Imagine meeting Jared at a wedding
I sit around, watching as everyone gets closer to the center stage. I should be excited, my sister’s best friend is getting married and I was able to position myself as a bridesmaid, but everything feels dull after having dealt with a fail marriage yourself. I look at my hand, inspecting the place where my ring used to be, missing the weight of it.
My eyes move to observe the place, the fairy lights hanging everywhere, the tables ready to be occupied by the guests. The music starts, and I return my gaze to my hand, feeling sorry for the bitter person I became after being dumped by my husband.
“So, you don’t like dancing either?”
I turn my head to my side, observing the man sitting next to me. Brandon’s best man looks at me with a casual smile on his face.
“I don’t like weddings” I say, even though it is not entirely true.
“Oh…” Is the only thing he says before turning his gaze to the people cheering at the newlyweds, “I can understand it; I mean, this can be really overwhelming”
“There’s too many people”
“Too many happy people” He laughs, I allow myself to smile at his comment, “I’m Jared”
“I know” He smiles, “I asked Brandon, he said you wouldn’t want to talk to me”
“I’m not in the mood for weddings” I shrug, “So, best man?”
Jared looks at his tuxedo before returning his eyes to mine. The smile does not leave his lips, even when the only thing he can find in mine is a serious expression.
“Yeah, been best friends with Brandon for years, he didn’t even have to ask me, I already knew. The same happened to you?”
“Not really” I mutter, noticing all the people starting to move from the waltz.
“Come on, we are in the same table”
Jared gets up from his seat, showing me where our table is located. I follow him, asking myself a bit late why he asked Brandon about me. We arrive to a table occupied by all the bridesmaids and the other groomsmen. I check my name in one of the seats, Jared doing the same on the other side of the table. When he finds his name, noticing he’s located on the other side of the table, takes a look at the empty seat by my side. Empty, but not for long. A man sits by my side, and I receive a kind smile from his behalf.
I lift my head, looking at Jared talking to the man by my side. They both share a look, and without saying a word, they swap seats.
I look at Jared, sitting by my side now, “What are you doing?” I ask him, confused.
“I don’t know” He shrugs, with a smile.
My sister, who just notices what is going on, gives me an interested look. I just roll my eyes at my little sister.
We don’t talk for the first part of the course. We spend the appetizer in silence, but once the soup arrives, he starts sharing comments with the rest of the people in our table. I can see him smile and laugh with the rest, but I’m too deep in my bubble to participate.
When I hear my name, we are already receiving our entrées. Everyone is looking at me, especially Jared by my side.
“What?” I ask them, startled by their gazes.
“We are talking about London” My sister informs me, a reassuring smile on her lips, “The guys want to know about it”
“How long did you live there?” The man, Shannon I think, asks me.
“Oh, five years” I answer, not really wanting to get into too much detail.
“Must have been fun” Another one says, why is there so many people I don’t know in this goddamn table?
“I guess, I didn’t go out that much” I say, after finishing my glass of wine, “Once you get used to it, is just another city”
Some of the other bridesmaids look at me like I’m crazy, just by the fact of saying that London is ‘just another city’. I shrug it off and continue with my meal now that I’m not in the spotlight.
“You are doing great” My sister whispers in my ear.
The meal is over, and everybody is walking to the dancefloor. Anne stops by my side for a few seconds to congratulate me for something that shouldn’t be celebrated. But I guess that if you are in your 20’s, with the whole world at your feet, your big sis’ problems seem too far from your own world.
“You want to dance?” She asks me, holding my wrist, “We could put everyone to shame on that dancefloor”
“The bar is waiting for me” I mutter, with a shy smile, “Go have fun, I’ll try to do the same”
She looks at me reluctantly, but leaves me alone.
Alone, at last.
I walk toward the bar, giving the barman a pleasing smile.
“What’ll do?” He asks.
“Let’s start soft”
He nods and starts preparing me a Cosmo. I wait for my drink, looking around, seeing the people enjoying the celebration. I feel like such a killjoy, but being here brings memories from my own wedding, happy memories that clove to my heart like nails in a chalkboard.
“There you are”
I turn around, meeting my eyes with Jared’s.
“I’ve been looking for you” He says, sitting by my side, again, “Too many people, too many unnecessary encounters”
“Some ex girlfriend that you are trying to avoid?” I ask, noticing how a smile escapes my lips.
“Yeah, and some that didn’t got to get the title and want to now” He laughs, “What are you drinking? I want one”
The barman hands me my drink and starts preparing one for Jared.
“Are you sure you want to stay with me? I’m pretty sure you would have much more fun with those pleading girls”
“You are in a party pooper mood tonight?” He asks, receiving his drink.
“Maybe” I mutter, “Well, definitely, why?”
“Because I need someone like you tonight”
I notice how both of my eyebrows raise at this comment, and I find myself speechless. How are you supposed to respond to something like that? Especially when the person saying it is actually really handsome and you are in the middle of a divorce. Jared plays with his hair for a second, waiting for me to say something, but I can only focus and how invested he looks. He really wants to spend his time with me, and I’m in no position to say no.
“When I asked you about the whole bridesmaid thing earlier, you were really vagued with your answer”
“There’s not much to say” I shrug, but he seems even more interested in the topic.
“Baelyn just asked you?”
“Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t even sure that I was going to be here, I arrived last night”
“Right, you were in London” He mutters, handing his empty glass to the barman, “You want another?”
I must be the most boring person in the whole party right now, but he keeps looking at me with interest.
“That dress looks really pretty on you”
“Oh, thanks” I stutter, looking at the tight dress.
We stay quiet for a couple of minutes, but I can notice how his eyes watch me from time to time. I feel uncomfortable at first, but I start to get used to his presence once the empty glasses start accumulating by our side
His comment about how pretty I look shocks me. I know I’m not unpleasant to the eye, but my confidence is so low lately, that I find it hard to believe any good comments about my appearance. My friends and family are always stating how pretty, or happy I am, even though I look like a hurricane throwed up on me. I don’t believe them, but I believe Jared, who keeps playing with his long hair, offering me honest smiles.
“Let’s play something” He says, “We’ll take turns to say an statement, and if we feel identified, we’ll take a shot”
“You want to get me drunk?” I ask, laughing for the first time in the evening.
“Well, you look like you could use a bit of alcohol, and I can’t say no to a few shots”
“So, ‘Never have I ever’, but with tequila shots?”
“Yeah, fun, isn’t it?”
We lay a row of tequila shots in front of us. I know this is probably a bad idea, but my brain’s in “party mood” and wants some alcohol. Jared volunteers to start with the game, and we turn on our seats to face each other.
“Never have I ever flirted my way out of a speeding ticket” I watch him take a shot, impressed by his confession.
“Oh, my God” I mutter, he laughs, leaving the shot glass aside, “It worked?”
“Nah” He laughs again, “She was a really professional officer, but she kinda wanted to spare me, I could sense it”
Ok, this as starting to get fun.
“Your turn” He announces.
I get comfortable in my sit, thinking about something to say. I used to play this game when I was younger; my friends always picked the dirtiest things to say, but I just couldn’t remember any. I decided to start slow, leaving it for the alcohol to make my memories come back.
“Never have I ever gone commando”
We both take a shot, laughing while putting the glasses aside. He definitely looks like the type of person who would go commando everywhere. Even now.
“That was an easy one” He grins, lifting his head in confidence, “Never have I ever called someone else’s name while hooking up”
I stare as he takes a shot, and then another. When he notices my confused expression, he clarifies.
“It’s happened more than once”
“Come on, how can you do that?” He shrugs, handing me a shot, “I haven’t done it”
“I can see, but at this rate, you’ll have to take me to the hospital before you get a tiny bit drunk. Drink”
I drink, thinking about a new statement.
“Never have I ever…” I start, but stop still thinking about it, “Never have I ever send a dirty text to the wrong person”
This time, I’m the only one who drinks. Jared laughs at me, and I end up laughing with him.
“Tell me about it” He asks.
“It was a boring day at work and I needed some entertainment. Luckily, I sent it to my sister and not my parents… or my boss”
“It was too dirty?”
“Not much, just starting”
“You have to be careful with those things” He suggests, making the barman refill our glasses, “I would literally die if I end up sending one to my mother”
“My sister almost died, it’s not only your parents that you have to be careful”
We continue with the game for what it feels like hours. I learn that Jared has played strip poker and lose just for the pleasure of showing off; lied about his age; sing on the street to gain a few coins (while drunk), among other things. He has learned that I have never kissed someone on the first date; that I dance and sing in the shower; also, about one time that I lied about being someone’s relative just to get in a party, and so, so on.
The more we drink, the dirtier the statements. Jared starts asking about sexual experiences, and I do it too. We are laughing in our own bubble, while everybody else is enjoying the party at their own pace.
“Never have I ever been with someone who was in a relationship”
Jared doesn’t drink, and I stare at him, processing the words.
“Can you excuse me for a second?”
I stand from my seat, starting walk toward the bathroom. The statement keeps spinning around in my head, making me feel dizzy. By the time I reach the bathroom, i run to one of the stalls. I feel the tears coming out, running over my cheeks, ruining my make up. But I can’t stop.
‘Been with someone who was in a relationship’
I have never done it, and after experiencing being the affected part of that statement, I was more than sure that I would never, ever, do it.
The minutes pass, and I find myself able to get out of the stall. My face does not look that damage by the tears, and I take my time to fix my make up in front of the mirror.
When I come out of the bathroom, someone holds my wrist to stop me. I turn around to see Jared pulling me toward him.
“Are you okay?” He asks, biting his bottom lip.
He looks really worried, and by the time I shake my head no, he lets go of my wrist.
“I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have said that” He apologizes, burying his face on his hands, ‘You want to talk about it?”
“Not really” I whisper, “But I would really want to dance now”
Jared takes his hands from his face, noticing a shy smile forming on my lips.
“I can help you with that”
His hand holds mine, starting to pull me towards the dancefloor. The music is soft, and the people start holding their partners really close. Jared puts both hands on my waist, and I raise mine to cross them on his nape. We move slowly, following the rhythm of the music with our drunken bodies.
“I have never been in a long relationship” He mutters.
“Lucky you” I laugh, resting my head on his shoulder, “I have never been in a short one”
“Lucky you” He mimics my words, “I have never been in love”
“I have” Is the only thing I say, feeling the tight nod on my chest, announcing future tears if I don’t change the subject quickly, “I have never been at the beach at dawn”
“It is so… beautiful” He whispers in my ear, “I can take you there, you should watch it, it is one of the most amazing things ever”
“I would love that” I say, feeling quick shivers down my spine, “Your turn”
“I have never… I have never feel this comfortable with someone”
I stop moving as I hear his words. Jared stops too, pulling away to look at my face. A small grin appears on his face, and I’m not sure if he’s being serious, or the alcohol is starting to speak for him.
“I have never feel attracted to someone this quickly” He continues, “I have never wanted to kiss someone as much as I want to kiss you”
I wet my lips, feeling his words all over my body, sending new shivers over my spine. I fold my arms over my chest, trying not to show how his words are affecting me.
“I have never… ever been with someone as beautiful as you, someone who doesn’t even know how amazing she is” He gets closer to me again, putting his hands on my arms, “And I have never wanted to tell someone as much as I want to tell you, how unbelievably amazing she is”
A part of me wants him to kiss me, another one wants to run away from this man who has known me for just a couple of hours and is already putting the world at my feet. I decide to stay, feeling his hands caress my arms, seeing how his lips reach for my ear.
“I really want to show you that dawn” He whispers, “It would be alright if I take you?”
I nod, receiving his hug as a gift.
“And I really want to see it”
His arms hold me against him, and I can’t believe how desperate he is, like he wants me even closer, but he isn’t able to accomplish it. I do the same, crossing my arms on his nape once again, pulling him toward me.
“I have never wanted someone as much as I want you right now”.