“I need to do something creative.
“The fire crackled as the sun went down and even though there were about 5 new people sitting there who I had just met, the words were spilling out if my mouth like I was talking to lifelong friends. Rissa’s friend who I went surfing with a few months back had joined the party. I figured the joy of having Luna and Evan home from England was fuel for my new confidence. I noticed these people were listening to me too which I thought was kind of amusing, why did they even care about what I had to say?
“Well, what do you love to do?” Some surfer guy said, that looked like he’d come right out of the North Shore movie, fried blonde hair and a burnt nose even though it was
“I love to dance” I said
“Lets see,” Some other guy said. I glanced over at Evan and he rolled his eyes, looking uncomfortable.
“I’m not going to get up and start dancing by myself to no music.”
Surfer guy got out his phone and started to play Justin Timberlake’s Rock your Body.
I looked at Rissa’s friend and raised my eyebrows at her. She grinned, totally up for it. I stood up and reached out my hand and pulled her up on her feet. We danced together to the music and laughed . Evan got up and stormed off back to the porch and I could see him watching me from there. Then surfer guy was next to me trying to do the grind dance and I pushed him away to arms length so he went over to Rissa’s friend who was quite happy to oblige him. I glanced over at the porch but Evan was gone. It was fun to dance next to the fire and hard to not die laughing at some of the robot moves these guys were coming up with. But then suddenly Luna was there and she said, “ Zoe has a fever.” I hurried off with Luna up to the house and went into Zoe’s room. Her high school baby sitter got up so I could sit down on the chair near Zoe’s bed and feel her forehead. She felt completely fine to me.
“She doesn’t feel hot,” I said, “at all.”
“Evan thought she did , Luna said.
“Evan? I don’t get it.”
“I needed a light for my book and he sat with Zoe while Luna
found one for me,” the babysitter said. “He must have checked her forehead then.”
Zoe stirred and I put my finger to my lips then walked out
to find Evan. He was on the couch reading a National Geographic, looking a bit grumpy.
“Oh, hey,” he said. “Having fun tonight ?”
“I was until I got really worried about Zoe For no reason. I
don’t really feel like going back out there to party now. Was that the plan?”
“Oh. I guess you are going to have to keep your clothes on after all” he said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It just looked like you were about to do a strip tease out there. ”
“What!” I took a breath and said, “You are such a nerd. It’s called dancing and just
because we weren’t doing the fox trot doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. ” I took his hand, “Get up and I’ll show you.” I pulled him up so that he stood in front of me and I held tightly onto his hand. He wasn’t going anywhere.
He looked at me angrily, “What is wrong with you tonight? Why are you acting like this?”
“What, happy? Confident?”
“I think I like grumpy and brooding better on you. At least I have you all to myself then.”
I looked at his eyes behind his glasses . I took them off and smoothed a piece of hair behind his ear. He blinked his eyes at me, slightly stunned and I put my arms around his
neck. “Dance with me. ”
He hesitantly put his arms around my waist and we moved slowly together in the living room. I put my head on his shoulder and relaxed a bit. He put his cheek against mine and we just moved together for a minute. Then I pressed against his body so he would feel all of me, but he instantly pushed me away .
“What are you doing? ” he said.
“What about Chris?”
“He’s not here.”
“But you are still married to him.”
“I know ”
“If you can’t be faithful to him then why don’t you divorce
him and let him go?”
“It’s more complicated than that.”
“How? there is nothing more straightforward than infidelity, I know that first hand, I know exactly what it feels like to be cheated on.” He stepped back from me and pulled his hand away.
“By my ex-wife. EX- wife. I adore you, Odette, with every fibre in my body, but I can’t stand what you are doing to Chris. And you would probably do the same to me if I ever got involved with you. Honestly I couldn’t go through that again.”
“That’s not true. And anyway, Chris did it to me too.”
“Then why must you insist on staying married to someone you don’t love?”
“I never said I don’t love him.”
He looked at me utterly confused and I suddenly had a flashback to my conversation with Jake. He had that same look on his face when I told him I still loved Chris. Why were guys so stupid sometimes?
Evan took his glasses out of my hand and put them on his face. “If you love him, Odette, then why is he across town living with college students from hell and you are here dancing with me?”
“You make me happy, ” I said. “He doesn’t.”
“I’m going home,” he said. “You have a selfish, fucked up perspective on love. One that I don’t understand and I don’t ever think I will.”
I wrapped my arms around him again, “Don’t leave now” I said.”I missed you so much while you were in England. You keep me sane, you mustn’t be mad at me.”
He let me hold him for a minute, then he relaxed a little, “I missed you too” he whispered into my hair.
“You don’t have to get involved with me. You could just kiss me.”
He shook he head and laughed cynically then pulled away from me.
“What’s wrong?” I threw at him. “Am I ugly or gross or something? Why can’t you stand to be near me?”
“God, you are so manipulative, and it is so tempting to act like there in some sincerity in your words.”
I looked at him like he was crazy. “You give me too much credit, Evan! I don’t know how to be manipulative. I just say what I feel!” He started to look angry again and I don’t know why that made me feel like giggling but I held it in. I knew he would loose it if I laughed at him.
“You KNOW your’e not ugly, Odette. You are just trying to get me to….I don’t know what you are trying to do.”
“Evan,” I said, looking up at his eyes, “Don’t go.”
“Fucking hell” He stepped towards me and it looked like he was going to kiss me for a second. My heart started to pound and I even started to close my eyes. But when I opened them he was half way out the front door. It banged behind him. I stood in the quiet living room for a minute and listened to the chatter just outside on the porch. “Shit” I said. Rissa’s friend walked in the kitchen door from the back porch deck and I thought I should probably ask her what her name was again, but it was too embarrassing because I should have remembered it.
I went to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine and looked at a bottle of seltzer water there on the counter next to the gin. “What the hell is quinine?” I said to her.
She said, “It is some kind of poison right?” She took the wine bottle from me and poured herself a glass.
“Then what is it doing in seltzer water? Look it says it right here on the bottle.”
She shrugged at I studied her standing there in the kitchen. She had big dark eyes and long brown hair like Rissa’s, but she wasn’t friendly to everyone like Rissa was.
“Who was that guy that just left?” she said.
I took a sip of wine, then another one. “Probably my last chance at happiness.”
She nodded. “Mine left years ago.”