Better Late Than Never

I knew all day Sally was having a party but I didn’t know how to tell Ted.  He’s away in North Carolina with his family and I haven’t seen him since the last time he visited me down the shore in LBI like a week ago.  It’s hard to tell him things like this because he’s so sensitive and even though I know he would tell me I could go anyways, he would secretly rather me stay home.  He always says he doesn’t want to be the over protective boyfriend, but I know that deep down he is really over protective.  It doesn’t show often, but we’ve been dating for over six months now so it’s pretty easy to read his mind.  It’s gotten to a point where we don’t even have to say anything and we can just look into each others eyes and be perfectly happy, reading every emotion that passes through the others mind just by staring.  It can be good and bad.

Once I was sitting with Ted before I left for LBI in my basement. We were just hanging out watching TV and cuddling on my long, green couch.  That couch has been through many adventures with me.. Sometimes I like to sit on it and just reflect on how many guys have sat on it next to me.  Woah that sounded slutty.. it was only like three to be specific so don’t get ahead of yourself haha.  It’s so funny and definitely something Ted doesn’t know about and hopefully couldn’t read on my mind when I flashed back to Gary.  I quickly shook the thought out of my memory as I received another text from Pheobe.  She was at another one of Sally’s parties; apparently Gary was there.  This shouldn’t have struck me as surprising because Gary is really good friends with Sally’s older sister, Brain.  Sally and I have been best friends ever since I moved in fourth grade so I’m basically like family that’s how close we are. Sally, Brain and Mih.  Brain and Mih are two years older, going into their sophomore year of college.

Phoebe’s text lit up my phone and as I reached for it Ted was looking over my shoulder, something that I bother him for doing every time he does it.. which is unfortunately often.  Not that I ever have anything to hide, it’s just kind of like an invasion of privacy even for my friends.  Phoebe was already drunk at Sally’s, so her texts were careless and random.  And ironically this time I kind of did need to hide them.

“Gary alert” was the first text she sent me.  I hid it from Ted easily the first time and tried to avoid as much Gary-conversation as possible.  I answered vaguely stating that I had to go and I’d talk to her later.  She then responded with a “he looks so good omg come now”.  I was just as shocked as Ted when he asked for the second time now;

“Who is she talking about?!” Not angrily, never angrily.  But I responded with a somewhat nervous laugh.

“Honestly, it’s probably Gary.”  His smile faded, his face dropped.  His eyes fell with them and so did his heart.  I could feel the mood fall too as silence swept over the room.  He knew about me and Gary’s past because Gary was one of the few other guys that was ever really a part of my life enough for me to tell him about it.  The rest of the night I could read the sadness in his eyes.  I had plans to go sleep over Sally’s later that night after Ted left and he was reluctant to let me go, but told me to go anyways because he didn’t want to be the reason I stayed home.  He’s an amazing person like that.  The amount of sadness and love I saw when I looked into his deep green eyes was unexplainable, so without thinking (but dreading it afterwards) I told him I wouldn’t drink when I went.  I promised him.

Seeing Gary again gave me evil butterflies.  That was the first time we’ve seen each other in about a year.  I believe fate was keeping us apart until it knew I was fully capable of handling myself in his presence again.  But it happened, and it was good.  We talked, we laughed, we caught up, I was sober the whole night and it was a good time.  I wondered in the back of my mind if he still missed us, but it wasn’t for any particular purpose but more for my own satisfaction.  I wished so badly I could be the one that got away with him.  Not like we ever really dated, but in my mind we did; in his actions we did.

Ted left for North Carolina a couple of days before my birthday, on the 11th, so he said good bye to me when he left my beach house.  He gave me the most beautiful silver heart on the most delicate chain.  My eyes lit up when I saw the turquoise Tiffany bag and read the card that made my heart melt.  I wanted to hug him so much and never let him go.  It was the perfect present.  We were sitting by the bay watching the sun set right before he left.  He hugged me on the bench and buried his head into my  collar bone as the last touch of sunlight disappeared behind the strip of land across the bay.  The water and clouds were still illuminated from the sun’s orange glow, and the wind brushed my hair against my cheek.  I looked down at him and embraced him back.  His tears dropped on my leg so delicately – it scared me.  Not the fact his tears were so delicate… but the fact that he was crying.  No one has ever cared about me the way Ted has.  I hate it when he cries over me because I’m not used to someone feeling this way about me, and to be honest it puts so much pressure on our relationship; and me.  I just kept hugging him and telling him not to cry.  If I could I would have begged.  But shortly after a few brief words we got back on our bikes and rode back up the street.

On our ride back I glanced over at a car parked in the driveway at a nearby beach house.  The rear window had a college sticker on it, one that caught my eye because of it’s bold righting and red color.  Rider.  It was a college sticker for Rider University.  I blinked a couple of times but it was still there.  Whenever Rider shows up (which is somehow often) I think of Gary.  Gary goes to Rider.  And of course with my deep thinking I thought it meant something.  Something symbolic.  Here I was biking back with Ted, saying our goodbyes, and then the “RiderU” sticker shows up.  I’ve always believed in fate, so I never take these things lightly.  I pushed the thought out of my head and rode on.

Phoebe’s texts that night were very out of the blue.  Whenever me and Gary are invited to Sally and Brain’s parties (which is every time) something always turns up with him and he never ends up coming.  But as of right now, we have been to two of them at the same time.  This first time, when Phoebe was blowing up my phone about his hotness, I went as Ted told me I could.  I made sure to keep in touch with Ted the whole night until he fell asleep on me (what else is new).  Everything went smoothly.  Good work, I thought.  That went well.  But in the back of my mind my thoughts were wondering, no matter how hard I told them not to, if secretly he thought about what we used to have; did he miss the old us?  He couldn’t possibly!  He has a girlfriend from college.  Just forget about it.  Well that at least convinced my thoughts to shut up for a little while.  I pushed them away.

Of course my thoughts didn’t stay quiet for long.  But before I get deeper into the story it’s important to understand something; the pestering thoughts that kept me wondering didn’t mean anything.  You can say I’m in denial, or stubborn or whatever it may be, but I know in my heart and soul that no matter how much I wonder about Gary I will never leave Ted.  Ted is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I would never let anything jeopardize what we have.  He is truly something special, and I say that not only from my mouth; but from my heart.

I approached Sally’s door with a pizza I had from work.  It was my birthday the day before so they let me make my very own pie, and I put extra cheese on it so it was DELICIOUS.  I opened the front door without bothering to ring the doorbell- if that doesn’t explain to you the relationship I have with Sally’s family I’m not sure what will.  I walked in with my fresh, hot pizza and walked into Sally’s room.  Everyone was hanging out in there because the party didn’t officially start yet.  I plopped down on the bed with my box of pizza and everyone immediately eyed it up.  As I opened the box and showed everyone their eyes grew wide and I ended up not having to pay Mark or Ronald for my share of beer because they loved it so much.  Why I didn’t think of this before I don’t know.. it was genius.  And meant I got free beer 😉

Later on in the night Brain was trying to figure out if we should relocate the party to Victor’s house because he offered to since he has a bigger space for more people.  But of course fucking Jared had to make it a huge deal and be his stubborn self and say that he wasn’t going if it was at Victor’s.  And of course Brain and Sally listened to him just because they do that…  Anyways, the party was still on at Sally, Brain and Mih’s.  I sat in a folding chair against the wall next to the music while Jared and some others set up the table for ruit.  I looked at Brain from across the room and asked who was coming.  I should have thought about rephrasing that because when it came out it was evident that I was just wondering about Gary.  Don’t ask me why, I just was… f off.  She gave me a sly smile and called me out for wondering about him and then said he was coming.

A little deeper into the party, before Gary and his friends Aaron and Victor got there, Brain, Sally and I snuck upstairs to Brain’s room and took some shots together.  I didn’t go crazy because I promised myself I wouldn’t drink in public without Ted again (after I got shit faced and sloppy and made a fool out of myself at a concert without him).  I tilted my head back and squinted my eyes.  The alcohol went down smoother than I’d expected even though it still tasted like shit.  I put the shot glass back on Brain’s dresser and as I did I opened my eyes and saw a picture of her, Gary and Colby.  Gary and Brain have been best friends for a while so it’s not like it was weird for them to have a framed picture together on her dresser.  It just kind of popped up out of nowhere.  I downed another shot and then went downstairs.

When I opened the door Gary was standing in the doorway talking to one of his friends.  The last time we said hi to each other he opened his arms up to hug me but I figured this time should be different because it hasn’t been that long since we last saw each other.  I awkwardly said hi as I walked by and then settled down next to one of my best friends Mitch.  She’s probably the nicest girl you will ever meet, and the smallest.  She was probably only half a beer deep when I got down and she was already slurring her words.  LOL love her.

As the night went on, I was starting to feel the buzz from my shots earlier.  I sat down in the folding chair and observed the scene.  I looked over and noticed the tape that Mih put up that was holding the blanket to the window fell down.  I got up to tape it back up and as I was lifting it on my tippy-toes I felt Gary come up from behind me.

“Need help?” he asked kindly.  I fixed my eyes on the tape as my fingers were trying to press it to the top of the window frame.

“I don’t know do you think it will stay?!” I asked over the music, still not looking.  I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye as he firmly patted the tape down from above me.

“Yeah it looks pretty good.”  He replied.  I snuck out from under his arm and went back to my chair.  That was kind of weird, I thought to myself.  I could’ve handled that myself…  Mitch came up from beside me as I was thinking in my folding chair.

“Lacey.  He’s in love with you.”  Mitch is funny like that.  She’ll say things that are obviously not true just because she’s the nicest person ever.

“HAHA oookay Mitch.. whatever you say.  He didn’t even look at me once,” I proclaimed, making a point, “how could he be ‘in love with me?”

“No, you didn’t look at him once!”  She gave me her beer as she continued on.  “Here.  Let me just replay that really quick.  So this is you, right?”  Her big brown eyes stayed wide as she kept her gaze one me while she walked over to the wall and imitated me reaching up for the tape.  “You’re putting up the tape, and he just comes in like this-” now she’s moved over a foot and pretended to walk up behind me like Gary did.  She reached her arm up and widened her eyes even more as she looked at the imaginary me she positioned before.  “Then you didn’t look at him and then he was looking at you and then you just walked away and he was like-” she moved her head and pretended to watch imaginary-me as I walked away.  “I SWEAR!!!”

“You’re lying.”  The thoughts were wondering again, and even louder this time.  I took a long sip of her beer and she told me to keep it.  I drank the rest and made my way up stairs to pee.

I walked into the bathroom and looked at my reflection.  I played with my scrunched hair and observed Sally’s navy and white, tye-dye crop top that I borrowed earlier.  I played with the neck line and fixed my boobs in my bra.  I might not have been blessed with double D’s like Sally but this padded B bra could still do wonders.  I observed myself, satisfied, and pulled down my pants to pee.  Stupid thoughts.  I pulled out my phone and saw a text from Ted.  I opened it and read through it.  I started to feel a little upset that he wasn’t there with me.  Well, not peeing obviously, but I just wished I could hug him and kiss him all night like we used to.  I missed his adorable little nose and his full lips, and the way his teeth are a little spaced out from not wearing his retainers.  I spilled out all my “missing-you” feelings on the toilet and then pulled up my pants and flushed.  I gave myself another quick look over in the mirror before heading out.  I finished my almost-empty water bottle of shots and made my way back downstairs.

As I walked down the stairs and through the first door I saw Gary and Brain talking on the steps.  Brain has been having a little friend/crush trouble lately, so I stopped and asked what’s wrong.  They both looked up at me as Brain said, kind of to the both of us, “a bunch of stuff.  Let’s go outside”.  I asked her if I could come and the three of us sat out on the patio in the lawn chairs she had set up around a bonfire pit.

As she started going on about something I admit I forget, I would jump in at random times and make funny remarks and Gary would laugh.  I started losing interest and noticed that Gary had a cold, unopened beer on the floor next to his feet.

“May I?” I said as I reached out for it.  He let me have it and I popped open the tab and took a tiny sip as I felt the foam tickle my lip.  I pulled out my phone after a couple minutes and checked my messages.  Ted answered and let’s just say all of my “missing-you” texts definitely hit some kind of switch because the next thing I know I’m biting my lip and smiling, wondering what to say next to get him going.  I don’t sext often, but when I do it’s usually because I’m drunk or just really horny.

Victor, Grace and Aaron came outside and Brain stopped her venting.  They all joined us around the bonfire pit, filled with nothing but coal and left over ash from the last bonfire.  I whipped out my phone and answered another juicy text from Ted.  I heard Gary ask something but I wasn’t paying attention until his fingers were all of a sudden tapping against my phone screen.

“Hey! Shit face!” he said.  He always says things like that.  He’s funny that way.  It brought my mind back in time when he called me shit monkey and I told my friends and they all laughed and thought it was the weirdest thing ever.  But it was weird and that’s why I liked it at the time.

“What?” I said kind of alarmed.  I was so caught up in the text I was sending Ted that my heart was racing before he interrupted; I was afraid it was going to stop completely.

“I said..” he continued on to ask his question although now thinking back I can’t even remember what it was.  All I can remember is seeing his silhouette in the darkness lit up from behind by the patio lights, and the speed of my heart slowly returning from the sudden spastic interruption.

Brain walked back out and pulled Gary away to talk as the rest of us continued a casual conversation.  At some point Ronald came out and took his spot in the chair on my left.  Ronald and I have an interesting history.  He was always really flirty and basically wanted to stick his tongue down all of my friends’ throats.  Once he already accomplished this goal with Sally, Sadie, and I, he decided to make it a goal to get with the others.  (Never happening).  It’s funny though how he goes around and flirts with everyone although Sadie is still hopelessly attached.  Sadie and I have struggled to get along, and even though she hates to admit it, Ronald is definitely the reason.  Although Ronald’s hooked up with all three of us, Sadie is the only one that’s really held on.  I hate to admit that I hooked up with him behind her back, but it happened.  And apparently it’s something Ronald just can never let go, especially when we’re drunk and Sadie is no where to be found.

“Hey Lacey isn’t it funny how you blew two of the guys in that room?” Not quite understanding the question but yet startled by its forwardness, my jaw dropped as I locked my phone and stared at him.  He’s referring to himself and Gary.  I never blew Gary, but I did blow Ronald.  Which is kind of sad because I was hooking up with Gary all last summer and I barely even caught a glimpse of his dick yet Ronald was a secret and one-time thing…for the most part.  Everyone else around us grew quiet.

“That never happened.” I stated slowly and clearly.

“Wait.. you never blew Gary?!”  He acted like it was hard to believe, and it’s true for most people it was, even me. But I have told him many times before that I haven’t even though he would always insist I was lying.  I just couldn’t believe he had chosen then and there to have that argument with me again so publicly.

No one spoke.  Everyone’s eyes were on me.  It felt like hours were passing by as I heard Aaron’s stinging laugh in the background.  I felt so foolish.  Without thinking I poured a good amount of my beer on Ronald’s leg and got up and walked inside.  I ran up to Sally’s room where she came up and joined me.  I told her what happened and the next thing I remember I heard Ronald walk up the stairs and into her room.

“I’m sorryyy,” he said with a lingering smile.  “I didn’t mean to say that, come here!”  He opened his arms and reached around me even though I refused to do the same.  “Come on, hug me back,” I slowly unraveled my arms from against my chest and gave him a half-hearted hug after refusing many times.  “Like you mean it!” he continued.  I hugged him just so he would be satisfied and leave.  I knew he was drunk but so was I and I wasn’t in the mood to create an unnecessary issue.

“Did he hear you?” I asked, remembering that Gary was only several yards away listening to Brain’s problems; I was afraid that, that wasn’t the only thing he was listening to.

“Well after you left he came over and asked what happened and if you were okay.  He said he wanted to go inside and talk to you.” I was so embarrassed.  But no matter how much I want to say I was upset, I was really more excited than upset.  Just the fact that Ronald brought up our past was, in a way, exciting and made me wonder how Gary would handle the situation.

After Ronald left I went back down to the party and Gary didn’t say anything to me.  Well I mean I’m guessing he didn’t because I don’t really remember interacting with him any more, nor did I care.  Ted had fallen asleep on my last sext and I was just drinking all the floaters that were lying around.  Phoebe kept giving me her beers from the game of ruit she was playing so I just chugged them until I knew I really shouldn’t anymore.

The party was over, and people left at around 12 am or so.  Sally and I were hanging out in Brain’s room after washing up for bed when Brain grabbed a hold of my phone.

“Why did G F just text you..” her voice was skeptical.  Mine was nonexistent.  G F was Gary’s name in my phone because a while ago when I was a wreck after he left I had to change it from his full name, Gary Fitzgerald, to his initials.  I couldn’t even scroll through my contacts and catch a glimpse at his name without feeling upset, so the initial-changing had to be done.  It was a bad time for me…

Anyway, after Brain spoke those words I literally went into shock.  But I only remained speechless for .2 seconds before losing my shit.

“SHUT UP.”  I grabbed the phone from her and opened up the message.  

“You shoulda came earlier” it read in the little white speech bubble under G F.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  This was the first time he had texted me first since last summer.  The rest of my reaction was a blur because apparently I started hysterically crying and my mascara got all over Brain’s pillow.  Why was I crying?  Who knows.  I was a drunken mess and probably so filled with emotion that I just cried it out.

Later on in the conversation, he said that we should have gone to Victor’s earlier and then continued to say “maybe you guys can still come I’ll tell Brain”.  We were all drunk.  How did he expect us to get there and why was he texting me and not her in the first place?  Apparently Brian wondered the same thing too.  I was confused so I straight up asked him why he wanted us to and then lead into the ultimate question.

“Do you miss us?” I sent it without thinking.  I was so confident and not even worried at all.  My heart was racing but only out of the pure joy and satisfaction that he was finally texting me first.  Finally missing me.

He responded and said that it’s hard to forget what we used to be when we’re together and drinking.  I agreed, but I wasn’t about to stop questioning him.  He’s in a relationship and so am I.

“I thought you never cared” I said after reading his paragraph of a message.

“I did care you never thought I did but that’s only because you cared more than me it just takes me more time than most people to get attached” MUAHAHAHAHA SUCKAAA!!  I couldn’t believe it.  He just said he missed us and even though we went back into conversation and he was saying how we both have these other relationships and said he loved his girlfriend, I knew it was all bullshit because if I was single and wanted to hook up he would have cheated on her in a second.  Apparently he has with all of his past girlfriends so it was kind of entertaining to listen to him try and convince me he loved his girlfriend.  Poor girl.  Yay me 🙂

“Haha well I’m sorry you got attached too late but I like being friends and hope you aren’t too attached to feel the same way because I like being the way we are.”  Pressing send on that text was the best feeling.  Relief and joy spread over me like a wave of fresh air.  I could breathe again.  No more wondering; only knowing.

After having a nice friendly conversation I fell asleep after answering him with one word.  I was almost positive he wouldn’t text me back afterwards so I told Brain to keep my phone plugged in by her night stand and I fell asleep with a smile on my face.  In the morning when I woke up I checked my phone to see another text.  It read Gary Fitzgerald.  I changed his name back when I started texting him.  I knew that it had to be done, and it felt great.  I slowly slid my finger across the screen and revealed the message.  There was a break in the texts where it said the time the message was sent, 2:47 am.  “Goodnight Lacey”  I smiled and locked my phone.  Better late than never.

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