We were at a new club tonight. This place was hot. The dance floor was packed, drinks were flowing, and bodies were touching. Steve and Saundra were all over each other, as usual. They sat next to me and Luke but I’m sure they didn’t notice us there, or anyone else for that matter. Eventually, they drifted off to the dance floor. Bob Marley moved bodies as he asked his “little darling” to “stir it up”.
Suddenly, I felt Luke’s strong arm wrap around my waist, his hand resting my thigh. His touch made me involuntarily readjust.
“Wanna dance?” he asked, the cool of his fresh breath tickling my ear.
“Sure,” I responded, casually.
We stood, made our way to the dance floor, not too far from Steve and Saundra and grooved to the music together. His touch shouldn’t have made me nervous. His gaze shouldn’t have sent chills down my spine. I’d known him for more than a decade. We were friends, good friends.
Twelve years ago my best friend Saundra and I were freshmen at Roosevelt High. One particular Saturday night we were raiding Saundra’s closet, looking for the most “grown up” outfits we could find, painting our nails and trying out different hair dos. I’d heard some juniors in my Trigonometry class talking about this hot party Steve Nichols was throwing this weekend. Being the weird, genius freshman in all junior and senior level classes did have some perks. I ran and told Saundra right away. Steve was her neighbor, just four houses down; we wouldn’t have to ask our parents for a ride, we wouldn’t even have to tell them. We could plan one of our usual sleepovers at her house, slip out when her parents weren’t looking and if anything went wrong we’d hurry back and just tell them we went for a walk or something. The night was bound to be perfect.
“What do you think of this one?” Saundra asked holding up a short, skin-tight, red dress.
“I don’t know. It might be a little much. Besides, there are no straps, how are you going to hold it up?” I asked playfully.
“Forget you,” my best friend responded, throwing the dress at me with a laugh.
“Okay, for real. We have to be smart about this. We can’t walk in there looking like freshmen that’re trying too hard.”
“But that’s what we are.”
“Yeah, but they don’t need to know that!”
I searched the entirety of her closet.
“Here, these are perfect!”
I pulled two pairs of skinny jeans off of the overhead shelf and tossed a pair to Saundra.
“Now we just need the perfect shirts.”
“How about this?” Saundra asked, holding a pink tube top against her chest.
I rolled my eyes and obliged. Who was I to put out her spark or dampen her excitement? When your best friend wants to look like a baby prostitute, you let her!
“Do you think we can look in your sister’s room for her black rolling stones t-shirt?” I asked.
“Why would you want to wear that? It’s all torn and faded.”
“It will make me look edgy and plus, I like the Stones!”
“You are one odd, little, black child,” she teased.
“Ha. Let’s just get the shirt before your sister catches us in her room.
Fully clad in our self-defined outfits of absolute crazy, sexy, cool, we were ready to tiptoe our adolescent asses out onto Saundra’s back porch and down the street to the party.
It was better than anything I could have expected. We were the only freshmen there but no one said anything to us or kicked us out like Saundra was afraid of, there was not one adult in sight and I could have sworn I smelled beer.
“Excuse me,” a deep voice spoke behind us, making us both jump. It was the party’s host.
“Do I know you?” he asked as we turned to face him.
“Um,” I said.
“Er,” my best friend said.
He smiled at our innocence. He asked my name and I told him. Those were the last words between us that night. From that moment on he had eyes for no one but Saundra.
“Could I get you a drink?” he asked her.
“Sure,” she replied, bashfully.
The rest was history. They’d fall in love deeper and deeper every day from that moment on. They were perfect. It was gross. I pretended not to care.
It was only moments later that I met Luke. Abandoned by my bestie, I stood alone at the punch bowl trying my hardest not to look lost.
“Are you in my Trig class?” he asked, suddenly standing right next to me.
“What?” I said, jumping a bit and dropping the punch bowl ladle.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“So, are you?”
“Am I what?”
“In my Trig class.”
“Oh, yeah, um, yes.”
“I thought so.”
He was hard to look at, even harder not to look at. It was damn near impossible not to get lost in his eyes. There was no map accurate enough to get a girl out of that wonderland. Even back then, Lucas Hamilton looked like sex on two legs. He was tall, dark and handsome with a blinding smile and magnetic personality.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me,” he said with his hands raised, snapping me out of my trance.
“Huh? What? Tell you what?”
“I asked what your name was.”
“Oh, sorry, I’m Olivia.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Olivia. I’m Luke.”
“Yeah, I, um, I, I heard someone calling your name earlier.”
“Of course,” he said with a knowing smile.
“Do you know Steve?” he continued.
“No. I don’t, I don’t really know anyone here. I don’t exactly belong here.”
“Hey, any fan of the Stones is a friend of mine and I was in charge of half of the guest list so, Olivia…”
He held out his hand to me.
“…will you be my guest?”
My heart fell out of my vagina.
As if in slow motion, my left hand reached out to him. Before I could make contact with the man I would love for the rest of my life, a petite ball of blonde bubbliness literally leaped into his arms. He had no choice but to catch her.
“Luke! I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” she said, her legs now wrapped around his waist.
“Hey, Chrissie,” he said, cupping her ass and not putting her the fuck down.
If I had a gun, I would have shot her. Okay, I wouldn’t have, but still.
She lowered her head and whispered something in his ear that plastered an instant smile on his face.
Yep, definitely would have shot her.
He carried her off and turned back to me.
“Have some more punch and don’t forget; you’re my guest. If anyone messes with you, you let me know.”
And just like that, he was gone.
I spent the rest of the night sitting outside of a closet, waiting for Saundra and Steve to stop sucking face so we could go.
Luckily, unluckily, okay maybe luckily for me, Steve and Luke were best friends. As Steve and Saundra got closer and closer, Luke and I spent more time together by default. We were the best friends left behind. I was his instant consolation prize. He, my instant target for unrequited love.
It’s been twelve years of pure torture.
He’s the player type meaning, he’s a downright player. He used to ask me for advice about girls but after Maxine Shell broke his heart back in college, he didn’t need any more advice; he knew how to play the game. Treat girls like shit, they will yell at you, then sleep with you, then you leave them, rinse and repeat. He was the ultimate bad boy, the asshole that stupid girls couldn’t stay away from. His behavior was nauseating but through it all we remained friends. I could see through his bullshit. Everything that lied right past the façade was beautiful and pure…and still fine as hell. Those were the parts I focused on.
“Where did you go?”
I snapped back to reality. I was back on that dance floor, back in his arms, back in this present moment that didn’t feel too much different from standing in front of that punch bowl all those years ago.
“Sorry, I was just thinking,” I said.
“I know. I like it.”
“When I think?”
“When you get lost like that. I always wonder where you go.”
“Oh please,” I responded playfully, pushing him away from me.
He pulled my back into his arms and held me tightly, our bodies melting to one and moving together.
“I mean it. I wonder what you’re thinking all the time.”
“Luke, you and I both know the only thing you’re ever wondering about is the color of this chick’s thong or what line would work on that chick’s tiny brain.”
He laughed with me, knowing it was true.
“You’ve got me all figured out, don’t you?”
“No one knows you like I do. So, stop tryna front.”
Yes, ma’am,” he replied with nothing more than that dazzling smile that makes my knees go out every time, every damn time.
He held me tighter. He had to.
The air was thick, my head was spinning and I needed a minute.
“I’m going to get some water from the bar, you want anything?” I asked.
“No, I’m alright.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back. Try not to fall into an entire sea of pussy while I’m gone.”
“Fuck you, friend.”
“Fuck you too.”
Her name was Olivia. She’d been my absolute best friend for twelve years and she had no idea how much I loved her.