to say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century.
I slicked on a coat of blood red lipstick, nervously tugged down the short skirt of my borrowed little black dress, and stared at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. why had I agreed to this? I didn't enjoy high school while I was in high school. I had been shy and awkward as a teenager, struggling to socialize with my peers who seemed to ooze the confidence I lacked. I doubted our small reunion party was going to be any less painful.
but that was then, and this was now. I studied my figure in the mirror. my hair was still the same golden blonde, my eyes the blue of a summer sky... but ten years had filled out my curves in all the right places. the dress was shorter than I was entirely comfortable with and a little clingy, but I had to admit I looked good in it. not bad for something I had dug out of my sister's closet.
I had flown to Chicago for work on tuesday, but the project was taking longer than expected. since I had to extend the trip over the weekend anyway, I drove up to visit my parents in the small farming town I grew up in about an hour from the city. and in a small town you can't help but run into someone you know. just my luck I was spotted by an old soccer teammate who invited me over for dinner and wouldn't take no for an answer. she thought it would be "fun" for me to see everyone again. it was all very Grosse Pointe Blank, except I didn't have an ex-boyfriend waiting around to fall in love with me again. oh, and I wasn't an assassin.
I would have expected a get-together hosted by my old classmates to be more let's drink beer around a bonfire, but Sarah had married a finance guy who worked in the city. they had money to burn, and she had hired some famous chef to come out to boonies and serve a 6-course meal. I guess if she couldn't live downtown and have the glamourous city life she wanted, she would bring the glamour out to the country. apparently she and her husband hosted cocktail and dinner parties at least once a month, and expected the guests to dress to the nines. I didn't really see the point, but then again it wasn't my party.
after cruising up a long and winding driveway, I got out of my rental car and studied the view. the house didn't really fit the surroundings. in the darkening light it loomed like a medival castle three stories high, a gaudy stone monstrosity lit from top to bottom. what a waste of electricity. I started up the front steps, shaking my head. who builds a castle in a corn field?
Sarah answered the door in a dress that made mine look conservative by comparison. a chunky necklace sporting a rainbow of huge gems drew even more attention to her dangerously low neckline. her dark hair was done up in some elaborate, curled masterpiece and the makeup was heavy but expertly applied. I was betting she had hired someone to come out and doll her up for the evening.
she wrapped me in a bear hug and I got a whiff of vodka as she smothered me in way more chest than I wanted to touch on another woman. "I'm so glad you could make it!" she said, pulling back enough to kiss me on each cheek. I was used to the greeting, but usually encountered it when working with my European clients. it seemed out of place for a small town dinner party, but then again so did her house and her outfit, so why not her mannerisms?
"Andrea? Andrea Pierce?" a man's voice sounded from behind me. I turned around to see who was calling my name and was greeted by the hometown football legend himself, Ricky Jones. he was the guy every girl wanted to date in high school, even though he was pretty much a douchebag. as his eyes slid over me starting with the heels and resting on my curves before barely meeting my eyes, I knew he hadn't changed much. his dark hair was still cut in that careless fashion, but the years had not been kind to the rest of him. he had broke every record in both football and track during school, and had even merited a scholarship to Northwestern to play in the Big Ten. but he couldn't keep his grades up and dropped out after he lost his spot on the team. last I heard he was taking over his dad's landscaping business. but based on the gut he seemed to be growing, it didn't look like he did much of the physical labor himself.
"hey Ricky" I said, sparing him a smile. but his eyes had already wandered from me to rest on Sarah's neckline. not that I could blame him- there was plenty to look at as she wavered precariously on her four-inch stilettos. the sound of my voice brought his attention back to me. he took a sip of his beer and eyed me again before answering. "most people call me Rick now, but you can call me anything you like." the tone of voice implied a lot more than the statement actually said.
a very pregnant brunette chose that moment to enter the foyer. Rick's comment and the implication did not go unnoticed, and she glared at me as she walked over and slipped an arm possessively through his. crap. it was so not my fault Rick couldn't keep his eyes to himself. but she seemed to think it was, even if I had no interest.
Sarah didn't seem to notice the tension. maybe she'd had enough vodka not to care, or maybe this was just the usual. "Andrea, you remember Jeannie of course..." and we stiffly smiled and said hello. she had played soccer with us, but was never close with me like she was with Sarah. Andrea was still as gorgeous and glowing as she had been at eighteen, despite the extra baby weight. but apparently I hit her radar as a threat, because her grip on Rick's arm tightened even more as she sized me up.
uncomfortable re-introductions out of the way, we all went through a doorway and into an expansive library room. it was beautiful, but the books had the look of just being there for decorative purposes, not actual reading. like they wanted to have a library just to say they had a library. there was a large fireplace that looked like real marble, and opposite from the curtained windows was a gorgeous mahogany bar.
a few eyes glanced up from their conversations as we walked in. some of the men looked interested while the women either glared or quickly dismissed me as not important. no one came over to catch up on old times, or even bothered to get up and say hello. Sarah abandoned me to go check in the with nanny. I hadn't felt this awkward and unwelcome in a group of people since... oh right, high school.
I decided a drink might just be necessary to get me through dinner, and wandered off in the direction of the bar. standing in my way was a tall and athletic-looking pair of shoulders with full head of golden hair, holding what appeared to be a very dirty martini on the rocks. "excuse me," I said, trying to get the bartender's attention.
then the man turned towards me and our eyes locked...
and that's all of the story you get for now! now back to your regular real-life ramblings.