NYE Part 2
I stared at Mallory, mouth partially open. I gave her the once over to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Nope, that was the same dress I was wearing, down to the leather trim and pink accents. The only difference I could tell was that she must have had the neckline taken in because it plunged lower than mine, showing off her perfect double Ds. Her hair was tied back in its signature short afro, and even her strappy studded stilettos looked fierce. Next to her, I looked like the little sister playing in Big Sister’s closet.
My face was flaming and my eyes watered. Normally I’d be praying that Mallory wouldn’t notice, but I didn’t have to worry since she was too busy giving Nic a kiss on the cheek hello.
“Come on this way!” Mallory lead us over to the corner of a room where a bar was set up. If she noticed the dress yet, she didn’t say anything.
Didn’t take long for the bitch to act like she owns the place, I thought bitterly to myself. I ordered a glass of champagne and had it drained in less time than it took for Nic and Mallory to place their orders.
Nic blinked at me. “Wow. I haven’t seen someone chug something like that since college,” he said half amused, half weirded out.
“Thirsty,” I said lamely as I held out my glass for a refill. While the bartender was refilling my glass, I took the opportunity to look around a bit. The living room was massive and opened up onto a huge deck, complete with a gazebo and what looked like a swimming pool with hot tub. To the left, I saw another sitting room and gigantic office.
“Nice place, huh?” Nic said casually, grabbing the gin and tonic handed to him.
I nodded. I couldn’t hardly even fathom that I was in such a beautiful house, must less dream about owning one, and said so while Mallory ordered a glass of white wine.
Nic nodded to the right. “See that? He’s got his own indoor basketball court.”
“How old is TJ?” I hissed under my breath, not wanting Mallory to hear me for some reason. TJ looked so young and I couldn’t imagine what he would do with such a huge house.
“22,” he said as she turned back to us. He started to say something else, just then Mallory turned back, glass of white wine in her hand. I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a guy younger than myself had a house this fantastic and huge while I crunched numbers right and left trying to figure out mortgage on a condo when Mallory looked over my head.
“Hi TJ!” she cooed, speaking over my left shoulder.
I turned, and looked up. And up. And up. TJ easily stood a good foot taller than me, even in my black pumps.
“Hey Nic,” TJ said, resting his hand on Nic’s shoulder. He leaned forward and gave me a little one armed hug. “Good to see you again, Maddie.” Finally, his gaze rested on Mallory. “And you must be Nic’s other friend?”
“Mallory Anders,” she said, stepping forward and offering her hand. TJ’s huge hand engulfed her tiny one as they shook. “Thank you so much for having me. What a beautiful house.”
TJ looked around like it was the first time he had seen the place and gave a little shrug. “Yeah, I like it,” was all he said.
Mallory waited a beat for him to say more, and when it was apparent TJ was done, she opened her mouth the same time Nic did.
“Hey are you two wearing the same dress?” he asked, looking between the two of us, noticing for the first time.
“Oh my god, too funny! I didn’t realize it at first! I just grabbed this quick in Chicago last week when I was in town visiting my parents!” Mallory said with a little laugh. “You look fantastic in it, Maddie!”
Anyone in the world would have believed she was sincere by the tone of her voice, but it grated on my nerves like nobody’s business.
“Yes, she does,” TJ said, giving me a smile. I imagining things or did his eyes look a little sympathetic? I shot him a grateful look back and thanked him. TJ seemed like a genuinely nice guy and gave no vibes whatsoever he was interested in being more than just friendly. Thank god. I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with it if there was anything behind the friendly gestures.
TJ excused himself to go greet incoming guests and left the 3 of us alone again.
“Dance?” Nic suggested, and shrugging, I followed the two of them towards the makeshift dance floor in the corner of the huge room, figuring one way I could ditch Mallory was to find her a good looking man to pair up with. Looking around the room, I figured it’d be pretty easy.
Two hours later after sharing every dance with the two of them, I realized how utterly wrong I was. Mallory had no intention of leaving us alone and my envisions of a romantic night with Nic were dashed long ago when I realized I wouldn’t get a word in with him that wasn’t overheard or drowned out by loud music.
“Bathroom,” I shouted in Nic’s ear over the music and gestured to the other side of the room where I presumed they were located. Nic gave me a little nod and gave me the thumbs up sign.
Locking the door behind me, I slid down against it until I was on the floor. I checked my phone. 11:14. At minimum I had another 45 torturous hours to go.
How’s girls night? I texted Katy, hoping for a little distraction.
great! we’re about to break out Dirty Dancing, and the pizza should be here any minute. How’s the fancy pants party?
I clicked my phone off instead of answering her right away. Rubbing my thumb in little circular patterns on the back of the case, I pondered what went wrong. I had such high hopes for the night. I bought a gorgeous dress, went to a fancy party, and even had plans to ask Nic to stay over at my place for the first time if all went well. Now? I just wanted to be in my own leggings and hoodie on Katy’s couch, fighting over the last slice of pepperoni.
sucks. Was all I wrote back.
Katy’s reply was immediate. Ditch it and come here.
Hope shot up, but I immediately squashed it. I couldn’t just leave the party early. My phone went off again and I looked down. We got both pepperoni and Canadian bacon and pineapple coming.
I stood up. That did it. Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza was my weakness in life. Before I could stop myself, I wrote back to Katy and told her I was on my way. I ordered a car, and saw it was supposed to be here in 3 minutes. Perfect. Just enough time to slink out before someone noticed me.
I was just grabbing my jacket when I heard TJ’s voice.
I whirled around and saw TJ coming out of the kitchen with a case of water in his hands.
“Yes, I’m not feeling well. Thank you for the lovely party,” I said awkwardly. TJ was a really nice guy and I felt guilty bailing on a party he put so much effort into.
He gave me a level look. “Nothing to do with that Mallory girl, was it?”
I flushed, which seemed to be enough of an answer for him. He shook his head. “She seems nice enough, but Nic is a little oblivious, don’t ya think?”
Fortunately, my phone buzzed right then and I was spared the need to answer. Or think about what TJ meant.
“Car’s here,” I said instead, holding up my phone.
TJ smiled. “Have a good night then. Thanks for coming.”
I disappeared out the door. Just as I settled into the car, my phone went off again. This time it was Nic.
I bit my lip, unsure of how to answer. Finally, I just wrote, Not feeling well. Too much to drink. Need to go home.
I felt like I stared at the 3 dots for ages before Nic’s response finally came through.
k. call you tomorrow.
I read the text over and over, trying to determine the tone. Did he sound disappointed? Nonchalant? Finally, I shoved my phone back into the bag and, happy I was able to salvage at least part of the evening, decided to quit overanalyzing things for once.