“You want me to go where?” Mark asked.
“To a 4th of July party. I’m invited with Chloe and her friends.”
“And you don’t like them?”
I shook my head. “No, they’re just a bit…I don’t know.”
He chuckled, chugging on his beer. “This is so weird. I don’t hear or see from you in like a year or something, and now here you are, in my living room, right after I just had sex.”
I furrowed my brows. “You just had sex?”
He nodded, casually taking another swig. “Yeah, she’s still here.” He nudged his chin upwards in the direction of his room.
I looked behind me and then back at him. “She isn’t crazy, is she? I can’t deal with crazy right now.”
Mark laughed, throwing his head back, the beer slowly taking its time to seep into his blood. “Not crazy. At least, I don’t think so. But I usually know how to pick ‘em.”
“Like cattle,” I half-joked, half-said in annoyance.
Mark has always been up front about women with me. One solid relationship of his crumbled and now he’s just living life by ear. I can’t blame him, relationships are easy to get, but hard to keep; unless they’re both hard in which case, after Daniel, I’m screwed.
After Chloe told me that ‘the boys’ invited us out for the 4th of July weekend—well, just for a night—I immediately groaned. Not only did I nearly shit in front of them, but I wasn’t up for fielding anything I’d be too sensitive about. I think Mark would be a great diversion for me. My willing scapegoat.
Although, I do see how weird this must be. I just pop up out of the blue back into his life, and the first thing I ask of him is to party with me.
“There’ll be plenty of girls there,” I wriggled my brows, trying to tempting him.
He propped the beer down and smacked his lips together. “Sounds like it’ll be a pain in my ass.”
I held up an index finger. “But a good pain.”
He laughed. “You’re insane. The fuck are you doing here anyway?”
I was about to explain myself when we both heard a soft moan coming from his bedroom. “Oh, looks like she’s waking up.”
“Yeah, let’s take Timmy for a walk.” He stood.
Timmy is Mark’s puppy. So cute and furry and just a brown ball of cuteness.
I automatically stood with him, but in confusion. “Umm, we’re just going to leave her here?” I whispered.
“Mm-hmm,” he hooked a leash on Timmy’s collar, “girls are usually gone by the time I come back. Besides, remember how I told you this was a good way to pick up chicks?”
I tilted my head. “No way. You’re not picking up the same day you just had sex.”
He shrugged. “Why not?”
“Don’t you rest?”
He laughed devilishly, exaggerated. “There’s no rest for the wicked.” He grinned and then ushered me to follow him. “Come on. Let’s go.”
“Alright,” Mark said after much convincing. “I’ll go.”
“Yes!” I balled my hand into a fist.
“Under a condition.”
“Uh-oh.” I celebrated too soon.
“Nothing major. Just that I bring a friend of mine.”
“This chick I know. Kennie. She’s got the goods,” he winked.
I could only imagine the goods he was talking about was her body. Probably banging. Big boobs and hips, blonde sweeping hair and thighs as smooth as the untouched surface of yoghurt.
“Are you going to ditch me for her when the occasion calls for it?”
“No, of course not, but she’ll definitely make the party more interesting. Her brownies are the best.”
I scrunched my face in confusion. We turned a corner and headed down a slight slope. The sun bright and shining for the morning. “Brownies? This ain’t no picnic on the beach.”
He chuckled and the dog yelped at a passer-by. “You can’t be this innocent.”
“Ohhhhhh, no as soon as you said that…I got it. I got it.” I think I got it. He’s talking about weed right?
He laughed again. “This is so weird. But I’ll take it.” He sighed. “Don’t think there’s much going on with my friends.”
“That’s so weird. I would’ve thought you were locked down and set to hit four parties or something.”
He grinned, staring at the dog. “What can I say? People change I guess.”
“Except you.” I nudged him with my elbow.
He stopped in the middle of the street and stared into the distance. I caught up with him and travelled down his line of sight where a woman afar was stretching, wearing a sports bra and shorts, getting ready to run.
Mark turned to me and smiled. “Except me.” He winked. I playfully rolled my eyes. “See you tonight.”
“Yeah, see ya!”
I got so many ‘Happy 4th of July’ texts and Facebook notifications that it just flooded my entire feed. I’m not one to usually respond to each and every comment but the one who thanks everyone in the end and apologises for not being able to get to everyone. But a couple messages caught my eye. A text from Daniel and a notification on Facebook from Adam.
‘Thanks. You too,’ I replied to Daniel.
Within minutes he replied back. ‘Whoa. Didn’t think you’d text.’
‘Course I would.’ Not like we ended on bad terms, but our current relationship status is stuck in limbo. Where’s the option on Facebook for that: limbo.
‘I finished your story.’ My heart jumped. Crap, I completely forgot about that. I was busy trying to figure out a casual reply when he texted. ‘It’s good.’
‘Didn’t know you were so angry though.’
That stung. ‘I wasn’t angry.’
He took longer to reply this time. ‘Get an editor. See you!’
Okay…that was random.
After my chat with Daniel, I immediately replied to Adam. I let him know that yes, I was back in L.A. living large and taking names. No, I wasn’t that dramatic. I did tell him that I was happy to see a message from him. Is that too much? He is getting married after all, I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to say something like that to a taken man. No way in hell did I tell him I left his invitation back at Daniel’s place. Come to think of it though, do I really want to watch Adam get married? I’m selfish in saying this, I know, but I kind of wished we had more time to ourselves and get up to weird shit that no one can place judgement on. With a wife, well, life wouldn’t stop, but it would slow down when it came to me.
The entire time at work I didn’t check my phone. I was busy from the traffic because Martin had put up long weekend prices. I couldn’t keep up with everyone, so when I saw Sandy, I abruptly dropped to my knees and hid behind the bar. People were just inquisitively staring, confused, I should say.
“What the eff are you doing?” Sharon hissed at me, all crazy-eyed.
Yeah, if Adam or Tina were here, they’d understand. “Someone I know from college is here.”
“So I don’t want her to see me stuck in the same old job.”
Sharon rolled her eyes. “Wow. So mature.”
This coming from Miss Power Trip up in here!
“Oh, come on,” I pleaded, “give me a break.”
She threw a towel at my face, my hair flew back. “Get up here and work.”
I was too shocked into place to get up straight away, but when I did, I was robotic and almost lucid. Until Sandy was smack bang right in front of me, leaning over the bar.
For a moment I was hoping she didn’t recognise me, but of course she would since I was—
“Daniel’s girlfriend, right?” she pointed.
I smiled. “Yeah—Oh! No.” I shook my head. “Not anymore.” Why am I telling her this?
“Aww, I’m sorry. You guys were…” I was waiting for the continuation of that sentence but she just sighed. “Yeah, it’s a shame.” Then she scanned my whereabouts and looked back at me. “So…what are you doing here?”
“I moved back.”
“And you got a job…here?”
Ugh, I so want to smack her out right now. That ‘failure’ tone is infuriating. Although, I figured I may as well have fun with it and not let it get to me. The only reason I feel this way is because I allow these people to make me feel this way. And I’m sick of it. Fuck them. There are worse things.
“Yeah, I sort of have to keep up appearances,” I flickered my eyes right and left and then leaned in. She lowered her head. “I’m seeing this guy who is rich as mo’fo but he’s a bit older than me.” I winked.
“So why are you working here if he’s rich?”
Think! Quickly! “Taxes.”
Yeah, huh, Anna? “Yup,” I nodded. “It’s a complicated story but I have to be here a couple of months otherwise shit might go down. Can’t really say because, you know, contracts and all.”
She gasped. “Are you going to marry him?”
How did she come to that conclusion? “Yup.”
“Well, where’s the ring?”
“Oh,” I chuckled. “I wanted a bigger diamond, so…”
“Wow, you are so lucky.”
How you’re buying my vague story, I will never know. Anyway, my time was up and I needed to head over to Randy’s. “I’ll catch you later.”
“Yeah, nice seeing you!”
‘I want to come visit you. Spend some time with you. I miss you a lot, you wouldn’t believe. And don’t worry, this will all be super-friend-zone and all. I won’t try anything. I promise. I want to come visit you before the wedding so let me know and I’ll shoot straight to you ~ Adam.’
‘YES! Come here, I mean, only if you can. I don’t want you to go out of your way.’ I paused a moment before I sent my reply. ‘Can you ask your wife first? Is your wife cool with it? And if you want you can bring your wife; I’ve yet to properly meet her!’ I sound so professional.
‘Lol she won’t come. And she’s my fiancé.’
Okay…I’ve never been good at being indirect. ‘So she’s cool with it?’
‘I’m sure she is.’
I rolled my eyes. ‘Can you let her know?’
‘Lol why, you’re my friend?’
‘No, I know, but I want her to know. You know, she doesn’t know me too well so I just want her to feel comfortable and just be in the know.’
He didn’t reply for a long time and for that moment I figured he squashed it and gave up.
‘You asked her already?’
‘So I’ll see you soon?’
“Let’s get this party started, right!?” Chloe beamed, bouncing up and down as we waited for our ride.
I texted Mark just before to let him know we were on our way. He texted back saying that they might come a little later (invitations started rolling in apparently). I was hoping it wasn’t too late. Weed might be good for me right about now.
“…and I’m hoping to get laid, like fucked really hard tonight.”
The driver peeled his eyes off the road and into the mirror, looking at us. I grimaced. “Umm, horny-much?”
“Muchas much. You should too you know.”
“No, it’s way too soon.”
“It’s practically been a month.” She tilted her like a concerned mother telling her daughter she had little time to reproduce. ‘You’ve only got four years left in you, deary!’
I sighed. “I don’t know. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out of the game.”
“Trust me. The sooner the better.” She placed her soft hand over mine. “Like ripping off a bandaid.”
“Fucking feels like that,” I muttered.
“Oh, no, no, no,” Chloe moved her index finger from side to side. “No, gloominess tonight. You’ve been down as fuck, and we’re going to pick it up.”
“I’ve recently broken up with my boyfriend and you already want me to see someone else. On top of which, I nearly shat in front of the two guys we’re going to see again. This is so embarrassing!” I chuckled, my face going hot.
The driver mumbled, “Eww.”
Chloe and I both caught it, looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“Icing on the cake?” Chloe asked.
I nodded. “But fuck it, let’s do this.”
We entered a studio apartment near a pizza place, so of course, the joint was plastered floor to ceiling with pizza boxes. The place belonged to a Halle and John that we barely saw all night. Chloe ran right to Greg and Joey, where they were surrounded by a bunch of typical L.A. guys and girls. It was refreshing. Although both places were business-oriented, L.A. had a sort of chill to it that New York never sat well with me. New York was always on; but with L.A. you can switch off and back on, and everything will still be in its place. It gives me a sense of security and I figured, maybe I was homesick all along.
I got straight to taking a couple of tequila shots (not as much as Chloe though, I think she can handle the weight better than me) and was on my second vodka when Mark rolled in with Kennie. Although Mark never described Kennie to me, and I joked about her looking bomb as fuck, that didn’t deter her from looking bomb as fuck. She had short hair, black with bangs and a silver septum piercing. Striking blue eyes and a contoured jaw line I could cut a watermelon on. She was skinny and tanned (of course) had full nude lips and wore a white tank and black pleather leggings.
“Hey, glad you could make it!” I lunged onto Mark.
“Whoa!” He grabbed me at the waist as my legs gave out momentarily.
“Hi!” I beamed, hugging Kennie next.
“Hey,” she chuckled. “Having fun?
“So much fun! I think it’s ‘cause I’m hammered. Well, Josie thinks so.”
Mark furrowed his brows and quickly scanned the room. “Josie?”
“Who’s Josie?” I asked confusedly.
Mark laughed. “You mentioned her. Said she said you were gone?”
I looked around and then spotted her. “I, of course, mean Chloe.”
Kennie laughed, pulling out a cigarette case and twirling it in her hand. “We ready to have some more fun?”
“Hell yeah!” Chloe yelled from behind me and closed in on a back hug.
“Oh, guys,” Halle called. “Can you please take that outside? We don’t want any smoking in here.”
“Oh, she’s one of those types,” Kennie lifted her brows.
“Kennie, you are my new best friend,” I said seriously, gripping her at the shoulder, my arm stretched long and locked.
Almost half the people in the party moved to the rooftop where we were passing the joint and I was keeping track like a maniac wanting her fix…but in sequential order. The first roll quickly ran out, and before we knew it, people were leaving and Kennie, Joey, Greg, Chloe, and Mark and I (and a couple of those girls that were attached to Joey and Greg) were the last few.
I was on Mark like bread on butter, I must say. Jodie turns into a creeper when she’s high and drunk, and I think I’ve found out what I turn into: a slut. A swear I was about to fall asleep on Mark. I was touching his arm and trying to get his attention by jumping right in front of him and doing a stupid dance. Don’t mix drugs and alcohol kids!
“Aww, man, this is some strong weed,” Mark laughed, watching me as I was pretending to ski.
“Good stuff, Kennie,” Chloe commended.
Kennie nodded, like she got that kind of compliment all the time. I made sure to switch numbers with her before I went spastic.
“I’m heading to the bathroom,” Mark said. “Anyone want something when I come back?” He looked at me, pointing and smiling. “I’m guessing another vodka for you?” I giggled into my palms like a Harajuku girl. Mark grinned wider. “Anyone else?”
“A dick pic!” Kennie joked.
“You wish,” Mark said.
“I wish,” Joey snickered. Mark walked away as we were all laughing (including Mark), and Joey started to skip towards him flamboyantly. “Wait, come back!”
We were well into our third joint and a…fourth (?) vodka for me when I so badly needed to pee. I hadn’t seen my victim in a while and soon I forgot him until I needed to go to the bathroom. I started to speculate on the way there though that maybe he was doing lines. Maybe they’ve upped the ante in L.A.
I got a buzz in my back pocket when I knocked on the bathroom door.
“Yeah! Someone’s in here!”
“Mark!?” I pulled out my phone from my back pocket.
“Are you doing lines?” It wasn’t supposed to be the question I ask. I meant to keep that in my mind and ask him why he was taking so long.
But I heard a laugh from the other end. I’m so glad he doesn’t offend easily. “No, some couple were banging in here. Took forever. I was ready to bust one out on the street, I swear, I felt like I was waiting a century.”
“Well, now I need to go!”
“I’m done! Give me two seconds.”
While talking to Mark I was flipping through the messages, one after the other, quite a few, from Daniel. The last one reading: ‘What the hell!? You’re already seeing someone!?’
‘Sandy told me.’
‘Sandy’s an idiot.’
‘So she’s lying?’
‘Well, no, she—I just had to tell her something to get her off my back.’
‘Okay. Fine. Then this is the perfect time to let you know I’m seeing someone, too.’
‘Are you fucking joking!?’
‘Not at all. You know what, I’m glad you’re seeing someone, so now I don’t have to feel so guilty anymore for moving on as FUCKING QUICKLY AS YOU! Happy fucking 4th of July.’
I was enraged. The anger was bubbling deep inside my core, slowly rising to a palpable energy resonating like an aura encircling my body. I couldn’t think. I didn’t know what to think. But this much I knew, I was pissed!
“Alright. Free for all,” Mark smiled, coming out. I stared at him and he froze in the doorway, clicking his head sideways. Watching my quizzically, without a hint of lucidity. “What?”
I pounced on him. He practically flinched, grabbing me as I threw myself onto him and started kissing him. He didn’t stop me, so I kept going. I kept going even when the door was closed, and Mark had his back against the wall and his hands on my thigh, lifting my leg up and around his hip. His hands clutched my face, fingers buried underneath strands of loose hair on the back of my neck. My anger and the need to move on the driving forces behind me, keeping me going.