Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Recap up on New Beginning, New Adventures

Hi all!  I'm glad you all enjoyed the last post for Jenna and Ryan.  Just wanted to let you know that the requested recap post is up over at New Beginning, New Adventures, with the first post to follow soon!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Chapter 67 (1/22/17)

Eep!  This is it.  This is the last post...for now.  I thought it would be two, so I apologize for the lack of proper warning, but it all worked better as just one post, so here it is.  I'll be posting soon over at NBNA, and if I'm feeling inspired after that, I might come back and go a little further with Jenna and Ryan's story.  I'm not sure, so I'm going to leave it open.  Assume this is the end, and I'll let you know if I decide that it's not.  Thank you all again so much for reading, being patient, and supporting me in my hobby here!  You have all been the best readers and I value your loyalty and kindness so very much.  This story wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for your support of NBNA in the first place!

As I tended to when drinking, I awoke fairly early the next morning.  I laid in bed for a long time trying to fall back to sleep and hoping my throbbing head would calm to a dull ache.  Luckily, the pulsing pain in my temples was the only physical symptom of my overindulgence the night before.  Wine, while I loved it so, tended to give me headaches, even if I only had a couple glasses.  And I’d definitely had more than a couple last night.
Eventually I stumbled out of bed.  I dug some Tylenol out of my purse and took them to the bathroom.  I filled the glass in there with water and swallowed the pills.  Blinking at myself in the mirror, I realized I had done a terrible job taking my eye makeup off last night.  Big, dark smudges were hanging out under my eyes.  I wiped them away and had some more water.
Back in the room, Ryan was still fast asleep.  My stomach rumbled, and I checked out the clock.  7:15.  I changed my shorts out for some yoga pants and wandered down to the hotel lobby.  They had a continental breakfast happening, so I grabbed a couple bagels, a banana and an apple, and a couple containers of yogurt and brought them up to the room.  Then I left again, found the small coffee stand I had seen the night before on the way out, and ordered a dirty chai for me and a black coffee for Ryan.
The desk in our room made a fine breakfast table, and I was just finishing up spreading cream cheese on one half of my bagel and jelly on the other when I heard Ryan stirring.  “Do I smell coffee?” he croaked sleepily.
“You do,” I replied.  I took his coffee over to him, and then sat on my bed with my bagel.  “Good morning.”
Ryan took a careful sip of the hot coffee.  “Good morning,” he replied.  “Look, about last night…”  He pushed his hand through his hair, making it stand on end in a couple spots.  “I’m sorry, Jenna.  You were absolutely right about Eleanor.  She was being inappropriate and I wasn’t stopping her, and I should have.”
I didn’t say anything for a long time.  I wondered if he was going to mention the part where I told him I wanted to be his girlfriend and he told me I actually didn’t.  But he didn’t say anything else, and I admitted to myself that I had some explaining and apologizing to do too.  I took a deep breath to compose my thoughts, but before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “I love you too, Ryan.”
Ryan’s mouth dropped open slightly, and I slapped both hands over mine.  That wasn’t how I wanted this to happen.  “You were awake,” he muttered, closing his eyes briefly.  He flipped the blankets back and sat up.
“I’m sorry,” I said hurriedly.  “I had been sleeping but I woke up when you came in.  I wanted you to think I was sleeping because I didn’t want to fight anymore and I was worried if you knew I was awake you’d want to talk and we’d just end up arguing again.  I didn’t mean to lie to you, though I guess I didn’t lie to you, I just pretended that I was sleeping when I wasn’t.  And after you said that, I thought it would be a really bad time to tell you I was actually awake, so I just laid there.  But then after you fell asleep, I told you I loved you too, but you were actually asleep, unlike me, who was just pretending to be asleep, and you had your noise app on, so you didn’t hear me, and—“ 
“Stop talking, Jenna,” he interrupted, standing and crossing the short distance between our beds.
“What?” I asked, shocked.
“I said, ‘stop talking, Jenna,” he repeated.  He sat down next to me and kissed me, hard. 
“Oh,” I said, when our lips had parted.  “Well, okay.”
He looked at me in amazement.  “So, when you said you wanted to be my girlfriend…it actually wasn’t just because you were drunk and pissed about Eleanor?”
“No!” I exclaimed.  “I told you that!  I wasn’t that drunk.  I mean, I’ll admit that my timing with it all was terrible.  But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  I just couldn’t figure out a good time to bring it all up.  I was nervous about having the conversation because I was scared you’d changed your mind.  And so when you were weird about it last night, I thought you really did change your mind, and that’s why I got so awful after it.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, nothing about the way I acted last night was okay.”
“I think we both said some things we shouldn’t have,” Ryan said.  “So I’m sorry for how I handled the whole thing.”
“I’m sorry I ruined your friend’s wedding,” I replied mournfully.  “You must have been so embarrassed.  I’m embarrassed.  Your friends must think I’m absolutely crazy.  I was ‘that girl’ last night.”
“I care very little about any of their opinions at this point in my life,” Ryan said.  “And surprisingly enough, I don’t think anyone noticed.  We weren’t loud, we didn’t make a scene.  And I stopped in a bar for a drink and to think for a little bit when I left here, and half the guests were there anyway. Apparently the party died down awfully quickly, and no one said a word about it.  I’m pretty sure the only person who even realized we were gone was Eleanor.”
“Was she there, at the bar?” I asked hesitantly.  I immediately questioned if I actually wanted to know that information, then decided I did.
“Not when I got there.  She came in as I was paying my tab.  She tried to get me to stay and that’s when I realized that you had been right.”  He saw my face and said, “Nothing crazy happened.  She just was hanging on me and touching me and asking me to stay over and over, and that’s not how you act when you just want to catch up with an old friend.  I wish she hadn’t even seen me out without you.  I shouldn’t have gone out.”
“If you would have stayed here we just would have kept arguing,” I said.  “I’m not upset that you left, or that you ran into her, if you’re worried about that.”
“Either way, I’m glad to hear it,” he said.  “So, about that whole girlfriend thing…”
“Yeah?” I asked, smiling.
He returned my smile and reached out, squeezing my knee.  “I think it sounds like a great idea.”
My heart rate picked up, and I looked at him hopefully.  “Even with your traveling, and my ridiculousness, and—“
“You already told me you love me, you can’t back out now,” he teased me gently.  “We’ll figure it out.  Let’s just take it one step at a time, okay?  And we weren’t seeing other people before, so the only thing that’s truly changed is how we introduce each other.”
“Well, I guess that’s true,” I said, nodding slowly.  “Yeah.  It is.”  Ryan waited while my hungover brain worked over this information.  I grimaced; my slightly delayed hangover was catching up with me.  “I feel awful.”
Ryan laughed, and the sound hurt my head.  “I can only imagine,” he said.  “To be honest, I don’t feel so hot myself.  A little too much cheap whiskey at the bar.”  He eyed up the bagels I had retrieved and took another long drink of his coffee.  “Food might help.”
“A nap might help,” I replied, yawning.  
“What do you say we eat those bagels,” he said, standing and pulling me to my feet, “the yogurt can wait, because…no.  But we’ll eat those bagels and then take a nap, and when we wake up we can find somewhere to go eat a huge brunch and I bet by then it’ll be like last night never even happened.”
“I would definitely like to pretend that last night didn’t happen,” I said, following him to the desk and picking up my abandoned bagel.  I only managed about half of it before wrinkling my nose and pushing it away.  Ryan polished his off, and then we both climbed in bed—the same one this time.
We settled under the blankets, tangled together comfortably.  It didn’t take long for my eyes to get heavy.  I was almost asleep when I heard Ryan whisper, “Hey.”
“Hey yourself,” I mumbled back. 
He laughed softly.  “I just realized that you said something really important earlier that I didn’t respond to.”
“I did?” I asked.  I rolled onto my back and opened one eye, squinting sleepily at him.
“You did,” he said.  “Jenna, I love you.”
I smiled and closed my eyes again, burrowing into his chest.  “I love you too, Ryan.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chapter 66 (1/18/17)

Hi all!  Please accept these rapid fire posts as my way to make up for my disappearing act.  This is the last post for this week.  There will only be a couple posts left.  I hope to get them up next week, but I will keep you posted!  (One will go up for sure next week, not sure on more than that.)

I paused briefly to try to remember which way our hotel was and then turned left.  Ryan caught up with me after about a half a block, jogging to catch up.  “Jenna, you’re going the wrong way,” he said, slightly out of breath. 
The frustration and alcohol finally got to me, and all I could do was look at him helplessly.  I shivered and suddenly realized how cold it was.  I hadn’t brought a coat.  Ryan immediately took off his jacket and pulled it around my shoulders, over my half-hearted protests.  “Come on,” he said gently.  He took my hand and we turned around.
We were silent the entire walk to the hotel.  I stopped outside.  “I have a key,” I said glumly, finally subdued.  “You can go back if you want to.”
“I don’t want to,” he said. 
“I promise I won’t be mad if you do,” I insisted.  “I don’t want to ruin everything.  Tell them I wasn’t feeling well or got tired.  Please, go back.  I'm sorry.”
He shook his head.  “Going back is the last thing I want to do,” he said.  “Not many of the people I really wanted to see showed up, anyway.”  I shrugged, looking towards the street and watching the cars go by.  “I’d much rather be with you, even if you’re really pissed at me.  Which you are, and which I probably deserve.”
“Probably?” I asked, looking down at the sidewalk and then over my shoulder towards the hotel behind us.
“Definitely.  I’m sorry, Jenna.  Please, can we go up to the room?  You must be freezing.”
I nodded and let him lead me through the lobby to the elevator.  I leaned against the elevator wall, closing my eyes against the harsh fluorescent elevator light.  When Ryan tentatively put his arm around me, I shifted my weight to slump against him instead, pressing my face to his shirt.  I didn't really want to be physically close to him right now, but I suddenly didn't trust my ability to stand up on my own.
When we got to the room, I kicked off my shoes and flopped onto the bed facedown.  I folded my hands under my face, not even bothering to take off my dress or Ryan’s jacket, which I had worked my arms into while we had been walking.  I felt the mattress move as Ryan sat down next to me.  He began to rub my back, one hand stroking up and down the length of my spine.  I had let it work me nearly to sleep when he said, “Look, Jenna, about what you said on the dance floor…”
I rolled onto my side and looked at him woefully.  “I get it, you don’t want that.  You said you did, and maybe you did at one point, but I waited too long and I fucked it up.  I get it.  It’s fine.  You don’t have to apologize.  Please don’t, actually.  That would be humiliating.”
I scooted to the end of the bed and stood up.  I shed Ryan’s jacket and handed it back to him, then grabbed my toothbrush and facewash and walked into the bathroom.
“Jenna, that’s not it at all, actually,” Ryan said, while I put toothpaste on my toothbrush.  I paused to pull my hair back into a haphazard ponytail.  He stood there, waiting and watching me while I brushed my teeth.
“Do you mind?” I mumbled with a mouth full of toothpaste.  He held up both hands and stepped out of the bathroom.  I finished brushing my teeth and I washed off my makeup, patting my face dry carefully.  Back in the room, I dug through my bag, searching for my moisturizer. 
“Would you stop freezing me out and listen to what I have to say for a second?” Ryan asked, exasperated.  
I found my moisturizer at that moment and sat down on the edge of the bed, clutching it tightly in my hand.  Ryan sat in front of me on the edge of the other bed so he could look at me and took my hands.  I freed the hand with the moisturizer in it and dropped it on the bed before I offered the hand back to Ryan.  Ryan held my gaze for several seconds, then said, “I want you to be my girlfriend more than anything.”
I frowned.  “Then… I don’t understand.”
“But I want you to be my girlfriend because that’s what you want,” he said.  “Not because you’re jealous, or drunk, or because you don’t want me to sleep with my high school girlfriend.  I’ve been waiting to hear that from you for so long, but I hated everything about the circumstances under which you said it tonight.”
“Why do the circumstances matter?” I cried, frustrated.  “I do want it.  I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t want it!”
“You said it drunk on the dance floor while we argued about Eleanor,” he said gently.  “It’s just…not how I wanted it to happen.  I want to know you’re serious.”
“I’m serious as a fucking heart attack, Ryan,” I snapped, yanking my hands out of his.  
“Jenna,” he said.
“Stop it!” I exclaimed.  “Are we seriously sitting here and arguing about if I really want to be your girlfriend or not?  And are you really telling me that I don't?  You don't get to tell me what I want!”
“I really, really think we should talk about this in the morning,” Ryan said. 
“You're the one who insisted on talking about it now!" I pointed out, frustrated.  "Go back to the wedding, Ryan,”  I stood, contorting myself to unzip my dress.  Ryan moved to help me, but I shook him off.  I pulled shorts and a t-shirt out of my bag and turned my back to Ryan while I took off my dress and put on my pajamas.  I tried unsuccessfully to get the dress on the hanger three times, then gave up and left it in a pile on the floor.  “You can have that bed when you get back,” I said, pointing to the one we had slept in the night before, the one closer to the door.  I pulled back the blankets on the other bed and climbed in. 
“I’m going to go for a walk,” Ryan said softly.  I didn’t respond.  “I’ll be back in a little bit.  I have a key.”  I stayed silent.  “Jenna…never mind.”  I heard the door open and close, and I was finally alone.  The tears finally came, and I laid in the bed in the empty hotel room and sobbed until I fell asleep.

I woke up when Ryan came back in.  Glancing at the alarm clock through barely open, swollen eyes, I saw it was only about an hour and a half after he’d left.  I couldn’t have been asleep for long.  I kept my back to the door and listened to him go into the bathroom.  The toilet flushed, the sink ran, turned off, and ran again.  I wanted him to get in bed and fall asleep so I could move into a more comfortable position.  I didn’t want him to know I was awake, because I didn’t want to argue any more.
I bit back my irritation when I felt the mattress move.  He didn’t follow directions very well.  But he didn’t get under the blankets.  I almost jumped when I felt his hand skate lightly over my hair.  He paused for a moment; I smelled whiskey and wondered if he’d made it back to the wedding after all.  Then his fingers lightly smoothed my hair off my face.  Moving lightly across my forehead, Ryan brushed strands of hair back.  It was soothing, and I almost sighed.  I was just starting to relax when he spoke softly, his voice barely above a whisper.
“I love you, you beautiful, ridiculous, strong-willed woman.”  Then, leaning over me carefully, he touched his lips to my forehead. 
I forced myself to keep breathing evenly while he shifted his weight and stood.  I heard him getting into the other bed, then I heard the white noise app on his phone start to emit a soft whooshing sound.  He could never sleep without the noise of a fan.
I laid there without moving until I heard a gentle snore.  Then I rolled over, facing his bed.  “I love you too,” I whispered.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Chapter 65 (1/16/17)

Eleanor didn't even have the good sense to disentangle herself from Ryan when I sat back down, and Ryan barely even seemed to notice me approach.  When I sat down clumsily, silently cursing the wine, he finally seemed to notice and leaned close to me and whispered, “You good?”
“Yes,” I murmured back, even though “good” was not the word I’d choose to describe myself at this moment.  One of the waitstaff came by with salads, and I asked for another glass of wine.  Ryan cocked an eyebrow at me and I met his eyes with an even stare.  Something uncertain flickered briefly across his face before he smiled and turned his attention to the salad in front of him.  Eleanor finally had to disengage herself from him so they both could eat.  
The dinner courses came out slowly, allowing me time to consume two more glasses of wine.  The food helped a little, but didn’t change the fact that I had put away more than an entire bottle of wine in less than three hours.  Eleanor kept things interesting by cheerfully asking me pointed questions about myself, which I forced myself to answer politely and enthusiastically, even when they made me feel stupid.  For example, "So Jenna, have you ever been married?" I could tell from Ryan’s constant concerned glances that he knew I wasn't happy, though he didn't even try to stop Eleanor.
The bride and groom had cut the cake before dinner (I hadn’t even noticed, I was too busy being irritated by Eleanor’s mere existence) and it was served immediately following dinner.  I managed to make the smart choice and pass on another glass of wine for now in favor of some coffee. 
After cake, Eleanor bounced off to say hello to someone else, but not before telling Ryan (with a wink) to save a dance for her.  Ryan had fended the statement off but she had smiled a smile that clearly stated she was used to getting what she wanted, then flitted away.  I turned to talk to Marissa (I had gotten a glance at her place card), not trusting myself to talk to Ryan without drunkenly saying something stupid.  After a minute, he touched my shoulder.  “Dance with me?” he asked, as the dance floor slowly started to fill up.
“Sure,” I replied, because it was better than sitting here and stewing.
I wobbled a little getting up, drawing another concerned glance from Ryan, which just served to irritate me further.  On the dance floor, he wrapped his arms firmly around me.  “What’s up?” he asked. 
“Nothing’s up,” I lied (poorly).  “I’m having a great time.”
“Look, I know Eleanor is a little…enthusiastic, but—“
“Enthusiastic,” I snorted.  I turned my head away from him, staring over his shoulder instead.
“Jenna,” Ryan said. 
“Ryan,” I responded petulantly.
“Wow, you’re really angry,” he said, sounding surprised.  “Will you at least tell me why?”
“You introduced me as your date—“ I spit the word out like it was burning my mouth, but then took a deep breath so I could get the rest of the words out more calmly. “So then she thought you were up for grabs.  She won’t keep her hands off you, and she's going out of her way to make me look like an idiot.  And you’re doing nothing to stop it.  And you didn’t even warn me about her.  You should have warned me that she'd be here.”
“I apologized for introducing you as my date,” he reminded me, sounding irritated.  “I didn’t do it on purpose, I promise.  I didn’t know she was coming, though I should have assumed and warned you.  I’m sorry for that.  And she doesn’t mean anything by it.  She’s just really friendly.  And I know she’s pretty intense and a lot to handle, but I think if you give her a chance—“
“You’ve always been soooo smart, Ryan,” I said, mocking Eleanor, my voice dripping with saccharine sarcasm.
“She’s been nothing but nice to you,” Ryan pointed out, quietly but angrily.  “I think you’re being a little ridiculous.”
“I don’t want to be ridiculous.  I want to be your girlfriend.”  The words tumbled out before I could stop them.  When Ryan heard “girlfriend” his feet stopped moving for a second.  Then he continued on, dancing as if we weren’t having a ridiculous argument on this stupid dance floor.
“Jenna,” he said again, but this time he sounded disappointed.
Now I stopped dancing.  I looked up at him, and suddenly felt the urge to cry.  “You don’t want that,” I said, reading the sad look on his face.  “You said you did, but you didn’t.  I took too long to get here, and now you don't want to be my boyfriend.”
“Jenna, shhh, let’s go outside,” he said.  No one had noticed us yet, but since we were on the dance floor not dancing, it was only a matter of time. 
“I don't want to go outside," I said, turning my eyes towards the floor.  My face was burning and I felt like a huge idiot--for a variety of reasons.  "I...don't want to talk to you right now."
I made it off the dance floor, past our table, and was just yards away from the bar when Ryan caught up to me.  “Please, Jenna, not here.  These are all my friends from my hometown.  My aunt and uncle are here, for godsakes.”
“So sorry to embarrass you,” I snapped, my eyes welling with tears.  “Though you didn't seem to care about embarrassing me.  You know what, I don’t want a drink after all.  I want to go home.  Or at least back to the hotel.”
“Okay,” Ryan said, looking relieved.  “Let’s go back to the hotel.”  I turned and went back to the table.  I grabbed my clutch from where I had stashed it under my chair and snatched Ryan’s jacket off the chair and strode back to him. 
“Here.”  I held his jacket out to him without even slowing down.  I didn’t care if he came or not.  Ryan grabbed it and shoved his arms through the sleeves as he hurried after me.   Three steps from the door, I heard Eleanor’s voice calling Ryan’s name. 
“You’re leaving already?” she asked, and for the first time all day she didn’t sound like a cheerleader on speed.
“Yeah, Jenna's not feeling well,” he replied. 
That's not inaccurate, I thought bitterly.  
“Oh, well that’s too bad,” she said.  “Look, where are you staying?  We were talking about an after party, and I'd love to see you out later.”
That was all I needed to hear.  I started walking again, slamming through the handicapped door next to the revolving door and stumbling out onto the sidewalk. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Chapter 64 (1/15/17)

The ceremony was long, with a full mass.  Ryan fidgeted even more than I did.  Most people found wedding ceremonies beautiful, and they were…if you knew the couple.  If you don’t, well, it’s just kind of boring.  But we made it through.  The reception was downtown, so after the ceremony we took the car back to our hotel, which was within walking distance of the reception venue. 
“Excellent planning, sir,” I said to Ryan as we rode the elevator up to our room.  I had decided to change into flats before the reception, realizing that after an evening of dancing the four-block walk back to the hotel would be torturous in heels.  “Do these look okay with my dress?” I asked, frowning at my reflection in the full-length mirror.
“You look incredible,” Ryan replied, becoming visible in the mirror as he stepped up behind me.  “So incredible that I was having a lot of impure thoughts in that church.”  He gently brushed my curls over one shoulder, trailing his fingers across the back of my neck, over my shoulder, and down my arm.  He made eye contact with me in the mirror as he dropped his mouth to my shoulder, softly kissing his way across it and up my neck.  “I think we’d better do something about that so I can behave myself at the reception.”
“We’ll be late for the cocktail hour,” I teased him.  But to be honest, after the awkward encounter with Eleanor before the ceremony, I found his desire for me a relief. 
“Fuck the cocktail hour,” he said, sliding one hand along the outside of my thigh, slipping it easily beneath my dress.  He pushed the skirt up until his fingers brushed the lacy edge of my thong.  “Fuck the reception too, while we’re at it.”
“The reception is the only reason to go to a wedding in the first place,” I pointed out.  I gasped as his fingers slipped inside my thong and brushed against me.  “On second thought, we’ll see what happens.”
Ryan chuckled and watched me in the mirror as he stroked me slowly and gently.  I moved my hips against his hand, trying to get him moving faster.  “You’re so sexy when you’re turned on,” he growled, his lips finding my neck again.  I moaned as he pushed two fingers inside me, working them until my legs got shaky. 
“No,” I groaned when he withdrew his fingers.
“Just wait,” he said, working my underwear down over my hips.  He pushed them down until they slid to the floor, and then I heard his zipper.  “Bend,” he said, gently pressing his hand between my shoulder blades.  I bent forward slightly, bracing myself against the mirror.  I gasped and pushed back against him as he entered me, pushing slowly into me from behind.  Ryan wrapped both arms around me, slipping one past the low-cut neckline of my dress and beneath my bra to cup my breast, rolling the nipple between his thumb and finger.  The other snaked around my hips, pressing his fingers against me as he thrust into me, slowly at first, but quickly picking up speed. 
After my first orgasm, Ryan had to use one arm to keep me on my feet, slamming hard into me over and over while I whimpered and moaned.  It didn’t take long for me to come again, and Ryan followed shortly after.  We both sunk to the floor in a heap, breathing hard.  I slumped against his chest, turning my head so my hair rested against his shoulder rather than my face.  I didn’t want to get makeup on his jacket.  “Fuck the cocktail hour,” I mumbled.  Ryan laughed.
We sat tangled together for just a couple minutes before I groaned and shifted away.  “We should go,” I said, shifting until my knees were under me and making my way to my feet.
I turned to offer a hand to Ryan and he raised an eyebrow while he took it and stood.  “You should get yourself together before we go,” he said, trying not to laugh.  I turned and looked in the mirror and immediately burst into laughter.  My hair was a mess, my eye makeup was slightly smeared, my dress was hitched up over one hip, and my thong was still around one ankle.
“Your shirt is wrinkled,” I retorted, tugging my underwear up and my dress down. “And your tie is crooked.”
“Easily fixed,” he said.  I had to tear my eyes away from him as he loosened his tie and then unbuttoned his shirt.  He tossed it on the bed and took the ironing board and iron out of the small closet.
“You iron?” I asked, carefully detangling my hair with my fingers and smoothing the curls. 
He chuckled.  “I do when I have to.  And unfortunately, I have to fairly often.” 
I fixed my makeup while he was ironing his shirt.  By the time I was slipping my flats back on, Ryan was tightening his tie.  I carefully straightened the slightly off-kilter knot and then smoothed my hands down his chest.  “Handsome again,” I said, smirking.
“Again?  You didn’t have any complaints 10 minutes ago.”
“Fair point,” I said, grinning.  I stood on my tiptoes and he leaned down and kissed me.  “You’re always handsome.”
“Aw, shucks,” he said, winking at me.  He pressed his lips to my forehead and said, “I’d better be, to be seen in public with a woman as beautiful as you are.”
We barely made it back out of the hotel room without a round two.  I was in much better spirits than I’d been an hour ago as we walked the four blocks to the reception venue hand in hand.  “Hey,” Ryan said before we walked inside. 
            “Thanks for coming with me.”
“Of course,” I said, grinning at him.  He kissed me once more, soft and quick.   Then, with his arm around my shoulders, we walked inside.

“Hi, I’m Jenna,” I said to the fifteenth new person that I had been introduced to since we walked in.  Ryan had been very popular in his hometown.  “It’s so nice to meet you.”
We had managed to catch the end of cocktail hour.  Appetizers were gone, unfortunately, but the glass of Pinot Grigio in my hand was fabulous.  Ryan was cheerfully greeting and introducing me to a variety of well-dressed men and women.  “You need another,” he said, looking at my nearly empty glass.  “Let me get it.”
“I’ll go too,” I said quickly.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that I didn’t know and I wasn’t ready to make small talk by myself.
“After you, then,” he said, stepping to the side and holding one hand out towards the bar.  He winked at me as I slipped past him, and followed closely with one hand on my lower back. 
“I’m already happy I changed into flats,” I said as we stood in line at the bar.  We hadn’t sat since we left the hotel. 
Ryan grinned and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at me.  “I’m glad too, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a reason to go up to the room.”
I laughed and stepped up to the bar as the person in front of us vacated a spot.  We ordered a drink and Ryan looped his arm around my waist and pulled me tightly against him, pressing his lips to the top of my head.  “Did I tell you that you look absolutely beautiful?” he asked softly.
“Only about 15 times,” I replied.
“Not enough, I need to tell you more,” he replied.  “I love that dress on you.”  He dropped his mouth towards my ear and whispered, “Especially with it pushed up past your hips.”
“Perv,” I said.  I blushed as the bartender returned with my wine and Ryan’s bourbon. 
“Ryan!  Jenna!  I’ve been looking all over for you two!”  I almost cringed at Eleanor’s voice behind us. 
“We just got here about 45 minutes ago,” Ryan said, turning and smiling at her. 
“Have you guys found your table yet?” Eleanor chirped, laying her hand on Ryan’s arm.  I stared at it.  She kept it there.
Ryan looked at me.  “We did, but what was the number?”
“Table 8,” I supplied, dragging my gaze from where Eleanor’s hand was still seemingly attached to Ryan’s arm.
Eleanor clapped and exclaimed, “That’s my table!” 
“Of course it is,” I muttered.  Eleanor looked at me, puzzled.  Ryan nudged my waist gently.  “I just mean that I thought I saw your name card there when we found it earlier.  That’s great,” I said, louder.  I forced a cheerful smile.
“Come on, they’re going to do the toasts and first dance soon.”  Eleanor slid her hand down Ryan’s arm to grab his free hand and pulled him towards the table.  I frowned unhappily at her back, wishing she’d get her hands off him.
“Well, come on,” Ryan said to me.  “They’re going to do the first dance soon.”  The sparkle in his eye told me he thought Eleanor was ridiculous, but it was little consolation.
The first dance happened about 10 minutes later.  I’d never been to a wedding where the first dance happened before dinner, but Eleanor informed us of all the good reasons to do it that way.  “You know, then you can send the photographer home sooner, and it’s cheaper.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t have thought of that,” Ryan said. 
“Me neither,” said a pretty blonde on the other side of Eleanor.  Her name was either Melissa or Marissa, it had been hard to tell in the noisy room.  I turned to chat with her a little so I didn't have to watch Eleanor eye-fucking Ryan any more.
“I’m going to find the restroom,” Ryan said in my ear after a few minutes.  “You’ll be okay for a sec?”
“Yes, of course,” I replied, nodding.  Ryan kissed my cheek and got up.  I watched him weave through the mass of people and disappear.
“Soooo,” Eleanor said, startling me.  I turned and found her in Ryan’s seat, her face alight as she looked at me.  “Ryan said you were his ‘date’ but you two certainly look a little closer than just dates.”
“Yeah, um, we’re seeing each other,” I said. 
“Oh, that’s great!” she said.  Her voice was enthusiastic but her expression was flat.  “For how long?”
I considered this.  I had no idea.  Should I count the months we had just been sleeping together?  Only from when we finally acknowledged that it was more than that?  “A few months or so,” I replied finally. 
She looked perplexed by the amount of time it had taken me to answer and my completely non-specific reply.  “So you’re not like…his girlfriend?” she asked, the confusion evident on her face.
I shifted uncomfortably.  “I mean, we’re not seeing other people, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Oh,” she said.  That had clearly not been what she was asking.  Or at least not what she wanted to hear.  “Well, great! Ryan is great.”
“He really is,” I said.  Finally, something we could agree on. 
“I really am what?” Ryan asked, appearing behind me and laying a hand on my shoulder.
“A man of impeccable timing,” I replied, looking up at him and smiling.  “You brought me another glass of wine!”  Eleanor moved reluctantly back to her seat and Ryan sat down, sliding a full glass of wine to me. 
“Yours was almost empty and I walked right past the bar.  It would have been remiss of me to not get you another.”
“Remiss!” Eleanor exclaimed, giggling and putting her hand on his arm again.  “You were always so smart.”
“Only as smart as absolutely necessary,” he said, taking a long drink of his bourbon and winking at her.  It wasn't quite so attractive when it was directed at other people.  “So, Nor, no man with you tonight?  I’m surprised.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she gasped with mock indignation.  She swatted his arm.  “My boyfriend is unfortunately dealing with an unexpected family matter this weekend.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” Ryan said sincerely.  “I hope everything is okay.”
“Nothing bad,” she assured us, “or I wouldn’t be here, of course.  I’d be with him.”
I bet you would, I thought to myself.  I caught myself just before I rolled my eyes.
“Tell us about him,” I urged her, trying to distract her from flirting with Ryan.
“Oh, you know,” she replied dismissively.  “We live in Minneapolis.  He went to med school there; he’s a doctor.  But I want to hear more about what you’re doing now, Ry!”  She once again laid her hand on Ryan's arm, squeezing and smiling expectantly at him.  
I almost choked on my wine.  Ryan looked at me with concern as I sputtered and coughed into my napkin.  “Are you alright?” he asked me.
“Fine,” I said, when I had collected myself.  The look on his face said that he knew exactly why I had nearly choked. 
“Are you sure?  We could go out and get some air.”
“She just swallowed wrong Ryan, she said she’s fine,” Eleanor said cheerfully, gently shaking Ryan's arm to get his attention back.  “Anyway, he’s a doctor and he works a lot, but he’ll get some better hours soon, I hope.  So tell me what you’re doing for work.”
I restrained myself from asking his name, because I didn’t actually want to know if he’d gone to med school with Kevin, and if I maybe even knew him.  Instead I smiled, then excused myself to go to the bathroom.
Three glasses of wine on an empty stomach were not being kind to me, and I was again thankful I had changed my shoes.  I wondered when dinner was being served as I walked back to the table, but the thought flew from my brain when I got close enough to see Eleanor with her arm wrapped around Ryan’s arm, leaning into him and laughing.  Ryan wasn’t quite reciprocating her intimate body language but he certainly didn’t look uncomfortable either.  I took a deep breath and strode back to the table, forcing all traces of wobble out of my tipsy gait.