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A BOTTLE OF RED

Chapter 4

You won’t know a defining moment in your life until it walks through the door.  I was dancing with Kevin when it happened. 

Time stopped and I glanced at the entrance to the room and there stood Tom my ex.  I traveled thirty or so years back to the first day I saw him. I, an untouchable should never have had a snowball’s chance in Hades with that guy, but I got him. That’s what made the girls at school even more pissed off at my existence, and they hated him for trading down.

“Sam, you Okay?” Kevin was concerned as I was probably pasty white and looked like I might start hyperventilating at any minute.

“Sure, I am fine, no worries.” I was lying my ass off and we both knew it. After I landed Tommy and then dumped Tommy a few times during high school; Kevin, a former member of the geek squad asked me out during a tutoring session.  I said yes and we dated for two months and decided we were better as friends. 

 

People laughed at us and hummed the theme song to “The Odd couple.”  We gave them something to think about after Kev dipped me, and gave me a kiss to die for. They stopped humming after that. 

Kevin had always known Tommy was really “it” for me.  He was happy to be second string for a while but even that got old. I didn’t blame him as I wouldn’t want to warm the bench while another player was on the field calling the plays.  I did that for a year after Tom and I had a sloppy break up and Camille had moved in for the touchdown.

They were king and queen asshole for a year ‘til she discovered his plans for a bright future were just pipe dreams and he had no ambition whatsoever.  The kicker was he blamed me for getting in the middle of the relationship.  This was in the language of the day totally bogus.

Still as I stood there staring at him standing ten feet away.  Even after a marriage where he was emotionally AWOL; he still made my blood run hot and made my insides quiver.  I had to pinch myself and not allow those smouldering brown eyes to suck me in.  He left me and the kids to follow the yellow brick road a few times. I told him to go find Oz and not come back.  I was Done so he packed up and never looked back.

“Wanna talk about it?” Kevin nodded toward Tommy.

“I am Done with Thomas Ludlow.”

“Sam, honey, your lips are moving and you’re head agrees but your heart is speaking another language.”

Kevin was right. My heart was doing handstands along with my stomach doing flips.

“I am going for some beer, come with me.”  Kevin followed me to the make shift bar out in the hall.  Camille was there. Damn, I wanted to hide.  I still wanted to punch the bitch. Not for breaking Tom’s heart but for going from friend to someone I despised.  The words “you’re dead to me” still rang in the depths of my soul.

We were civil for the last two years of high school but it wasn’t the same. The memories flooded back and my eyes watered up.  I snuck by her and got my beer. Kev and I went outside to get some air.  I was trying not to bawl but it wasn’t working.  My attempts to face the past and get over myself were failing badly.

“I think I should drive you home babe. You are upset and slightly inebriated.”  Kevin had his arm around me,

“Hmm maybe that’s best—I Don’t know where Moe got to and she’s my ride.”

“Wait, I’ll grab your coat. By the way you look fabulous tonight!”

I sat on the huge bolder we all used to call pot rock.  Even though it was on the front lawn the druggies would gather there at night and smoke up.  I was dumbfounded first of all that Tom would even show up to an event he said he loathed.  I had to drag him kicking and screaming to a Sadie Hawkins where he had proclaimed it was a useless display of cliques and the haves lording it over the lesser beings and a few fights were guaranteed.  Girl fights outweighed guys beating each other senseless. Cops would come in to bust those up and inadvertently catch people smoking up and parking in cars doing the nasty. Same old same old; I had to agree.  Yet there he was, looking like the seventeen year old stud I lost my heart over.

Secondly, I was surprised that Kevin still cared enough to be my rock once again. I had continued to care for him as I did for Moe but I also had stirrings for Kevin. Even my non-verbal encounter with the ex couldn’t squelch the urges I was having.

Kevin was back with our coats and told me to wait while he got the car.

“What’s with the valet service Kev? I do have legs ya know.”

“Listen darlin’ this is a VIP friends and family service I provide and besides your legs Don’t look like they would hold you after that wine you drank.

I wanted to kick his ass for that but refrained and stayed put.  He was back soon enough and I was glad to be sitting in his car. I studied Kevin as he drove and discovered that time had been very kind to the man. His strong jaw was impressive and his eyes were still the stunning green they had been back in the day.

I was feeling very out of control and if he offered to climb into the back seat I might just go for it but that I suspected was the Merlot talking. 

I came to my senses and exclaimed “Shit, I forgot to tell Moe I was leaving.”

“Taken care of; I saw her trading vicious insults with some football players.”

“Oh crap.  Shouldn’t we rescue her from the Neanderthals?”

“No need she was handling them quite nicely.”

I raised an eye brow. “Do tell.”

“It was hilarious actually. They were riding her about being butch as they always did. Her reply was that if she weren’t happily married she’d prove how good she was with men and then render their junk useless.”

“And?”

“Well Moose asked her how her wife would feel and she brought him to his knees. She then asked the other three how they wanted their balls served to them. After seeing Moose holding his package and whimpering they backed off.”

“Ha, that’s our Moe!”

“She was still in party mode so I told her I was giving you a lift.  She said she’d call if she made it out of bed before noon.”

I nodded and looked out the window in silence.

Kevin spoke up.” Hey you want coffee?”

“Nah, just drive me home, and I will find my bed.”

I was quiet the rest of the way home. Kevin walked me to the door and for a minute I had the urge to ask him in for a night cap.  If I did that he was bound to be the midnight snack.

“You gonna be okay Sam?  Try not to think of Tommy okay?

“Who? I am too tired to even dream right now. I may just park it on the couch for the night.

Kevin grabbed my house key and opened the door for me.  He was either the kindest gentleman or I was totally blotto. Okay so I was, but I stepped inside. “If I Don’t show up for the rally and the game come haul me out. I Don’t want to miss our old timers kick ass.”

Kevin nodded and then leaned in for a kiss. It was hard and hot and again, I nearly dragged him in, for a quickie on the floor. I disengaged and nudged him off my threshold.

I closed the door and leaned against it.

Dayum girl you know you wanted that kiss and whatever else he had to offer.

 

Chapter 5

 

 I honestly have no clue how I ended up on the couch the next morning. My mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton and my head was slamming to the beat of non existent music. It was the hangover from hell.  Whoever let me drink that much Merlot was going to pay big time.  I had crashed fully clothed the night before, without having taken the morning after cure of Tylenol and water.  Gone were the days when we tromped off for Messy Double burgers and Dexy’s after binge drinking at a college mixer.  The thought of that now made me want to chuck my cookies. 


I lay still for a minute waiting for the room to stop spinning. Just as I thought I might be okay, the doorbell rang. 

 

I rose gingerly to go answer it, while trying to keep the wine down. Merlot tastes best going down, not the other way and I wanted to prevent a repeat performance.  I made it to the door and opened without checking the peep hole.  See what hangovers do? They make you less cautious and cause you to take more risks –maybe I was still drunk, as my common sense was glaringly absent.

 

I opened the door and hurled all over my ex-husband’s shoes.

 

“Oh shit, sorry, Tom. Um what are you doing here at 10 a.m. after a party?”

 

“That’s okay, it’s been awhile since you hurled on me. I recall it was during your pregnancy with Mel that I wore your food on a regular basis”

 

Yeah, and again what are you doing here? You Don’t show up throughout our children’s formative years and yet here you are seventeen years later on the receiving end of my puking.”

 

“I saw you at the meet and greet and wanted to say hi but you disappeared with Kevin. I bribed Cynthia for your number, but I figured you’d tell me where to get off if I called, so I looked you up.  Not using Ludlow anymore I see by your listing.  How long did that take – to expunge my er .. good name?”

 

“The ink wasn’t even dry on the divorce decree.” I replied, while handing him paper towels to clean his shoes.  He grabbed the mop and hot water and rinsed down the front stoop.

 

“So now that I am here I thought would be good to have coffee and discuss mutual guidelines for the weekend.  We have to peacefully co-exist at the reunion. Let’s sit down and be adults and hash this thing out.”

 

Hmmm seventeen years go by and he wants to be an adult? My inner bitch wanted to retort but I decided to take the high road. “Come on let’s go to Mochas. I need high octane to survive you and the rest of my day.”

 

I insisted on taking my own car even though driving was not the best plan. When I got Done with talking to Tom I was going home to drag myself through a shower and head off to the football game. Then I was going to nap to be fresh for tonights main event.

 

We sat on the patio where the air was fresher despite a few smokers. 

 

“So, let’s get the cards on the table and get this over with Tom.”

 

“Wow you Don’t waste time do ya? “

 

“What. Do. You. Want?

 

“I thought you might want to show up together.”

 

I didn’t even pause and I cackled, yes cackled evilly at his suggestion. It then dawned on me.

 

“Tom you want people to think we are still together Don’t you?”  I was pissed all over again at his colossal nerve.

 

“I just thought it would be nice if we could do this for old times sake.”

 

“You thought wrong. I will not be your beard just so you Don’t have to go stag.”  Just then another thought occurred.  “Ha, it’s Camille isn’t it? You Don’t want her to see you without me on your arm.  It would drive her crazy to see us together and you want her to be jealous.” 

 

I wanted to slug him and maybe hurl on him again but didn’t.  What he said next really got me.

 

“No I just figured you would want a date for the night.”

 

At this point I yelled. “I Don’T NEED YOUR CHARITY. IF YOU THOUGHT BEING CHIVALROUS WAS THE THING TO DO MAYBE YOU COULD HAVE STUCK AROUND WHEN WE WERE MARRIED!”

 

Heads turned as I finished my rant. I was sure I was six shades of magenta but I calmed down some.  “I hate to tell you this, but I am happy with my life as it is.  I have friends, I have a good life and our daughter is soon to deliver our first grandchild. I am going to this dance with Maureen, Wayneand Kevin.  Don’t think you can use me as a shield because you are too chicken to face your ex-girlfriend alone.  Grow a pair and deal with life.  I would have been happy to mingle and chat with you during the evening, but I am afraid you really screwed the pooch on this one.”

 

“Well if you’re gonna blow me off, Sam, you could at least kiss me first.”

 

As I wasn’t going to dignify that with an answer, I turned, bowed to our audience and left.

 

 

I got home and Kev was waiting. “Hey toots where were ya? I tried calling and I got worried so I booted it over here.”

 

“Long story, Let me get showered and changed. I will tell you about my morning when I have a clearer head and lower blood pressure.”

 

Kevin waited on the couch while I cleaned up.

 

I was in casual jeans and a nice sweater when I came downstairs. It had taken me a full two minutes under a hard cold spray to cool the engines and wake up more. 

 

Kevin was standing by the bookcase as Mel was showing him the author’s copies of  the books I had written. I could have cried happily as my very pregnant daughter was pimping my life’s work to someone I cared about.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

Mel looked at me. “Wowza Mom you look hot.”

“Let’s not go that far. I was going to save smokin’ for later on.”

“Where are you two kids heading?”

“A football game, then the dance later.”  I was girding myself for Melanie’s version of Twenty Questions.

“I Don’t suppose you need a curfew at your age, but have fun. If you two decide on some extracurricular activities, be smart and suit up will ya?”

I apologized for my daughter’s blatant comments. I used to do this to as a teen, so I supposed I had it coming.

She seemed to read my mind. “Pay backs a bitch ain’t it?”

I was quiet on the way over to the field and Kevin suspected I was still stewing over my morning.  Before leaving the car he turned and said. “Talk, you will feel better. What happened Babe? You were stretched tighter than a drum when you got home.”

“Not what, who!”

Okay I give…. who or do I need to guess.?

Tom showed up on the door step at ten a.m.  I was not quite humane yet and I puked on his hush puppies. He wanted to lay out some ground rules for civility during the rest of the weekend.  I agreed to talk over coffee.”

“And how did that go?”

“Not well. We were out on the patio at Mochas. I really didn’t want to be there. I was in no mood to play nice and let him know right off.”

“So what was said?”

“He had the balls to ask if I would go with him. As soon as he said that, I knew it was so he didn’t have to face Camille alone. He also implied it would be good for me to be seen with a date and he was willing to oblige.”

“Yep that’s a lot of stones to imply that the ex needs a mercy date. What an asshat!”

“So that’s why the old blood was boiling.  I am glad you were there when I got back.”

Kev hesitated, “I was worried Sam, not only because of how much you drank last night but because I had a feeling he would pull a stunt.  Also Cyn called me this morning.  She had given Tom your number and was feeling guilty about it.  He had coerced her with the threat of a certain Super 8 movie he made back in the day – – of her and Moose under the bleachers.  She didn’t want to take the chance that he might bring the subject up in front of her husband.  Anyway she coughed it up and she was really worried that he would try something too.  I told her we were meeting anyway so I would check on you.”

“So he used blackmail? What a jerk!”

“Want me to kick his ass?”

“I’d rather hurl on him again.”

Kevin hugged me and kissed my forehead.  I was glad it wasn’t anything deeper at this point as I was feeling vulnerable.  We got out and walked over to the field holding hands and that was just fine with me.

We sat with Moe and her husband. Our team won against Hammett just like old times.

I did reiterate my meeting with Tom to Moe and Wayneand they laughed when I nearly got a standing ovation for best rant ever!

We all laughed went for coffee and then each went home to get ready.

I ran into Cyn in the parking lot.

“Did Tom call you?”

“No he went one better, he showed up.”

“Oh crap! I am so sorry.”

“No worries. I wasn’t in great shape when I answered the door. I hurled on his shoes. Then we went for coffee and I publicly embarrassed the man. I Don’t think he’s going to be a problem tonight.”

“What did he want?”

“He offered me a pity date. Said it would be good for my ego.”

“The ass!”

“I know! Thanks for sending Kev over. I needed a friend more than anything after that.”

“No problem, it’s the least I can do for being such a bitch back then.” We hugged and I met Kevin at the car.

He dropped me off and I went in for a nap before another shower to get “smokin’ hot ready.”

 

My dress was a black off the shoulder piece with lace insets and a daring slit up one side. It showed the curves I wanted to display while the spanx hid the bulges I didn’t. I wore silver earrings and a pendant which matched the silver on my modest heels.    Mel helped me with my hair as she was a star in that department. My short hair was curled and parted on the side and my make-up was subtle yet as she said smokin’

Kev was picking me up at six and Mel promised not to interrogate him further.

Good then I Don’t have to tell my grandchild the things Mommy did as a teen. Karma is a wonderful thing!

 

 

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