I hadn't seen him in ages, so when he walked through the door I almost mistook him for his brother. One glance at the girl hanging off his arm made me seriously doubt that it was him. But one look at his cold gray eyes and I knew it really was him. Heaving my still too-skinny body off the couch, I made my way across the room and skulked in a nearby corner. Oh, the tricks I had learned at the Mental Institute....
We casually ignored each other until we were jostled together by the party's host, Sean, wrestling with some guy that I vaguely recognized as someone I had gone to school with. Forced to at least apologize for being smacked into me, he smiled apologetically and feigned surprise as he recognized me.
"Oh, hi," I said, waving a hand in a lame-yet-cool greeting.
"I didn't see you there," he offered in return, but we both knew that he had seen me.
"That happens a lot when I turn sideways," I joked, and the corner of his lips twitched into a faint smile.
"Who are you?" girl-on-arm interrupted loudly.
I looked her over as quickly as I could, to avoid looking too long and getting a headache. Her overweight frame was stuffed into a too-tight jean miniskirt and a low-cut pink tank top. Her skin was so tan that she looked like a little orange, and her hair was a harshly dyed platinum blonde. I looked back up and kept my eyes trained slightly over her shoulder. "I'm Mimi. Ex-girlfriend extraordinaire."
"I'm Kenna," she said with a sneer. "Current girlfriend." She flipped her hair over her shoulder with a smug smile, waiting for my reaction. Ignoring her completely, I looked at Markus, waiting for his introduction.
Somber face set, he said in a deep, British accent, "Reid, Markus Reid." We had watched a lot of James Bond, when we had dated.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Reid," I said, shaking his hand firmly. With a nod of my head, I said chipperly, "Miss Kenna," and left.
I spent a good hour back on the couch, watching Markus and Kenna. I was joined by a slightly inebriated Sean, who was more than willing to dish the dirt on Kenna. Evidently she was a drama queen and liked her relationships rocky. Markus, being Markus, kept with her and simply averted her crap with his anti-dramatic aura.
Eventually, I got tired of watching Kenna grope Markus and snarl at other girls who dared to be in a three-foot radius of "her man," so I went to the kitchen for a drink. I grabbed a glass from the cupboard and dragged a bottle of whiskey from the cabinet behind the trash can, where Sean's parents always hid it. as I poured myself a half-glass of whiskey, I heard the clack of kitten heels and knew the oncoming clichéd scene before Kenna could even open her fat mouth.
"No, I'm not after Markus. I'm only interested in saying hi to an old friend," I said bluntly, taking a swig of whiskey.
"I wasn't even going to ask you that, b***h," Kenna bluffed. I poured myself more whiskey, knowing I'd need more by the end of the conversation. "But I'm glad you don't want to try to get him. It'd be a waste of your time." Kenna's smile was more smug than any smile I had seen.
"Because you've rocked his world and he'd never want to leave such a great sex-life," I guessed.
Kenna didn't even try to sound modest. "I'm a sex goddess."
Swigging the rest of my glass, I ditched the cup and took a swig from the bottle. Forget the end of the conversation, I needed more whiskey now. "I hate to break it to you, but I don't give a damn."
"He doesn't even like you anymore," Kenna blurted out, her tanning booth face going red. "He told me he has no feelings for you."
"Obviously he has some," I said dryly. "He said hello, didn't he? He usually ignores people when he's neutral. I'd say he's at mild friendliness right now." Smiling sweetly at her, I said over the rim of the whiskey bottle, "'No feelings' doesn't translate to hatred in his book, sugar."
Kenna turned redder and started to squeak. "You b***h!"
"Guilty," I said, nonchalant as I toasted her with a tip of my whiskey bottle. She stormed off in a huff of Abercrombie and Fitch rage, while I calmly drank my whiskey.
When I re-entered the party, I had the wonderful opportunity to watch Kenna rage and sulk while Markus tried his best to care. After a brief internal debate, prompted by another swig of whiskey, I dared to sit on a nearby couch, staring at Kenna a challenge to do something.
Evidently her 'something' was pouting.
After an hour, most of the party goers were either drunk or otherwise occupied, or both. So I turned to Markus and asked, "Did you watch the match last night?"
"I did. The Pilots were amazing," Markus said, leaning forward, his eyes sparking in interest.
"It was great to see UCLA knocked down a notch," I agreed, sipping at my whiskey.
"What are you talking about?" Kenna demanded in her nasal whine.
"Soccer," I said. "The Pilots kicked serious a** yesterday."
"Who?" she whined, glaring at me and giving Markus a pitiful pit-bull face.
"Portland," Markus and I answered at the same time. He grinned wolfishly and I toasted Markus with my whiskey bottle and drank to him.
Kenna's face was flushed with rage. Unable to resist baiting her further, I added, "Now we're definitely in the friendly frontier."
That did it for poor Kenna. She started shrieking and shouting about him leaving her for an anorexic whore while Markus sat and watched her storm. I've only seen him angry once, and that's not something I would ever want to provoke again. Then she stomped out the door, leaving me nursing my whiskey and Markus nursing his pride.
"Why do you date her?" I asked him, gesturing to the recently slammed door with a whiskey laden hand.
He shrugged. "She can be really nice." I snorted into my bottle, and he gave a reluctant grin. "And it's easier to date her than not to. Although I'm free for about two hours." He checked his watch and amended, "One and a half."
"So what's the usual song and dance after a scene like this?" I asked.
"I call her after five minutes. If she doesn't pick up, I try again in ten. I do that in ten to fifteen minute intervals until she picks up. Then I apologize and suck up until she forgives me."
When Markus began to pull out his phone, I held up a hand to stop him. "Here's a shocker- why don't you wait until she calls you?"
Markus shrugged again. "She gets pissed."
I grinned at him. "So what's stopping you?"
Shaking his head, Markus chuckled a little to himself and put his phone back in his pocket. "You're such a b***h sometimes," he said mildly.
"Again, guilty," I said, happily sipping my drink, before setting it aside. No need to get wasted if Kenna wasn't here and Markus was. I had learned my lesson about being drunk while Markus was around, either on my mind or at the party. Last time had ended up in an one-night stand that ended up making me the ex-girlfriend extraordinaire. "That's fantastic whiskey," I said, to keep the conversation going. "Remind me to thank Sean's parents for it."
"More like ask then where they got it," Markus said, his voice teasing but his eyes focused darkly on the alcohol. There was a pause before Markus asked, "Someone called you a b***h?"
"Only Kenna," I said dismissively. "Surprising, isn't it? Normally I get at least six people by now." I saw Markus' serious face and sighed. "It doesn't bother me, Mar. I've been called worse, especially during that little rant of hers. Have I really been using your leg as a tampon?"
That cracked a grin onto Markus' face. "No. Usually Kenna does. She's always running out, I guess, with her constant PMS."
I laughed. By midnight, my face was stinging from smiling so much. In the middle of a joke, Markus' phone rang. The smile slid off his face when he read the caller I.D. "Kenna," he said, sighing heavily. "I guess I'd better take it."
"Don't," I told him.
"I know you don't like her," he started, but I cut him off.
"You've been having a great time, at least from what I can tell. If you answer her, you'll get yelled at and then the rest if your night will be ruined."
The phone rang one last time, before beeping and falling silent. "I guess I missed the call," he said, waving the phone loosely in his hand.
"I guess you did."
Feeling tired, I reached for the bottle again, and he said quietly, "I've missed being like this."
"Me too." The quiet that had always filled me seemed to have fallen into the half-empty bottle, sinking to the bottom and stirring up words that floated to the top of the amber liquid. I took a sip, tasting the words that I had been wanting to say ever since Markus and I broke up. "I've missed you, Mar. You and your late night phone calls and our stupid James Bond jokes."
"Why didn't you call?" he interrupted. "It was like you fell off the face of the Earth after that night."
"I did," I said, thinking of the horrible night that had lead me to this point, the night when I was stupid and drunk enough to sleep with Lukas, Markus' charming older brother. Shaking my head, I repeated, "I did. And then I landed in an Institution for eating disorders and other behavioral problems." Understanding flashed in his eyes, but I ignored it and continued like he hadn't interrupted me. "But most of all, I've missed being with you." He blushed a little at the double meaning. "When we were like that, I felt so... beautiful."
Markus' phone rang five times before going to voicemail. "Kenna's going to be mad," he said dully. "I haven't answered her twice now."
"She'll be mad anyways," I reminded him, setting the whiskey back on the end-table.
" I know. I don't really are, anyways. She'll be mad no matter what I do." His tone was matter-of-fact.
"Do you want to give her a real reason to be angry?" I asked, standing up and started for the hallway.
"Are you being serious?" he called after me, scrambling to his feet and following me. "Or are you being a b***h?" he asked as I slipped into Sean's parents' bedroom and climbed up into the attic crawl space.
"Both," I said over my shoulder, making my way over to the small pile of cushions that Sean, Markus and I had made in order to make the attic a hang-out when we were ten. Seating myself on the cushions, I added, "But I'm always a b***h."
"I always liked that about you," he said mildly, seating himself across from me. I boldly reached out to play with his sweatshirt tie, twisting it around my fingertips. He didn't move away as he repeated softly, "Are you serious?"
"I'm always serious about these things," I told him.
His phone rang again. On the third ring, he picked it up, opened it and hung up. "She's going to be angry," I told him with a small smile.
"She doesn't have a right. She's just calling to pick a fight with me, her now ex-boyfriend." I laughed a little when he added, "At least for now."
The laughter dropped from my lips when I whispered, "It might take the night to make me feel beautiful, like old times...."
He sighed and whispered my name in a way that told me that Kenna would have plenty of reasons to be angry in the morning.
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