melting my heart.
“Nothing but the best,” Daniel responded.
Daniel and Paul started driving the conversation without me more and more that at one point, Daniel asked me to switch with him so they could chat easier. Suddenly I felt like the third wheel, but in this case it felt great. I loved that the both of them weren’t even trying to impress me or each other, that they genuinely liked each other. I didn’t even care that I was off to the side, waiting for my cue to—
We all glanced up to find Johnny standing, wearing that signature beanie of his. God I wanted to burn that thing! Other than that, clearly I was about to speak too soon.
“Johnny?” I said, rather surprised.
“Oh, sorry, Anna,” Paul said, sucking in a bit of air through his teeth, “I completely forgot to tell you about Johnny. I thought I did but that look on your face tells me otherwise.” He laughed. “I hope it’s okay.”
I shot a look at Daniel to find him clenching his jaw, the bottom of his cheeks twitching in and out. “It’s fine,” I said, absentmindedly. I mean, what could I say? You can’t sit with us?
“Cool,” Johnny grinned.
He was just about to land his butt next to me and I didn’t want to make Daniel feel awkward, or me for that matter, since Johnny and I hadn’t really spoken since our last unfortunate encounter. Which, if Daniel knew Johnny was basically advising me to steer clear of him, he would not let go.
So I blurted: “Oh, Daniel, did you want to help me get us some drinks?”
Daniel pounced onto his feet in a nanosecond, and I was following after.
“That’s alright, guys,” Johnny said, sitting down and blocking my exit, “I’ve got it covered.” Daniel slumped back, and began paying as much attention to the oblivious Paul as he could. “I guess I should apologise,” Johnny said into my ear.
Johnny tilted his head. “You know what.”
I rolled my eyes and turned away. “It’s fine.”
“No, it’s not fine. Clearly you like the guy and maybe it wasn’t my place to say all those things.”
I shrugged. “I guess I should apologise, too.”
“Oh?” Johnny lifted a single brow, amused by the way I could hardly apologise without cringing.
Then I looked at him. If I was going to apologise, for whatever reason, I wanted it to be real and respectful. “You’re a good fixer. And caring I might add. As weird as it sounds, being caring is sometimes hard to find in a friend.”
“That is weird.”
“Tell me about it.”
“So,” he extended a hand, “are we good?”
A truce? I was down for a truce. After all, there was no use in keeping a sour-puss face with Johnny. He’s a kind, genuine, caring person that I was happy to call friend. I just wasn’t sure Daniel would easily accept him as he did with Paul.
I took his hand and shook. “We’re good.”