Michael was busy imploring me to stay and I couldn’t help but enjoy watching. It was so rare to ever find this usually suave guy grovelling. That’s when a flash went off in the room and snickering started to break the tension.
“Oh my God,” a girl jumped out of the bathroom, “you should see your face, bro.” She turned to her friend, who was gnawing apologetically at her bottom lip and blushing like there was no tomorrow. “Do you think we got the picture?” Her friend nodded, avoiding everyone’s gazes and finally hopping into the bathroom. “I think we got it.”
Michael sighed, albeit half-relieved, half-frustrated. “What the hell, Maggie?”
“As soon as you texted me I just had to do it—”
“—and she made me do it!” the other girl yelled from the bathroom.
Maggie laughed and walked over to the tallboy. “I had to quickly talk Christina into it and open up all my jewellery boxes—” she eyed me and lowered her voice— “some of which are my mom’s so shh—” she returned to her attention to Michael whose eyes were so slanted from the mental exhaustion he looked like Droopy— “she’s cute by the way.”
“Well executed plan,” Christina popped out of the bathroom, “can we go now?”
“Yes,” Maggie nodded. She snapped another picture of Michael and the flash almost blinded the both of us. “One for the road.”
“Why would you do this to the only person helping you out?” Michael asked as she passed him. He didn’t seem that annoyed anymore.
Maggie laughed. “Payback for the chilli.”
“Oh,” Michael smiled. He looked at me and then looked down abashedly. “I’ll explain later.”
“Bye guys!” They said.
“Bye,” I waved before she shut the door behind her. “I really like your sister.”
“Well, that makes one of us.”
“Aww,” I walked closer to him, “sad or mad?”
“Shut up,” he smiled.
I laughed. “You’re cute when you’re angry,” I said, making sure he knew I was reiterating his exact sentiment one of the first times I met him.
I shrugged. “I thought so.”
A lull entered the conversation and for what felt like a few minutes we didn’t do anything besides titling our heads from side to side as our smiles grew wider. The quiet play was silly enough to make him chuckle.
“Want something to eat or drink?” he asked, taking a step back.
“No, I better get going.”
He nodded. “Right, right…”
“So…thanks for the tour.”
“Yeah,” he breathed. “Sure.” I passed him heading to the door. “Hey—” I stopped and twirled back— “are you going to Ahly’s party?”
I nodded. “Yup.”
“Want me to pick you up?”
I smiled. He was getting his confidence back. “I can’t. After Ahly’s I’m going to a friend’s party.”
He lifted a brow. “Two in one night. How adventurous. I would never have guessed.”
I rolled my eyes. “Both Christmas parties happen to be on the same night, plus a work party. All in the same week.”
“Sounds tiring. Have fun.”
I turned half-way and stopped short. “Did you want to come with me?”
“I mean, to Ahly’s and then my friends’?”
He sighed dramatically. “If you insist.” I shook my head and walked out. He came to the door. “I’ll call you!”
The office party turned out to be more fun than I expected. No one got super drunk, but there was some twerking on tables that I couldn’t wait to show to the person who didn’t remember. Or pretended not to remember. Technology is so wonderful these days.
The office was going to be closed until about beginning to mid-January. Plenty of time to do our usual family visits. Speaking of family, my mom called and asked if I was coming around for Christmas. She’s never had to ask and I always came so it was a bit weird. When I acted like I’d have to fit her into my busy schedule, she asserted that I basically had no choice. I deserved her stone cold attitude; I mean, who am I to say that I’d have to check my schedule. I can be a real asshole sometimes; and to the wrong people too.
Tonight was the double-booked Ahly and Janet party. Ahly’s was first and then I was on my way to Janet’s. I opted for an all-over-sequinned shorts with sheer black panelling, a white cashmere top with a high-low hemline—to show off the shorts—with a split at the side the rose to the halfway mark; black booties went with it. I figured I wasn’t channelling the Christmas colours in my ensemble enough, if at all, so I wore ruby earrings. Green is nowhere to be found.
Michael was waiting for me downstairs so I quickly grabbed my black, leather clutch and rushed to the elevator where inevitable Eric was waiting.
“Oh, hey,” he said.
“Hi,” I smiled. The ride down used to be so short, now whenever I was near him it always felt longer than usual. Funny that.
“Hey, sorry I never called you. I’ve just been so busy.”
“Okay,” I said and then shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“Didn’t mean to leave you hanging like that.”
“I wasn’t waiting for a call, Eric.”
“Mmm,” he brushed off, nodding and appraising me with a deep though, “you look nice.”
The bell dinged me into freedom and out I went when I saw his date. She threw her arms all over him cheerfully. I strained so hard not to roll my eyes. This didn’t bother me; it was my first impressions about him being wrong that bothered me. So annoying when you’re wrong about a guy. Am I right?
“Oh, shit,” he patted himself from top to bottom, “I forgot my wallet. I’ll be right back.” He quickly scurried away.
“Isn’t he just the cutest?” the girl asked.
“Mm-hmm, super-duper. Can I…” I pointed to pass her at the entrance. Move bitch, get out of the way. Great song. Stuck in my head now.
“Never thought I’d meet a sexy lawyer in training. He’s going to do so much good one day. I can feel it.” I grinned, unable to help myself. I always want to warn a girl from my own experience but am afraid it’ll come off the wrong way. So I just remained quiet. “Oops,” she said, stepping aside, “sorry. Merry Christmas.”
“And to you!” I said, never so glad to see Michael’s face.
“Damn,” he frowned, looking me up and down.
I gasped. “What? Something ripped?”
“Just thought you’d be wearing sexy dress.”
“That is saved for New Year.”
He wriggled his brows. “Can’t wait.”
Is that foreshadowing I hear?
“That’s Chloe, Janet and her husband Stanley—”
“—husband?” Michael repeated.
I nodded. “Yeah, why?”
“They’re so young. I can’t imagine being strapped down so early on.”
I gulped and continued. “And over there is Jodie with her date.”
“Nice. Hey, I think I see Toby,” he said.
“Yeah, he and Chloe really hit it off.”
“Do I sense resentment?” Michael grinned.
I scrunched my face. “No!”
He laughed and held up a hand. “Alright. I’m going to grab another drink. You want?”
“Sure.” I handed in my cup and walked over to Janet when he went for a drink run.
“Hey, Janet!” I swooped her into a hug.
“Hey! Great party?”
I nodded. “Great party!”
“Okay, good. I was hoping people didn’t think I was a boring housewife now. On that note, feel free to get as drunk as humanly possible.”
“So, who’s your plus one?”
“Oh, he’s getting refills.”
Her smile dropped. “It’s a ‘he’?”
“Okay, don’t be mad, okay?”
I tilted my head. “What did you do?”
“Nothing! Not me,” she chuckled shakily. “Stanley.”
“Start with pointing the blame, always a good start,” I joked.
She laughed, still concerned. “What could I do? It’s his best friend.”
“Who?” Then, it started to slowly fade in. I quickly scanned the room. “Daniel’s here?”
“Well, no, not exactly. He said he might not be able to make it considering.”
“He lives in New York.”
“A little warning would’ve been nice.”
I smiled a little. “Ugh, whatever. I’m not going to let it bother me.”
“I mean, for all I know, he might not even show.”
“Good,” Janet nodded.
“Who won’t show?” a voice intruded into the conversation.
“An old friend,” Janet said to Michael as he handed me my drink. “She might be sick with…ebola…”
I widened my eyes a split second and almost burst out laughing. Out of all the things she could’ve said she chose that. Michael furrowed his brows. “Right, well…that’s…
“Hey, I don’t think you guys have formally met. Michael; Janet, Janet; Michael.”
“And that’s Stanley,” Janet pointed. “My husband.”
“She loves to make a note of that,” I said.
“She’s right, I do.”
Michael laughed. “Well, it’s a great party you got going here. Great drinks too.”
“Please, get blind drunk tonight,” Janet said.
Michael paused. A smile still attached to his lips. “Okay.”
“Awesome,” Janet said. “I’m going to join my husband.”
“See you!” I said.
“She’s funny,” Michael said.
“Yeah, and crazy.”
“Ha! Ignore that.”
He grinned. “Got it.”
Michael caught the attention of one of the girls at the party and asked for a refill. He handed her a twenty and just like last time, she magically came back.
“And keep ‘em coming,” he said, handing her a fifty.
“How do you do that?” I narrowed my eyes.
He put his hand up the wall beside my head and leaned in. “Do what?”
“Get your own personal butler ten minutes into a party.”
“On that note, what do you do?”
“What?” he smiled.
“For a living. What do you do? You know what I do.”
“Ah, yes, you sit at your little desk and find little books. It’s cute.”
“Hey, I said it was cute,” he smiled, bringing his fingertips to play with a lock of my hair.
“Don’t avoid the question. How can you afford to throw money at people and live where you live?”
“Oh-ho…” he laughed, pretending to be offended.
I blushed. “Not what I meant. It’s just the contrast is a little opposite sides of the spectrum, you know?”
I narrowed my eyes again. “You really won’t tell me?”
“I prefer mysteries.”
“Is that why you’re so attracted to me?” I somehow managed to ask.
He grinned. “That and other reasons.”
I smiled, blushing deeper. “Oh.” I really wasn’t expecting a serious answer.
“I’m going to kiss you now.”
I looked up expectantly, but beyond he caught my eye. I pushed Michael away. “Daniel.”
“Daniel?” he furrowed his brows, straightening up. “Who’s Daniel?”
***Merry Christmas! Soul xo***