“Cheers.” Everyone’s glasses come together with a loud clink. My head buzzes from the mixture of alcohol and fun with my close friends.
My adorable husband winks at me from across the table and I smile back warmly. Our twentieth wedding anniversary is next month and I still love him with all of my heart. That should be a fun party as well, but tonight we are enjoying the company of our friends. I had easily talked my husband, Sean, into coming to this fundraiser event to support a wounded soldier and—friend.
“So Lance, where’s that girl that your online dating service hooked you up with?”
Lance has always been a bit shy and at thirty-seven, never married, no kids, and the desire to have nothing, but to find a woman to love him, he blushes two shades of crimson. I glare at Sean for teasing him, but that was how my husband had always acted towards his childhood best friend.
“She’s supposed to be here any minute.” He tries to nonchalantly look down at his watch and I can see the tension growing in him—nerves. “I have a picture of her. Do any of you see her?” He pulls out a photo that looks like it’s been printed off of his computer and hands it to me.
“She’s cute.” I say, then examine the photo closely and give her a good look over. I shouldn’t judge someone by a photo, but Lance is like a brother to me. He doesn’t have the good looks, but he has a heart of gold. He will make an awesome husband and father someday. I just wish he could find a nice girl that won’t just use him. I must be staring at the picture longer than the rest of the table approves, because I hear my husband yelling at me to see the picture. One last quick glance and I hand the photo over to Sean.
“A Blondie, huh? She’s pretty hot.”
“Let me see!” My best friend Carrie nabs the picture from Sean and leans into her husband Aaron, so he can see too. “Yeah, she’s definitely cute,” she squeals. “Maybe this will be the one.”
Out of the corner of my eye I spot a petite girl with spiky blonde hair looking around nervously. I prod Lance in the rib with my elbow. “There she is.”
Everyone at our table spins around to gawk all at the same time. “Well, that’s not awkward,” I laugh. Lance blushes again.
“Go talk to her.” I push.
He takes a big swig of his beer and leaves the four of us sitting and watching. I smile to myself as my eyes follow him amble over nervously. It’s so damn cute. I have to feel a little compassion for him though. I couldn’t imagine having to start over and do the whole dating thing again. My eyes flicker down and back to my husband. His profile is all I can see, but I am still so attracted to him. He’s a very handsome man—my man. I trace his features with my eyes and thank the stars that I have such an amazing guy in my life.
Aaron and Sean start dubbing in Lance and his blind date’s conversation with very inappropriate sentences, pulling me from my reverie. “Oh my god Sean, that’s awful! Give your friend a break.”
“He’d be doing the same thing to me if I was in his shoes.”
I shake my head dejectedly at him. Thankfully they stop when Lance leads his date back to our table. I’d be mortified if she had heard what they had been saying. Standing above us, Lance introduces her, “Sarah, these are my friends.” He starts with me, “Nikki, Sean, Carrie and Aaron.” In unison we all say hi and I scoot over onto the next seat to make room for Lance and our newcomer.
After a few formalities, we got the “where do you work, and where are you from” out of the way—along with some small talk to get a feel for what Sarah was like. She seems to loosen up a little. The endless amounts of alcohol that’s being brought to our table might be helping too. Lance has amped up on his best behavior act and seems to be working hard to impress Sarah. I smile at Sean over the circumstances, but he seems too occupied telling Sarah a story about himself wrecking his motorcycle. I know Sean is a bit of an attention getter, but it frustrates me a little. Tonight is Lance’s night. This whole evening is solely devoted to him. He gave so much fighting for his country and tonight I hope he gets the funds to help with his upcoming surgery, maybe he can meet a companion as well.
I try to blow off my husband consuming Sarah’s attention and look around the room at the good turnout tonight. The group who had set this fundraiser up did a great job. The giant banquet room is one of many in a nice hotel downtown. Tables and booths are set up elegantly and the staff they hired to help have been super attentive. No one’s glass has been empty all evening. The food smells are starting to waif through the air and I can see plates starting to be dispersed now. When I had bought tonight’s tickets, we had been given a choice between a salmon with pilaf, or lasagna. Sean has always loved lasagna so I ordered that for him, and the salmon for myself.
Our waiter sets our plates down in front of us and my stomach hums seeing the food. It looks and smells delicious. “What the fuck?” Sean snaps loudly, scaring me half to death.
“What’s the matter?” I look at him confused and check his plate to make sure it looks in order.
“Why the hell did you get me the lasagna? I wanted the god damn Salmon.”
“I … I, thought you would want lasagna. You love lasagna,” my voice small and weak.
“Well, you thought wrong.”
Mortified by his loud and obnoxious behavior, I try to make my mishap better. I don’t want to bring any attention from the other patrons having a good time. “Here honey, you can have mine.” I pick my plate up to exchange his unwanted lasagna with my Salmon, trying to appease him. He takes the exchange—thankfully—and digs into my plate. I look over my new plate and pick at it. I hate lasagna.
The next half hour seems to go over with no major hiccups while we all eat and chatter. However, I’m getting more and more irritated with the fact that my husband seems to be overly friendly and welcoming to Lance’s blind date. I try to chalk it up to him just trying to make her feel comfortable, but the glances and light exchanges are making me feel a little anxious.