Tuesday, November 8, 2011

234. The After Party

"So, did you figure out where you knew him from?" Cayden asked when he saw the expression on my face.

I hesitated. I didn't know how to answer. Cayden and I were always open and honest with each other, but I tried to put myself in his shoes. If I were at a wedding with Cayden and some chick gave him the eye and Cayden said, "Oh, yeah, totally got on that once," how would I react? Would it be better not to know? I'm not the jealous type, but I can be the awkward type.

"Johnny's old roommate. I met him a few times down in Florida," I said. "He looks different, though. Put on a little weight so I couldn't really place him."

It was true. He seemed to have a bit of a beer belly that I didn't remember from our slumber party way back in the day. But then again, it was dark and there was a lot of alcohol involved.

Cayden gave me a curious look and raised one eyebrow. He was onto me.

"OK, OK. We had a sleepover once back when I was in high school. You win."

I emphasized "high school" so he'd know it was during my virgin years. Cayden laughed and shook his head. It wasn't a judgmental laugh, he was just amused by my predicament. Even if I'd slept with half of the guys in the room, Cayden wouldn't judge. He'd gone through a lengthy man-whore phase during his days in the Air Force, so when it came to our past sexual histories, we just accepted it.

"Hey, sometimes vacation flings turn out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to you," he said, knocking his knee against mine under the table.

I glanced back at Johnny's old roommate and cringed. "I don't know about all that..."

As the night grew later and my buzz grew stronger, all I wanted to do was take Cayden home to my bed. Not just to ravish me, but I was dying to just lay my cheek against his chest and tuck into my favorite spot against him. It was a feeling I craved every night when I went to bed alone. I just wanted to feel his arm around me and his warm chest rising and falling under my cheek. Craving it and knowing you can't have it is an incredibly lonely feeling. That night was my first night to feel whole again. The mere thought of it brought a wave of emotions over me. Or maybe it was the margaritas. I got goosebumps, tears threatened to teeter off my eyelids and a lump rose in my throat. I was so ready to not feel alone again.

The rehearsal dinner ended and the party moved to Vino 100, a cute little wine bar in uptown. As much as we both wanted to bail for our own after party in my bed, we decided to stay for a drink. We grabbed a table on the patio with Kelsey and Josh.

"So, we have to be at the venue at 1 tomorrow, right?" Kelsey asked me while the boys went inside to order a bottle.

"Yeah, to help set everything up and then spend a little time with Shanna during her last few moments as a single lady."

"That's what I thought," she said. "So, what's Cayden going to do until the wedding?"

That's when it occurred to me that her boyfriend Josh would also be stranded with nothing to do and no one to hang out with until the wedding started.

"Well, we're going to check into the hotel around noon and then he was just going to fend for himself for five hours. My younger sister was going to come up to entertain him, but it's quite a hike from Keller."

I'd booked a hotel room at the Adolphus downtown so we wouldn't have to drive all the way back to Addison after the wedding. Well, also because hotel sex is super fun. I felt guilty that I had to abandon him all day, though.

"Maybe he and Josh can entertain each other?" Kelsey suggested.

It was the perfect plan. The guys had a budding bromance already, so it just made sense.

"So guess what we decided," Cayden said when they came back with a bottle in hand. He continued before I could guess. "Josh and I are going to drink and watch football tomorrow while you girls do wedding stuff. Then we'll grab a ride to the wedding together."

Like I said, bromance.

Once our bottle was polished off, the boys exchanged numbers and we said our goodbyes to the party goers. I couldn't get back to my bed fast enough.

I weaved in and out of traffic that seemed to have only appeared because I had somewhere to be and someone to do. When we got home, Joyce and Joey were in the kitchen and we had to stop for small talk. How was the rehearsal dinner? Oh, it was great. Did you and Joey have fun at the Maroon 5 and Train Concert? Oh, someone proposed during 'Marry Me'? How original. Well, I'm pretty pooped. Yawn. Goodnight!

We closed my bedroom door behind us and we were alone at last. And for the first time in a long time, I'd never felt less alone.

Kiss by kiss, touch by touch, Cayden healed me. I didn't realize how broken I'd been without him until his hand was on my naked chest and I felt my heart smile beneath it. He kissed my forehead and I felt my brain kick into overdrive as neurons fired off signals to the rest of my body to relax, everything was going to be OK. Beneath his swaying body, pieces of my life came back together. Everything made sense. Cayden and I made sense. Our emotionally exhausting relationship made sense.

I gripped his arms to pull him closer, and I felt the solidity of them. Of him. Of us. Our breathing quickened and my grasp tightened. My grasp on him. His on me. And mine on life.It was almost overwhelming. The best kind of overwhelming possible. And then my entire body shook uncontrollably and any leftover sadness and loneliness and frustration was exorcized in a moment of pure ecstasy.

I'd never taken X, but I was sure what I'd experienced at that moment would have been comparable.

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