I pulled at the hem of the dress. “Anna, this is too much,” I replied as I turned around to see how it looked from the back.
“No, it’s not,” Anna replied over Skype as she took another bite of her sandwich. “If I had the curves you have, I’d walk around in lingerie outside.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Please,” I replied before looking down at the dress again. I found it in a box of stuff I had in my closet. For some reason, it had made the trip to California, even though I had never worn it and didn't plan on it. It was short with a deep plunge in the front that made it impossible to wear a bra with it. "This looks like something Jwoww would've worn on the first season of The Jersey Shore."
"I still don't see your point," Anna replied, now popping a potato chip into her mouth. "You're on the rebound. If you can't be slutty now, who knows when you'll get another chance."
I laughed as I walked out of Anna's view and over to my closet. "It's not like I'm hooking up with anyone tonight."
"Right," Anna responded, dragging out the word. "Your hot boss invited you to go out drinking with him and you're not going to end up in his bed."
"Anna!" I exclaimed as I pulled out a lace mini skirt that I thought would work with a button down, sleeveless top I had. "I cannot sleep with my boss. Nor do I want to." Only the second part of that announcement was partially a lie.
“You need to start having fun, Caroline,” Anna replied, taking on a more serious, pitying tone.
She was right. I had called her the night before, Thursday, sniffling back tears. She comforted, but also gave it to me straight. That’s why she is my best friend. “And I’m coming there next weekend,” she said as we wrapped up our conversation. “Keep your mind busy by planning something fun for us.”
I told her I would as we said our goodbyes. I had called her after my conversation with Scott through text.
When I got home from work, after being distracted by Pete’s invitation to go out with him and his friends, I finally decided to text Scott back. “Hey, how’s it going?” It was a simple statement that took me all day to land on.
I saw three dots almost immediately appear. I felt the butterflies in my stomach and I hated feeling that way. Fuck this guy. I didn’t want his butterflies anymore.
It made me feel a little better that even though he was going to respond right away, I didn’t actually receive a response for an hour. “I’m good. You?”
I rolled my eyes. What was with the small talk? I responded right away. “I’m okay, lol” I thought the, ‘lol’ made it a little softer.
“I just wanted to check in with you,” he responded.
“Thanks,” I wrote back. It took all the restraint I had not to start writing a paragraph to him. There was so much I wanted to talk to him about. I missed just sharing my day with him. However, I’ve been in this situation before. No good comes from continuing to chat with an ex. It’s better to quickly rip the Band-Aid off, as one would say.
“I miss you, baby.” It was all I wanted to hear since we broke up. Regret. My heart began to race. “This nightmare is over,” I thought to myself. But I knew things couldn’t just fall back into place like that.
“Really?” I asked.
Three dots appeared and then disappeared. That happened again. My mind couldn’t take the anticipation.
“Yeah,” he wrote back before three more dots appeared again.
“But I know this is for the best.”
That’s when the tears came. I like to think I would have told him no if he asked me to get back together. That’s what I like to think. However, in that moment, I cannot say what I would have done for sure. All I know is that feeling like I had a chance, then having that opportunity taken away, was more than I was equipped to handle after the long day I already had.
That’s when I called Anna. We had set up the Skype session for the next day, hours before I was scheduled to take a bus to meet Pete and his friends.
Anna approved my skirt when I paired it with my white, sheer top and white heels. “You look hot, but not like you’re trying too hard,” she said.
“Thanks,” I replied with a modest smile.
Soon, I was exiting the bus outside of the bar where Pete told me to meet him. I took a deep breath as I flattened my skirt against my legs and walked toward the bouncer with my ID out. It was a constant reminder that I was, indeed, from New York, and not California.
I looked around the bar for a moment before spotting Pete. It wasn’t hard, since he easily towered over other people. I walked over to the bar, deciding I needed a drink before saying hello to him and meeting his friends.
As the bartender handed me my drink, I held out a ten-dollar bill. At that moment, I felt a hand grabbing my arm and instantly jumped. “Oh my God,” I muttered under my breath when I realized who it was and put my hand to my chest.
“Put it on my tab,” Pete said to the bartender with a smile. He nodded and moved over to the register before moving on to his next customer. “Caroline, I thought you would’ve texted me.”
“I figured I’d grab a drink first,” I said with an innocent smile. “But you caught me,” I continued before taking a sip of my drink.
Pete laughed. “Come on,” he said, motioning his hand. “Meet my friends."