As I watched Colt take off after Lark, their bodies disappeared in the sea of swaying people.
She looked... effortless tonight.
“I’m breaking up with Liz”, I stated without taking my eyes off of the spot I had last seen Lark. I felt more than heard Grey and Luka stop talking. Their attention shifting to me felt like a weighted blanket. Not uncomfortable, just supportive.
It was Luka who broke the silence between us. “You sure?”
I knew what he was thinking. Unlike Colt, I did actually care for Liz and I even though I didn’t love her, she loved me. “I’m sure. It’s not fair to keep stringing her along when I’ve never been fully invested in this. Even less so since Lark came back”.
They both nodded, but I could see the questions lingering in Greyson’s eyes as the flashing lights from the club lit our booth in shades of red. “You know I want nothing more than to see all of us happy and to see her happy with us.”
“But...“, I encouraged him to continue.
“It’s not a but”, he started, “I want everyone happy, and I want her not to feel ambushed by us. She went from having no one, to having us back in her life, and now we all want so much from her. We want to be lovers and friends. I’m worried that it’s too much too fast”.
Greyson was one of the most level-headed people I knew, so I could understand where he was coming from. He was also the most considerate, but at times I think he forgot that other people should get a say in their emotions too. It’s not something he did on purpose. It just came with the territory of being a writer. His whole life he tried to understand other people in an attempt to write more believable characters. He just needed to remember that he wasn’t always the author of everyone’s story.
I was about to say just as much when Luka beat me to it. “I think you mean well Grey, but we can’t take that choice away from her either. It might be too much. You are right. But we should ask her if it is first”.
Taking a sip of his gin and tonic, Greyson leaned back against the booth. “You’re right”. “Now, I don’t know about you two, but I didn’t come here to just sit around and gossip. Let’s fucking dance”. After slamming back the shot of patron Luka had ordered for the table, I stood up and made my way to the dance floor.
I heard them both follow suit and together we moved through the crowd to look for the missing members of our group.
It didn’t take long to find them.
Colt and Lark were dancing as if they could read each other’s minds.
With her back pressed against his front, he moved her hips against him without missing a single beat of the music. Although judging from what I was seeing, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had been dancing entirely off rhythm – lost in their own world.
“He looks so relaxed”, Luka joked.
Greyson laughed, “It’s fucking weird to see. Nice, but weird”.
“You think they’ll be pissed if I ask for a dance with her?“. Without waiting for a response, I walked closer to them, urged on by the people dancing around me without a care in the world.
“Mind if I cut in?”
“Aidan! Of course you can!“, she shouted above the music and immediately took my hands. Colt laughed and clapped me on the shoulder before heading over to Luka and Greyson who were doing their best attempt at the robot.
“What kind of dancing is this?“, she shouted.
“Oh come on you can’t tell me you forgot these moves”. I spun her around before dipping her low.
She looked confused for a second before recognition lit up her face. “Mrs. Dulowski’s gym class from your “freshman” year! Oh my god I can’t believe you still remember the steps”.
I had unfortunately been forced to repeat freshman year gym class because I skipped too many times during my first year of high school. I ended up getting put in the class with the one gym teacher that took the dancing units seriously, and I was terrible at dancing. I was so bad that Lark had offered to practice with me at home when she heard me complaining to Colt about it. Eventually, we got so good at it that we taught it to David and Maria as well.
She laughed as I lead her through the steps and the sound of her laugh mixed with the energy of the club was intoxicating.
“You look stunning by the way”.
Her steps faltered for a second before she smiled up at me. “You don’t look too bad yourself, Aid”.
The song changed to something with a lot more bass and our silly dance moves seemed to stand out much more than they had with the last song. I spun her back into my arms, putting her in a similar position she had been with Colt.
“Is this okay?“, I bent down to her and asked. She craned her head around to look at me before answering.
“Yes, it’s okay”.
I tried to be mindful of the fact that I had a girlfriend by not pressing my body too close to hers, but guilt just kept creeping in. I was dancing with the woman I was in love with, while the one who was in love with me had no idea.
“I’m sorry, I need to go to the bathroom”, I rushed out to her before stepping away. I heard her call my name but I just needed some space. The heat of the dance floor mixed with the tequila I pounded earlier was making my head spin.
I passed by Luka as I made my way to the bathroom and he must have seen my emotions all over my face because he followed me back inside.
“What’s wrong?“, he asked. There was no one else inside and he leaned against the wall of sinks as I paced back and forth.
“I feel like a piece of shit”.
“Why do you feel like a piece of shit”.
“Because of Liz, man. I’m not having second thoughts about breaking up with her I promise. Lark is who I’ve always wanted. I just know that I’m going to break her heart and even dancing tonight made me feel guilty. I feel like I cheated or something”.
He was quiet for a while before he folded his arms across his chest and looked at me. “If we’re being honest here Aidan you’ve been emotionally cheating on her for months now. I know you’d never cross that line physically, but you were gone the second you saw Lark in our apartment back in August”.
His words hit me like a punch to the gut. He was right though, and I needed to deal with that.
“What do I do here? I can’t tell Liz everything without jeopardizing Lark’s safety. This is going to blindside her and I don’t know what to say to make it better”.
“Nothing you can say will make it better. Just be honest about the fact that you don’t feel the same way about her. You told us before that it wasn’t fair to keep stringing her along. Tell her that”.
I finally stopped pacing and raked my hands through my hair.
“How are you younger than me and yet so much smarter?”
He chuckled before walking over to hug me.
“I’m better looking too”.
That got a full-blown laugh out of me and I felt some of the tension leave my shoulders. “I think I’m gonna head home, will you cover for me with Lark?“.
“You got it”.
As I got my stuff from our private booth and left, I looked out on the dance floor one last time. Greyson, Colt, and Lark were doing a conga line during an EDM song. They looked so out of place, but also completely right.
I took my phone out to snap a picture of them before leaving and then walked outside to flag down a cab.
As I sat in the car with the city lights splashing the backseat in warm shades of gold, I took out my phone to see that picture again.
Those dorks were my family.