Choosing Henley(2)

By: Anne Jolin

“She’s here!” I don’t have to be able to see the owner of the voice to know that it’s Beth.

Their townhouse is a split level, so when you’re at the front door, you either have to walk upstairs or downstairs to go anywhere. So I take off my coat and boots, leaving them on the landing by the front door, before making my way upstairs. I’m wearing my usual salon attire, which is black, always all-black clothes. It works for me because I don’t particularly love to wear colours anyway. Today, I have on a black, fitted, long-sleeved dress that ends just above my knee and black nylons. It looks a little funny now that my boots are off, but who cares.

My long, brown hair is twisted up in an elegant, messy bun. It’s my go-to hairstyle when I’m doing colour in the salon. I always have this fear that I’m going to accidently colour my own hair if I leave it down. Orange streaks in my brown hair? Pass.

I paired the dress with some of my favorite jewelry. Call it cheesy, but Hannah, Beth, and I wear matching rings on our right ring fingers. They’re all slightly different but very much the same. I smile as I unconsciously spin the ring on my finger, continuing my way up the stairs. I also have on diamond studs from my mother and my Johnny Cash necklace. Hannah got it for me as a birthday gift a few years ago. It’s a small circle pendant on a long chain that reads, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.” I loved it instantly and I wear it almost every day.

Hannah gets me. She gets me in the simplest way. I’ve never been a big communicator, which is a stark contrast to my best friend’s need to discuss everything, but it works for us. She doesn’t allow me to bottle up my emotions until I explode, even if getting information out of me is like pulling tooth and nail every single time.

And then there’s Beth, Hannah’s older sister and the last member of our Three Musketeers. Beth has always been the one out of the three of us who knew what she wanted in life and was going to get exactly that. In that order. Despite that, though, she’s the one who keeps us light. Comic relief if you will.

I hit the top step and turn to walk into the living room when I trip on something. Sugar, I’m going down. I’m in that awkward free-fall stage of limbo that feels like it’s happening in slow motion. The kind where you know you’re about to fall right on your face and completely embarrass yourself, but there is nothing you can do to stop it. Looks like I might be the comic relief tonight.

I’m halfway down when I feel strong arms grab me around the waist, effectively saving me from my less-than-graceful entrance.

“Easy, Beatle.” His voice is smooth, and I can feel his breath on my ear.

My back is pressed up against his front, and even through our clothes, I can feel the warmth radiating off his muscular body. He’s hot. Literally and figuratively. I’m overwhelmed from the sheer closeness of him and it paralyzes me completely.

“You’re such a klutz sometimes, Len,” Beth slurs from somewhere in the living room.

Her voice is enough to release me from the spell I’m under, and I pull away from him. He lets his arms drop from my waist. I feel myself starting to blush, so I look down to see what I tripped on, locating the culprit immediately.

Motherfucking St. Nicholas himself tripped me. Jesus Christ. “Why is your Santa trying to kill me, Han?” I laugh. Deflect with humour. Number one in the Lennon Montgomery playbook.

“Oops. I didn’t realize he’d fallen down.” Hannah giggles, and I look up to find her winking at Greyson.

I wave my hands in the air in front of me. “Never mind. I don’t even want to know,” I say, shaking my head. Bloody sex fiends.

I’m still standing in the same spot when I feel him move around me.

“Be careful, Beatle. We can’t have you messing up that pretty face,” he whispers before continuing on into the living room.

As soon as he’s out of my space, I feel like I can breathe again. But my palms are still sweaty and I’m starting to fidget. I know I need to move, but I can’t. He literally makes me so nervous that I’m unable to function.

“I need help in the kitchen, Len. Can you mash the potatoes?”

I look up into my best friend’s green eyes. She’s arching her eyebrows at me and shifting her gaze towards the kitchen.

“Len?” she says again, tugging on my elbow.

“Uh. Yeah. Potatoes. Sure,” I stammer and follow her into the kitchen. There’s only a small wall separating the two spaces, but it still gives us some privacy. I make my way over to the pot on the stove. “Okay, where are they?” I ask.

“Where is what?” Hannah responds, digging through a cabinet.

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