(video below – my kind of groove music..:))
It was a beautiful romantic night and I was all alone with my glass of champagne.
I was hiding out at the far end of the garden, away from the wedding guests in the courtyard kicking myself for being there. Within the space of a few days, I’d plummeted from being the no-nonsense and independent woman I had worked hard to become pre-Matt back into the land of Lily-the-sweet-well-meaning-push-over.
So far, I’d managed to avoid Matt. I’d left my place early enough to flip off his offer to pick me up and he clearly looked pissed when I saw him from the back row of the church where I had camouflaged myself. But my luck wasn’t going to last for long if I stayed for the reception and dinner. Naturally, our seating arrangements were together so I needed to leave as soon as the coast was clear.
Why was I putting myself through all of this when these people weren’t supposed to be part of my life anymore?
“Nice hiding place you’ve found…I’m not fond of crowds either. May I join you?”
I looked around to find a cute and very tall Bobby Flay/Archie from the comic strip look-a-like next to me. He was holding a plate of hors d’oeuvres, had a nice smile and friendliness was written all over his face. When I nodded, he sat down on the bench next to me. He glanced down at some empty wine glasses on the ground near my feet. Then he frowned and gestured to the flute of champagne in my hand.
“It’s none of my business but you might want to slow down on those or hold back until after dinner… or at least, have a few of these so that you’re not drinking on an empty stomach.”
He offered me his plate but I refused, laughing off his concern. I must really have looked like a sad, single girl drinking her troubles away in the rose bushes.
“Oh, those glasses aren’t mine. They were already there when I sat down. Don’t worry,” I held up my almost full flute of champagne, “This is the only one I’ll be having because I’m leaving soon.”
I took another sip and watched his eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
“Are you telling me that you got all dressed up to look super amazing and then you’re going to leave before the fun begins? If you didn’t want to be here, why did you come in the first place?”
I smiled at the compliment and at how “super amazing” sounded absolutely geeky. I had no clue who this guy was so I erred on the side of caution and pretended like I didn’t hear the last question. In any case, I didn’t have an answer. He got the message and changed the subject.
“Are you a friend of the bride or groom?”
“How do you know her?”
I was debating what to say without getting into my personal business when I noticed Matt walking with purpose across the courtyard in the distance.
Matt’s determined stride had everything to do with a stunning redhead at the bar who stood out like an exquisite diamond from the rest of the guests. He greeted her with a kiss on her cheek and from their body language, it was clear that they knew each other very, very well. It sickened me to see how the redhead ran her palm down the length of Matt’s arm but it sickened me even more at how Matt was sidling up to her. Jealousy soured my mouth.
Who was she?
“He’s not worth it,” I heard the man’s voice break into my thoughts.
“That guy you’re staring at…He’s quite the handsome charmer but he comes with a large side of trouble. You really don’t want to go there.”
I gave him my full focus.
“Why not?” I managed to ask, trying to play off my sick curiosity.
The man shook his head and watched me take another sip from my glass.
“Besides the fact that he started drinking hours ago because his girlfriend bailed on him, he’s on the prowl tonight as you can see – he’s already working overtime on Charlotte…again.”
“Again?” My stomach flipped.
“Yeah, I heard they hooked up a few weeks ago. ‘Charlotte looked so hot that I could already taste her’ was his excuse. And when I asked about his girlfriend, he just shrugged me off.”
A few weeks ago?
I felt sick, not because Matt was an asshole but because I was. The nauseous feeling that swept over me made me choke on my champagne.
“Are you okay?” He slapped my back a few times, looking concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I nodded quickly. “You must be good friends with him to know all of this”.
“You could say that. Matt is fine as my cousin but I’d be the first to say that he’s a jerk who loves the challenge of a skirted chase. He’s basically a nice guy but … Mariah told my sister that his latest girlfriend is a keeper but let’s just say that I’m not surprised that his girlfriend bailed.”
“You mean Matt’s ex-girlfriend – not girlfriend,” I whispered, closing my eyes to block out the screams in my head.
“Are you sure that you’re okay?” I feel his eyes piercing into the side of my face.
“I will be…eventually.”
My head suddenly felt heavy and without opening my eyes, I found myself resting it on this stranger’s shoulder. I felt his surprise and his body tense up.
“Uh…” There was an extremely long pause. “Please, please tell me that you’re the Lily I’ve heard so much about?”
I nodded against his shoulder.
“Shit!” He was mortified. “Open mouth, insert foot. I’m so sorry that I said all of that.”
His warm hand stroked my back to console me and it felt good.
“I’ve got to go,” I told him, sitting up to catch my bearings.
The thoughts of foolishly falling for Matt and almost believing his little speech at the pastry shop was making me angrier by the second. When I had walked away from him that day at his place, Matt had pursued, not out of love but because he no longer had me.
A few weeks ago, it was the redhead, last week it was me back to me and tonight it was going to be the redhead again. I could only imagine what other “challenges” Matt had been conquering during our time together.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. Don’t leave,” he said, taking hold of my hand. “Don’t let him affect you like this. Take a really good look at him Lily.”
I did as I was told and observed Matt shamelessly flirting with the redhead and with a smile that I wanted to slap off his face. Matt didn’t have a care in the world.
“Does he look like he’s thinking about you right now?”
I could feel the anger starting a slow burn towards my heart.
“Then you shouldn’t be thinking about him either. Ignore him, hang out with me and my friends at our table. We’re a fun tribe and we’ll definitely distract you. Don’t they say that weddings are great for meeting new people?”
“I’m not in a great frame of mind right now..um…uh.” I searched for a name he had yet to give me.
“I’m Xavier but everyone calls me Xavi.” He smiled widely, revealing deep dimples.
If I were in a better mood, I might have found myself putting a finger deep into one of them. I loved dimples.
“Do you like to dance Lily?”
“Yeah, I do.” I nodded, not sure where he was going with his question.
Xavier placed his plate on the ground next to the abandoned glasses, took my hand and stood up.
“Well, that’s exactly what we’ll do all night. Then we’ll see how good 6:00AM looks on you.”
“Sorry, that came out wrong. I mean, my friends and I have started a bit of a wedding party tradition. We dance for as long as the music is rockin’ and then we go for breakfast at that 24 hour breakfast dive in the city at 6:00AM. Come on, what do you say?” Xavi laughed, waiting for me to answer.
Rockin’? Xavi reminded me of Juan with his friendliness but with some geek thrown into the mix.
I gave Matt another look before giving Xavi my full attention.
“Xavi, I think that 6AM will look very good on me.”
“Awesome! Now, let’s get this party started,” he joked and started leading me back to the courtyard. “And make Matt jealous. Mark my words, he’ll be all over you like white on rice within minutes. All that you have to do is not get sucked back in by anything he says.”
Xavi seemed to be a decent guy and I had nothing to lose. And I truly relished the idea of purposely ignoring Matt by pretending that I was having a good old time without him. And Xavi was right, the priceless look on Matt’s face when he saw us hand in hand was worth hiding in the rose bushes.
(To be continued…eventually.)
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