On Wednesday night I couldn’t take it anymore, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I met Sara at the town bar as we sat and had a couple of drinks.
“Okay what’s going on? I have never seen you drink like this.”
“I just want to forget about everything tonight, I want to forget about horses, problems, boys and everything else.”
“Okay,” Sara said, “Are you sure you should have driven then?”
“I will take a taxi home,” I said.
“I guess you deserve one night.”
“I think so too. So let’s get some music on the jukebox and let’s grab another round of drinks.”
Sara smiled, “You are one crazy gal. What the heck, I guess I will take a cab too.”
“That’s the spirit. I really didn’t feel like drinking alone. Okay so just promise, no questions once I continue drinking.”
“Why?” she asked.
“You will be able to get anything out of me,” I admitted, “So promise me. Whatever you want to know ask me now otherwise you will be sneaky and going against my will.”
“What brought this on tonight?” she asked putting money in the jukebox.
“I have decided to give up training again,” I said, “I haven’t since my dad got out of the hospital and I feel like it is an addiction so I need something to take my mind off of it.”
“Why do you have to give it up?”
“My dad is against it and I can’t keep going against his back. It’s wrong.”
“Isn’t getting drunk sort of wrong to?”
I sighed, “Are you going to back out on me now?”
“No, I’m just checking.”
“Okay so maybe we won’t get drunk, just a few drinks.”
“Alright then,” Sara said as the music began to play.
At the bar I asked the bartender for a shot of tequila. Sara and I both swallowed it fast and we ordered a bowl of French fries.
“So how is the boyfriend doing?” I asked, “You guys are together now right?”
She nodded, “Yeah, we are. It’s going good. I want you guys to meet one of these days. Maybe I will bring him by the ranch one day. I’ve told him all about it; maybe we can go for a ride.”
“Yeah, that would be nice, you two can go together, you know the trails. It will be romantic.”
“No, I would want you to come,” Sara said.
“Oh, because I really want to be a third wheel.”
“Jesse could come too.”
“Can we get another shot please,” I called out to the bartended, “Actually if you could keep them coming, that would be great, just make us a tab.”
“Can we also get another bowl of fries seeing that we are going to need some food in our system with all that we are going to be drinking.”
I already had the giggles, “Jesse, oh Jesse.”
Sara laughed, “Maybe you are already drunk.”
“I am not drunk.”
“Okay so what about Jesse?” she asked.
“I don’t know. He’s interesting. I mean, he could read me like nobody else can and we’ve only known each other what? A little over a month.”
“Maybe that comes from seeing each other every day. I mean you guys talk every day and work together so of course he’s going to get to know you.”
“You don’t understand. Getting to know each other is one thing but he can read me, sometimes he knows what I am thinking. The night at the hospital, he stayed with me; he knew I didn’t want to be alone.”
“Sorry, I should have stayed with you.”
“No,” I shook my head, “I’m not trying to make you feel bad. That is just an example.”
“So is anything happening to make you think he’s into you?”
I shook my head, “No, we keep saying things like; ‘oh you’re such a good friend.’”
“Do you want to be more than that?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I don’t think so; I really do like having him as a friend.”
“But…” Sara willed me on.
“But I can’t stop thinking about his green eyes,” I said placing my head down on the table before drinking another shot.
“I knew you were going to fall for him.”
“I did not fall for him,” I said, “We are friends and I decided that is the way it should be. It is what is best for everybody.”
“Whatever you think is best.”
I nodded drinking another shot, “It’s hot in here.”
“You want to slow down?”
I shook my head, “Not really.”
“Okay so if giving up training is making you drink, do you really think it’s for the best?”
“Yup, after all, daddy knows what is best.”
“It’s not even a weekend,” Sara pointed out.
“Okay what are you? Like three shots behind?”
“I volunteer tomorrow,” she pointed out, “I start at twelve but I still can’t show up drunk.”
I got up and went to change the music to a faster tempo. As I found my way back to Sara I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Why are you laughing?” Sara asked.
Sara shook her head, “Who’s there?”
“Sara reason you are not laughing?” I cracked up.
Sara smirked, “Oh boy, this is going to be one long night.”
“Want to hear another one?” I asked.
Her eyes were elsewhere, “Jesse.”
“No I don’t know one with his name,” I said.
She shook her head, “No, Jesse is here.”
I looked at my watch, it was ten and I was already giggling.
“Maybe he won’t see us.”
“I doubt it; he’s already walking towards us.”
I lay my head on the bar table, “Tell him I am not here.”
Sara started to laugh, “I’ll try, not sure if he will believe me.”
“Hey girls,” Jesse said, “What are you guys doing here? Doesn’t seem like your crowd.”
“Oh I just felt like a drink,” Sara said, “What are you doing here?”
“Couldn’t sleep so I thought I would come for a drink too.”
“You driving?” Sara asked.
“Yeah but I’ll be fine if I have one drink.”
“So, how was your day?” she asked.
I wondered if he knew I was there.
“It was good, went by quickly,” Jesse stuttered, “Is she sleeping?”
Sara started to laugh, “Who?”
That was all I needed to burst out laughing, I raised my head and hit her over the shoulder not making eye contact with Jesse. Instead I called the bartended over and ordered vodka.
“Are you sure you want to mix?” Sara asked.
“Has she been drinking?” Jesse asked Sara.
“Would you like to answer that?” Sara smiled finding this amusing.
All I wanted was to forget about everything for one night but no, Jesse had to show up and ruin the plan.
So I took a sip of the Vodka and smiled at him, “Only a couple.”
“Or a few,” Sara corrected.
Jesse grinned, “This is a new side I haven’t seen before. I didn’t know you were a drinker.”
“She’s not,” Sara asked, “She was drunk after her second shot.”
“How many did she have exactly?”
“I lost track after six, but she’s been eating fries so she should be okay. I am worried she’ll be feeling sick tomorrow though, I don’t want her to have anymore.”
“Let’s dance,” I said turning to Sara and grabbing her hand.
“Jen, this is a bar not a club.”
“I know, we don’t do clubbing,” I smiled, “Come on”
She shook her head, “I think I will pass.”
“How about you hot stuff?” I batted my eye lashes at Jesse.
I thought I saw a little smirk but he shook his head, “I think I am going to have to pass, I think you should too. How about you save dancing for another time?”
I got up and made my way to put another quarter in the jukebox. I began to sway my hips from side to side; I could see Jesse’s eyes on me, as well as every other pair of eyes in the bar. A couple minutes later Jesse turned around to talk to Sara. Sara started laughing making me freeze in my position. I wondered what she was laughing about as she whispered something in his ear. I felt envious when I knew I shouldn’t. I knew it was the alcohol.
I thought the alcohol was supposed to make me feel better, not worse. I spotted a guy, mid-twenties seated next to the bar on the opposite direction. I made my way to him, Jesse and Sara were too busy into their conversation to notice that I was no longer dancing.
“Hi,” I said leaning into him.
“Hey there pretty lady,” he winked, “Can I buy you a drink?”
“You certainly can,” I banged my fist on the table.
The man leaned over the bar, “Two martini’s please.”
“Make sure it comes with an olive.”
“Can’t have a martini with no olive,” he smiled.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“Eric,” he said.
I closed my eyes, what were the odds that I would be having a drink with another Eric. I tried to ignore it; I tried to tell myself I heard incorrectly so I put a smile back on my face.
“Is that short for something?” he wondered.
“Jennifer,” I said as I accepted the drink and began to drink it.
“You work at the Bailey’s ranch don’t you?”
I slowly looked up at him, “Do I know you?”
“No, but I believe you are training my sisters horse, Woody?”
Figures, I just couldn’t seem to get away from anything, “Yeah. Well I am not personally training him but we have someone doing it.”
“Last I heard it was you working with him.”
“Well, I was but I took some time off, I’m taking care of my dad now.”
“Yeah, I heard about that.”
My head started to spin; I wanted to change the subject, “Well thanks for the drink.”
“Anytime, I wish I came with my sister to your ranch, we would have met sooner.”
“I just want you to know that I am not always like this.”
“You mean drunk?” he asked.
“Yes,” I nodded.
“From what I hear you’re the best trainer there is so I believe you, I find it hard to believe that an alcoholic would be the best trainer.”
I nodded as I put the olive slowly in my mouth, “Well maybe you should come by the ranch sometime.”
“Maybe I will, I’m just afraid that you won’t remember me after tonight,” he said.
I laughed loudly even though I was sure it wasn’t even funny, I couldn’t help it. Eric seemed like a really nice guy.
“Do you want to dance with me?” I asked as I heard a slow song come on.
He got out of his seat and pulled me into his arms, “How could I say no?”
I smiled as he twirled me around, we weren’t on tempo but we were having fun. I was glad that at least one person in the bar wasn’t embarrassed by me.
“You know what I like about you?” I said.
“That you don’t have a problem dancing with me, even though no one else is dancing.”
“How could I have a problem with a beautiful lady like you?”
I giggled as he continued to swirl me around until I felt nauseous. Luckily we were interrupted when Jesse showed up. Finally was the word that crossed my mind.
“May I cut in?” he asked.
I looked from one guy to the other as Eric nodded.
I put my hands by my side and frowned at him, “What are you doing?”
He grabbed my hands and placed one around his neck and he kept the other in his hand as he placed one hand around my waist.
“I am dancing with you.”
“Why? I thought you were embarrassed by me.”
Now it was him who frowned, “I never said that.”
“Yet you didn’t want to dance with me before.”
“Can’t a guy change his mind?”
“What made you change your mind?”
“I might understand if I didn’t consume alcohol but I am going to have to ask you to further explain yourself.”
“You just looked like you were having fun and I wanted to be a part of it.”
“You looked like you were having fun over there too.”
“Your point?” he asked.
“I don’t think I have one.”
“Good, then just shut up and dance with me.”
I was about to say something but Jesse put his finger to my lips making me giggle. I lay my head on his shoulder as I closed my eyes. I breathed his scent in before the song ended.
When I lifted my head he was smiling down at me, “You know, you’re pretty cute when you let loose.”
“Cute?” I asked getting offended, “Loose? Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“I take it you are upset.”
“You are very perceptive,” I said pushing him away and going to the bar where Sara sat, “Can I get another shot of whatever you have please.”
“A shot of whatever you have?” Sara asked, “Okay, I think it is time to go home.”
I shook my head, “It is only midnight, the night is still young.”
“I know but I have to volunteer tomorrow.”
“Okay well you can go if you want,” I said, “I will be fine.”
“I am not going to leave you, you are way to drunk, and you probably can’t even call a cab.”
Jesse returned and took a seat next to me. He took my shot away and drank it himself.
I turned to the bartended and ordered another one. This time I drank it the moment I got it.
Jesse looked at Sara, “Why is she drinking?”
“She is a little depressed.”
“Maybe you should ask her.”
“I would” he sighed, “But I get the impression that she is pissed at me for calling her cute.”
“She’s sort of drunk so I am pretty sure she will get mad at anything.”
“I am right here you know?” I said, “I can hear you guys.”
“Sorry,” Sara stood up, “Come on, let’s go.”
I frowned, “I will be fine. You go.”
“I’ll stay with her,” Jesse told Sara.
“Are you sure?” Sara confirmed.
He nodded, “Yeah.”
“Okay. I will talk to you tomorrow Jen and I guess I will see you around.”
“For sure,” Jesse smiled making me want to vomit.
“Oh and one more thing,” Sara said, “Don’t ask her anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“You weren’t here when she was sober otherwise she would have made you promise to not try to get any information out of her while she is drinking because it is very possible she would tell you anything you wanted to know, even if she didn’t want to tell you.”
Once she was gone I got up staggering.
I began to walk to the ladies room and turned to Jesse once I arrived, “Are you going to come in with me to?”
“Why are you being such a brat?” he asked, “You had no problem being nice to whomever it was you were dancing with.”
“He was nice.”
“I am nice!” Jesse sounded like a child.
“When you want to be,” I said before walking into the ladies room.
I purposely stayed in the bathroom for ten minutes hoping Jesse would leave but as I made my way out the door, there he was leaning against the wall.
“You are still here?” I asked.
“You are my responsibility now.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“I can see that,” Jesse said.
“Are you making fun of me?” I said defensively.
Jesse began to laugh as I left a hundred dollar bill on the table and left. Jesse continued to laugh as he followed me outside. The fresh air felt nice.
“Aren’t drunken people supposed to look a little happier?” He finally said.
“I despise you,” I said trying to keep a straight face.
“Maybe I am not drunk enough,” I said, “or maybe I would be happy if you didn’t crash my party.”
“You love that I am here, just admit it,” he said.
I pretended to vomit which made me start to laugh. I leaned against an unknown car as I was dying of laughter.
“That is precisely what I thought drunken people looked like.”
Jesse came and grabbed my arm leading me to his car, “Come on, I will drive you home.”
“What about my car?” I asked.
“We’ll pick it up tomorrow.”
I nodded crawling into his car and moving over to let him sit in the driver’s seat. I couldn’t stop laughing the whole way home. When we arrived I didn’t wait for him to open the door. I got out on my own and stumbled on a rock. I giggled as I lay on the ground. Then I stopped as I looked up at the stars.
Jesse came to my recue as he pulled my hands helping me up.
“Have you ever spent the night beneath the stars?” I asked.
He shook his head, “No, I am guessing you have?”
I nodded, “It was one of the romantic things Eric did for me.”
“Eric huh?” Jesse said having an edge to his voice.
“No,” I admitted, “Actually it wasn’t Eric. It was with my mom.”
Jesse shook his head, “Then why did you say it was with Eric?”
Jesse let go of me and I felt like a rag doll. Jesse quickly held me up again and brought me to lean against the car.
“It’s cold out.”
“That’s because you took your shirt off at the bar, leaving you with only a strapless top, you must have forgot it,” he took off his jacket and wrapped it around me.
I laughed, “Yeah, I was hot.”
“Answer the question,” Jesse prompted.
“What was the question?” I asked.
“Why did you say you spent the night beneath the stars with Eric?”
“No, it was with my mom.”
“I know but you said it was with Eric before.”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“Taking advantage of me?”
“I am not taking advantage of you.”
“Then why are you asking me these questions?”
“I wouldn’t if you didn’t lie.”
“Maybe I wanted to make you jealous,” I blurted out.
I frowned as I realized I didn’t mean to say that. I began to walk towards the house and tripped over my own feet. Again Jesse helped me up. I pushed him once I was balanced.
“Leave,” I yelled, “Just leave, if you want to know something then ask me when I am not drunk. Ask me when I can decide whether or not I want to tell you the truth.”
“Why did you want to make me jealous?” he asked giving in to the temptation.
I sighed as I began to cry, “Because you are a good guy and for once I wanted to know what it was like to have a good guy like me.”
“I do like you,” Jesse said.
“Yeah, I know. We’re friends.”
“Okay, I am sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you that.”
“I forgive you,” I pouted.
“Do you want to tell me why you decided to get drunk tonight?”
I shook my head, “No.”
“Because it hurts too much.”
“Here,” Jesse said handing me a water bottle, “Drink this. You can’t go in there like this.”
I slowly began to drink the water.
“How do you feel?”
“Hyper,” I said, “But tired at the same time.”
“Are you ready to go inside?”
I nodded, “Yeah.”
He walked me to the door and helped me unlock it. He walked in with me and watched me struggle as I tried to take off my shoes. He shook his head as he came in and closed the door behind him.
Jesse took his jacket and put it on the floor as he held my hand leading me into the living room. He took off my shoes and sat next to me putting his arm around me and letting me lean into him. I couldn’t help but cry.
“Why are you crying? I honestly have not seen anyone cry as much as you do.”
At that I pushed him away again, “You really are insensitive.”
“I’m sorry; I just don’t get it tonight. I mean you are drunk, how could you be crying?”
“I thought getting drunk would make me feel better.”
“Did it?” he asked.
“Okay now tell me why you did it?”
I leaned forward, “I am nothing Jesse.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I am talking about my life. I decided to stop training.”
I nodded as I explained to him what I told Sara earlier, “I just can’t do it. I don’t want to lose my dad and what happened made me realize that I could have. So why would I make him feel like he could lose me?”
“This is different. I’ve seen you on a horse; you know what you are doing.”
“I can’t do it.”
“Okay fine, you will do something else.”
“Like what Jesse?” I asked, “Without this I am nothing. I don’t have school for anything like you or Sara do. Training was what I grew up doing. I thought I would always do it. Now that I can’t, I have no options.”
“Maybe that’s a sign that you are not supposed to stop training. Maybe what you need to do is tell your dad the truth. He is your dad, he will be upset at first but he will accept it and once he sees you doing what you love he will be happy.”
I laughed, “You think I should tell him? That would just give him another heart attack. He would flip.”
“So tell him with other people around.”
“That wouldn’t change anything.”
“Okay, well I am just giving you my advice, doesn’t mean you have to take it. You shouldn’t feel like nothing, you should feel like a million bucks.”
I sighed as I lay my head on the back of the sofa, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Just take some time to think about your next move.”
I nodded, “I should go to bed.”
“I should leave,” he stood up, “Are you going to be okay?”
I nodded trying to stand up on my own but tripping over my own feet. I started to laugh aloud as Jesse came and stood next to me.
“Be quiet, you are going to wake up your father.”
I smiled as I headed for the stairs, then I remembered I had to lock the door when Jesse left.
“Are you going to make it up those stairs?”
I looked up the twelve stairs I had to climb and nodded with a smile on my face, “Not a problem.”
“I doubt it so why don’t you give me your key. I will help you to your room so you don’t wake your dad up and then I will lock the door on my way out.
“What are you saying?” I asked getting lost in his plan.
He grinned trying not to laugh, “Come on, let’s go up the stairs.”
I climbed two steps and on my third one I slid down the two I climbed catching Jesse off guard and allowing him to slip. His knee banged on the stair making a noise as his body nearly fell on top of mine. He held himself up as our legs got tangled. I was uncomfortable as my back was against the stairs but I couldn’t move.
Jesse laughed silently as he whispered, “Good thing I didn’t leave you to climb the stairs alone.”
Jesse’s face was inches from mine and his green eyes searched mine. I let out my breath as he inched closer to my face. I felt his breath on mine and watched as he was lowering his lips towards mine but something stopped him. He stopped before his lips met mine and slowly backed up taking a deep breath. He slowly got up and helped me up. I turned my back to his as I started to climb the stairs again, this time I felt Jesse’s hands on my waist the whole time.
I wondered whether or not I imagined it all, was he going to kiss me? Then I began to wonder why he didn’t. When we reached my bedroom and I opened the door Jesse stood at the door. I rushed to my bed as I threw myself on top of it before crawling to the edge.
I grabbed my nightwear and headed for my bathroom. I came out seconds later with my p.j bottoms but I couldn’t take the tube top off, I couldn’t bring it over my head so I went to stand in front of Jesse. I raised my hands; he knew what I was asking.
Slowly he reached for my top, his eyes glued to mine. I could feel his hands gliding over my stomach; he slowly pulled the shirt over my head, never taking his eyes off mine. I was wearing a strapless bra so it was no big deal but the fact that he respected me that way made me want to reach out to him, but I didn’t. We were friends and I was drunk.
Jesse handed me my shirt then pushed a strand of hair behind my ear leaving his hand against my cheek a little longer than he should have, but not long enough at the same time.
I slowly brought my hand to gently lay on Jesse’s shoulder as I stared into his eyes. I slowly closed my eyes wondering what Jesse was thinking, hoping that he would make a move, but he didn’t.
I took a step closer to him so the side of my face was against his but when he didn’t close the gap, I took a step back.
I turned around and put a baggy shirt on as I sat on the bed, “Thank you.”
He nodded, “I don’t want to take advantage but can I ask you another question?”
I sighed, “No.”
He watched as I got under my covers, he walked over and sat next to me on the bed, “What was the big deal in me saying you were cute?”
I closed my eyes, “Maybe I don’t want you to see me as cute. Maybe I want to be beautiful.”
Jesse swallowed, “But you are beautiful.”
I opened my eyes to meet his, “Are you into Sara?”
He squinted his eyes, “What?”
“Are you into Sara?”
“She’s your best friend.”
“That wasn’t my question.”
“No, I am not into her, why would you think that?”
“You guys were laughing a lot and it seemed like you guys were having a good time.”
“She has a boyfriend,” Jesse pointed out.
“What if she didn’t?” I asked.
“It wouldn’t matter. I mean I like her but we’re friends.”
“The way we are friends?” I asked.
“Yes, well no.”
“Which is it?”
“No,” he said.
“So what am I?” I asked.
He was thinking about something to say, “I guess a best friend.”
“Are you mad?”
I shook my head, “Why would I be mad?”
“I don’t know. Are you feeling anything towards me right now? I mean any negative feelings?”
“Maybe a little disappointment, maybe a little regret but I’m not sure.”
“Disappointment? Regret?” he asked, “That is not good.”
“No, but it’s okay.”
“Okay I better go,” he said getting off the bed, “Otherwise I will certainly take advantage of asking you more questions.”
I closed my eyes as I heard him say good night.