Who is we?
“So, what’s new? How’s your visit been?” Eli—another old roommate that stayed in the city—asks me in a hushed tone, guiding me into the front room of his brownstone. The entire area littered with all kinds of baby things. He picks up a stack of blankets, offering me a seat on the sofa.
“Not much,” I answer with a shrug, keeping my voice at the same quiet level as his while he plops down on the oversized chair, caddy corner from me. “It’s been good. Nice to be back in the city for a few days.”
I came over about an hour ago, brought takeout for everyone, but we haven’t really gotten the chance to catch up. Their three week old fussing off and on throughout dinner. His wife, Kate, looking about to cry along with her. I think she actually did. I know they both dozed off a few times while trying to force Chinese down their throats.
“I can go, you don’t need to entertain me. I’m sure you guys are...” I trail off as Eli draws in a massive yawn.
“No, no,” he replies, resting his head back on the chair. “I need to live vicariously through someone. Plus, it’s good to see you. I wasn’t sure we’d get the chance.”
“Yeah.” I smile at him, Kate walking in—more like tiptoeing—giving me that pity smile which seems to be the normal thing over the last two months. Word travels pretty fast. And while it’s yesterday’s news at home, I know anyone I see from here on out, for the first time, will give me that same reaction.
Maybe that’s why Briar seems like even more than I remember? Maybe because she doesn’t really know much? She briefly gave me that same sad look but changed it fast, more or less telling me to buck up. Honestly, that’s the shit I need.
“Finally asleep,” Kate says, having settled their daughter, sitting on Eli’s lap, arm wrapping around his neck as she leans into him.
“Thank God,” he mutters. “She never sleeps, Trey. Never.” They let out weary laughs, cuddled up in each other. I smile at them as they both yawn—seems to be a constant occurrence. Dark circles under their eyes matching each other’s. But in all reality, minus my parents, I’ve never seen a couple looking so in love.
“I’m happy for you guys, she’s adorable.” I really am, I’m always glad to see my friends doing well, enjoying life, even if they currently look like zombies.
I’ve witnessed this with three of my sisters and their husbands, each of them have multiple kids. I remember when all of my nieces were first born, rest seems to be a rarity.
“I’m sorry about things,” Kate says with a frown. I force my lips to a smile, trying to shake it off.
I raise a shoulder. What is there to say? This type of shit is always so awkward. I mean, I’m doing fine. I’m getting there. Once the initial heartache wore off—the shock, or the sharp sting of rejection—the real life worries settled in. Why’d I spend hundreds of thousands on some house? Why’d I spend what someone could get a reliable used car for on a ring? Why’d I go full throttle with someone I think I knew deep down didn’t want it?
The last few days have been a distraction, a welcomed one at that. But only one more day. Because after tomorrow, when my plane takes off Saturday morning, I’ve gotta deal with all the real life shit.
We spend the next few minutes talking about random things; work, the club, the latest gossip with the rest of our old crew. The two of them started dating back in college, Kate was always a superiorly nice and chilled out female, spending a lot of her time in our dorm, and apartment in the later years.
“So, been hanging out with our favorite bachelor?” she asks, obviously referring to Chaz. I nod with a slow grin as she waggles her brows a few times, blonde strands of hair slipping down the sides of her face. “And how is that dirty bastard?” She lets out a quiet chuckle.
“He’s good. You know...” I lift a shoulder, glancing around the smaller room, tan walls making it feel cozy. I cringe at a picture of us on their mantle from their wedding. Kyra standing with me.
“I’ll photo shop her out,” Eli offers, following my line of sight.
“Chaz is Chaz,” I continue, desperate to keep the conversation off of... her.
“Tell me,” she says. “He came to visit right after Sydney was born, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look more afraid... Wait a minute...” Kate narrows an eye at me, a slow grin tugging up the corner of her lips. “Didn’t I see a post that his friend Briar is in town?”
Eli perks up, chin lifting from his chest, suddenly wide awake after he’s been dozing off repeatedly. His eyes snap open at the mention of her name. Old habits die hard. She bats a playful hand against his chest, looking up at the ceiling, shaking her head.
The smile that somehow always seems to form when I think about her—which over the last two days has been more than my entire life—is a dead giveaway.
“So you’ve seen her, too?” she asks with a raised brow. One eye narrows as she studies my reaction. Leaning back against the smooth suede of their brown sofa, I excessively try to shrug it off, shoulder repeatedly lifting as if I have some strange tick—like I need to add anything else to the list of nervous habits.
“How does she look?” Eli blurts out. Kate shoots him a dirty glare before refocusing on me, her lips scrunched together.
“You little devil,” she says in an accusatory tone, tilting her head with her mouth hanging open in a broad grin. I keep my stare forward, fixating on the extremely warm shade of paint on their interesting walls.
“What?” Eli asks, his light and unkept hair moving with him as his head darts back and forth between his wife and me. I pull my lips between my teeth, trying to suppress the goofy grin. “Wait... what?” His voice, so loud that a slight movement catches all of our attention. A tiny pink blanket starting to move in the corner of the room, on some mechanical and overly complicated looking baby swing.
Both my friends squeeze their eyes shut, bracing themselves as we all stay incredibly still, and quiet. Kate letting out a groan when the quiet cries swiftly erupt into blood-curdling screams.
“You ass, it’s your turn.” She stands from his lap, Eli waving her off.
“No shit!?” His mouth, gaping, forming a disbelieving smile, blinking several times. “You slept with—”
“No,” I cut him off. Usually, I’m not one to discuss any of this stuff, well, not too much. And I really don’t have a long list when it comes to women. Actually, it’s a super short list.
His brows remain raised over astonished eyes.
“Just... um... hooked up.”
“And Chaz is okay with that?”
I lift my palms up in front of me, crinkling my nose with clenched teeth. Kate turns towards us, cradling their newborn, blowing out a long breath from her closed lips. “As if any of you...” She darts her eyes to her husband. “Okay, I mean as if you”—focusing on me, a kind and genuine smile on her face—“need to worry about his approval or disapproval.”
“Yeah, but Briar’s like—”
“Briar’s like mid-twenties,” she interrupts me, shaking her head. “Same as you. It’s not like you guys are in college anymore. We’re all adults.” Scowling at her husband, still with the jaw dropped open, nodding his head in a slow, supportive manner. “Well, some of us are.” She gives him a warning glare that Eli completely ignores.
“Bro, if you tap that—”
“Gross, Elijah!” Kate snaps at him. He momentarily raises his hands, offering a real loose apology, before she pushes the wailing infant to his chest. “Don’t listen to him, Trey. He’s a sleep deprived, idiot.”
Eli shrugs his shoulders with a quiet laugh, mouthing legend.
The two look at each other, beyond tired, as the sobs continue. “I fed her, changed her. Why does this tiny human not sleep?” Kate fakes a cry as she says the words. Well, maybe she’s not faking?
“I can hold her,” I offer with a shrug. “I’ve held plenty of—”
“Bless you.” She doesn’t take more than a second to scoop her up from Eli, walking over to me, gently placing their daughter in my hands. Almost immediately the crying stops, grey eyes blinking open as I reposition her.
“He’s magic,” Kate says in a hushed voice, both of them looking at me with astonished faces.
“Dude, how are you doing that?” Eli asks as his wife settles back down on his lap.
“Babies just like me.” I smile at her tiny features, little round nose, curious looking eyes. With a gentle sigh, she quickly drifts back to sleep.
Glancing over, both of them still gawking at me from the chair. Mouths remaining open as they shake their heads.
“Well, it’s settled,” Kate says, with a yawn—which of course makes everyone else follow suit. “You’re just gonna have to stay.”
Not even five minutes into holding the little sleeping body, nuzzled into the side of my chest, all three of them are sound asleep. Pulling my phone from my pocket, deciding to scroll through social media—not usually my forte—clicking on several other names, somehow working my way to her completely private page.
“What do you think?” I ask the tiny face, lips parted, letting out content sleepy breaths. “Should I request her? Is that weird? Would that be weird?” A soft cooing sound hums out as I reposition myself, trying to keep the light from my screen from waking her. Or them.
What’s the harm? I glance at my friends with a smile. It’s nice to see them happy, and it’s even better to see them getting what they need. Without giving it another thought, I click the button. Placing my phone on the arm of the couch. Not even five seconds later, it buzzes under my palm. Request accepted.
It’s impossible for me to keep the grin from my face as I click on her profile. Filled mostly with old pictures of Briar, only one recent. A shot of her and Chaz, her middle finger lifted, one eye closed, and her tongue sticking out. I immediately double click.
A message slides down from the top. You stalking me now, Trey?
I cringe, peering down at little sleeping Sydney. “You steered me wrong,” I whisper, right as another one pops up.
Just fucking with you. What are you up to?
We go back and forth for a few minutes, Briar asking what I’ve been doing, I send her a picture of my friends sleeping over on the chair, explaining that they passed out right after I started holding their baby.
She replied to my photo with one of her own. A shot of Chaz passed out on one of his leather sofas, same as the other night. Looks like it’s a trend. She writes below the snapshot.
We continue with a somehow easy conversation, just messaging little things. Briar mostly sending funny gifs in response to my poor excuse for a flirty DM slide. I have no game when it comes to her... to anyone. And it’s probably for the better, anyway.
For God only knows what reason—I never do this shit—I send her a selfie of me holding this tiny baby, not even giving it a thought before I hit the button.
The little dots appear, disappear, and reappear several times. Almost a full minute passes before she responds with a simple heart, nothing else.
She stayed sleeping for almost three hours, and so did they. Kate, refusing to let me get an Uber, telling me on the side that she really needed to get out. The drive back was filled with light conversation, and a much happier Kate than earlier.
“Trey,” she calls as I step out of her car, pulled off to the side in front of my hotel. I lean my head down into the lowered window. “Life goes by quick.” A smile tugs at the corner of her lips. “You’ve always been one of the good ones, always done what you think everyone else wants you to. But if she... if Briar’s what you want, and if the feeling is mutual.” She lifts her shoulder. “Then maybe it’s time you go for it.”
I almost fell off the sofa. I know my heart did a flipping triple-back-loop-jump-axle in my chest, the second his message came through. Babies, of course, are completely adorable in their own right. But a gorgeous guy. Muscular, masculine, and honestly hot as hell holding one...
Funniest part about him dropping me a request and liking my picture; I was legit inter-stalking him myself. Just because he’s good to look at and sleeping beauty left me high and dry a little before ten pm.
I study the picture for so long, staring at it, dissecting it. His easy smile, sharp jawline, perfect amount of facial hair, kind eyes that seriously make me wanna...
“Ugh.” I groan, a quiet sigh breathes out from the party animal as he readjusts on the opposite leather couch. Why of all the places? All the people? Why him? Why now?
Swiping across my screen, I look at the ridiculously adorable grin—the baby is pretty cute, too—sending a quick heart. I stop myself before I type something I can’t take back... or something that’ll live in the deep, dark web until the end of time.
No, Briar, I tell myself, shaking my head, eyes remaining glued to the ceiling. We aren’t going there... remember!?
Who the fuck is we?
And why the hell am I thinking in third person, again?
I turn off my phone, resolving to the fact that if I’m getting laid on my birthday. That it most definitely will not be by Trey.
“Shit, it’s like you’re rich, bitch,” I joke, smacking a palm against Chaz’s back, all dressed up in some custom suit, sans jacket, looking like he’s going to work or some shit.
“I know,” he replies, already undoing the buttons on his wrists, rolling his sleeves to his elbows as his eyes rove over the packed place. Licking his lips, raising a brow with a devilish and always thirsty look on his face. “Only the best for you and your sweet attitude.”
I flip him the bird with a little grunt; I doubt he can hear it over the thumping music. Chaz, telling me we couldn’t go until at least an hour after he told everyone else. What do I care? Besides two of my old roommates, who just so happen to be in New York—must be a week for blasts from the past—I won’t really know a single person here. It’s for sure over the top, extra, crowded, and not really my scene.
Not to mention, the brief phone call I had with my mother not long ago. The sobering reminder that tomorrow, Saturday, I have to go back to real life, or start real life. Whatever.
My eyes work their way through the mess of strangers; talking, some dancing, most drinking. A vast array of twinkling bulbs are set up just high enough over the different groups of people. The area scattered with randomly placed outdoor, super swank sofas. Small black standing tables strategically placed throughout the rooftop, ensuring an easy weaving pattern for any servers.
I nod my head, giving it the Briar stamp of approval. The mixture of the fairy lights, or whatever you wanna call them, and the standard radiance from the city, emitting just enough of a soft glow to keep the place inviting. Not bad, I tell myself, but we could have done better.
The fuck is with the we shit, again!?
I’d have halved the amount of lights and let the city’s brilliance offer a natural filter for the fifty plus people, already party rockin’, who will probably need that selfie buffer after a few more rounds of drinks. But what do I know?
I glance over at Chaz, already looking like a kid in a candy shop, rubbing his hands in front of him. “Come on.” He drapes an arm across my shoulder. The random faces now looking our way makes a nagging feeling of insecurity creep through me.
Seems crazy, yeah, I know. But shockingly enough, sometimes the loudest, most in your face people are actually filled with self doubt. Plus, I’m not totally used to this new mask just yet. Anyway, it’ll be momentary, not to worry, just need a minute or two to acclimate to my surroundings. Okay, fuck it, maybe a drink will help?
“Go ahead.” I give him a quick and excessively toothy grin, straightening the skirt of my wildly bright, pink dress. Of course, it screamed me at that exact moment. Now it’s screaming judgy glares, excessive lip licking, and a few other up and downs. Not to mention, don’t bend over. If I do, the entire world will see I had to go commando. Underwear lines are for real.
Chaz squeezes me into him, my eyes still wandering, sifting through the randoms. My heart’s definitely not dropping. Why would it? No reason, no reason at all.
“I’ll be there in a second,” I tell him. Fixing my face and plastering on that confident smile. “I’m just getting a drink, you go start the prowl, hooker.”
Talking a deep breath, I walk through several people, making my way to the bar—set off on the side of the rooftop. Most taking advantage of the multiple waiters and waitresses, delivering their drinks. I take extra care that I don’t snag the side of my wedge ankle boots—was them or a pair of chucks—on the side of one of the rugs, covering up the concrete of the large, square area.
No, fuck that. We don’t walk. Chin up, back straight, chest out—not too far. We aren’t selling anything here! We don’t walk, bitch. You are badass; you are owning this. We stride with pride!
I’m actually losing my mind.
I perch my forearms on the cold metal top, giving the bartender a quick smile, the chill of the surface seeping through the sleeves of my dress. I don’t know what exactly drew me into it. Short, tight, the satin or sateen, whatever, cutting off just above my chest, starting with a lacy pattern that goes up to a scoop neck, down to mid-arm.
The bartender stares at me, an impatient brow lifted as I scan over my options.
“I think she likes tequila.” A deep and husky and hot shit...
“Trey!?” I blurt out, but it sounds more like a squeak as my head turns, getting a full, tall ass drink of dark and handsome.
A sexy grin curls up on the corner of his mouth, his eyes lock into mine, making my pulse kick up to an ungodly speed, sending another pulse—
“I’ll take one, too,” he says, leaning in. His lips move over my ear, making my eyes snap open, breath catching in my throat. “Happy Birthday.”
A large and extremely useful hand runs back through his brown locks, a little more slicked back—not in a greaser type of way—in an honest to goodness, well kept, fucking sex God, type of way. A nicely fitted, black button down, showing off the top of his toned chest. Dark jeans, snug enough, but not tight. This Georgia peach is looking good enough to eat. Not to mention the air about him, his stance, the look on his face. Something about him seems... different.
“I figured I’d try out a little of what you have.”
“Langarrhea?” I ask. “No filter? A generally and somewhat strangely uninhibited attitude?”
He bites down on his bottom lip, making my heart plummet; not in a bad way, but in a way that it’s literally throbbing, palpitating, beating all the way down to my—
A/N: I love them sooooo!!
Okay Trey... how can you not love him!? And Briar? I wanted to show the “human” side, hopefully I have? To be a strong couple I think one has to fill in where the other falters. I have so many plans for these two. I’m having fun... real actual FUN writing this. And I hope you are, reading it.
Thoughts, comments? We are I think 13 or 14 chapters in.