Hanna studied criminal justice and law like me and after that, we’d shared several classes together, bonding over legal research and methods and, eventually, grad school and studying for the bar exam. She’d studied corporate law like I did. The funny thing was that we’d each gotten hired by the law firm the other really wanted to work out. Despite not getting our first choice, we both ended up extremely happy with our jobs.
Sometimes it’s funny the way the world works.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you two!” Hanna said squealed, rushing forth to hug me and Greer.
“I’ve put in so many hours at work lately I hardly have time to sleep,” I joked, smiling at her.
She laughed. “I hear that! I can’t remember the last time I did anything for myself. Greer, I just want to thank you for getting married so I had an excuse to take some time off.”
Grinning, Greer replied, “Anytime.”
The three of us walked outside into the heat and piled into Greer’s car. Though it was nearly six o’clock and it wasn’t nearly as warm as earlier, it was still warm enough that I was nervous my makeup would sweat off my face. It wouldn’t be the first time.
It didn’t take long for us to drive to the restaurant John and Greer’s party was to take place. They’d rented out a party room to fit us all and had it catered by the restaurant.
We parked and walked inside. Dread filled me as the hostess lead us back to the party. Yes, I wasn’t exactly keen on being surrounded by so many people, particularly all the couples, but I really wasn’t looking forward to Greer trying to set me up. I just knew she was going to.
I probably should have told her about my vow to stay away from men for the next year, though I wasn’t entirely sure she’d listen. Ever since John popped the question, she’d been trying to set all her friends up with the potential love of their lives, determined we would experience the same happiness she had.
We took our places around the table and Greer and John introduced everyone to each other. A friend of John’s stared at me longer than what was considered appropriate and I just knew he was one of the guys Greer told about me. Looking down, I cringed into my glass of wine and took a large gulp.
After a delicious dinner of smoked chicken, braised haricot verts, and a side salad made of arugula and shaved parmesan, we all got up from the table to mingle and get to know each other. I chatted with one of John’s sisters for a while before the guy who’d stared at me earlier came.
I held back my grimace, knowing it wasn’t his fault Greer likely put him up to it.
“I’m Chad,” he said.
Patiently, I told Chad that, while I was flattered, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. He seemed to be a little bummed, but thanked me for being honest with him.
Not five minutes after Chad walked away, another guy, one I hadn’t noticed earlier, walked up to me and asked what I was doing later. He was harder to shake off.
When a third guy began walking toward me, I excused myself from my conversation and practically ran to the bathroom. For the second time that day, I stared at my reflection. It was a little flattering that men still found me attractive but I wasn’t in the mood for it.
I buried my face in my hands and sighed. It was going to be a long night.
I was breathing hard by the time I slowed my jog into a walk in front of my condo. Pulling the keys from the small pouch I wore on my bicep, I unlocked the door and stepped inside and went straight for the kitchen.
Grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, I walked into the living room and nearly had a heart attack. Sitting in the dark was my best friend and business partner, Caleb.
“Jesus, man,” I said, grabbing my heart with my free hand. Adrenaline shot through me, making my heart beat quickly in my chest.
I flipped on the lights and saw he had a small smile on his face. It was the biggest smile I’d seen on his face in ages.
“Sorry, Jack,” he said. He raised a glass to his lips and swallowed. I raised my eyebrows at him. “I like scotch,” he said, shrugging.
I glanced at the clock large decorative analog clock on the wall. “Dude, it’s only three o’clock,” I drawled.
He shrugged again and, in a dry voice, said, “It’s six o’clock somewhere.”
I rolled my eyes and unscrewed the lid of my water bottle and took a drink. I hoped the delay would give me a chance to think of something to say to him, something useful, but drew a frustrating blank.