Choosing Henley(4)

By: Anne Jolin

I know, I know. That’s bitchy, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Her impressively large, fake boobs are barely contained in a bright-blue tank top—Helps make those pink claws stand out, I guess—and she’s wearing skintight white jeans. I didn’t even know people wore white jeans in the winter. She’s just pushing the food around on her plate, barely eating, when I realize that I don’t know her name.

“What’s your name?” I blurt out, interrupting everyone else’s conversations at the table. Oh boy. I guess liquid courage really is a thing. I mentally curse myself for downing my first beer.

She smiles her very white teeth back at me. “I’m Kelsey.”

I’m Kelsey, I mimic in my head. I know I should stop now. I know I’m acting silly, but I’ll be damned if that actually makes me quit.

“What do you do, Kelsey?” I ask, returning an equally fake grin.

“I work at Hawaiian Beach.” The rest of the table must look confused too because she clarifies. “The tanning salon.”

Well, that explains the Doritos look.

Beth snorts from down the table and Hannah shoots her a death glare. Greyson must notice the awkward tension because he starts talking about last night’s hockey game, and everyone quickly falls into conversation.

Rock Falls doesn’t have a hockey team being that we’re not a very big town, but Vancouver, the town over, does. God bless the Vancouver Canucks. They manage to distract everyone from my crazy behaviour.

The rest of dinner goes by without incident. I stopped drinking to ensure that I didn’t interrogate Barbie again in front of all our friends.

After dinner, we clean up and all settle into the living room. I curl up on the couch, tucking my legs underneath me, and pull the elastic from my messy bun. Second best feeling to taking your bra off at the end of the day is taking your hair down. I shake my long, wavy hair down and run my fingers through it.

I’ve managed to avoid looking at Jami for most of the night. Partially because just looking at him makes my body do crazy things, but also because I just laid into his new plaything during dinner. While everyone else is talking about New Year’s Eve, I decide to take the opportunity to steal a glance at him.

He has dark-brown hair—in some light, it almost looks black—and it’s just long enough to run your fingers through. I know from experience. He’s sporting his usual five-o’clock shadow and sipping on a longneck beer. I watch the muscles in his throat as he swallows and squeeze my legs together. Just watching him turns me on.

He’s fit from all the outdoor activities he loves so much and his hands are callused from years of making guitars. Today, he’s wearing dark-blue jeans, and a grey, long-sleeved Under Armour shirt is stretched over his muscular chest and arms. If you haven’t seen him shirtless, you wouldn’t know that his back and chest are covered with brilliant tattoos that Jay has done for him over the years.

I make my way back up his body only to find him watching me. I blush because I just got caught ogling him, and he winks at me. I feel a smile tug at the corners of my lips, but as quickly as it came, it disappears as Barbie presses her very full chest up against his arm. I look away and try to focus on something else, but it doesn’t work.

Jami and I have always had chemistry, an electric current that buzzes just under the surface of our friendship. That’s all we’ve ever been though—friends. Up until a few months ago, anyway. We had one incredible night together and it ruined everything.

Jami is not a one-woman guy. I knew that going in, which is why it surprised me when he started acting like he wanted more. Sure, I did relationships now and again, but never with anyone like Jami. Someone who I could love. Someone who could ruin me.

We haven’t been the same since then, constantly doing this awkward song and dance around each other. It’s why these dinners are like torture to me. No one has ever made me feel the way he does, and every time we’re together, I have to pretend like I don’t want him.

I am doing an absolute shit job of it tonight though.

I don’t last much longer. I am exhausted, and watching Barbie run her hands all over Jami is getting to me. I feel like I am going to be sick. I’ve never been a jealous person—ever—but I’d rather claw out my eyes with a rusty spoon than watch Jami with another woman.

I know, I know. It’s such a typical girl move. I don’t want him, but you can’t have him either. It doesn’t matter though. Even if I want him, I am never going to allow myself to have him. Not again. I don’t do love, and my feelings for him are already walking that fine line.

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