Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: The Night Before
“I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon,” she said, kissing Jared’s lips.
“Have fun tonight,” he said, tucking in his polo shirt. He was headed out with his friends right after Lily and Lacy picked her up. They could have been sisters with same dark hair and eyes, the same creamy tan skin, but they weren’t. They’d met in High School when Lacy’s dad had moved to town. Lily and Meredith had been friends since kindergarten, utterly inseparable and Lacy had rounded their duo to a trio.
“Move it, slow poke!” Lily shouted, sticking her head out the window of the car.
“I’m coming!” she complained, trotting down the front lawn and pulling open the back door. She had to kick a few fast food containers aside. “Geez, Lace, do you ever clean this can?”
Lacy looked over her shoulder. “No. I never sit back there.”
Meredith rolled her eyes. “So what’s the plan?”
“Get you drunk, see what stupid things we can get you to do. Take home a guy. The usual.” Lily waved a hand as she said it.
“I am not taking home anyone,” Meredith informed them.
“Not you,” Lacy complained. “One of us. You have Jar-ed.” She drew the name out, teasing her.
She’d been completely wrapped up in Jared, as far as guys went, since they’d met in a lab at college. He’d been shy and tripped on his tongue a lot, which was the cutest thing she’d seen aside from her newborn niece. It had only taken two dates to know she wanted to make her own babies with him. She was certain he was as dedicated to her. It was obvious in the way he looked at her, shunning every other girl in the room, his willingness to shed plans with friends to spend extra time with her. He was her dream man, so naturally, she was marrying him tomorrow.
“Okay, then. Let’s get drunk.” She punched a fist toward the front seat and it was met with Lacy and Lily’s knuckles, Lacy’s a bit awkwardly while she drove.
They started at a country club where Lacy’s parents were members. It was one of the prettiest places to get wasted and the girls had spent sunny afternoons there before. Why sit on a scungy stool or walk across sticky floors when you could sit in a comfy armchair surrounded by white tile? They weren’t in the armchairs now, the golfers had claimed those already. Instead they sat at a table looking out over the greens in the setting sun. Lacy ordered a round of Long Island Iced Teas to get them started.
After three, Meredith needed the bathroom. “Who’s coming with me?” she asked, hiccuping. Both brunettes shook their heads and Meredith eyed them oddly. They’d drank just as much as she had. Had their bladders grown unexpectedly?
“There’s a couple guys over there,” Lily explained. “We’re making eyes.” She grinned and then leaned a little to the side, winking.
Meredith fought laughter and stumbled off to the washroom. When she came back, their table still only had two ladies, to her surprise. “What are you two waiting for? Go over there or bring them over here.”
Lacy sighed. “Just because the direct approach worked for you, doesn’t mean it is the best way, Mer. Let us work.” A round of drinks arrived, or rather two thirds of a round.
“Can you sit on this side?” Lily asked, pointing at the chair beside her. “You’re blocking the view.”
Meredith snorted. “Why don’t I just leave you to it?” She wandered away, circling back to the table the pair of guys were sitting at. She plopped down in an empty chair, feeling her friends evil glares directed her way.
“Hey. What’s up?” she asked, sipping the bottom of her drink.
“Uh, nothing. Just having beers.” One sipped from a bottle.
“Good idea. I’ll have one of those,” she told the waiter passing by, who nodded. “Hard day?”
“Um.” The one looked over his shoulder at the girls. Meredith didn’t look at her friends at all.
“Yeah. We had a really nasty back nine.”
Meredith nodded pretending she knew anything about golf. “I was decorating a hall an hour ago. Before that a meeting with a caterer, before that...Weddings are a pain in the ass.” She hiccuped.
“You’re getting married?” the one with darker hair said. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks.” She could feel how warm her face was with the alcohol. This was probably the last ‘stupid thing’ her friends had expected, but well, she was drunk. “My friends wanted to make sure I had a good fling of a last night.”
“They did?” The men both looked over to the table. Meredith spared her friends a glance now, and both were smiling broadly, obviously still making eyes. They didn’t meet hers. “How wild a fling were you thinking?” The one with lighter brown hair put a hand on her knee.
Meredith didn’t move it. She didn’t get a zing of electricity through her leg. She wasn’t tempted at all. Instead she laughed loudly. “Not that wild! Of course, I’m sure my friends are looking for something crazy like that. Get both of you in a room. I’ll stick with my fiance,” she said, tipping back the newly arrived beer. “He has more than enough of what I need.
The men didn’t look uncomfortable at her response, both laughed as well. “Couldn’t convince you that five is a nice round number?” The hand was still on her knee and crept up her thigh.
“Why? You have a thing for blonds?” she asked. “Because those two will give you more than a handful if you let them.”
The guys laughed again and the hand was removed. “I’m Mark,” he said, lifting it to shake hers.
“Meredith,” she said.
“Tony. Anything else you can tell us about your friends?” He looked over his shoulder at Lacy and Lily.
“Yeah, they’ll never make the first move. Get your asses over there and they’re yours for the night.”
They looked at each other for the briefest second before rising. Meredith continued to sip her beer, watching the exchange at the next table.
“This seat taken?” someone asked. Rather than plop in one of the two vacated, the man scooped her up and put her in his lap. She started to struggle to pull herself free, but the man just laughed and tickled her ribs in the one spot she was ticklish. How did he know?
“Jared!” she shouted, punching him lightly in the shoulders. “You scared the shit out of me. What are you doing here?”
“Kevin bought a membership. They have the biggest screens around,” he said pointing to the baseball game on the monitor.
“Oh. Take me home?” she asked, nuzzling into his chest. “My friends have abandoned me.”
“You’re kidding! How dare they? A lovely thing like you, all alone.”
“Yes, with guys wanting a threesome.”
“And you turned them down?” he said in surprise.
She punched him again. “Seriously. I’ve had enough. I can’t walk straight.”
“Bad news, girlfriend. I can’t either. You can sit with us until Barry drives us home.”
“I’ll just get a cab,” she moaned, rising slowly. She stumbled and grabbed the back of the chair.
“Make sure you put on your sleep mask. That way I won’t wake you up when I get in.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, flapping a hand.
Morning came too early. Both Meredith and Jared were glad for the goofy glasses to cut the glare while they watched flash after flash.
“Aren’t we supposed to feel different?” Meredith asked. “This feels exactly the same as every hangover.”
Jared chuckled. “Yes, but now you have someone legally obligated to bring you Tylenol,” he said, pulling the tiny bottle from his pocket.
“I love you,” she said, taking two.
Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege and the upcoming Thickness of Blood. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including Kimmydonn.com