Friday, August 29, 2014

Moose and Justin

I turned on my heel in one swift motion to face Justin. "Hey, babe," I said as I threw my arms around his neck and planted a kiss on his lips. He hesitantly kissed me back. I could see his eyes were on Moose as I set my feet fully back on the ground. He repeated his question.

"Nothing, I just went to my car to get my sweater. This is my friend, Moose. Moose, this is Justin."

Moose stuck out his hand and Justin reluctantly shook it. This was so not how I wanted them introduced to each other.

Moose mumbled something that sounded like 'nice to meet you' and walked back towards the backyard.

I looked at Justin and smiled. I didn't know what it looked like to him, but Moose was really just talking to me. Sure, he was asking me why we never dated or anything, but it's not like he was trying to kiss me. Even if he did try to kiss me, I obviously wouldn't have. "So what're you doing here?" I curiously asked.

Justin shrugged. "People were starting to leave and I figured it'd be nice to stop by here. You apparently weren't expecting me."

I furrowed my eyebrows at him. "Nothing was going on, Justin."

"It didn't really look that way," he replied. He didn't raise his voice or look upset. It was a little eery how calm he was considering I could tell he was angry with me.

I took a deep breathe before speaking. I knew it was best to simply tell Justin about Moose. After all, I couldn't change the way Moose acted and I'd want to know if one of Justin's girl friends had a crush on him.

I quickly briefed him on what Moose was saying to me and told him that sometimes when he gets really drunk, he tends to open up too much. "I swear to you, I was just trying to shut him up and go back to the yard. Do you want to head back there now?"

Justin looked at the ground and shrugged. "I don't know. This is a lot to process right now."

I moved closer to Justin. I felt so terrible. I didn't want him to think I was trying to hide anything from him. It just didn't seem necessary to bring up. "You know, last time I even saw Moose he told me he was happy for me and couldn't wait to meet you. I'm sure you guys will get along great."

"Yeah, we have something in common," he replied, looking me in the eye. I saw a slight smirk on his face and I could tell he was at least trying to be okay with the situation.

After some pushing, Justin agreed to go with me into the backyard. We avoided Moose but besides that, the night was really fun.

I'm so tired of these misunderstandings with Justin. I just hope for smooth sailing from here on out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Reunion

"I did it. We're over."

I read the text several times before fully comprehending it. Jessica always threatened to break up with Josh, but that's all it ever was. A threat.

"Is there a ghost in my apartment I don't know about?" Justin asked as he held out a cup of black coffee for me. I shook my head and held up my phone for him to read. His eyebrows rose. "Wow, I thought you said she was full of it?"

"That's what I thought," I said before taking a sip of coffee. Of course it was delicious, just like everything this guy made for me. "I guess I was wrong. Thank goodness."

Justin shrugged as he got back into bed with me. "He seemed like a nice guy." We were having the perfect Saturday morning, filled with sex and reruns of Friends. I wasn't looking forward to getting out of bed, but we both had plans and they were unfortunately separate. Alan was having a barbecue and so was Anna. I was kind of relieved that I had an excuse not to go to Alan's barbecue. Enough time had passed where I'd be comfortable enough around him, but it still felt weird to grow friendships with a cheater and his oblivious girlfriend. I was disappointed Justin couldn't spend time with my friends, but a night apart wouldn't hurt.

I cuddled up to Justin. "That's why Josh is so scary. He seems so fun and innocent, but he's gone crazy on her a few times. He used to follow her home to make sure she wasn't meeting up with another guy. I mean, this time it wasn't anything he did as far as I know. She just didn't feel they could work through their issues."

I could tell by the way Justin's body began moving against me that he was nodding. "Poor guy," he replied. "Getting dumped sucks."

I sensed a conversation about romantic pasts coming and I was not in a mood to go there. "I'm going to call Anna," I said as I crawled out of bed and began pacing while dialing Anna's phone number. I knew she wouldn't mind if I invited Jessica to her barbecue, but I still wanted her okay on it. While I didn't know the details of the break up, I knew Jessica would appreciate being surrounded by friends. Even though Darlene and Anna were annoyed at Jessica for her behavior, they'd easily forget it all and embrace her presence as if nothing happened. We're not in high school anymore.

Anna was surprised by my call, since I hadn't told Darlene or her about what Jessica told me on the boardwalk, but very open to having Jessica over. She said she'd give Darlene a heads up and I called Jessica once we hung up. After some convincing, she agreed to come with me to Anna's house.

As I hung up, Justin began wining from the bed. "Come back to bed, Caroline." I smiled at him for a few seconds before jumping on the bed and making our last hour together truly memorable.

That night, I could hear the music from Anna's backyard before I even turned my car off across the street. "Wow, this is quite the event," Jessica coldly said. She was definitely nervous and her anxiety was not bringing out the best in her.

"You know how Anna likes to entertain," I replied waving my hand at her. I handed her the bottle of wine we purchased minutes beforehand and glared at her. "Ready?"

Jessica nodded. We walked into Anna's backyard through her high white fence where two beer pong games were already going on. Everyone welcomed us with warm hugs. Of course, none of the guys knew that Jessica had been avoiding Darlene and Anna, so there was nothing strange about this situation to them. I watched from afar as Jessica awkwardly said hello to Darlene and Anna. They all hugged like nothing ever happened. Peace was restored.

Moose suddenly bumped into me as he walked out of Anna's house. "Oh, hey," he said. "I didn't know you were coming."

I furrowed my eyebrows at him. "Why wouldn't I be coming?" I asked.

He turned around and reached down to get a beer from the cooler before shrugging. "I don't know," he replied. "I figured you'd be spending time with your boyfriend or something."

I rolled my eyes at him. I didn't know how many beers he already had, but I assumed he was right in between buzzed and belligerent, because he always became obnoxious right before he reached belligerent.

I politely walked away from him to where Anna, Darlene, and Jessica were feverishly talking. Anna was telling them about her most recent date with some guy she works with at camp. I don't know how she does it, but Anna always seems to meet new guys and when I was single, I was super jealous. My jealousy has since vanished since I couldn't be happier with Justin.

Everyone was having a great night and around eleven o'clock, I went to get my sweater from my car. It was a really nice night, but the breeze made me question my choice to wear a tank top. As I began walking back, Moose walked through the gate towards me.

"Caroline," he said, putting his hands up. "Wait." I gave him a questioning look as I tried to figure out how drunk he was. "Why haven't we ever hooked up?"

Okay, that answered my question. He was extremely intoxicated. "Moose, I have a boyfriend," I answered. I was becoming annoyed.

"I know, I know," he replied. "I just mean in the past. Why didn't we ever try?"

Try what? I attempted to move past him, but he kept blocking me and insisting we talk. I was about to really lose it when I heard a voice behind me.

"What's going on?" I didn't even have to turn around to recognize Justin's voice.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Justin wrapped me in a huge hug when I arrived at his apartment Wednesday night. "I've missed you all week," he said, basically into my hair.

I waited until we pulled apart before saying, "I've missed you, too," with a smile. After giving him a quick kiss on the lips, I went to walk into his apartment but he stopped me. I gave him a confused look. Why wasn't he letting me in?

"Not so fast," he said, leaning down to kiss me again. He slowly reached his hand behind my ear and began passionately kissing me.

A few seconds passed before he grabbed my purse, without breaking from our kiss, and gracefully threw it behind his back into the apartment. With both hands now free, I wrapped my arms around his neck and stepped forward so that my whole body was pressed up against his. He grabbed my butt and carried me until we reached his bed. The whole time our lips remained locked. He placed me down and began moving down to my neck as he helped me take off my clothes. I have no idea what prompted this warm welcome, but I was fully enjoying it!

We remained silent with every movement. I was on his bed in only my bra and lace thong when I began removing his clothes. We continued making out in our underwear for a while without going any further, which only increased my desires. I ran my hands over his shoulders and back. I don't know about any of you, but a nice, strong upper body is the biggest turn on for me. Maybe it has to do with feeling protected.

He ran his hands up and down my legs. "You're amazing," he whispered in my ear. I giggled in response. He playfully placed his fingers between the lace of my thong and my hips before sliding them down my legs. His eyes met mine and we didn't break eye contact at all as he moved his way lower on the bed until his head was above my hips.

The next fifteen minutes were unreal. I laid still with my eyes closed and my arms behind my head holding on to the pillow. I cleared my mind and focused on every movement of Justin's tongue. My back involuntarily arched and I moaned his name as I finished.

"Wow," I softly muttered as he lifted his head and winked at me. He triumphantly skipped over to the fridge and grabbed us each a water bottle. He seemed so proud of himself. It was adorable. I decided to feed his ego some more.

"Did I win some kind of award or something?" I asked with a smirk.

"Yup," he enthusiastically responded as he plopped down next to me in bed. "Girlfriend of the month. It was a tough competition against the other two, but..."

I cut him off by playfully whacking him on the arm. He put his arm around me and I placed myself against his chest in the ideal cuddling position.

Except, at that moment, he decided to stand up. "So, I rented a movie. Inception. I've never seen it before, which I know is unreal since it was so popular when it came out." He seemed to be talking rather fast and it kind of threw me off guard.

"Uh, me neither," I responded. "I mean, I always meant to but never got around to it."

"Perfect! So I'll pop it in. I heard it's really hard to follow if you don't pay attention." As Justin quickly turned on the DVD player, something occurred to me. Was he trying to keep me occupied so we wouldn't talk about anything else?

"Hey, Justin," I began as I crawled closer to the edge of the bed. "How're things going with Alan and Jackie?" I hadn't wanted to talk about them so early in the evening, but the way he clearly wanted to avoid it had me curious.

Justin froze for a moment before looking over at me with a weak, almost guilty, smile. "He hasn't told her."

"He's not going to, is he?" I quickly asked. It had been almost two weeks since we went to Atlantic City and I couldn't really imagine him bringing it up now if he hadn't already.

Justin looked away from me and sighed. "I don't think so."

I laid back in Justin's bed. I felt defeated. Jackie seemed like a really cool girl and I wanted to help her. If some girl knew my boyfriend cheated on me and didn't tell me, I would feel so betrayed, even if we weren't that close. I also didn't know how I could be around her and Alan knowing what I knew.

"Okay," I finally said. Even though I still wasn't satisfied with the situation, I desperately didn't want Justin to suffer anymore from it. I felt so disconnected from him since Atlantic City and I just wanted things to go back to normal. If Alan continued to cheat, Jackie would find out some other way, right?

After moments of silence, Justin walked over and put his arm around me. "Listen, I wanted him to tell her, too. I don't think cheating is right. I really want to make sure you know that." He turned my face with his free arm so I was looking him in the eyes. "It's really important to me that you know I would never do what Alan did."

A smile spread across my face. "Of course I know that." I didn't realize Justin was worried about how Alan's actions would reflect on him, but I trusted Justin. Just because Alan cheated didn't mean he would.

Justin kissed me and we dropped the subject. Even though he rented Inception as a distraction, I actually really enjoyed it. We didn't bring up his friends, or anybody else, for the rest of the night. We only focused on each other and that was exactly what I wanted.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On the Boardwalk

"Damn, it's 3:35," Jessica began. "We have to pay for parking. Do you want to wait?"

"No, it's fine," I responded as I waved a hand at her and fished five dollars out of my bag. Yesterday, after the catastrophic rain storm we had last week, Jessica and I both wanted to take a nice walk on the Jone's Beach boardwalk since it was sunny. I was glad to be catching up with Jessica, since I haven't seen her in a few weeks.

She pulled up to the booth and paid the attendant. They charged for parking until 4, but it seemed silly to pull over and wait so we could each save five dollars. We parked and began our leisurely walk. "So, how're things with Justin?" Jessica asked. "Still tense?"

I let out a soft sigh. I had texted Jessica after my weekend away in Atlantic City and gave her the low down on everything that happened. I had also texted her last week to get her opinion about some feelings I had about Justin. I couldn't shake the feeling that he was slightly avoiding me. We didn't make plans at all during the week and when the weekend came, we just grabbed a quick dinner and movie on Saturday night. I didn't broach the subject of Alan and Jackie at all during dinner. We filled our time talking about work and I talked a little about preparing for my Fall semester.

The car ride home from Atlantic City was relatively uneventful. Jackie was quiet, visibly suffering from her hangover, and the guys discussed football for a little. I kind of wanted to hang out with Justin before heading home, but since he didn't bring it up at all, I didn't either. I was pretty tired anyway and figured we'd see each other within a few days.

"Things aren't exactly tense," I replied. "I just can't shake the feeling that he's like, annoyed with me. Maybe it's all in my head."

"Maybe, but you need to be prepared for if it's not."

I shrugged. I knew Justin was in a tough spot but he didn't seem mad at me when I told him what I saw. He seemed frustrated, but only at the situation, not me. "We're getting dinner Wednesday night and I figured I'd ask about Alan and Jackie then. Enough time has passed."

"I honestly can't believe he hasn't texted you about it," Jessica said shaking her head. "I'm sorry, but if he didn't tell her that weekend, I would've Facebook messaged her."

"I don't feel like it's my place," I quickly replied. "Besides, what if she doesn't believe me? This gives Alan the opportunity to come clean, as if it was his idea."

"But it wasn't!" Jessica objected. "Don't you see that this is giving him an easy out?"

Jessica had expressed this view to me when I first told her about the weekend, but I told her this was a fitting compromise I made with myself. Yes, it would seem like Alan was volunteering this information, instead of pretty much being forced to tell her, but the bottom line was that Jackie would find out. "Jess, the thing is, I actually want them to work this out. I don't want them to break up, but -"

"But you're implanting a problem into their relationship," Jessica interrupted.

"No, I'm not," I snapped back at her. I understood she was just trying to make her point, but I was beginning to get annoyed. "I'm not the one who cheated. I didn't do this. Alan did. I thought you said I did the right thing?"

"You did, you did," she insisted with apologetic eyes. "I just didn't realize you were doing this with the hope and expectation that they'd stay together."

"I know it's going to be difficult but if the tables were turned, I'd want to know the truth. I mean, if it was a one time thing, I actually think I'd try to work through it if my boyfriend had the guts to confess."

Jessica quietly nodded. "You should've snagged a picture," she finally said.

"I know," I replied with a frustrated huff. "It took me five, maybe ten minutes to find Justin. How was I supposed to know they'd ditch those girls that fast?"

"Hind sight's twenty-twenty," Jessica said in a matter-of-fact tone. "I just hope this doesn't come back to bite you."

I waved a hand at her. "I doubt it. Think about it. Alan should be volunteering this information. If he says I saw him, Jackie will realize he was just caught. He has to be smarter than that."

"If you're sure," Jessica replied, in a condescending tone. I was beginning to think she wanted me to get roped into this whole situation.

"How's Josh?" I quickly asked, wanting to change the subject.

"Good," she instantly replied without looking at me. "Hey, you want to get ice cream?"

I hesitantly nodded. It seemed like she didn't want to talk about Josh. I had to know why. We both bought ice cream cones before continuing our walk on the boardwalk.

"So, just good?" I prodded. Jessica silently nodded as she licked her ice cream. I was not going to fall for her silent treatment.

"Jess, talk to me," I insisted.

She shot me an annoyed look. "I don't know, okay?"

"What don't you know?" I asked in a more gentle voice.

"I just feel like things aren't working, you know? He's been emotionally stable but we still fight. I honestly just don't think it's worth moving backwards."

"I know exactly what you mean," I replied, thinking of my breakup with Mike.

We began to walk back to her car as she continued to vent about Josh. "I think I have to break up with him," she concluded.

Is it terrible that I kind of hope she does? I want her to be happy. I also honestly just want her back in all our lives.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Atlantic City: Part Three

I stood frozen. I didn't feel that I could physically move. What was I seeing? I rubbed my eyes and looked again. I probably would've stood there, frozen, for hours, with my mouth hanging open like an idiot, if it weren't for the creepers in Atlantic City. A man in a shiny, silver shirt began trying to dance with me (or should I say, on me). I swatted at him and began walking away. I searched for Justin in the crowd. I needed to talk to him. How could Alan cheat on Jackie? Was this a regular thing? I mean, he had been drinking a lot, not that being drunk justified anything. Ugh, I had to find Justin!

Since Justin is about six feet tall, I luckily saw him making his way through the crowd after only a few minutes. When we were reunited, he leaned down, lightly squeezed my butt, and whispered in my ear. "So, where were?" I normally would've been ready to dance on him like a pole at that point, but seeing Alan with that girl really deflated my desires.

"I have to show you something," I said, grabbing his hand and guiding him through the crowd. But we couldn't find Sean or Alan. They must have relocated. I stomped my foot like a two-year-old. I needed Justin to see what I saw so we could figure out what to do.

"What?" he asked, furrowing his eyebrows at me. I insisted he text Sean and Alan to see where they were. We continued to walk through the crowd looking for them while Justin waited for a response. It took about twenty minutes before Sean wrote back. They left and were playing roulette.

We left the club and made our way to the casino. "Okay, what is going on with you?" Justin impatiently asked once we escaped the loud music and were actually able to talk at a normal volume.

I let out a heavy sigh and tried to quickly brainstorm how to tell him what I saw. "Justin," I began. "I saw Sean and Alan in there. Sean was making out with a girl, while Alan was, well, nuzzling another girl." I stared up at him, trying to decipher his immediate reaction as my words soaked in.

He didn't say anything for a few seconds, until he finally rubbed his forehead and spoke. "Wow, that really doesn't sound like Alan." I felt a little bit of relief. It still didn't make Alan's actions okay, but I was happy to know this wasn't a regular thing. I was also glad that Justin didn't seem to condone this type of behavior.

"Let's go find them and I'll talk to Alan," Justin said, grabbing my hand and walking me to the casino. We remained silent as we searched the roulette tables for Sean and Alan. When we found them, they weren't with any girls. I could barely plaster a smile on my face as Sean and Alan enthusiastically greeted us. I'm not normally an angry person, but I wanted to punch Alan in the face when I saw how happy he was.

I looked at my phone. It was well after two o'clock, and while in Atlantic City that didn't really constitute as late, I thought it might be best if I made my way back to the room.

I tugged on Justin's arms and told him I was going to head back. He let out a heavy sigh and nodded. It was clear that he knew what to do once I left.

When I got back to the room, Jackie was still sound asleep. I felt so bad for her. I put on my pajamas and snuggled up under the fresh sheets, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep. I put on the television, left it on mute, and tried to relax. I texted Justin and told him to give me a heads up when they were on their way back up.

About a half hour later, he told me they were in the elevator. I practically jumped out of bed and went into the bathroom. I rationalized that when they arrived back, I would ask Justin for some private time. A few minutes later, I heard them stumble into the room.

I successfully lured Justin into the bathroom. Once he was in, I turned around and ran the shower water so it would drown out our voices. "So, what happened?" I quietly asked.

Justin ran his hands over his face before looking me in the eyes and asking, "Are you sure you saw him kissing that girl?"

I stared at him. "What do you mean 'am I sure?'" Justin looked at me. His eyes pleaded for me to relax. I took a deep breathe and told him exactly what I had seen again. "So, I didn't see him making out with her, but I saw him, clear as day, kissing that girl on the neck."

"Clear as day? The club was pretty dark, Caroline."

I couldn't believe the exchange occurring.

"Can you get to the point?" I was getting annoyed at Justin's stalling.

He let out a heavy sigh before speaking. "Alan said he was just being a wing man," he finally said. "He said he was talking to a girl but they didn't do anything."

It took everything in me not to scream at Justin, even though this wasn't his fault. I now see why people say, "don't shoot the messenger."

"I know what I saw," I said through tight lips.

Justin looked at me with sad eyes. "I believe you, really. But can we just talk about everything tomorrow? We can get breakfast, alone, and figure it out."

I didn't want to accept that, but it really was too late to do anything else. I shut off the water and followed Justin out of the bathroom. I fell asleep cuddled up on Justin's chest, uneasy about what the next day would bring.


I naturally woke up around 7:30 the next morning. Ever since I started working regular 9 to 5 hours, my internal clock would not allow me to sleep in. It was super frustrating when I had nothing to do on a Saturday and I wanted to catch up on some sleep.

Anyway, this adaptation worked to my advantage that morning because I did not want to interact with Jackie and Alan. The thought of looking either of them in the face made me sick to my stomach. I couldn't look Jackie in the face without feeling guilty for not telling her what I saw and I couldn't look Alan in the face without wanting to scream at him.

I put my arms around Justin's waist, since he had shifted in his sleep and was no longer facing me. I began kissing his back and rubbing his arm. I wanted to wake him up but I was hoping it would feel like he woke up on his own.

He eventually shifted so he was on his back and while he seemed somewhat conscious, I knew it would still take a little while for him to open his eyes. I couldn't help myself, though. I could barely sleep last night with the anxiety of this entire situation. I mean, how was I supposed to drive home with this crowd? If I did tell Jackie, I had no idea how she would react and the car ride could be complete hell. But how could I not tell Jackie? I couldn't deal with the guilt of not letting this girl know the truth. Even though we had just met, I liked Jackie and if the tables were turned and she saw Justin kissing another girl, I really hope she would tell me.

I rubbed Justin's chest as I contemplated moving my hand lower to give him a real, 'Good Morning.' I decided to go simpler and began lightly kissing his neck. He quietly moaned and opened his eyes shortly after.

"Good morning, beautiful," he whispered to me before kissing me on the mouth.

"Ew, morning breathe," I joked.

"Speak for yourself, stinky."

We quietly giggled for a few seconds before I asked him if he would mind going to breakfast sooner rather than later because I really wanted to head out before anybody else woke up. "As much as I want to lay here with you for hours, I get why you want to head out," he said, peering over to the other bed where Alan and Jackie were laying. We both quietly crawled out of bed, grabbed clothes from our luggage, and tip toed into the bathroom to get ready. By 8:30, we were making our way outside onto the boardwalk. We quickly found a breakfast place with four dollar egg dishes and six dollar bellinis.

After we each ordered, I took a deep breathe before beginning the inevitable conversation. "Justin, I know you're in a tough spot. If Alan is saying one thing and I'm saying another, I can't imagine the kind of pressure this puts on you. I'm telling you, though, I saw Alan kiss that girl. It may not have been on the lips, but the way he kissed her neck was unacceptable. I don't know if I can face him or Jackie and not say something."

Justin remained silent and politely listened through my whole spiel. He stared off at the beach for a little before responding. "I'm going to talk to Alan again. I'll explain to him that either he has to tell Jackie or I will."

I smiled at Justin. "Thank you," I said, putting my hand on his. I changed the subject because frankly, I was tired of worrying about it. We got our food and had a really nice, relaxing breakfast before taking a walk on the boardwalk. This was the trip I had envisioned with Justin. It was unfortunate that we had to deal with all the problems last night, because it truly put a strain on the whole night. I couldn't help but wonder if Justin's friends would have negative feelings about me now. I figured it was better to risk having them dislike me than to let Jackie look like an idiot and be cheated on.

We didn't get back to the room until a little after 10 o'clock. Everyone was awake, but still in bed. Jackie was sitting up, drinking a water bottle. She looked like she had been hit by a truck.

"Hey, Caroline," she said to me with a weak smile. "Thank you so much for looking out for me last night."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alan looking down. Jackie didn't even know half of what she was thanking me for.

Everyone began getting out of bed and taking turns in the shower. The plan was to check out, put our bags away, and then enjoy Atlantic City for a little while longer before heading home. Justin managed to get Alan to follow him to a smoothie bar once we were in the casino. As I watched them walk away, I was really proud of Justin. I knew this wasn't going to be easy, but he was doing the right thing. It was even more heart warming to know that he was doing it for me.

Sean, Jackie, and I played some slots for a little bit while Justin and Alan "got smoothies." I nervously tapped my foot until they returned. They both looked exhausted.

Justin kissed me on the cheek and whispered in my ear. "He's going to tell her when we get home. He doesn't want to ruin the rest of the trip."

I wasn't super pleased with that resolution, but I understood it was more logical. It would be much better for them to sit down and discuss things in private. I tried to enjoy the rest of the trip before we departed for Long Island around 3 o'clock.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Atlantic City: Part Two

The guys said they didn't need much time to get ready so they wanted to play a few rounds of Black Jack while Jackie and I showered. While Jackie was naturally very pretty, I learned just how much time she put into her appearance. She seemed a little high maintenance, but not even a tiny bit snobby.

She began her make-up routine as I flat ironed my hair. Our conversation flowed as if we were old friends and I began to really like Jackie. She grew up in a nice town about thirty minutes east of mine.

The boys arrived back right after Jackie volunteered to do my make up. They began taking their shifts in the shower and we were all ready to go around eleven.

"You look beautiful, baby," Justin said to me with a kiss. I began to blush, not because of what he said, but because of the way he looked at me when he said it.

The energy level was high among the five of us, especially since we each took three shots of vodka before leaving the room. Jackie had gone on her phone and put our names on some list that allowed us to cut the line. We still had to pay a ridiculous cover, but I didn't even care once I saw how cool the bar was. Clubs are not normally my thing, even though I sometimes went to them when I was single and on the prowl, but the ones in Atlantic City simply have a way of making anybody feel like a Kardashian. To be clear, I'm not a fan of the Kardashians either.

We all made our way over to the bar and ordered beers before heading to the dance floor. There were girls dancing in cages with neon clothing. It wasn't degrading, though. They had pretty awesome moves and they were wearing just enough clothing to look hot but not trashy.

We all danced like we were on ecstasy (but we definitely weren't) and I noticed Jackie and Alan were making more trips to the bar than anyone else. I began to forget that anybody but Justin was on that dance floor. I innocently ran my hand over his chest as I sang to the music. I let my hand linger on his belt. He looked down at me and bit his bottom lip. There was something about this setting that made me want him so bad, but I didn't want to leave. I decided to let our sexual energy build up for as long as possible. I figured the wait would act as a form of foreplay.

A few minutes passed before Jackie grabbed my arm and I practically jumped from shock. "Come to the bathroom with me," she said as a command, not a question, with desperation in her voice. I gave Justin a concerned look as Jackie dragged me through the crowd. Once in the bathroom, Jackie wasted no time before practically sprinting into a stall. I cringed as I heard her begin to puke.

I politely smiled at the bathroom attendant as I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I could tell she was judging me for Jackie's actions, but she smiled back and offered me a breathe mint anyway.

I sent a quick text to Justin. "Jackie's throwing up. I think I should take her back to the room."

About thirty seconds later, I received a response from Justin. "I'll come with you. Meet me outside the bathroom."

I put my phone back in my pocket before approaching Jackie's stall. "How are you doing in there, girl?" I asked.

She looked up at me, her mascara completely smeared across her eyes. She didn't verbally answer me, but I don't know if she was actually able to. She pressed her palms against her eyes and began to sob.

"Oh, Jackie," I began, kneeling down and rubbing her back. "Don't cry! Let's just go back to the room." Jackie nodded and let me help her to her feet. I accepted mouth wash from the bathroom attendant and insisted that Jackie swirl some in her mouth. I tipped the attendant before guiding Jackie out of the bathroom. Justin was waiting as promised.

"Did you tell Alan?" I curiously asked. I sort of expected him to be waiting with Justin.

"He didn't want to ditch Sean," he said with a shrug. That made sense to me, so I didn't ask any more questions as we slowly walked Jackie back to the room.

We made it to the room without a hitch. Jackie immediately sat on the bed and began taking off her heels, which she somehow managed to walk in on our way to the room. "Thank you guys so much," she began with tears forming in her eyes. "I think I'm okay now. I'm just so embarrassed."

I sat next to her and patted her on the back. "Don't be," I insisted. Justin and I stayed in the room for a little while until Jackie fell asleep, curled up on her side.

While Justin and I were tempted to fool around before heading downstairs, I didn't want to wake Jackie up after she finally managed to fall asleep. We made our way back to the club. The bouncers let us in without waiting in line. "I'm gonna hit the bathroom quick," Justin said to me once we were in. "Can you find the guys and then text me where you are?"

I nodded, kissed him, and watched him walk to the bathroom. I squeezed through the crowd for a few minutes before spotting Sean. My eyebrows went up as I saw him making out with a blonde girl in a tube top. "Good for him," I thought to myself. But where was Alan? I looked around the area until I spotted him. He had his arm around a different blonde girl, whispering in her ear before softly kissing her on the neck.

What. The. Fuck?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Atlantic City: Part One

I tried on about five different casual outfits in an attempt to find the one that looked most effortless. I obviously see the irony here, guys. How hard does a girl have to work to achieve that 'I woke up like this' look?!

Anyway, Friday afternoon taught me that you do not want to meet your boyfriend's friends right before a four hour car ride. They were nice, of course, but it's a lot of pressure to converse with people you just met for four hours. There's not much to talk about on a long car ride after the first hour. Two of Justin's closest friends were going to Atlantic City, Sean and Alan, in addition to Alan's girlfriend, Jackie.

Justin introduced me to all three of them after I put my duffle bag in the truck before taking my seat in the back middle seat, sandwiched between Justin and Sean. I got to know the three of them and they got to know me, on a very preliminary level. Justin had known both Sean and Alan since elementary school. Jackie and Alan had been dating for about a year. We conversed about our jobs, our college years, where we grew up, and of course, I found out the cute story of how Alan and Jackie met. They were both denied access to the gym on a Friday night because it was about to close.

"So, there we were, in our athletic clothes," Jackie said, putting her hand on Alan's free hand as he drove on the Long Island Expressway. "But lucky for me, there was a bar in the shopping center and he invited me to share a pitcher of beer and mini pizza with him. The rest is history."

By the beginning of the second hour, I was already exhausted so I rested my head on Justin's shoulder. Somehow I managed to doze off. I don't know if I tired myself out with my anxiety over this trip or if my mom slipped a crushed up Xanax into the cup of tea I had before Justin picked me up, but either way I was happy to get some rest since I knew we'd be out late that night. Justin sweetly whispered in my ear to wake me up once we were parked and ready to head into the hotel. We all checked in and made our way up the elevator to our room. The couples would each have a bed to share, while Sean was staying on a cot.

"I can't believe you stole my cuddle partner, Caroline," Sean joked. "I hope you know that Justin likes to be the little spoon." I caught Justin giving him an annoyed look, which made me strangely drawn to Justin. It was cute that he didn't want his friend making embarrassing jokes in front of me!

As we shuffled out of the elevator, Jackie tapped me on the arm and motioned for me to walk a few steps behind the guys.

"I'm so glad you came this weekend," she enthusiastically whispered to me. "I'd honestly go bananas if I was stuck with these three boys the whole night."

I smiled at Jackie. I was glad she was making me feel so welcomed and comfortable. "I'm really glad Justin invited me! You guys are great. I'm ready to have a blast tonight."

Jackie began asking me what I brought to wear for the night as we caught up to the guys who were unlocking the door. The room was really nice, not that it really mattered. We were going to spend most of our time in the casino, at the night club, and on the boardwalk. Still, it was nice to have a fancy looking room. I began mentally scheming a way to get some alone time with Justin because what's the point of staying in a hotel room with your beau if you don't get to have hotel room sex?

"You guys want to go straight to dinner or do some gambling first?" Sean asked the group.

I was pretty hungry, but I was the newbie so I didn't feel like speaking up. Jackie luckily read my mind. "I'm starving," she said rubbing her stomach in a circular motion. "Let's go to that tapas place." We had passed a cute tapas restaurant on the lower level of our hotel. At first glance, it seemed to be a typical Spanish restaurant but we had stopped to briefly look at the menu and they had a lot of really unique takes on various dishes. Everyone agreed on trying it so we made our way out of the room back towards the elevators.

This time, Justin was the one who motioned for he to stay a few steps behind the group. "My friends love you," he said as we put his arm around my waist and playfully squeezed my hip.

I quietly giggled. "Really?" I asked.

"Yeah, Sean and Alan already gave me their full approval. Looks like you passed, but of course I knew you would."

I felt so much tension leave my body. It's not like I thought Justin's friends wouldn't like me, but now that I secured a good impression, I was ready to really enjoy the night.

Justin and I split a few small plates at the restaurant. I let him eat a majority of the food because I didn't want to feel bloated when we went dancing. I was able to receive a fulfilling taste of everything, while Justin scarfed down the scraps. He is one of those truly fortunate people who can eat as much as he wants without gaining weight. To be fair, he jogs a lot and plays basketball at least three times a week. I'm still pretty jealous of his metabolism.

Once we were done eating, we all made our way back up to the room. As we got ready for the night, I had no idea how much drama was about to go down.

Friday, August 8, 2014

This is Big

Last night, I went over to Justin's apartment around 7. Upon walking in, the most intoxicating smell filled my nostrils. He had ordered in fettuccine alfredo from the best Italian restaurant in the area and it was already set out for us to eat.

"Oh my goodness, it smells incredible," I said, as my mouth watered.

"Well, I did just get some new cologne, but I'm a little offended you'd call me an 'it,'" Justin joked.

I turned to him, stuck my tongue out, and then smiled before stepping closer to kiss him.

"You're demonstrating great boyfriend skills," I said as he pulled my chair out for me. It was kind of cheesy, since we were only in his apartment, but I appreciated his attention to detail.

"I like when you refer to me as your boyfriend," he said before taking a seat himself.

"Well, you are," I said with a puzzled look.

Justin smiled. "I know, but you said you wanted to take things slow. I wasn't really sure how serious you were about everything. I thought maybe you were only trying to temporarily appease me."

I took a bite of pasta before replying. The truth was, when Justin and I became official, I really wasn't sure how long it would last. I only knew that I liked him and wasn't interested in seeing anybody else. Now, I was already thinking about what I wanted to buy him for Christmas. I wasn't positive it'd last, but I was hoping it did.

"Introducing you to my friends was a big step," I informed him. "The family might be next if you're up for it."

A quick expression of panic formed on Justin's face, but he quickly replaced it with an endearing gaze. "I'd like that."

We finished our dinner before positioning ourselves on the couch to watch television and recover from our food comas. He let me pick the show from his DVR and I landed on Bar Rescue. He picked up his phone in the middle of the show and stayed preoccupied with texting. It didn't bother me, though.

During the second episode, he picked up the remote and muted it. "Hey," he began. "Would you like to meet some of my friends?"

I positioned myself so I was facing him. "Really?" I asked with a smile.

"Yeah, but there's kind of a catch," he said. I patiently waited several seconds before he continued. "They're going to Atlantic City tomorrow. Would you be interested in going for the night?"

I pressed my lips together as I thought for a moment. I didn't have anything planned for Friday night and we'd only be staying until Saturday afternoon. I figured there was no harm in it and everyone was always telling me to be more spontaneous. What's the worst that could happen to me? Murder, actually, but I figured that was highly unlikely.

"Sure," I answered with a kiss. I looked at my own phone. "But in that case, I should get home and start packing."

Justin urged me to stay longer, but I couldn't be swayed. Not only did I have work the next morning, but I also had to finally tell my mother about Justin that night if I was going to go to Atlantic City with him. If I didn't love at home, it would be normal for my parents to not know about him, but I did live at home and I'm actually pretty close with both my parents. It's just that I've always found it difficult to disclose details about my romantic life to them. Nobody in my family really talked about that stuff. Maybe it's unhealthy, but we're happy.

When I walked through my front door, my mom was still awake, watching some police show. If somebody's getting killed and cut up in a show, the chances are my mom probably watches that show.

"Hey, mom," I said as I sat down next to her on the couch.

"Hey, how was your night?" She asked without taking her eyes off the television.

I made small talk with her for a bit, not wanting to talk about what I had to talk to her about. I finally forced myself to blurt it out because I was exhausted.

"So, mom" I began. "I wanted to tell you that I've kind of been seeing someone.

My mom paused the show for the first time that night. "That's so great," she said with sincerity. "What's his name? Who is he?"

I began to divulge pieces of the 'Justin story.' I ended by telling her we were going to Atlantic City the next night.

"Just the two of you?" She asked with curious eyes. I felt like a kid trying to get away with something.

"No, a group," I said with certainty.

"Well, have a great time," she said with a smile. "You'll need to text me every few hours so I know you're okay. You know where my mind goes."

I rolled my eyes but agreed to her terms before going upstairs to pack. Justin said we'd be leaving around 4 so I wouldn't have any time after work to pack. I threw a few sexy outfits into a duffle bag that Darlene got for free and gave me from Ulta. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to lay on the beach the next day, but I packed two bathing suits, a towel, and some sun screen just in case. It didn't take me long to pack everything else, but that didn't mean I was going to get a good night of sleep. I stared at my ceiling for a solid hour. What would his friends be like? How many of them would there be? Was I going to be the only girl? No, his friends had to have girlfriends and some of his friends might be girls. Would they like me?

I tried not to stress, but I have to admit, I'm pretty nervous. This is big!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Yoga Monday

"You're going to love it," Michelle insisted as she pulled into the parking lot of her gym. "This instructor has changed my life."

I couldn't help but mentally roll my eyes at the cliches spilling out of Michelle's mouth. Michelle was a close work friend, but we hadn't hung out much outside of scarfing down Thai food during lunch breaks. I've managed the card store for a couple months and since it's not exactly a career job, even for me, I mostly work with high school and college students. Even though I was technically their boss, I got along with most of them like friends. I particularly gravitated towards Michelle, who was three years my junior.

When I complained about the "new relationship" weight I was putting on, she insisted I do yoga with her.

"Do you even burn calories doing that?" I asked as I took a bite of rice.

"I sweat a lot and definitely feel stronger since I've started. I'm also much more flexible, which I'm sure your new boyfriend will appreciate," she said with a wink.

I muffled a laugh as I tried not to choke on my food. I reluctantly agreed. I had tried yoga in the past but could never really get into it. I looked down at my stomach and figured I'd try anything to avoid gaining any more weight. I never considered myself heavy, but I was always striving to lose those extra ten pounds. I definitely couldn't tolerate gaining weight.

We began stretching in the room as we waited for the instructor to arrive. "So, how's Justin?" Michelle asked while doing a butterfly stretch.

A smile spread across my face at the mention of his name. "Really good," I replied without divulging too much. It was actually surprising to me how good Justin and I were doing. The first night we met, I felt immediately drawn to Justin. Despite the few instances of premature jealousy, we had virtually no conflicts. Whenever we were together, things felt so effortless. I knew it was still early, so I didn't want to get my hopes up, but it was hard not to. I remembered feeling like this with Mike, but then we started having problems. I crossed my fingers that the same pattern didn't occur with Justin.

Michelle and I continued to make small talk until a petite, blond girl walked into the class with iPhone speakers and a large Fuji water. She greeted the class before setting up her speakers and starting.

I comfortably followed the first few positions the instructor did. I tried to focus on my breathing and emptying my mind as I switched from one position to the next, but as the moves became harder, I had a hard time simply maintaining each one. At one point, she told us to put one leg straight up in the air while balancing on our opposite knee. I thought I finally had it when she walked over to me.

"Move your leg so it's straight," she quietly said to me. Was this lady for real? I thought my leg was straight.

By the end of the class, I didn't feel like I had gotten a real work out but I was glad I tried it. Michelle dropped me off and I quickly showered before deciding to head to Starbucks. I figured I at least deserved a non-fat latte and I wanted to study for my GREs. At the end of May, I promised myself I would study at least ten hours a week so I'd be fully prepared for the test once the summer was over. However, between my laziness and spending time with Justin, I had barely studied at all. Since it was now August, I needed to really catch up.

I sat at a small table and opened up the ginormous exam preparation book to take a practice test. I had taken the test once before, so I was familiar with it, but I barely studied. My scores were okay, but they needed to be higher if I wanted to get into a doctoral program.

I was finishing up the first section when I heard someone say my name. I looked up and saw Moose, standing over my table, wearing a really nice gray suit.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" I jokingly asked. "You look like a friend of mine but he doesn't dress nearly as sharp as you do."

He smirked at me. "Yeah, corporate life is slowly stealing my soul. I had to go to the city today to meet with human resources and fill out a bunch of paperwork." Moose was starting at an accounting firm in September, since he recently passed his CPA exams.

"Fun," I replied. "Come sit with me after you order. I could totally use a break from this," I said as I picked up my book and flashed the cover at him.

"Sounds like a plan," he said as we walked over to the counter. Moose was a really good friend of mine and even though there was some sexual tension there, I figured this was as good a time as any to fix any awkwardness.

Moose walked over with a small black coffee. "Wow, you're boring," I joked.

He silently smirked as he looked down at his cup. "So, Billy told me you brought a guy bowling," he said, avoiding eye contact with me. I couldn't believe he was opening with that.

I tried not to hesitate before responding. "Yeah, his name's Justin. I think you guys would get along."

"I can't wait to meet him," Moose said with a half smile. I felt bad, but I was glad Moose was at least trying to be happy for me.

We talked for another hour before walking out together.

"I'm glad we ran into each other," I said with a sincere smile.

"Me too, Caroline," Moose replied. He gave me a hug before walking across the parking lot to his car.