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“No way did you manage to pull this girl,” Jack exclaimed. “Alyssa, be honest. Is he paying you to hang out with him? Are you actually a very, very, very high-class escort. Do you have a dumbass fetish? What’s going on here? You can tell us. This is safe space – ow!” Jack rubbed his shoulder dramatically as he grinned at Eric. “Fine, I’ll tone it down. Sorry for trying to give you and your girlfriend a compliment.”
Eric shook his head as the table chuckled at Jack’s antics. He glanced at Alyssa to make sure she wasn’t offended and was happy to see her laughing along with everyone else. It was her first time meeting all his degenerate friends, and the last thing he wanted was someone offending her or pissing her off. Rachel had hated Jack for the entirety of their relationship, and it made every interaction an uphill battle. He didn’t want to repeat that experience and had done everything in his power to ensure the day ran smoothly.
Despite knowing it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, he had sent out a strongly worded text to the group telling them to be on their best behavior. The only response had been a GIF of a monkey humping someone’s head, which was both meaningless and completely conveyed how they felt. He had tried to warn Alyssa about what she might experience, but even she had blown him off with a casual “Babe, I can handle myself. Your friends aren’t going to hurt my delicate feelings.”
And so far, she was right. Everything was going smoothly. They were all sitting in a booth of their favorite sports bar, several pitchers deep, enjoying what could be the last warm Saturday of the year.
“Believe me, if I was an escort, Eric could never afford me. I actually like him, Jack, don’t get too jealous.” The table erupted again as Alyssa responded to Jack’s alleged “compliment.” Eric looked on like a proud father, beaming as his friends gave him props for finding such a cool girl. Alyssa excused herself to go to the bathroom, and the group took the welcome opportunity to talk candidly.
“What did I tell you guys? She’s pretty spicy.” Eric announced to the table, trying to hide how invested he was in them approving of his girlfriend. “Definitely man, she seems cool,” Andrew replied. “But more importantly, does she have any hot friends?”
Kyle looked at him incredulously as he poured himself another beer. “Oh did you finally break it off with that Hinge girl you’ve been stringing along and can return to acting single without feeling guilty about it?”
Andrew opened his mouth to respond and was immediately cut off by Jack. “Hah! Right? Every Sunday brunch with this guy is like confessional.” He clasped his hands in an exaggerated fashion and looked off into the distance. “Forgive me father, for I hath made out with a random chick this weekend while my girlfriend-who’s-not-my-girlfriend stayed at home because I told her it was a going to be a guy’s night. Woe is me, my soul is damned to hellfire because I don’t have the balls to tell a girl I’m not interested in a relationship.”
Eric and Kyle roared at Jack’s awful impersonation while Andrew wordlessly gestured for the pitcher to refill his beer. It was clear from their raucous behavior that the Sierra Nevada had been flowing freely.
Andrew took a long sip and finally responded. “First of all, that’s a horrible impersonation of…anything. And second of all, I did finally tell her that I wasn’t looking for anything serious and didn’t want to be exclusive.”
“Oh yeah? Finally. How’d that go?” Eric said, still chuckling.
“Not well, Eric. Not well at all.” Andrew deadpanned. “Apparently, she was under the impression we were already exclusive. So…yeah. I’m 100% single, and I want to know if your girlfriend has hot friends.”
The table was silent as the guys digested Andrew’s information. Until Kyle broke that silence with a loud snort. Unable to contain themselves, laughter once again burst from their mouths.
“Apparently, she was under the impression we were already exclusive.” It was Eric’s turn to do a bad Andrew impression. “No shit, genius. You’ve been taking her on dates and hanging out sober for months now. Didn’t you even meet her parents? No way am I letting your dumbass meet any of Alyssa’s friends.”
Andrew hung his head in defeat and accepted the teasing that he knew he deserved. “I didn’t ‘meet her parents,’ we just happened to run into her mom one time and got lunch. It’s not as serious as it – you know, whatever. Fuck you guys.”
The table howled as Andrew flipped them all off. As the laughter died down, Jack turned to Eric. “But in all seriousness, Alyssa is cool. We like her. Don’t fuck it up.” Eric nodded wordlessly, happy to hear him say that, despite the nervousness it caused him.
What if he did fuck it up? He hadn’t had these feelings for a girl in a long time. Well, it seemed like a long time. And it was his first post-grad relationship, which made it seem all the more serious. He wasn’t just a college kid anymore. Shit, his parents had gotten engaged when they were 26. If he wanted to follow a similar timeline, this relationship was it. He ran his hands through his hair as he processed this information.
Was this the girl he was going to marry? It was so soon to even think about, but who knows? How did people even know when they met the right person? Was there a sign? A moment when it all made sense? Or was it a slow growth, where eventually you realized that this relationship was leading to marriage? He forced his thoughts to slow down. He was way overthinking. “Just relax and enjoy the relationship for what it right now – a chance to get to know her more.” He told himself as he fought his overactive mind with another swig of beer. “Besides, if she turns out to be the one, you’ll know when you feel it.”
His train of thought was interrupted by a loud groan from the group. “I take it back,” Jack said as he shook his head with a smile. “Your girlfriend isn’t cool at all.” Confused, Eric turned to see Alyssa making her way through the crowd with a tray. She grinned impishly at them.
“I hope you guys like tequilaaaaa!” .