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Our First Seven Months -- Month One: Roses
The slamming of the bathroom door woke me after a hard night. My pulse pounded in my ears and breathing sent pain shooting up my neck and into my head. I couldn’t bring myself to open my eyes, but I knew what was going on anyway. There was no need to succumb to the morning quite yet and admit defeat. Instead I pulled my soft, orange sherbet colored comforter up over my head and buried myself deeper into the layers of cottony comfort.
“Gia, dammit! Seriously?” Kaitlyn hollered from the kitchen of our small, two-bedroom apartment. Rustling and pounding sounded from the same direction.
“Gia. I know you hear me,” she called.
I knew I had better get up. Kaitlyn didn’t care much for being ignored. And worse yet, she knew I was ignoring her. She’d be at my bedroom door in a matter of seconds.
“What, Kait? What? What? What?” I moaned from inside my blanket cocoon as the feisty blond burst through my door.
“You did it again,” she said with obvious irritation. My mind ran through the night before looking for things I might have done, focusing on those that would send her off the rails.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” I had no idea what I was apologizing for, but I knew it was the fastest way back to sleep.
“Didn’t mean to? Really? How did my blue dress end up in the sink then?”
“Oh, well that I did mean,” I said, sticking my head out from beneath the blanket, eager to explain that I actually did something right. “I got salsa on it, so I left it to soak.”
I sat up too quickly and my head rebelled against the movement.
Looking me over, she came to sit on my bed next to me. “You look rough, hon,” she said as she encouraged me to ease back down. “How much did you drink?”
“I feel it. But I just went to Blaze’s with Leah. Three drinks, maybe four, and I’m paying for it like it was a rave.”
“Hydrate.” She handed me a bottle of water. “You probably have the flu.”
“I guess, maybe. Whatever it is, it’s awful.”
I rubbed my eyes, putting pressure on my sinuses and trying to keep them from exploding.
“Well, next time don’t bring my dress with you. That’s all I ask. I was looking for it. I had that blind date last night, and I couldn’t find anything worth wearing.”
“You did? Of course you did.” I’d forgotten about her date in my active pursuit of stress relief by way of vodka. “And I’m so sorry I borrowed it. I didn’t think you’d mind, but I should have left a note or something.”
I shut my eyes for a minute and steadied my stomach before speaking again. Kaitlyn waited patiently, not wanting to go on about her date without a little prompting.
“So, how was it?”
“Oh, Gia, he’s amazing. He’s tall. Like at least six two. And he’s so hot. He has light brown hair, and I can tell it must get blond when he’s out in the summer. And he sails. He actually sails.”
She went on and on about Clinton Bauer, a Massachusetts native whose parents not only owned race horses, but also a thirty-five foot sailboat that they apparently kept in the elite Boston Minute Man Marina.
“But what’s he actually like?” I asked, hoping to get her to talk about something beyond his Google profile. “Is he funny? Sweet?”
“He’s, well, I’m not sure yet. I mean we only had dinner and a walk around the pond. It isn’t like we spent a lot of time together.”
“You spent enough time to figure out he’s loaded though.” I tried to laugh. Bad idea. My head pounded and my stomach felt ready to revolt against any movement.
“I basically knew that already. But he did mention the boat. He wants to take me sailing. We have plans to go next weekend if the weather holds out.”
“So you’ll go out on the water with the guy even though you don’t know much about him? He must be seriously gorgeous for you to do that.”
Kaitlyn had rules, like most women do. But she actually stuck to hers. She wouldn’t kiss a guy until the second date at least. She wouldn’t consider introducing him to her parents until he’d explained his five year plan. And she absolutely wouldn’t be caught alone with him until she’d been seeing him for a month. Being out on a boat definitely violated that last one.
“Well, he is. But it’s more than that. I feel like I’ve know him for years, G. He’s amazing.”
I truly hoped he was. She deserved nothing less than an amazing man.
She noticed my eyes close again as I tried to block out the daylight creeping around my blinds.
“Are you working today?” she asked, pulling my blanket up and tucking me in.
“No, not today,” I said, hearing my voice weaken at the end of the short sentence.
“Then rest up.” She crossed the room, pulling the door shut behind her.
I finally emerged into the living room two hours later, looking a bit like a disco zombie with mascara rimming my eyes and pink-stained lips. The knots in my hair would need half a bottle of conditioner to work through. I looked exactly as I felt.
Wrapped in my hot pink hoodie robe, I curled up on the couch with a bottle of water and two Advil. Kaitlyn graciously turned down the volume of the chick flick on television.
“Feeling better?” she asked, offering me her fresh cup of tea.
I waved it off knowing that when I finally moved on from water, I’d need far more caffeine than her herbal concoction could offer.
“Eh,” was all I could eek out of my dry throat.
“What did you do? Do you even remember?”
I’d have been angry about the question, but I had been known to play a little too hard at night and actually had one or two that was far hazier than it should have been.
“Yes.” I stuck my tongue out at her, wincing at the effort. “Leah came by and we headed to Blaze’s. I already told you.”
The bar just off campus of Riegert College was a regular hang out for my friends and me. It was clean and had lighting that gave us a good look at the guys buying us drinks.
“And?” she prodded.
“And I met someone.” I smiled remembering how he casually walked up to our table.
“I know,” she yelped, a bit too loudly for my current taste, jumping up from the couch and running towards our kitchen. “These came for you.”
She handed me a vase full of delicate red roses. Their long stems reached out of the faceted glass, stretching to their full height and making the arrangement more than three feet tall. The deep red flowers interspersed with dark green leaves and a few fiddle fern stalks made me gasp.
“What? Are you kidding me?”
I grabbed at the arrangement suddenly noticing its substantial weight. As I took the vase, Kaitlin plucked the card from the petals and waved it in front of me.
“Give me that,” I fake snarled.
She handed it over excitedly, almost giddy in her impatience.
“Go on, open it.” Sitting on the edge of the couch and staring at the card, she asked, “Who is he?”
I loosened the envelop flap and removed the small card. It had matching roses on the side and red curly cue letters reading “Thinking of You” along the top. Neat, black block letters filled the card and I read:
Here’s to our first night of happiness. May there be many, many more. — Ethan
“Come on, what’s it say?” she prodded as I ran my finger over the card before reading it aloud to her.
“So, who is this Ethan, anyway? How’d you meet him?”
“Leah and I were just sitting there last night, at one of the small tables in the corner by the bar. These two guys walked up and offered to buy us drinks. Since we already had drinks, and they seemed a bit to lug headed for us, we waved them off. No problem, right?
“So we talked, ordered some food, and then this really cute guy wanders over like he’s looking for something. He actually bumped into the table. He turned around to apologize and says, ‘Oh, there it is! I’ve been looking for this chair all night.’ ”
“Cute,” Kaitlin said, smiling at the line.
“It was. But we were already two drinks in and our food hadn’t shown up yet. That may have had something to do with it. But, then he called over his friend and the rest is red roses, I suppose.”
“Oh, no. You aren’t getting out of that easy. Who is he?”
“His name is Ethan Gregory, and he’s a grad student.”
“Ethan Gregory?” she repeated with surprise. “The Savannah Ethan Gregory?”
“Uh, I guess so. I mean he said he was from Savannah.”
“He’s just one of the most eligible bachelors here at Riegert.”
“What does that even mean? If he’s a bachelor, doesn’t that mean he’s eligible?” I laughed at my own joke and the stupid phrase.
She rolled her eyes, unamused with my banter. “Gia, this is a top notch guy here. Just look at the flowers. And you’ve only just met him.”
“They’re pretty. But red roses? Kinda’ cliche don’t you think?”
I touched one of the three dozen roses with my fingertips, feeling its satiny finish soft beneath them.
“You’re such a snob.” She laughed and shook her head. “This could be amazing, you know.”
“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe it could be.”