After our girl’s night I became good friends with my neighbor’s sister Elena; she was seven years older than me and she seemed to have her life so together. She was a larger woman too, but she had a confidence that I envied. She was married to a great guy named Mark who was my age and who I knew through mutual friends. He was an all around great guy and he was absolutely crazy about Elena. She had the most beautiful singing voice and I would tag along with her and Mark when she would sing Karaoke at different bars around town. They had their own special “song” and every time she got up and sang it Mark would get teary eyed. It wasn’t embarrassing; you just knew that he loved her so much that the song moved him. It was just another way they told each other how important the other was to them. They had what I wanted.
Teresa had gotten engaged a few months back and as Teresa’s maid of honor, Laura was responsible for throwing her a bachelorette party. The wedding was planned to take place in seven months and Teresa was fine with having a party, but wanted to have it well before the wedding; not the night before. Teresa knew she liked to drink and she didn’t want to be hung over for her own wedding so at her request we would have the party a month before the actual wedding day. The night of the bachelorette party Elena came to my house to get ready. She sat on the bed as I put my makeup on.
“Here, I brought a necklace over for you to wear. I thought it would look great with that black silk shirt you have hanging in your closet.” She pulled out a beautiful silver chain that had a blue sapphire hanging from it.
“Oh, that is gorgeous, but Elena, I don’t wear that shirt very often. It’s too fancy for Jupiter’s anyway.” I held up a salmon colored t-shirt with Hawaiian flowers on it that said, “Spring Break ‘88”. It was a size too big, but I preferred the bagginess of it. I felt more covered and my curves weren’t as noticeable.
“Don’t be silly,” she said taking the t-shirt from me and hanging it back up in the closet. She reached over and grabbed the black silk shirt and removed if from the hanger, “Now here, put this on. Trust me.”
I took the shirt from her and slid it on, buttoned up the front and turned to the mirror to inspect my reflection.
“Here,” she handed me the necklace. I clasped it and stood back to admire the glimmer of the sapphire surrounded by faux diamonds, “Now have a seat.” She sat my dressing stool in front of the bathroom cabinet. I sat and she twisted my hair into a loose knot and clipped it into place. She took a teasing comb and fluffed the long curls that hung over the twist and sprayed them into place.
“Ok, now let’s do your makeup, close your eyes please,” I sighed and closed my eyes allowing her to apply the mauve colored eye shadow. She had applied more than I would have, but the way she did was very appealing to my complexion. She applied eyeliner and mascara and then a little blush. She rummaged through her makeup bag and handed me a tube of lipstick. I never wore lipstick. I usually applied a pink lip gloss because my grandmother had always told me that men didn’t like women who wear lipstick. It was kind of funny when I thought about all the pictures of beautiful actresses in magazines who wore bright red lipstick and saw the gorgeous men who loved them.
“That’s a really dark color.” I raised my eyebrows when I turned the tube and saw the dark plum color.
“Yeah, it’s gorgeous, huh? And it will look great on your lips. You have the best lips.” She took the tube from me and applied some to her own lips; she pressed her lips together with a smack. “You know some woman pay big bucks to get lips that look like yours.” She handed the tube back to me.
I applied the lipstick carefully to my lips and looked at the reflection. For the first time in a long time I saw something I hadn’t in a very long time. I saw I was pretty.
“Okay, so here’s the plan. We pick Teresa up at her house at 8; then we head over to Rachel’s house and meet Brad” Laura was talking and waving her hands around as she drove. She never took her eyes from the road, but she talked with her hands alternating one to the steering wheel while the other hand flailed around to make her point.
“Wait. Who’s Brad?” Elena asked. Sandy leaned up from the back seat as I answered Elena’s question.
“Brad is a frat boy Teresa had a drunken one night stand with a few years ago. Total goober, kind of skuzzy, but a good guy nonetheless; anyway, Laura ran into him the other night, told him Teresa was getting married. They came up with some plan for Brad to be the stripper tonight.”
Everyone in the car wailed with laughter. We pulled in the adult book store parking lot and piled out. We purchased plenty of party supplies; suckers, gummy candy, bubble gum, ring pops, and necklaces all shaped like penises. We bought Teresa a tiara with a cheesy mesh veil that hung off the back and a sash that said ‘Bride-to-Be’ written in gold glitter. It was totally tacky but very cool. Sandy bought Teresa a purple dildo and some motion lotion she said they could use on their honeymoon. Laura grabbed a huge blow up man-doll. I was fairly sure that he would be going home with Laura at the end of the night and not Teresa. I purchased a Pleasure by Chance dice game where you rolled a pair of six-sided die. One die had a sentence that said something like ‘Lick their’, ‘Kiss their’, ‘Touch their’ and the other die would complete the sentence with a single word like, ‘lips’, ‘chest’, or ‘privates’. You had to perform the sentences on your partner. I didn’t know if they would like it, but it looked interesting. It had been a long time since anyone had done any of that with me.
We drove over to Rachel’s house first and decorated for the party. Rachel even made a cake in the shape of a penis complete with little chocolate sprinkles as the pubic hair, and I laughed to myself that I had seen more penises in this one night than I had in my whole life. Brad called and said he was on his way; he asked if it was okay if he brought his friend Davey along for moral support. He told Laura he almost chickened out but Davey wouldn’t let him and wanted to come to make sure Brad kept his end of the bargain.
“What exactly did you promise Brad, Laura?” I asked on the way to get Teresa.
“Well you won’t think badly of me will you?” Laura looked like she wished she had never made the deal with Brad. I nodded to say I promised, “I told him I would let him play with my boobs.”
“Oh my gawd Laura!” Elena and I both said at once. Sandy started laughing so hard that she begged us to stop talking about it, crying that she was worried she would pee her pants. Rachel just made a gagging noise from the back seat.
We sat Teresa in a kitchen chair in the middle of Rachel’s living room and blind folded her. Teresa definitely looked nervous but played along like a good sport.
“Guys, you heard Billy, he said no hot stripper guys” Teresa shifted in her seat when the song ‘What a Man’ started playing from the stereo.
“Oh, don’t worry. We didn’t get any hot stripper guys,” Laura laughed, “we can promise you that!”
Brad and Davey walked in the room and Davey took a seat over in the corner where Teresa wouldn’t see him after Brad removed her blindfold. Brad was dressed in a button down white dress shirt, white sports socks, blue under wear and black sunglasses. It was a very twisted version of Tom Cruise’s Risky Business dance scene. Brad began dancing and moved towards Teresa and started rubbing against her, she shrilled with laughter at the realization that there was a stripper and she would be forced to endure the dance. She played along and lifted her hands and rubbed the backs of his legs and butt as he danced around her. He grabbed her hand and placed it on the front of his underwear and with his hand over hers rubbed his penis. All of us were laughing and screaming. Laura was up and dancing around enjoying the show. I looked over and saw Davey laughing as hard as us but trying to be silent so Teresa would not suspect there was another man in the room.
“I know this…! Billy? Is that you?” She hollered out and everyone screamed with laughter again. Teresa reached up and pulled the blindfold from her eyes. The look on her face was priceless. The song ended and the room was completely silent.
Suddenly Teresa screamed and started laughing and jumping up and down. She threw her arms around Brad and was still jumping.
“That was awesome!!” she screamed and threw up her arms, “Freaking awesome! Let’s get drunk!”
Before we left the house, we all took a shot of Jack Daniels which I instantly regretted. I hated whiskey and it made my chest burn. I decided at that moment that I would forego the drinking this evening and enjoy watching everyone else get wasted. Brad introduced us to Davey and I thought for someone who was here to give Brad courage he was incredibly shy.
Elena and I sat by Davey and soon they were in a lively conversation. It seemed that Davey and Elena went to the same school as each other and they were asking about people the other might know. Davey knew Mark and had the same impression of him as everyone else did, he was a great guy.
Teresa, Laura, Sandy, Rachel and Brad stood in the corner and shared a joint. I had tried pot when I was seventeen but didn’t have a pleasant experience, so I never had a problem turning it down when it was offered. Elena was above it and not because she thought she was better, you just knew that she would never, ever even consider trying it so don’t even bother asking. Davey just didn’t make a move to join the group so he sat with us and continued to talk with Elena about teachers they both had endured.
“We should probably get going guys.” Laura said as she grabbed her coat and car keys. I reached over and grabbed the keys from her.
“As if!” I shook my head at her when she started to say she was okay to drive. We headed out to the driveway and I slid in the driver’s seat of Laura’s SUV while the girls loaded in the back. Brad convinced Laura to ride with them, I figured since Davey was driving so Brad figured he could get a head start on exploring Laura’s breasts. I was fairly sure he was going to be disappointed.
It was definitely a crazy night. Laura and Teresa got ridiculously drunk but appeared to be having the time of their lives. Sandy and Rachel were having a contest to see who could collect the most phone numbers from guys. Brad had passed out in car about an hour ago and Elena had grown tired of the immaturity of the Bride and Maid of Honor and asked me if I would be upset if she left.
“No, I envy you. If I didn’t have to make sure these people got home safe I would leave too,” I assured her I was fine with her leaving. She called her husband and he agreed to pick her up. She gave me a hug and told me to be safe, and then she whispered in my ear, “You look awesome tonight and there is a guy sitting here who hasn’t been able to take his eyes off of you all night.” She gave my shoulders a quick squeeze and walked out to meet her husband.
I looked over at Davey who was watching Laura and Teresa do shots of Apple Pucker. His face winched at the thought of the sour liquor and then took a sip of his beer. He sat the beer on the table, leaned back and jammed his hands in his jeans pockets. He glanced over and saw me watching him.
“Hey,” He smiled, “Your friends there are kinda nuts.” He tipped it towards them. I looked over at the two drunks girls who were dancing with some tall dark headed guy. He was sandwiched between them and looked to me having the time of his life. Davey and I both laughed at the intoxicated group.
“Yes they are.” I agreed. I leaned back in my chair and yawned. I was so ready to leave. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was close to 1 a.m.
“Tessa, right?” he sat up and leaned on the table.
“Yeah, but most everyone just call me Tess.” I reached over and grabbed a random beer bottle on the table and began peeling the label off of it. Davey was an attractive guy. Not someone that would make a woman stop and take a second look, but cute in his own way. You could tell he was a worker. His jeans were clean but streaked with dark stains and he had the hands of someone who used them often, they weren’t smooth, but calloused. He had a dark complexion and black hair. He was in his late twenties, but had a hint of gray around his temples. His hair was cut close and he needed to shave, but it gave him a rugged woodsy look. He had chocolate brown eyes and his nose was a little too large for his face, but he was definitely not unattractive.
We had our first date the following Saturday evening. I had hesitated when he first asked, not because I wasn’t interested but I made a rule a long time ago that I didn’t get a sitter for Addison on the weekends she wasn’t with Nicky’s or my parent’s, but that weekend my sister Diana called asking if she could have Addy overnight. They wanted to take advantage of the warming weather and take all the kids to the children’s museum, stay overnight at the museum’s hotel, and maybe go to the zoo on Sunday.
“Hey, Davey, it’s Tess,” I held the portable receiver to my ear as I packed Addison’s small overnight bag.
“Tess, wow this is a nice surprise!” He sounded genuinely glad to hear my voice, “What are you doing?”
“Well I was just calling to see if your offer was still open for dinner tonight?” I zipped the bag shut and set it on the bed. Addison was on the floor coloring in her coloring books and singing a song about a doughnut that we always sang in the car.
During that first date we talked for hours in the restaurant, then hours in his car outside my house. I told him about Nicky and he said he remembered reading about it in the paper and seeing it on the news. Davey said he couldn’t imagine putting his hands on a woman, even if she deserved it. He said all the right things. I started to feel like I could trust a man again. It felt nice to be able to open up my heart if even just a little bit. I was able to breathe easier knowing a decent guy was on my side. He expected nothing more from me than what I was.
He told me I was beautiful and I believed him. He never mentioned my weight and touched me like he was touching a model in a magazine. He never looked at other woman when we were out together; he only had eyes for me. Davey went with me Teresa’s wedding and we spent most every minute of our free time together.
After we dated a little over a month I introduced him to my parent’s and my sister. He met Addison and I met his little boy, Justin who was a year older than Addison. He treated Addison kindly and always included her in activities he did with Justin when he would be home for visitations with his father.
Davey moved in with us three months after we had started dating. He was currently living in a tiny, rundown apartment building across town and he spent so much time at my house it didn’t make sense for him to continue paying rent. I am sure that people thought we were moving too quickly, a few of my friends mention that on occasion, but overall they really liked Davey and just wanted me be sure I knew what I was doing. They knew that I had been lonely and afraid I would be alone for the rest of my life. My mom said very little because I think she was worried about that as well and she just wanted me to find someone who could take care of me and take some of the burden off of my shoulders.
He stepped right into the role of man-of-the-house, maintaining areas that I had neglected. Paul was always offering to take care of things for me, but he had their house to maintain and his health wasn’t the best the last few years. I didn’t want to take advantage and I had let some minor things go. Davey cleaned the gutters and took care of the yard; he was always doing something around the house. He said he wanted to show me that he was useful; I already knew this and tried to tell him that I was appreciative of it. For the first time in my life I wondered if this is what it felt like to be in love.
The subject of marriage just happened. We never really talked much about it; it just seemed like the logical next step. It became less of an “If” topic and more of a “when” topic.
The day of our four month anniversary a pipe had burst at my mom’s and I went over to help her clean up. It looked as though it was going to be a very long day. While we were there, Addison broke a vase in the living room when she threw a stuffed animal across the room. Paul had simply asked her to pick up her toys, but since she hadn’t had a nap yet she was very grouchy. She believed she had Papaw Paul wrapped around her little finger, but when he laid the law down with her about the toys, she pitched a fit and threw the doll sending the vase crashing to the floor.
On our way home she had fallen asleep in the car and when I tried to wake her up to go in the house she had another meltdown in the driveway. I had to practically drag her in the house kicking and screaming. I would have pulled in the garage but Davey had a “project” in the works and I hadn’t been able to pull the car in for the last week.
I was losing my patience and I still had to fix supper before Davey got home. He never expected me to have supper waiting on him, but I enjoyed having it ready and spending “family time” together at the table. But I was beginning to think that “family time” was a bad idea tonight.
I stood at the counter buttering a piece of bread; dinner tonight would be simple, grilled cheese and tomato soup. I heard the front door open and Davey stomping his boots on the entry rug.
“Tess?” He called from the entry hall.
“In the kitchen,” I flipped the grilled cheese over in the pan.
“Hey, how was your day? Where’s Addy?”
“I’ve had better,” I laughed still attending to the grilled cheese, “she’s in her room. She needed a nap in the worst way.”
I turned from the stove to give my attention to Davey. He looked like he had a rough day as well. His maintenance uniform was stained in something brown and he smelled faintly of gasoline. He came in for a kiss and I wrinkled my nose at the smell but I gave him a quick kiss.
“I got something for you today,” he nonchalantly sat a silver gift bag on the island, “I am gonna get cleaned up for supper. It smells good.” He turned and walked down the hall.
I wiped my hands off on the dish towel and reached over for the bag. I looked after him wondering if he meant for me to wait for him to return. I sat the bag back on the counter and I finished making supper, pouring the soup in bowls and sitting them on the kitchen table. I had heard the shower turn on, he would be about ten minutes so I called for Addy to come eat before it got cold. I looked over at the bag again, still unsure what to do with it. Addison had come running from her room.
“I’m hungry!” She jumped on her chair and sat on her knees and grabbed her sandwich.
“Be careful the cheese might still be hot.” I warned and set a glass of milk in front of her.
Davey came into the kitchen, hair wet and dressed in a white t-shirt and blue sweatpants. He took his seat at the table and waited for me to take a seat. He noticed the bag still sitting on the counter.
“You didn’t look in the bag?” He said taking a sip of soup.
“I didn’t know if you wanted me to wait.”
“No Babe, you can open whenever you want,” He smiled and continued to eat. Over dinner we exchanged stories about our days. I told him about the broken pipe and he asked if he should go over and take a look at it, I told him that Paul and Chris had already taken care of it. He finished eating and got up put his dishes in the dishwasher and then helped me straighten the kitchen. After I wiped the counters down and he turned the dishwasher on, he kissed my forehead and thanked me for supper then headed to his recliner in the living room.
Neither of us mentioned the gift bag on the counter. I ran Addison’s bath and after getting her out I tucked her into bed. I read her a story, we sang one verse of the doughnut song and then I turned her light off and left the room. She was out in just a few moments.
I walked into the living room and saw that Davey had fallen asleep in his chair watching Monster Garage. I had hoped to open the gift bag with him but he was snoring and seemed too peaceful to wake. I headed to the kitchen to look into that silver bag. I couldn’t imagine what he would have gotten me. No one had ever just bought me something for the sake of buying me something. He didn’t seem too overly excited about the gift so I figured that it may be a CD or maybe a book. I had mentioned the other day that there was a new book out I wanted, but I hadn’t thought he really heard me. Chocolates, maybe it was chocolates. He knew I loved the caramel ones and even though I always used the excuse that I was dieting, I would buy a small bag from the candy store in the mall.
I pulled the bag towards me and sat on the barstool. There was no tissue paper inside, but a smaller plastic silver bag inside that said Jarrel’s Jewelry on it. Oh, maybe they are earrings? Maybe diamond earrings, I had never owned a real pair of diamond earrings. Is he serious? Jewelry is kind of a big deal, even if it is just a pair of earrings. Jewelry is not the kind of gift that you just set down and say, “Get to it whenever.” Jewelry is the kind of gift that the man stays there and watches you open because he wants to see the look of the woman’s face. That’s what all the jewelry store commercials on t.v. depicted anyway.
I opened the small plastic bag and pulled out a smaller cardboard box, the same color as both of the other bags. I pulled the top off of the cardboard box. I sighed, another box. This was like one of those Russian doll games. I held the small dark blue velvet box in my hand and looked in the direction of the living room then back at the box.
I slowly opened the box, the little hinge made a squeaking noise. My heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat. “No…” I whispered to myself, it couldn’t be. …
Sitting in the white velvet pillow lining was a yellow gold ring with a small diamond in the center and four small diamonds running down the band on each side and a thin yellow gold band that sat next to it. It was a wedding set. Not just a promise ring, but an entire wedding set. I closed the lid, placed the velvet box in the cardboard box, the cardboard box back in the small plastic bag and the plastic bag pack into the silver gift bag. I left it setting on the island and went to bed, leaving Davey in his chair.
Touching Trees by T L Lady is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://touchingtrees.wordpress.com.wouldn’t have her. So I stayed, I would make it to the year if it killed me. And it just might.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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