It’d been two weeks since the night Jay offered me an orgasm and I said no. We hadn’t spoken in that time, just exchanged a few texts. The first one early the next morning.
Jay: Not up to coffee today, maybe next week.
Then later that day the shopping I’d left at his place had been delivered to me.
Me: Thanks for the delivery, I would have collected it.
Jay: No big. I’m away for the week with work anyway.
He hadn’t mentioned that before? I waited for a follow up text with more detail but after ten minutes I realised I wasn’t getting any.
Me: Okay, thanks again. Have fun!
Jay worked in advertising for his family’s company ‘Bliss Cosmetics’. How unfair was that? Not that he got to work with his family, he’d earned that. It was unfair that he was Jay Bliss, while I was boring old Delilah Jones.
And, I was boring old Delilah Jones with no friends. Okay, I still had friends. But it looked like I’d lost my best friend. Thanks to what? My bad reaction? My overreaction? To a careless caress? A throw away comment?
I had relived that night so many times, dissected it, rewritten it. If only I had stopped Jay when he put his hand on my knee. Even before that, part of me had bought into the ‘Jay and Dee have a couple vibe’ propaganda Tessa had floated. Then she and Tam had both said Jay had looked at me as more than a friend. So I’d seen, no I thought I’d seen, something in his eyes. Felt something in his touch. Right up until the moment he’d said, “I’m the go to guy for fantasies you know.”
Alarms had rung in my head, even as his hand moved higher. I had known that I should stop his game but I hadn’t. Because I’d wanted to know how it felt, just once. Some days I felt pretty good about the fact I’d come to my senses before we went any further, other days I cursed myself. Then I remembered our encounter outside my apartment, how mortified I’d felt when he reminded me of my body’s reaction to his touch.
He had been a different Jay in those moments. Jay the player. I’d seen him in action enough times to recognise the moves. The sexy smirk, the dirty talk, the way he used his body and his eyes to seduce. I’d felt sick then, my faked headache quickly becoming a reality, but I had years of experience at hiding my feelings. So I’d lied about it, nothing personal, and he’d believed me.
Even then, he hadn’t seemed to care and I’d gotten angry. So he ‘didn’t mind being used’? He was happy to be the go to guy for everyone. Well, everyone but me, since my fantasy would mean he wouldn’t help out anyone else but me. He was freely giving away the one thing I coveted so badly, and he didn’t mind?
Well I did, and I said as much. His response? He would do what he wanted, he always had. I had smiled, what else could I do? And he’d walked away. I’d kept my smile in place as I watched him walk away, just in case he looked back. He hadn’t.
I’d gone inside and cried because I’d known that things weren’t the same, and I’d started to mourn the loss of our friendship then. I’d hoped I was wrong, pictured us meeting up and laughing at the awkward situation we’d gotten ourselves into. Joking about how ridiculous the whole thing had been. Toward the end of the week I had sent another text.
Me: Let me know when you’re back so we can catch up. Miss you xx
He hadn’t replied. So we hadn’t had the chance to catch up, clear the air, even just be in the same room together. Which was why I was so nervous right now. It was the Bliss Cosmetics Christmas Party, I was dressed to the nines and I kept glancing at the door while I didn’t sip the champagne I was holding, and tried to have a conversation with Jay’s sister Suzi. I saw Adrian and Tam arrive and knew Jay would be close behind since Tam had told me they were sharing a limo with him. The fact I hadn’t been included just another sign that we weren’t okay.
Tam spotted me and waved but Adrian drew her in the other direction, heading towards Jay’s mother Cathy I saw as they approached her. My gaze didn’t drift back to the doorway so much as ricochet and there he was, Mr GQ himself.
“About time he got here,” Suzi said and I looked back to find her glaring at him and gesturing him over.
“Problem Suze?” I asked curiously.
“He’s meant to be looking after one of the sponsors, the redhead over there.”
She inclined her head and I followed her gaze to where a petite slim redhead stood alone, looking around nervously.
“Right.” I nodded. I shouldn’t be surprised, the go to guy would be doing what he wanted again.
“I’m not late.” His gruff voice scraped all my nerves raw and I had to force myself to look at him. “Even if I am, she’ll forgive me,” he said with a smirk.
“Yeah, yeah.” Suzi rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Don’t waste your charm on us, go.” She gave him a shove that didn’t move him at all.
“You know me, always ready to serve.” His eyes met mine for an instant, cool and calculating, then he turned and walked away without another word.
“Let’s see how he does,” Suzi murmured at my side and we watched as Jay approached the other woman and had her smiling almost instantly.
“He’s still got it,” I said with a bright smile, turning away so I didn’t have to watch.
I tried not to watch all night but I failed. I don’t know if I was punishing myself or trying to prove that I was fine seeing him with someone else but I knew where they were all night. I knew when they danced, when they walked out onto the balcony, when they sat down and talked while they had a drink.
It was a great party as usual, and I did my best to pretend I was enjoying it. I danced, ate, drank, then danced some more. Towards the end of the night I found myself on the dance floor with Adrian while Tam rested her feet.
“Haven’t seen you much lately,” he commented as he led me around he floor.
“I’ve been busy, it’s the silly season after all,” I said with a smile.
“Yeah, that’s what he said,” he said with a sigh.
“You and Jay are so busy avoiding each other, you’re avoiding everyone else too.”
“I’m not avoiding anyone.” I frowned up at him. I’d only turned down two invitations from Tam but it wasn’t to avoid anyone. It was so I could see Jay alone, make sure we were okay.
“Yeah well, what ever issues you two have, it’s time to sort them out. I’m not losing friends over this.”
Before I could respond Adrian was releasing me and I could only watch as he stole the redhead from Jay and left us standing in the middle of the dance floor.
Jay muttered something that sounded like, “Fuck you Ads,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Because I’d been watching him all night, I knew he hadn’t even glanced in my direction. He’d made it more than obvious that he wasn’t interested in talking to me, from the text he’d never replied to, to him not even saying hello when we’d been standing a couple of feet apart at the start of the night. I couldn’t help but compare this miserable lonely night to previous years full of laughter and dancing. Whether Jay had a date or had to help with a sponsor, he’d always found time to dance with me a couple of times. We would sit and eat and drink and talk and tease Adrian over how well he danced.
Now, he couldn’t even look at me. I looked up at him as he stared fixedly over my head feeling so sad that over a decade of friendship had come to this. I didn’t know what to say so I turned to walk away.
“Delilah wait.” His use of my full name as much as his fingers gripping my wrist stopped me in my tracks. The last time he’d used my full name was when he’d told me he’d seen my boyfriend out with another girl. I braced myself for more heartbreak.