Choosing Henley(6)

By: Anne Jolin

“Traumatizing,” I answer back, and she laughs. I proceed to fill her in on the entire terrifying story as I rummage through the fridge. By the time I’m done, she’s in stiches on the couch.

“I don’t even know how you managed to handle that so well,” she gasps still laughing.

“I barely made it. Trust me.” I smile. “Where’s Beth?”

“Uhm, she left just before you got home. Didn’t say where she was going though,” Peyton answers. “Why? Is everything okay?”

Bless her heart. She really is such a doll.

“Oh yeah. Everything’s fine. I was just wondering,” I respond reassuringly. “There’s nothing in the fridge. Have you eaten?” I ask, and she shakes her head. “Want to order Greek food?”

“Mmm yum! I’m in. Chicken souvlaki please.”

I order our food before changing into a pair of yoga pants and an oversized sweater. Then I plop down onto the couch next to Peyton and flick through the DVR recordings. We finally settle on watching Teen Wolf. So sue me. I’m not sad about seeing a shirtless Tyler Hoechlin on my TV screen. Just sayin’.

Two episodes of Teen Wolf and a massive helping of chicken souvlaki later and I’m down for the count. I’m working up enough energy to move from the couch to my bed when Peyton starts talking.

“What are your plans for New Year’s?” she asks hesitantly.

“We all have tickets to that black-and-white party at Bill’s.”

She looks down and starts to play with her hands in her lap.

“Do you have plans?” I ask.

When she softly shakes her head no, I instantly kick myself for not having asked her to come with us in the first place.

“We have an extra ticket. Why don’t you come with us?”

She lifts her head up and smiles brightly. “Really? I’d love to.”

I nod my head and reach over to pull her in for a hug. Something about her seems so fragile, but she’s even more closed off than I am. “Of course really, you goose! It will be fun.”

“That sounds like fun!” Peyton beams.

“Bet your bottom dollar it will be fun! Just don’t be surprised if the girls rope you into helping them do their hair.” I wink at her and she laughs. I always do the girls’ hair before we go out, especially for something like New Year’s Eve, and if Peyton is coming, she’ll no doubt end up helping too. “I’m going to head to bed now though. Do you work tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Do you?” she asks.

“Nope. For once, I actually have a Saturday off.” I stand and stretch.

After we finish saying our goodnights, I head into my room. We don’t actually have an extra ticket for the black-and-white party, but I’ll talk to Hannah about it tomorrow. I’m sure Jayden has slept with someone at that bar who can help us land an extra ticket. We’ve been going to Bill’s for New Year’s Eve since we were legally old enough to do so. Each year has a different theme, but they are always a ton of fun. Peyton’s not from here, and I’ll be damned if she’s sitting alone in our condo when the ball drops.

Come hell or high water, the girls and I will find her a ticket.

I almost always work on Saturdays, so I took advantage of having the day off. I got up early, cleaned my bedroom, did the laundry, and went grocery shopping. We don’t really have a formal system or anything. We just take turns buying food and cleaning when it needs to be done. By the time twelve thirty rolls around, I am ready to go for lunch.

Being that I’m a hair dresser, I very rarely leave the house without doing my hair. No makeup? Not a big deal. Bad hair? That’s a deal breaker. I never want to bump into one of my clients in town sporting the ‘homeless hairstyle’ I sometimes have at home. No one wants a hair dresser who can’t even keep her own hair looking nice. Today, I styled it in a high ponytail and matched it with some light day makeup. I’m dressed in fitted blue jeans, a pullover knit sweater, boots, and my black jacket. I snag my purse off the kitchen counter and head into town to see my bestie.

It doesn’t take me long to find parking, and as soon as I enter the restaurant, I see Hannah waving like a madman from the corner booth. I’m not late, but she’s always early, so it doesn’t surprise me that she looks like she’s been waiting for a while.

I sink into the booth across from her. “Hey, butthead.”

“Takes one to know one,” she quips back, leaning over the table to give me a quick kiss on the cheek before plunking back down in her seat.

We don’t get a chance to talk before the waiter comes to take our order. We always order the exact same thing every time we come here. Cajun chicken sandwich with Caesar salad and a diet Coke. No tomatoes for Hannah, no bacon for me. I mostly eat fish or chicken. I’ve never been a big meat eater.

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