Authors: Glynis Astie
Tags: #Romance, #Romantic Comedy
“Are you kidding me? Once you have a couple of glasses of wine in you, which is a given when you host dinner parties, you start in with the stories from when we were kids. Somehow I’m the one who always ends up sounding like an idiot.”
“I can guarantee this won’t happen.” She paused. “And even if it did, I’m sure Louis would find it charming.”
“I’m hanging up now. Louis will be here soon and I need a moment to collect myself.”
“Ha, ha. I love you. Have fun tonight and CALL ME tomorrow. I’m not letting you off the hook for dinner.”
“Bye, Kate. I love you too.” I hung up the phone and frowned. Kate and Nick were already asking to meet Louis. I loved them immensely, but the thought made me quite nervous. Maybe I was afraid I had been living in this amazing delusion and if I let anyone else in, everything would come crashing down. I couldn’t sustain this forever, so I guess I was going to have to deal with having them meet Louis. The only good thing was that for once my focus was on how to hide what was wrong with me and my family instead of my continuous quest to find out what was wrong with Louis. It was a refreshing change…
The next week and a half flew by. Louis and I spent every possible moment together and I was on cloud nine. Never in my life had a man made me feel so special, so sexy and so cherished. I was in a perpetual state of shock that this remarkable man appeared to be so enamored with me. Every woman should get to feel this good at some point in her life.
As I didn’t have a personality transplant, the thought was still in the back of my mind that something was wrong with Louis. Lest you think I was actually living in a romance novel, our relationship was
perfect. I found Louis had flaws just like I did - he could be quite a slob, he often had a short attention span and he was extremely spontaneous. Though some women might find spontaneity to be romantic, I found it troublesome in anything other than small doses. I liked to plan. Planning was my thing. It made me feel secure.
Since we were still in the early stages of our relationship, I felt I had to roll with whatever Louis threw my way. Above all, I didn’t want to appear to be high maintenance. So, when he called me at work on Thursday afternoon with a spontaneous party invitation, I gladly accepted. Never mind my desire to go home and curl up with him in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine. I had to do everything in my power to appear to be the perfect girlfriend. (If this is what I was; we hadn’t discussed this yet...)
The bonus to this little situation was Louis’s request for Maya to join us. He remembered her from the night I met him and wanted to provide company for Jean, who would be tagging along. I told him I wasn’t sure this was a good idea.
“What are you worried about,
I laughed. “You don’t know Maya very well, my friend. I’m not sure Jean can handle her.”
“Trust me. Jean can handle anyone.”
I smirked. “Really? You have
idea what you’re in for. Men have left her apartment in tears.”
Louis laughed. “They must not have been real men.” He paused. “What do you think she is going to do to Jean?”
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”
“I am intrigued, Sydney Bennett.”
“I’m sure you are. I bet you’re wondering now if you picked up the right girl that night.”
“I have no doubt I did. There was no contest.”
His complete certainty still caught me off guard. How could he possibly have been so sure the night he met me?
“You’re too kind,
. What time should we be ready?”
“How about I pick you up at seven? They will be serving food, so don’t snack too much while you are getting ready.”
He knew me too well. “I won’t. I have to be able to fit into my dress.”
“Only for the course of the party,
.” He chuckled.
His laughter was contagious. “You’re hilarious! I’ll call Maya about tonight. I hope for your sake she’ll be free.”
He seemed confused. “For my sake?”
“Maya always provides an unforgettable evening.”
Maya happily agreed to go to the party with us. She had one condition, which she reiterated to me when she arrived at my apartment after work.
“Don’t expect me to sleep with Jean, Syd.”
“Maya! When did I ever give you the impression this was expected? I don’t think of you as a call girl!”
She laughed. “You’re so easy to fluster. It’s fun.”
I swatted her in the behind as she walked by. “You suck. You know I’m nervous about your meeting, well, spending more time with Louis tonight. Not to mention the wild card we know as Jean.”
Maya went over to the mirrored closet doors in my bedroom to check her makeup, which was perfect, of course. She then straightened the hem on her teal mini dress. As if
were ever flawed or out of place on her body. It was hard to stand next to her as a normal human being. Minor issues would end up looking like major wardrobe malfunctions.
I joined Maya at the mirror and surveyed my appearance for the fifth time in the last hour. I had on a black tank dress with beading around the neckline, a light blue cardigan and high heeled black strappy sandals. I decided to keep my hair down and wear my favorite dangly earrings - silver with light blue stones. (Coordination is my middle name.) Maya had done my makeup, with the usual result of bringing me much closer to her level of perfection. This should have brought me some relief, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop fidgeting.
Maya put her hands on my shoulders. “Will you please
worrying? We’ll all have a good time tonight. I’ll keep Jean in check.”
On that I had no doubt. Maya had a way with people. She told things like she saw them and didn’t take crap from anyone. For some odd reason, people always listened to her. I wondered if it were the commanding tone in her voice, the expression of absolute certainty on her face or her incredibly attractive appearance. Perhaps it was a combination of all these things. Whatever it was - it worked.
I hugged her. “Thank you. Please promise me you won’t decide around your second drink that it would be funny to tell embarrassing Syd stories to Louis?”
She grinned at me. “I can’t promise anything. I don’t want to ruin MY
I sighed. “Maya, I’m taking Louis to dinner at Kate and Nick’s tomorrow night. I can’t have two nights in a row where I’m humiliated for sport. You know how hard I work to hide the crazy. You can’t just hand it to him!” I stared her imploringly in the eyes. “
“Fine, you win. I’ll be good.” With that, the doorbell rang and Maya and I were off for what I hoped would be a fun evening with Louis’ coworkers.
The party was being given by Louis’ coworker and newfound friend, Jake. Jake and Louis had bonded over mixed martial arts competitions and the two of them were discussing the latest fight within five minutes of our arrival, which left Maya, Jean and I to fend for ourselves. Jean had taken to Maya from the moment he met her, but I could see she hadn’t made her mind up about him yet. Jean left to find us some drinks and Maya and I found a comfortable couch in the corner of the living room.
Once Jean was out of hearing range, I leaned over to whisper in Maya’s ear. “So? What do you think of him?”
She scrunched up her forehead. “I don’t know yet. He’s certainly good looking, but I don’t know if we have anything in common.” She shrugged. “He might make a good boy toy.”
“Lovely. And you thought
was compromising your virtuous nature...”
Maya rolled her eyes. “I’m kidding. Besides, there are plenty of interesting young men at this party. I don’t have to commit to anything yet.” And by interesting, I was sure she meant hot.
As she surveyed the room, I followed her gaze and saw how right she was. For Maya, it was like being a kid in a candy store. Poor Jean was going to have to vie for her attention.
“I think I’m going to take a little tour of the room.” Maya smirked at me and sashayed her way over to a group of young men who seemed to be very happy to have their conversation interrupted.
Great. I had been at this party for ten minutes and had lost everyone I had come with. Even Jean had been sidetracked on his way to the makeshift bar in the kitchen. It seemed he and what I assumed to be some of his coworkers had delved into some pretty serious topics based on their facial expressions. Louis appeared to be in a deep discussion of the merits of the top tier of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, so I figured I would be on my own for a little while.
Louis had promised there would be food at this party and since I’m pretty much always hungry, I set off in search of something to eat. I managed to find some chips in the kitchen and was helping myself to some wine to go with my snack when I heard a voice behind me.
“Doritos and Burgundy? You can’t be serious.” I turned around to find a very good looking man with blond hair and green eyes smiling at me from the doorway.
I returned his smile. “There aren’t many options. What would you suggest?”
He stepped further into the kitchen. “Well, for starters, Doritos should only be consumed with beer, or soda if absolutely necessary.” He paused for effect. “You need at least cocktail weenies to warrant a glass of Burgundy.”
I laughed. “I’m sorry; no one has ever taught me proper party food etiquette.”
“Well, this must be your lucky day because I’m available for lessons.”
Uh oh. I think this man is flirting with me. What to do? He seemed nice and was certainly attractive, but my interests were very well engaged elsewhere. Maybe I’m imagining it. On more than one occasion in the past I have embarrassed myself by making a move on a guy I thought was interested in me. It would be best to keep things casual.
“Do you have a syllabus? I’d like to have an idea of what topics you’ll be covering.”
He took a few steps closer to me and lowered his voice. “I have it right here in my room if you’d like to join me. It’s a lot quieter in there, which would allow for better concentration.”
OK. Definitely not imagining it. I was trying to find a way out the situation, when I heard Louis’ voice.
“Matt! I see you have met my girlfriend.” Louis seemed cordial, but there was definitely an edge to his voice.
Matt took a few steps back. “Louis! I had no idea you had a girlfriend.” Something in his tone didn’t sound genuine. He grinned at me. “But I can certainly see why you are interested in....I’m sorry, I never got your name.”
I tried to speak, but nothing came out. I was a little freaked by all the testosterone in the room. I quickly cleared my throat. “Sydney. Sydney Bennett.”
Matt held out his hand, which I shook. “It’s very nice to meet you, Sydney Bennett.” He held my gaze and my hand for a little too long.
Louis came into the kitchen and slipped his arms around my waist. “I hope you will not mind if I steal my girlfriend back. We have much to catch up on.” He kissed my neck. Wow. This is
uncomfortable. I’m not used to feeling this way when Louis kisses me...anywhere.
Matt smiled stiffly at Louis. “Of course; I wouldn’t want to come between the two of you.” Matt picked up my hand and brought it to his lips. “I hope to see you again soon, Sydney.” And with one last smirk at Louis, he left the kitchen.
I turned to face Louis. “Who is THAT guy?”
Louis frowned. “He is an asshole.” His irritation was absolutely adorable.
I laughed. “Clearly he is an asshole you know. Do you work with him?”
“Well, if you can call what he does work. He has no idea what he is doing. He takes credit for other people’s work and tries to con all of our female coworkers into doing the rest of his assignments.” He sighed. “Sadly, many of them have fallen for his bullshit.”
I put my arms around him and kissed him on the nose. “He sounds like a
“I didn’t like him before, but when I saw him....what is it, ‘putting the moves’ on you, I began to detest him.” He clenched his hands into fists.
I grinned. “You’re adorable when you’re jealous.”
Louis smiled sheepishly. “I cannot help it. You have quite a hold on my heart.”
I stroked his face and gazed into his eyes. “I noticed you called me your girlfriend.”
He stared at me with surprise. “Isn’t that what you are?”
“I would love to be your girlfriend. Usually this is something two people discuss and decide together. I didn’t want to presume anything.”
Louis laughed. “You Americans are crazy! You do not have to talk about EVERYTHING. It is possible to just feel something.”
I nuzzled my head into his neck. “I’m very happy to be your girlfriend.”
“You say that now, but wait and see. You have no idea what you have gotten yourself into.” He smirked. His comment made me snort with laughter. “I could say the same to you.”
Suddenly there was a commotion from the living room. Louis and I immediately headed towards the whistling and catcalling.
About two seconds later, my jaw was on the floor. I had never expected to see Maya and Jean making out in the corner of the living room, completely oblivious to all the noise being made around them.
Louis and I burst out laughing. I was so shocked by her behavior, I found myself momentarily at a loss for words. “We must have missed something big. Maya
shows physical affection in public. I wonder what happened?”
Oddly enough, no one seemed to know. All we could glean from the few onlookers who had paid some sort of attention was that one moment they were on opposite ends of the couch and the next moment they were all over each other behind a gigantic plant. Maya had some serious explaining to do.