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“For the last time, Eric, he’s just a friend. I’m not going over this with you again, and I’m not going to be that couple that fights in the corner during a party!”
Despite Alyssa’s exclamation, it was too late. They were already that couple who was fighting in the corner during a party. They were a couple hours into an engagement party for Alyssa’s old college roommate, and the cheery atmosphere that permeated the host’s apartment turned cold as it reached the hallway, where Eric and Alyssa had been animatedly whispering at each other for the better part of ten minutes.
The reason for the argument was abundantly clear, at least to Eric. He had walked out of the restroom to see a guy embracing his girlfriend in a far-too-familiar manner. Even as they argued, he could still see it in his mind. Some guy, hugging his girlfriend from behind, his arms crossed, resting just above her chest. Alyssa, smiling and leaning back into him. Sure, it had only lasted a few seconds, but that was a few seconds too many.
He exhaled deeply and pressed his fingers to his temples, awash with emotion. Anger that Alyssa would act so intimate with another guy. Frustration that she wouldn’t admit his feelings were justified. And now, worry that she was so vehemently denying any past involvement with the guy. He knew he was overreacting a little bit, but the fact that she wouldn’t admit it was weird was getting under his skin. His thoughts raced as the devil and angel on his shoulders duked it out.
“Ok, take a breath. It’s not like she cheated on you. But it’s also not not like that. His forearm was practically touching her boobs. His junk could have been pressed up against her butt. Your girlfriend’s butt. And she leaned in! What the fuck was that? It would be on thing if she awkwardly disengaged, or even just stayed rigid for the sake of being polite, but leaning in? That’s bullshit. It shows that they have way more history than she’s claiming, that’s for sure.”
He put his hand lightly on Alyssa’s shoulder and spoke. “Look, I’m just saying it’s weird, ok? If you walked out of the bathroom and saw some girl backing it up into me –“
He was cut off by a loud scoff as she shook his hand off. “Backing it up?!” She laughed exaggeratedly. “I literally just leaned into his chest to return the hug. He hugged me from behind because there were people next to me, who are my friends, who I want to hang out with. I’m done talking with you.”
Eric opened his mouth to retaliate, but it was too late. She stalked out of the hallway. He leaned against the wall as he heard her re-enter the party with a fake-cheery “Who needs another drink? This punch is fantastic!”
He ran his hands through his hair, willing himself to calm down, to be mature, to handle this problem later. But he couldn’t. He felt slighted. “Fuck that guy.” He said to himself, his jaw clenching. “What’s his name? Bryce? What a piece of shit that guy is. He knew what the fuck he was doing. You don’t pull a move like that on a girl you’re just kind-of-friends with.” Suddenly, his eyes lit up. He pulled out his phone and went to his Facebook app and navigated to Alyssa’s profile. “Bryce, Bryce…there he is. Let’s go to their ‘friendship’ page and see how they actually know each other. Here we go. A group pic from college. A couple party photos. And…what the fuck.”
He stared at the offending photo on his phone as his face flushed with rage. The picture itself was a standard shot of Alyssa and Bryce in formal attire. But the caption is what had set him off. “Formal 2011 with this guy! #VegasOrBust” His mouth moved slowly as he computed the new information he had just received. Alyssa wasn’t just friends with this guy. She had gone to formal with him. Formal in Vegas. He wasn’t naïve. He knew what that meant. And right now, it meant his girlfriend had lied to him.
He left the hallway with his head held high. He was furious, and hurt, and jealous. But he wasn’t going to show it. He was simply going to let Alyssa know how he felt. Glancing around the room with a fake smile plastered on his face, he finally saw her on the balcony. She gave him an annoyed look as he put his forearms on the railing beside her and looked out over the buildings.
“Yes?” She said, after ten seconds of silence. “Did you come to apologize?”
Now it was Eric’s turn to scoff. He chuckled softly as he shook his head. “Actually, just the opposite. I did some digging and found out that you and Bryce went to formal together. In Vegas. Are you still going to stand there and tell me you’ve never been anything more than friends with him?”
He watched as Alyssa’s face cycled through a variety of emotions. Anger. Shock. Embarrassment. Back to anger. Suddenly, he realized his vision of winning the argument wasn’t going to be realized.
She glared at him before speaking in cold, measured tones. “You are unbelievable. You’re acting so controlling and jealous over a guy that I haven’t even seen in years. I’m going back in the party. I think it’s best if you leave.”
Eric matched her expression, fighting back the myriad of emotions bubbling inside his chest. “Happily. Have a good night. I know I will.”
Refusing to let her have the last word, he walked back into the living room, grabbed his coat, and headed out the door. He knew people were staring at him, but he couldn’t care less what Alyssa’s friend’s thought. As he waited for the elevator, he fired off a text to the group chat.
Eric [11:31pm]: I’m ditching this lame-ass engagement party. Are you guy’s still at Declan’s Pub?
Too impatient to wait, he opened up the Uber app and requested a car. He would just change the address if they had gone somewhere else. Or he would go to the bar alone. At this point, he didn’t care.
He glanced down as his phone vibrated in his hand.
Andrew [11:33pm]: Hah! Manage to steal your balls out of Alyssa’s purse? We’re headed to Woodie’s with some girls we met. Swing by if you want to watch Kyle strike out again.
Eric grinned mirthlessly as Raul and his black Toyota Corolla cruised up the block to pick him up. Perfect. .