“Come on, Fay. It’ll be fun. You haven’t been out in what, a while now, besides when we hang out? Most of my colleagues from work will be there, some I know personally while others I only know the names of. Please? I don’t think you have any other friends besides me,” my best friend, Nessa, pointed out.
I knew she was right. She’d been my best friend since high school. Ever since I’d had falling outs with other friends, she was the only one that supported me the whole time. I didn’t bother to try making new friends, mostly because I wasn’t social and still lived with my parents at twenty-five. Nessa knew I didn’t like parties, so I didn’t understand why she was pressuring me to go to this one, unless she really felt I should go.
Right now we were at her place, which was an apartment in the suburbs of Rochdale, Nova Scotia. She made decent money as an accountant, and had been at the same job for a while, so she was able to afford to move out last year from her parent’s place.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky. I’d graduated college a year after Nessa as a journalist, but had yet to find work. That was a few years ago now. Since then, I’d had some temporary and seasonal jobs, but nothing really in my field of work. I’d been looking but no luck so far.
Otherwise, when I was at home while my parents were working, I had to amuse myself with my hobbies. I liked to read, write, paint, draw, and do woodworking, but more often than not, found myself rather bored at times. It was also discouraging to see everyone on social media, the people that I’d gone to school with, all grown up and living adult lives. Meanwhile I couldn’t find a full time job no matter how hard I tried, it seemed. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. Hell, I was even still single. Had been for two years now.
“I won’t know anyone besides you there,” I argued. “I don’t see how that will be fun for me.”
“It’s a masquerade, everyone loves dressing up, which is why I decided to host the party.” Nessa grinned at me, twirling a strand of her brown, shoulder-length hair. Meanwhile, I was blonde, and had green eyes. My hair went down to the middle of my back and was naturally wavy. My body was rather curvy but not really in the right places, while Nessa was super skinny and looked small next to me. I was the “fat” friend. I wasn’t really overweight, just felt huge next to her.
I sighed. “Even if I decided to go, I won’t have a costume, and the party is in two days, on Saturday. You don’t know how it is, being small and fat, finding good clothes is hard.”
“Oh stop it, you’re not even fat,” Nessa rolled her eyes. “Honestly. You’re just short, which is why you have a hard time finding clothes. But we can still go to the costume shop where I got my mask from. It’s got decently priced stuff for every size. It’s still open for another few hours. You’re lucky today is my day off. Also, there are quite a few hot, single guys at work. I think some you’d probably like and they are coming to the party.”
And, even though I really didn’t want to, a small part of me was curious. Would I meet someone there? Or would I just be wasting my time going? Not that I really had anything better to do…
“Okay, okay, I’ll go,” I gave in.
“Great! And if you’re totally bored after like two hours, come find me and we’ll hang out for a while. Anyway, let’s go get your outfit.”
We left her apartment, got into her car and headed down to the costume store which was a few blocks away.
When we arrived, I was surprised at how much was in the shop. It looked small from the outside, but inside was covered in clothing and knick knacks. I quickly found a black mask that had feathers sprouting from the top and covered half of my face. It took about a half hour of searching before we found something that would go with it – a black, knee-length dress with no straps and sequins in a pattern. I tried it on and found it fit well. I also had black sparkly flat shoes at home that would match with the outfit, so things were going smoothly.
The mask and dress came to around twenty dollars, which was affordable in my opinion, plus I could wear the dress casually. Seeing as it was June and starting to get warm, I would soon be breaking out the shorts and dresses.
“It’s going to be so much fun now that my best friend will be there!” Nessa exclaimed when we left the shop, my bags in my hand.
I nodded, though still feeling a bit like I didn’t want to go through with this. “I don’t have to drink, right?” I asked, I wasn’t much of a drinker of alcohol.
“Nah, you don’t have to. Not everyone will be.”
Thankfully, Nessa understood that I didn’t need alcohol to have fun. She liked to have a few drinks, but never really got trashed. I was fine with her decision, just that for me personally, alcohol wasn’t a need.
“So, what do you want to do for the rest of the afternoon?” I asked her.
“We can just have supper somewhere,” Nessa offered.
“Yeah, then I’ll probably go home since you have to work tomorrow,” I decided. “Let’s go, then.”
We got into Nessa’s car and went to a local restaurant.
Saturday afternoon, I was at Nessa’s getting ready. The party would be hosted in the house of one of her colleagues, but she was helping the colleague get ready beforehand, so we’d be leaving in a few minutes even though the party didn’t start until eight PM.
“You look so good,” Nessa told me after I put my dress on. I’d wait to put the mask on when the party started.
“Thanks, so do you.” I grinned at her. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about myself, considering again, she looked more sexy in her red dress and matching red mask. I felt like a blob, but of course, everyone had insecurities.
She smiled at my compliment, and took her mask off. “I just wanted to see how it looked completed,” she told me. “Okay, let’s get going.”
At her colleague Rachel’s house, we helped the girl get the decorations up and move furniture aside for a dance floor. We also helped her set out party food and drinks. We were putting the finishing touches in place when we realized the party would start in about ten minutes. We all got our masks on and Rachel turned the music up, waiting for guests to arrive.
Soon enough, much to my anxiety, people began filtering in. Rachel and Nessa greeted each group with enthusiasm. Some arrived as a couple, some arrived single, and some in groups of three or four.
After about a half hour, it seemed that mostly everyone had arrived. So far, I’d seen a few cute single guys, or they looked cute from what I could tell under their masks. But nobody was really talking to me. Nessa had gone off somewhere, and I was standing by the food counter, picking at some of the chips. I was also drinking water, while literally everyone else was drinking alcohol.
A few people had been dancing on the makeshift dance floor, but I didn’t want to look like an idiot dancing by myself. Besides, I didn’t dance.
A few minutes later, while I was contemplating on some excuse to leave, I noticed a guy break away from the group he was chatting to and come over to the snack table. He gave me a friendly smile as he piled some more snacks onto his empty foam plate.
“Hey, how come you’re here all by yourself?” he asked in a deep voice.
I shrugged. “Nessa’s gone off somewhere, and I don’t know anyone else besides her. She’s my best friend.”
“Ah, you’re not overly social, are you?”
“Not really, no.” I decided to be blunt and honest. “I came because she thought I might have fun or something.”
The guy snickered. “You’re funny. What’s your name?”
“Fay,” I told him. “With a ‘y’.”
“That’s a pretty name. I’m Adam. You from around here?” he questioned. I noticed he’d stopped filling up his plate and was looking at me while munching on his snacks.
I blushed when he complimented my name. “Sort of, about ten minutes outside of town. You?”
“About a five minute’s drive from here. On Oak Street,” he told me.
“Ah, I know where that is.”
I actually managed to talk to him for about a half hour, and we found that we had some things in common. We had quite a few similar hobbies. He liked to paint and write and do photography when he wasn’t at work.
Then a slow song came on, and he smiled and set his empty plate down. “Would you like to dance?” he asked me, holding out his hand.
I nodded, reaching out and taking his hand in mine. My heart was beating a little with excitement. Nessa would be proud that I was talking to someone other than her.
Once on the dance floor, we found a spot and he put one of his hands on my waist, and took my free hand with his. I put my other hand on his shoulder and we moved in slow circles. He smelled lightly of pine trees and forest, which was really nice to me. It was almost soothing and relaxing.
“So, where did you go to college?” he wanted to know.
“North Street College,” I replied. “For two years, as a journalist. Haven’t found any work though.”
“Okay, that’s interesting. Obviously since I work with your best friend, I took accounting. But I graduated like four years ago and have been working at this place ever since.”
“Oh? How old are you?”
“Nice, not too much of an age gap.” With that he winked at me, and I couldn’t help but blush again. Was he actually interested in me, or was he just being polite since we were talking?
Too soon the song was over, but he kept hold of my hand as he took me out the back way through the house, to a back porch which had pretty lights around it from when we decorated it earlier. Nobody else was out here, because everyone wanted to be near the alcohol.
“I knew this was here because I’ve been to Rachel’s place before, we’re kind of like friends,” Adam told me, and for some reason I felt a twinge of jealousy. Were him and Rachel only just friends, or more than friends? How often had he been over here?
“Oh...” I trailed off, unsure what to say, and let go of his hand.
He seemed to sense how uncomfortable I was, so he rushed to explain himself. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that. I mean, Rachel and I are friends, we formed kind of a bond when I started working there and she took me under her wing. But it’s not like that. She’s dated several other guys, right now she’s interested in one of the other guys at work. I’ve only been here a couple times, cause it feels a little weird to hang out outside of work. We’re more like work buddies.”
I nodded, feeling a little better about the situation. “Oh, okay. That’s fine, I mean, she’s your friend, and you just met me, you don’t have to explain yourself to me...” I found myself blabbering a little, then trailed off, not wanting him to feel weird about me.
Instead, he just chuckled. “Hey, it’s okay, no need to feel awkward with me. I feel comfortable with you, like you’re trustworthy or something. There’s just something about you.” His green eyes sparkled at me and he stepped closer. “You’re...different from most girls.”
“Yeah, I’ve been told that, but usually not in a good way.” I sighed. At first I had thought this was going well, but now I was afraid I’d put him off. Sure, he’d said I was trustworthy, but again, maybe he was just being nice. “Also, I am trustworthy,” I added. “Not a cheater. Cheating’s dumb. If you’re not happy in a relationship then just break up, don’t put the other person through hell and cheat just because you’re not happy about something they are doing. If you’re gonna commit to someone, don’t act single.”
“Finally someone who thinks like I do.” Adam again stepped closer and gingerly reached out to put a hand on my waist, as if waiting for my permission. My heart was beating fast and I felt the heat rising to my face, but I gazed into his eyes as he touched my waist again.
His face inched closer to mine, and his lips brushed carefully across mine, as if silently making sure I was okay with this. I sure as hell was, so I pushed my body up against his so that his back was against the fence of the deck. He put both arms fully around my waist and kissed me hard.
Something inside of me stirred, like I wanted to go farther. I wasn’t sure what had gotten into me, or why I was letting a near-stranger kiss me. But he was cute, we were both single, we had a lot in common, he was friendly, and nice. Why not take a chance, right?
After a moment, we broke apart, breathing hard. His eyes blazed into mine. “Wow...” he murmured, tracing the back of my dress with a finger. “Can...can you take your mask off? I want to see your face. I’ll take mine off, too.”
The butterflies were dancing in my stomach, but I agreed, and was just placing my fingers under the mask to lift it when something buzzed in his pocket.
“Fuck,” he cursed, reaching into his pocket to answer. “Hello? Yes...oh, shit. Okay, I’ll be there, in about ten. Can you handle it until then? Alright. Love you, bye.”
Putting his phone away he looked back at me. “I’m so sorry about this, but I have to go. It’s an emergency at home.” He released me completely and began walking, while I followed, concerned.
“Is everything okay?” I asked him.
“Well...I’ll have to see when I get there. I had a really nice time with you tonight, truly. Thank you.” Before we reached the doors, he turned quickly and kissed me intensely. I kissed him back, and in another minute, he was gone back into the house where I lost sight of him.
“Fuck,” I hissed, taking a moment to calm myself. I stayed outside, not going after him because I didn’t want to delay him from an emergency. My pulse was racing, my stomach on fire. What the hell just happened to me?