For the last month everything has been tasteless to me until tonight. I’m currently halfway through an enormous plate of pasta, probably making up for all of the missed meals. After weeks of hiding out in my apartment, my roommate finally talked me into going out and getting back into the world. Nothing too fancy, just dinner at a restaurant nearby.
“This is the most I’ve seen you eat in weeks,” Dawn says as I take another big bite of my alfredo.
“I forgot how good food tastes,” I admit. It really sucks that a breakup reduced me to such a hot, pathetic mess but it did.
After three years together Quinn and I finally went our separate ways. It’s been hard to let it go because I don’t really know where things went wrong, only that they did. In the beginning, it was great. I thought he was everything I wanted and every one of my little boxes were checked for the perfect mate. He has a good job, a nice place to live and he was attentive and sweet to me. There was no rush to jump into bed together. We genuinely liked spending time together.
The more I think about it, the more I realize it was just one of those gradual things where over time, the spark that was there when we met started to die out. I knew something was wrong, but since I didn’t want to rock the boat and make things worse, I kept quiet. That proved to be a mistake because a month ago, Quinn pulled the rug out from under me and told me he was done. Of course I wanted to work on things but it was too late. I should have spoken up when I knew something wasn’t right, but I had been too chicken shit to do it.
Now I’m alone and wondering where the hell Quinn is right now. I shouldn’t care where he is or what he’s doing or who he’s doing it with, but it can’t be helped. I still want the chance to try and work things out because things were so good between us once upon a time. Of course Quinn hasn’t answered a single one of my calls since the night we broke up. He even boxed up my stuff and left it on my doorstep overnight three days after we broke up. That was the last ‘contact’ I had with him.
“Well keep eating. I swear you’ve lost at least fifteen pounds in the last few weeks,” Dawn says, as if I don’t know.
My clothes are all baggy on me which is a sure sign I’ve lost weight in the last few weeks. I’ve always been the girl that doesn’t eat when she gets upset, instead of being the girl that eats her hurt. My mind is too occupied with my emotions to think about the last time I ate. I know it’s not healthy but it’s just the way I cope.
“Don’t worry, I’ll put it all back,” I promise her.
“You better. There’s no way a jerk like Quinn deserves to have that kind of power over you.”
She’s right and I know it. If Quinn really wanted to be with me he would have fought for our relationship and he didn’t. He just walked away from it.
“You’re right,” I agree with her.
“You can do so much better than Quinn, honey. There are tons of guys that would kill to spend time with you,” she insists.
“There are tons of guys that would love to hit and quit it,” I correct her.
“And that’s a bad thing? You’re young, single and you have tits that I would have to pay a surgeon for,” she says, making me blush. “Fuck Quinn.”
I sigh and take a bite of my cheesy garlic bread. It’s probably not the healthiest first big meal to have but it’s not like I can’t use the extra calories–which gets me thinking about dessert.
“You’re right,” I say again.
“Damn skippy I am,” she says firmly.
I lean back in my chair and look around the restaurant. It’s Friday night so it’s a little busier than usual. The noise level isn’t too loud, but there are plenty of people seated at the tables and booths nearby. My head turns just a little to the left and my heart stops.
There’s Quinn at the bar with a couple of his buddies. They’re all laughing about something and have beers in their hands. I watch him tilt his head back to finish off the drink in his hand and when he rights his head, he looks straight at me. I nearly drop my garlic bread, but then realize that even though he’s looking right at me, he’s not really looking at me. His eyes shift like I’m not even there and I don’t know if I’m more hurt by it or if it makes me angry that he can just look at me like I don’t exist, like we didn’t spend three years together.
In that moment I fucking hate Quinn. I hate him for ever coming over to me at that stupid bar I never even wanted to go to. I hate him for asking me out. I hate him for getting me to fall in love with him. I hate him for making plans for a future that included me. I hate him for leaving me. I just hate him.
“What’s wrong?” Dawn asks, but I can’t stop staring at Quinn.
Out of my peripheral vision I see her head turn to look where I’m staring. Quinn has gone back to talking with his buddies and joking around about whatever the hell it is they’re talking about.
“That son of a bitch,” Dawn hisses.
She starts to stand up and that’s when I finally look away.
“Dawn, don’t,” I whisper yell. “Please, just leave him alone.”
“He deserves a serious punch in the balls,” she says, but sits back down.
“Yeah, maybe he does but it’s not worth it. Just leave him be.”
My appetite disappears and whatever confidence I’d built up deflates. I know Dawn can see it because she summons a waiter and asks for our check. Once my food is wrapped up to take home, Dawn leads me out of the restaurant but we don’t go to the car.
“Come on,” she says when I look at her funny.
“Where are we going?” I just want to go home, take a long bath and cry.
“Puzzles,” she says. She’s referring to a neighborhood bar that I’ve been to a handful of times over the years.
“No, Dawn, I don’t feel like going to a bar tonight.”
“Too bad. We’re going and you’re going to get completely shitfaced. You’re going to find a cute boy to dance with, maybe make out with a little bit and then tomorrow we’re going to rid you of everything in our apartment that reminds you of that Mr. Clean Knockoff because you deserve to be happy,” she says with determination. “Now come on, let’s go.”
I let Dawn drag me down the block to the bar because trying to fight her on it will be a complete waste of my time. I end up throwing away my pasta when I pass by a trashcan since there’s no point in holding onto it if she’s going to get me drunk. Puzzles is even busier than the restaurant was, but that’s to be expected.
“What do you want to drink?” she asks me.
“Uh… surprise me,” I shrug. “I’ll go find a table.”
It takes a minute to find a vacant one and it takes going out to the smoker’s patio in order to find it, but I manage. There’s an outdoor dance floor and an area where people can play Bags. I plop down at the table on the plastic patio furniture and wait for Dawn to come outside. I feel a little under-dressed for the Friday night crowd but I’m definitely not going home to change.
Dawn comes out a few minutes later carrying these jar mugs that look like they have lemonade with halved strawberries in them. She hands one to me and takes a seat across from me at the table.
“What is this?” I ask her.
“Lemonade,” she says with a shrug and wink.
I take a sip and immediately note the kick from the vodka in it. Yep, this is dangerous. It’s delicious and refreshing and if I’m not careful I’ll be drunk as a skunk in less than an hour.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you get too drunk,” Dawn promises.
Yeah, after living with her for five years I know what her idea of ‘too drunk’ is. I definitely don’t want to throw up in public. Yet I find my lips are pretty much stuck to the straw like Dawn slathered it in super glue before giving me my mug.
“So do you see anyone interesting?” she asks me after a few minutes pass.
“Not yet.” I really don’t think her ‘get over Quinn by getting under someone else’ plan is the best idea.
Out of nowhere she asks, “Chocolate or vanilla?”
I look at her with confusion.
“Just answer the question. Chocolate or vanilla?”
I shrug and say, “I don’t know… vanilla. What does it matter?”
She smiles and gets out of her chair without answering me. I watch her walk across the patio to where a game of Bags is being played and she taps a tall blonde guy on the shoulder to get his attention. Immediately I know what she’s doing and I turn around again to gulp down the rest of my drink so I don’t make an ass of myself when she inevitably leads him over to the table to talk to me.
Now I think I hate my roommate, too.
Alcide and I are out ‘celebrating’ my breakup. I don’t feel like celebrating shit, but according to Al there’s only one way to get over a breakup, and that’s to get over a new pair of tits.
I don’t necessarily agree.
Tara and I were together just over a year and a half. I bought an engagement ring two months ago, but before I could propose she came to me crying. She’s pregnant, and not with my baby. Since she told me she wanted to wait for kids we always used condoms even though she was on birth control.
She explained that she met the other guy — Franklin — at work and things just happened. Fucking whore. At least that’s how I feel about her. I’m sure Franklin is completely content with her. I don’t care anymore… or so I keep telling myself.
I’m standing by the Bags after doing a shot of fireball when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see a saucy little brunette smiling up at me.
“Can I help you?” I ask. I know it’s a little dickish, which Alcide promptly reminds me of by punching me in the arm. Fucker.
“You can, actually,” she says, completely undeterred by my attitude. The woman turns and points across the patio to one of the tables that way. “See that blonde over there in the white top with the long, tan legs and the mug in her hand?”
“Yeah,” I nod and look back at the brunette.
“Well, she needs someone to dance with so I was wondering if you might be interested in helping her out with that,” she says.
“She’s not capable of finding her own dancing partner?” I ask and jerk forward when Alcide smacks me in the back.
The woman leans closer and says, “She’s shy.”
“He’ll go,” Alcide tells her with a smirk, eyeing the brunette.
“Excellent,” she smiles, her eyes shifting to Alcide. “You need a dance partner, handsome?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Al grins, flashing his dimples.
“Good,” she says. She steps around me to get closer to Alcide.
I take a look at the blonde. She’s pretty. She also looks sad, she has that same heartbreak written all over her face that I’m feeling right now. I’m not interested in talking to anyone, but I guess one dance can’t hurt.
I ask Alcide’s new friend what Blondie is drinking, because I don’t want to be rude or look like a douche. I order the drink and look down as I make my way over. I try to avoid looking too much simply because I don’t want to seem like that guy.
“Excuse me,” I smile weakly when I approach her. She’s not looking at me either. “You look like you could use this.” I set the mason jar down on the table in front of her. “I also heard you need a dance partner.”
She laughs and with a look of embarrassment says, “I apologize for Dawn. She doesn’t really understand about personal boundaries.”
“She clearly can’t take a hint,” I smile with a little blush. “I’m Eric,” I introduce myself as I reach for her hand.
“Sookie,” she says as she takes my hand. “Thank you for the drink. Do you want to sit?”
“You’re welcome… Sure.” I scoot the chair out and when I sit my knees knock hers. “Shit, sorry,” I blush again.
“It’s unavoidable with those stilts,” she says with a smile.
“Ah… yeah, you’d think I would be used to them by now.” This time when I smile I don’t blush, and surprisingly I’m not irritated to be talking to her. She already seems to have a good sense of humor. At least I hope so if she’s going to be my partner for the night.
“It is a little troubling when our body parts get in our way, isn’t it?” Sookie grabs the drink I put down for her and takes a sip. “I haven’t been able to swing a bat properly since I was twelve.”
I chuckle and glance down at her tits. They are nice. I immediately look back at her face so she doesn’t think I’m coming on to her.
“I still trip over these ski boats,” I admit as I kick my foot out, accidentally kicking her chair. “See.” I pull my foot back. “Wait till I get you on the dance floor. You may need to stand on my feet so I don’t step on you.”
Some of Sookie’s drink sloshed out of her mug when I kicked her chair so she mops at the wet spot with a napkin and says, “Maybe bubblewrap is in order.”
“Ahh… sorry. I am a bit clumsy.” I take a sip of my beer before asking, “So why do you look so sad?”
“Would you believe it’s because I had to throw away the rest of my leftover pasta from dinner since we didn’t go home right away?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say completely serious. I’m intense when it comes to food.
“Seriously, it’s the best alfredo I’ve ever had,” she says with a dreamy look on her face.
“It’s a crime to throw away good pasta. A moment of silence,” I say and hold up my beer.
Sookie bows her head in response but I can see a little smile on her face. A few seconds later she lifts her head and raises her mug to my beer.
“Alfredo, I hardly got to eat you. Peace out,” she says, and then sips her drink.
I take a gulp of my beer before looking out at the dance floor to see Alcide and Dawn pawing all over each other.
“You wanna dance?”
“My health insurance is up to date. Why not?” she says with a shrug.
I finish my beer and stand from my seat. I extend my hand and wait for her to take it.
“After you,” I smile.
Sookie stands up and takes my hand. She’s about six inches shorter than I am, but still taller than most girls. Those long legs of hers definitely help, and hard not to stare at as she leads me through the crowd to the outdoor dancefloor.
When we get on the dance floor it’s pretty crowded so we have to squeeze in. It’s awkward to say the least. I’m not a terrible dancer, but I rarely do it. I’m sure I look ridiculous with my long limbs as well.
I lean down and say over the music, “I don’t do this often. I don’t think I’ll step on you though.”
“I think you’ll be just fine,” she says confidently. “I can always ice my toes later if I have to.”
I give her a polite smile as I gently place my hands just below her ribs. The music has a good beat and as I begin to sway, it’s clear Sookie is the better dancer. I just worry I look like an idiot.
Of course our friends dance near us and I growl when Alcide ‘accidentally’ bumps into me so I’m smashed against Sookie.
“Sorry,” I tell her, but don’t move to put the distance between us again. My breakup is new, but it feels good having a soft body against mine.
“It’s good I’m not the only one with a friend that doesn’t know when to butt out,” she says with a smile and doesn’t step back.
The song changes and we move a bit faster. The crowd gets a little bigger so I press in tighter. My hands shift to her back so I’m holding her against my chest.
“Do you want to stay out here?” I ask over the music.
“We can take a breather whenever you’re ready,” she says back.
“Okay.” I just squeeze her tighter to me and her hands move up from my arms to lock behind my head. “I think I’m perfectly fine here for now.”
“You’re actually not a bad dancer,” she says with surprise.
“Thanks. My girl– ex-girlfriend hated dancing with me. She said I’m too tall and she felt awkward with me.”
“My ex hated dancing too, but mostly because he didn’t like other guys looking at me when I did it,” she tells me.
“Then it’s a good thing he’s an ex. You’re the kind of girl that needs to be shown off,” I flirt. I have no idea where it came from.
“You think so, huh?” she smiles up at me. “I’m still getting used to the idea of him being an ex, but you’re probably right.”
“Yeah? How long? I keep forgetting mine is no longer in my life.”
“A month. I saw him while we were at dinner, which is how we ended up here,” she explains.
“Ah, Alcide brought me out to ‘celebrate’ my single status. It’s been two weeks for me. I’m pretty sure if I saw her right now I’d probably down a whole bottle of Jack,” I tell her.
“It sucks, doesn’t it? I swear Quinn looked right at me like I wasn’t even there. Three years and to him, I don’t exist,” she says.
“That’s shitty,” I frown. Since we’re already pressed against each other I wrap her in a hug. I haven’t gotten a hug since Tara left.
“Like you said, it’s a good thing he’s an ex, right?”
“Right,” I nod, but don’t let go. We sway together to a song I don’t recognize. “Need another drink?” I offer.
“That would be great.”
I let her go, grabbing her hand as we exit the floor. I keep her hand in mine as we make our way to the bar. It’s not an intimate gesture, just easier to keep her with me in a busy bar.
I pull her up next to me when we reach the bar. “Same thing?” I ask her as we wait for the bartender.
“Yeah. That lemonade is delicious,” she tells me.
“I’ll have to try it. I’m doing fireball shots with a beer chaser,” I grin. The bartender approaches and I order our drinks.
We go silent while we wait, but as soon as I pay for the drinks I raise my shot.
“To… hell, I don’t know what to drink to.” I’m already kinda drunk.
“To being better off alone than staying with assholes that don’t appreciate us,” she says while raising her mug.
“Here, here,” I grin. I shoot back the fireball and slam the glass down with a hiss. “Shit, that’s hot,” I chuckle.
Sookie takes a few gulps of her drink and then asks, “What is a fireball shot? I don’t think I’ve ever had one.”
“It’s like a goldschlagger. Cinnamon liquor that burns like a son of a bitch. You want one?” I offer, pulling my wallet back out.
She looks like she’s debating over it but then she says, “Sure. You only live once, right? But this round is on me.”
“If the lady insists,” I nod, tucking my wallet away.
I call the bartender back. I tell him we want another round. He just raises an eyebrow, but goes to pour our shots.
“Okay, I feel like I should warn you that I’m a lightweight. I don’t usually drink very much so I’ll be at my max quickly. And I laugh uncontrollably when I’m drunk,” Sookie informs me. Her eyes shift and her jaw drops. “Oh. My. God.”
I follow her gaze and notice my best friend has his tongue down her friend’s throat.
“Well, they aren’t wasting any time I see,” I chuckle.
“Dawn’s not really known for her chaste nature,” Sookie laughs as well and mutters something about chocolate while she pays for our drinks.
“Al isn’t so selective himself,” I laugh with her. “To easy friends? Is that too lame?” I continue to laugh and hold up my shot.
“Works for me,” she says. Sookie clinks her shot glass against mine and then tosses back her shot all at once instead of sipping it like some girls do.
“Whoo, spicy,” I hiss again. “How you feeling down there, turbo?”
“Sparky? Honeysuckle? Schmoopy? Is it too soon for schmoopy?” I wink.
“It’s always too soon for Schmoopy,” she laughs. “And that shot was delicious. I wouldn’t really call it spicy, though.”
“Cinnamon is a spice. It’s spicy,” I shrug. “Can I taste your lemonade?”
“Sure.” Sookie hands me her mug. “I’m going after those drunk strawberries in a minute.”
“Thanks.” I take a normal person sized drink. “That’s fucking amazing,” I practically moan. I start swishing it around trying to get a strawberry close to the lip. I’m getting ready to take another swig when Sookie snatches it back from me.
“Get your own, Schmoopy,” she says.
“I still have my beer, Honeysuckle. I just wanted one more teeny, tiny sip,” I pout.
“You wanted my strawberry,” she accuses. “I saw you trying to chase it out of the mug.”
“Maybe just a nibble of a strawberry,” I lie. I want a whole one. Jesus, the fireball is starting to go to my head. I start swaying slightly. Hopefully she’s too drunk to notice.
Sookie giggles and says, “I don’t give my strawberry to a guy I just met.”
I give her a blank look for about ten seconds before I burst out laughing.
“You’re cute,” I grin and tuck her hair behind her ear.
“Thanks. So are you.”
“Thanks back.” I move my hand to her shoulder to hold myself up. “Don’t worry, I’m not one to share my… I’m not the kind of guy to try to take a lady’s strawberry upon the first meeting.” I hope she knows I’m not talking about the fruit, because I still want one soaked in vodka.
Sookie glances toward Alcide and her friend and says, “Then we better stay away from the Smucker’s plant over there.”
I look over and start laughing again. “You’re funny, too,” I tell her. “I like that.”
“You can thank the booze,” she says, and plucks the strawberry out of her mug to take a bite.
“Come on, just a nibble. That’s all I want,” I pout as I eyeball the fruit.
Sookie considers it for a moment and then holds up the rest of the strawberry for me. In a very uncharacteristic move I lock eyes with her and I wrap my lips around the berry, taking her fingers into my mouth. I suck lightly and lick her thumb as I pull back.
“Delicious,” I groan without taking my eyes off of hers.
“Yeah,” she agrees.
I give her a soft smile and then look away before I decide I need to kiss her. I certainly don’t need to kiss her. Neither of us are in a spot for something like that, regardless of Alcide insisting that I need new tits to touch, or as he says ‘suck and fuck’. He’s a bit of a tool.
Instead I take a drink of my beer, grab Sookie’s hand and ask, “You want to get back on the floor?”
“Lead the way, Schmoopy,” she giggles.