Saturday, May 31, 2014

Single in the City

**Bonus post to make up for my lame-ness before Memorial Day! Have great weekend guys! Also, I'm loving your comments with your opinions on Nick/Ash/Dani, etc. Keep um coming :) **

Ashley's dinner with Steve went swimmingly, because by the time she got back to my place on Tuesday she was practically on cloud nine. She breezed into my apartment after midnight, looking happier than I'd seen her in weeks.

"I take it that went well?" I asked as she started to change into pajamas. 

"Really well," she grinned. "He has nearly forgiven me." 

"Wait," I said, sitting up in bed. "He's forgiven you already?" I didn't mean to sound so shocked but.. I was shocked.

She nodded her head, "Almost, yeah." 

"So are you getting back together?" I asked. I was close to losing respect for Steve if he was going to be this big of a p-word.

"I mean, soon I would think," she said. 

"Is that even what you want Ash?" I asked honestly.

"Of course!" she replied without even taking time to consider it. 

I took a deep breath. Even if it started a fight, I had to just say it. "Are you sure you just don't want to get him back to prove some sort of point?"

Ashley looked at me incredulously. "What kind of point Dani?"

"I don't know, that you can get him back. I mean it's not some big secret that you always want what you can't have." I steeled myself for an onslaught of rage from Ash, but instead she seemed to consider this. When she didn't speak for ten seconds, I continued. "You live together, I know that this is also the easy way out. And of course Steve is familiar but I can't help but think.. maybe this isn't right." 

Tears started to well up in my best friend's eyes and she dropped her face into her hands. I was completely stunned by this turn of events. Ashley never admitted defeat so easily. 

"Ash?" I asked after two full minutes of silence. 

"I think you're right," she answered, her words muddled by her hands. 

I raised my eyebrows, confused. "Wait, you agree?" 

She pulled her head up and looked me in the eyes, tears threatening to spill over onto her cheeks. "I didn't even feel chemistry with him at dinner. I'm just fucking terrified of how to start a whole new life without him."

I looked at her sympathetically. "You'll be fine. It'll suck, like really suck, for a little. But then after all of the hard stuff I know you'll realize it was the right thing to do." 

She nodded slowly. "I feel like you're saying everything I didn't allow myself to say out loud. Oh my god I just spent four hours convincing him to take me back, he's going to kill me."

"Yeah, he's definitely not going to like it," I said honestly. "But better sooner rather than later." 

"I'm supposed to go over there Thursday night, I'll tell him then." 

I gave her a hug and we settled in to bed. Once the lights were out and I was drifting off to sleep, Ash's voice pulled me back. "Thanks, Dani." 

"For what?" I asked.

"For forcing me to do the right thing," she said. 

"That's what friends are for, my dear," I answered before succumbing to sleep. 

On Friday afternoon, I found myself not at work but instead trying to navigate a rented Uhaul through the extremely unfriendly streets of New York.

"Okay I have a new-found respect for taxi drivers who put up with this crap everyday. New Yorkers have all of the road rage," I said.

"I'm actually shocked we haven't been rammed by one of these angry drivers," Ash replied from the passenger seat, which she was gripping for dear life. We were on our way to return the car, after dropping Ashley's stuff off at a storage unit. The whole morning was spent moving her stuff out of the apartment she had shared with Steve. She was keeping her larger things in the storage unit until she could find a more permanent home than my place. Steve had been surprisingly okay with the whole thing too, which only solidified how right it all felt. The only sticky part of the break-up was their dog, Murphy. They had agreed on a custody arrangement that I could already see going south really quickly. 

"It's too hot for this," I groaned. 

"What else can we complain about? This is fun," Ash joked. 

"Um.. Happy Hour is starting soon and we're going to miss it since I'm fairly certain the guy in the BMW behind us has plans to rear-end us?" 

"My first Happy Hour as a single lady!" Ash said, throwing her hands up in the air. 

I rolled my eyes, "This break up is so hard on you." 

"Glass half full, smile through life, all that crap." Ash said with a smile. 

After we had returned the monstrous truck and sworn off driving anything larger than an SUV ever again, we headed back to my place to freshen up before meeting Elena at Happy Hour. 

"First round is on me," Ash said as we approached the bar on 7th. 

"Um try the first five, I think I strained my back carrying your couch earlier," I joked, mock rubbing my shoulder. 

We spotted Elena who had staked out prime real estate at an outdoor table. She gave us a huge smile and a wave as she saw us approaching. "Hey guys!" 

"Hey!" Ash and I said in unison, pulling out chairs across from her. 

"How was work?" I asked. "Anything interesting happen?"

Elena shook her head, "No, it was actually a pretty slow day." 

The waiter came over and we ordered a round of beers. "So," Elena started after he walked away. "How was today? Awful?" 

"Not so bad, actually" Ashley replied. "I feel okay."

Elena looked surprised. "Well that's good."

"Yes, Ash is taking this break up very well," I said sarcastically. "A little too well in fact," I said, catching her eye-fucking a guy two tables back. I slapped her shoulder.

"What!" she said with a giggle.

"Single Ash in the city," I said shaking my head. "This is going to get interesting." 

"We are all three single!" Ash said excitedly as the waiter came over with our beers. "Are you single?" Ashley asked him flirtatiously, blatantly ignoring the fact that he was at least three years her junior. He laughed and walked away without a word.

"You've already struck out," I said with a laugh. 

An hour later we were debating going out or grabbing wine and going back to my place, when I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I pulled it out, delighted to see a message from Keith.

Hey, what are you up to tonight? 

I showed the text to Elena and Ash. "Is this too last minute to make plans with him?" I asked. 

Ash shook her head, "No way, go for it."

"I won't look desperate?" 

"Definitely not!" Elena encouraged. 

With their optimism, I sent a quick reply.

Just at Happy Hour now, no real plans for later. You?

I left the phone face-up on the table, anxious for his response.

Just got off work, want to come by? I think Haley is there too with Josh. 

Okay.. see you soon. 

"Are you okay if I go to his place?" I asked Ash. It was afterall, her first night as a real single lady.

"Of course," she nodded. "I'll kick it with Elena!" 

Elena looked mock-horrified and I laughed out loud. "Okay," I said, pushing out my chair. "Have fun!" I gave them each a hug and headed to find a cab. I had a feeling I was about to sleep with Keith on what was barely our third date, and somehow that felt totally fine with me. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

MDW Aftermath

The rest of #MDW passed without any excitement. Ash and I spent the days eating at usually-packed restaurants and taking advantage of the sunny weather by laying out on my roof. It was relaxing and Nick-free, exactly what I needed. After we left the club on Friday he had texted me to apologize. I hadn't responded, even though what he said was kind of correct. But I wasn't about to admit that to him. 

"It's so nice to have a tan again," I said to Ash, as I applied my makeup on Tuesday morning. 

She nodded in response. "I feel ya, now maybe people will think I did something incredibly exciting this weekend. Like Miami or Barbados."

We were quiet for a few minutes as we both finished our makeup for work. As much as I loved having Ash around, it had been a week now without her making so much as a mention of a game plan. I was hesitant to bring it up, because I didn't want her to think she was no longer welcome to stay with me. 

"So, look. I'm just saying this because you're my best friend. Not because I want you to leave, because I definitely don't," I began. Ash put down her mascara and gave me a worried look, but I continued. "But you need to start thinking realistically. I know you want Steve to call but I think you need to man up and take the reins on this one. I mean you guys have a lease together, and a dog, and a life. If it's going to end, it can't be like this." 

Ash remained quiet, picking at the hem on her shirt and avoiding any eye contact with me. After a long minute of silence, she finally spoke. "I know."

I walked across the room and retrieved her phone from where it was charging on the floor. "Text him," I said, shoving it in her direction. "Ask him to dinner or something, before you chicken out." 

She reluctantly took the phone from my hands and let her fingers hover over the keyboard. I gave her 30 seconds before taking matters into my own hands - no pun intended.

I pulled up Steve's name on her phone and, since she didn't appear to be stopping me, sent him a text.

Hey.. can you meet for dinner tonight? 

I put the phone back in her lap and started to gather my stuff for work. 

"When he responds, please don't chicken out," I said softly, giving her a half-hug. 

"If he responds," she said moodily. 

"He will," I replied. "Have a good day." I scooted out the door, mentally crossing my fingers that he would, in fact, respond. 

When I got to work, Elena was already at her desk looking tanned and fabulous after the long weekend. "Hey!" I said cheerfully, plopping down on the edge of her desk. Most of the office was still deserted. 

"Hey you!" she replied, swiveling her chair to face me. 

"How was Nantucket?" I asked. Elena had spent the weekend at a friend's up in Nantucket. A surprising amount of people got shore houses there, which I found entirely too far a hike for a weekend trip. 

"Um, eventful," she said. Just then, Jeff walked in and instead of keeping his head down and bee-lining for his desk like he had been doing since the wedding fiasco, he started confidently in our direction.

I furrowed my brow at him and hissed to Elena, "What the heck?" 

Elena very pointedly fixed her gaze on her computer screen. I looked back and forth between the two, confused beyond belief. 

"Hey," he greeted us lightly, as he had done most mornings prior to us exiling him from the group.

I narrowed my eyes at him, "Um..hi." 

He looked confused at my animosity, "Elena didn't.. tell you?" 

I looked pointedly at Elena, "Tell me what?" 

"I'll leave you two to it then," he said with a cough and scurried away. 

I raised my eyebrows at Elena, who was still looking directly at her computer screen. "Lunch," she said, typing away furiously at what appeared to be a blank word document. 

"I can't today," I replied. "I have that content meeting at one. Just get on gchat." With that, I scurried over to my desk and pulled up gmail.

Elena: Okay so.. Jeff was in Nantucket this weekend too. 
Me: I gathered as much. 
Elena: Well we ran into each other on Friday and I was drunk so we kind of hashed it out. I yelled for a little then I don't know.. I just forgave him. Or whatever. I just can't hold a grudge forever. 
Me: You totally boned him.
Elena: NO! 
Me: Did you see him any more after Friday??
Elena: Yes.
Me: So you boned him.
Elena: No.
Me: You kissed him.
Elena: Possibly.
Me: OMG. So are you two just picking up where you left off??

I looked up at her, but she was still staring at her screen.

Elena: No, but I did tell him we could get drinks this week.
Me: Well at least work will be less awkward. But I'm still going to be mean to him for the foreseeable future. 
Elena: Haha, fine. 

With that I closed gchat and started to sift through the emails that had piled up since Thursday. I was floored that they had reconciled, but she was right. She couldn't hold a grudge forever when we worked with him every single day. It was very high road of her. 

When I hadn't heard from Ash by lunchtime, I decided to text her about Steve.

Yeah, he replied. We're grabbing dinner tonight.

She answered almost immediately. I felt relieved that things were finally progressing between the two of them. Tuesday passed quickly, as most work days usually did after a long weekend. I was surprised to find Ashley still home when I got back after 7. 

"Hey!" I said cheerfully. She was sitting cross legged on the living room floor, a glass of wine in front of her. Her hair was straightened and glossy and she looked more put together than I had seen her all week. "You look great." 

"Thanks," she said. "I'm so nervous I could puke." 

I laughed, "This is Steve, you've seen him fart like forty times for christ's sake. No need to be nervous." 

She shook her head, "I just don't want to see him in any situation that isn't him professing his undying love for me." 

"Well, not sure how good the odds are on that happening tonight," I said with a smile. 

"Ughhhh," she groaned, flopping her back onto the floor. "Come with me and hold my hand?" 

"Sure, that won't be weird at all," I said, kicking off my heels and heading over to her. "Want some gossip to cheer you up?" I offered.


"Elena was in Nantucket this weekend, and so was Jeff." I saw her eyes widen at this tidbit.

"Did she push him into a pool? Or toss a drink on him?" 

"No," I said with a laugh. "They made up, apparently. And then they made out.

"What!" she squealed. "She was so angry when she told me the story." 

I nodded my head, "Well, she had every right to be. But the lesson from this is that if she can forgive, maybe Steve can too."  
Ash nodded slowly, finishing off her wine. "Thank you for turning this into an episode of Full House." She said with a grin.

I stood up and grabbed her wrists. "Alright missy, time to face the music." When she didn't budge, I stared to walk backwards with her wrists still firmly grasped in my hands. 

"Noo!" She laughed, dragging behind me towards the door. "Okay okay!" she freed herself and stood up. "Wish me luck." 

"Goodluck!" I said. And with that, I was alone again in my apartment. 

**To make up for missing last Friday, come on back for a bonus tomorrow! xoxo** 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Double Dates

Memorial Day Weekend (#MDW!) always meant the kick-off of New York's deserted season. Every weekend in the summer, busloads of manhattanites leave the sweltering city to go to the beach, causing the whole city to have a very empty feel. I secretly loved staying here during these types of weekends, which was why I turned down any Memorial Day plans and instead chose to have a "staycation". Work was closed Friday and Monday, so I had four blissful days of absolutely nothing planned. 

Ash was originally supposed to go with Steve to his family's place in North Jersey, but since they clearly were still on the outs, she chose to stay with me in the city. We toyed with the idea of making the trek down to the jersey shore where all of our friends from Philly went, but decided to save that trip for a weekend where we wouldn't have to fight for floor space in an overcrowded beach house. 

On Friday, we both slept until late in the morning and watched all of Dear John (don't judge) before even leaving my bed. As usual, Ash spent half of the time incessantly checking her phone for any word from Steve.

"Ash.. it's been almost a week," I said softly to her. "Maybe you should just call him."

She shook her head, "No chance, I just thought maybe since he's with his whole family, he would be missing me. I'm sure they're grilling him with a hundred questions about why I'm not there." 

"Well what if he doesn't call ever?" I said. 

She looked at me like I had two heads. "He has to call eventually. We lived together for christ's sake!"

"Okay, okay," I said calmly. "You're right, he has to call." With that, the subject was dropped.

"So what should we do today?" I asked, peering out the window at the falling rain. The forecast was calling for nicer weather Sunday and Monday, but today was looking a whole lot more like March than May. 

"Binge eat Ben and Jerrys while watching more Nicholas Sparks novels turned movies?" Ashley said with a smile. 

"No way," I laughed giving her a light shove. "Your days of wallowing are done. We need to hit the town!" 

"The town is empty," Ash said flatly. "Everyone and their cousin went out to the Hamptons."

"That's not true, I'm sure we know someone still here," I said starting to scroll through my address book. I texted Haley, hoping that her part-time job of bartending would have kept her in the city. 

OMG YES. I'm working Sunday and Monday so I'm here and alone!! Thank goooood you're here. Let's go out. 

I showed Haley's response to Ash, who frowned in reply. "I've gained like five pounds in one week, I'm going to feel like a whale if we have to go out." 

"You have not, and plus it's officially dress season which means we can hide our extra weight under pretty, flowy things!" I declared. Finally I saw the hint of a smile on Ash's face. 

"If you let me wear that Cynthia Rowley red dress of yours, I'm in," she said with a smile.

"Deal!" I replied, while typing a quick response to Haley. We decided to meet up at a bar on the LES at 10 o'clock.

"Let's go get our nails done and grab lunch," I suggested to Ash in an attempt to get her butt out of the apartment. So far, she had only left to retrieve her stuff from Steve's and go to work yesterday (finally). 

"Fiiiine," she groaned, rolling over and out of bed. She threw on a pair of jeans and stood in the doorway. 

I laughed out loud, "Wow, breakups sure do make you care less about your appearance." I gestured at her messy hair, makeup-smudged face and tshirt she had slept in.

"There's no one even around to run into," she said with a shrug. 

"Cheer up woman!" I answered. I had tried to be lighthearted about her negativity, but I was beginning to get irritated. I was really trying here and she was nothing but grumpy. 

We walked to a nearby nail place and spent the next hour getting pampered. Then we swung by Pick a Bagel to grab a quick bite to eat. We settled into stools by the window to enjoy our sandwiches and people watch.

By the time we got home, showered and dressed it was time to go meet Haley. We found a cab within minutes (points for deserted NYC!) and walked into the club just as Haley was arriving too.

"Hey ladies!" she said enthusiastically, throwing her arms around both of us at the same time. Before we could even utter our own hellos, she interjected. "Shots!" and sauntered over to the bar.

I could see Ash relax as she took in her surroundings. She hadn't been out since the break-up, and I had been worried that she would be even more miserable in public. Luckily, she appeared to be happy. I guess the change of scenery was just what she had needed. 

After two rounds of shots, we managed to snag a booth in the back of the room and settled down with our drinks. Haley's phone was face-up on the table, and when it lit up I couldn't help but notice when it said "Nick Murray" across the screen. "Um.. what?" I asked her, pointing at the screen. 

"Oh.. yeah. I meant to tell you, but Nick texted me earlier to see if I was around. Apparently his Memorial Day plans fell through.." she trailed off. 

I gave her a stern look. "Seriously? Please tell me you didn't.." 

She shrugged her shoulders, giving me an awkward smile. "I'm sorry! I honestly wasn't even thinking, and then I didn't want to text you because I was worried you'd back out," she said. 

"So that's why you instantly forced shots down my throat," I said with a laugh.

She laughed in response, "so you're not mad?" 

I shook my head, "No. Nick and I are actually okay as of right now. We grabbed dinner a few days ago." 

"Are you getting back together?" she asked excitedly. I glanced over at Ash, who was clearly not enjoying this relationship talk. 

"No," I answered. "I'm actually kind of seeing Keith.." I trailed off. 

She squealed unnecessarily loudly, which caused me to clamp my hands over my ears and Ashley to laugh the first real, loud laugh I had heard from her in days. Before I could give her more details though, I saw Nick navigating the crowded room towards us. 

"Thanks for the screech to let me know where you guys were," he smiled charmingly, bending down to give each of us a kiss on the cheek. He had a friend in tow who I didn't recognize. "This is Rob," he said gesturing towards the guy behind him. 

"Hey there," Rob said, nodding in each of our directions. We all murmured our hellos as I assessed this stranger. He was a little shorter than Nick with brown hair and blue eyes. He looked like he did a lot of lifting since his muscles were nearly bursting out of his t shirt. 

"Can I get anyone anything?" Nick offered before heading to the bar. 

"A round of shots!" Haley said, ever the party girl. Nick nodded his head and headed towards the bar. 

"So Rob, what do you do?" I asked as he settled in next to Ashley.

"I'm a personal trainer," he said. "I go to people's homes and train them." 

"Impressive," Ashley said, holding his gaze a little too long. Uh-oh, I thought in my head. Rob did not look like Ashley's type, and I wasn't exactly sure she was ready for a rebound. Before I could worry any more, Nick came over with two beers and five shots. 

"What is this?" I asked, staring at the brown liquid. 

"Soco lime," he answered with a smile. We cheersed and I made a mental note to slow down on the drinking as I felt the warm liquor fill me up. I hadn't eaten since lunch with Ash, and I didn't want to end up making any mistakes with Nick around. 

An hour and two drinks later, we decided to head to another bar to dance. Ash and Rob were clearly on the road to hooking up, and Haley had left twenty minutes earlier to meet her boyfriend. Somehow the night had turned into an awkward double date between me, Nick, Ash and Rob. I couldn't help but feel a little betrayed by Haley for inviting Nick, although a bigger part of me was glad he was there. 

As we watched Rob and Ashley dance, Nick and I sat at the bar talking a little too close. 

"Are you seeing anyone?" he asked, the liquor making him bold.

"Define seeing," I smirked. 

His face got serious, "I mean it, Danielle. I want to know."

I shook my head, "No one serious, I'm keeping my options open." 

He seemed satisfied with that answer, which he made clear by putting his hand on my thigh. I could feel the warmth of it through the thin cotton of my dress and I scooted a little closer to him. 

"Are you?" I asked. 

"No one serious," he replied, his face tilting in closer to mine. I bit my lip and smiled.

"Hey there mister," I said, placing my hand on his chest and pushing him away. "Don't go getting any ideas." 

"Why do you tease me then?" he groaned, pulling his hand back. 

"I don't," I said with mock horror on my face. 

He laughed, "If you say so." 

I glanced over at Ash and Rob who were now full-on making out on the dance floor. 

"I should go get Ash home," I said nodding in the direction of our friends. 

"Nah let them have fun," he said. 

I shook my head, "She just broke up with Steve less than a week ago, she will hate herself if she sleeps with someone else." 

"Please, she slept with other people when they were together, she has no moral compass," he snorted. 

I stared back at him, completely unsure of how to respond. "'re a jerk," I said finally and headed over to get Ashley. Suddenly, the idea of hooking up with Nick was almost nauseating. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Hello my lovely readers! So please don't kill me, but with this long weekend coming up work was crazy all week - and now I'm away for a few days of R&R (read: working on my tan and drinking too much tequila). 

Dani will be back next Wednesday as regularly scheduled and to make up for no post today I hereby promise a bonus post next Saturday. Scouts honor. 

Have an INCREDIBLE Memorial Day Weekend! 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


When I got home Tuesday night after my date with Nick, I was surprised to find Ashley waiting outside my building. I spotted her silhouette as I rounded the corner off of 9th and quickened my pace to meet her.

"Ash?" I asked, reaching my hand out for her shoulder. She turned around, her face streaked with tears.

"H-h-hey," she hiccuped, wiping her nose with her hand.

"Come inside," I said, ushering her in and up the stairs. I followed behind as she took the steps two at a time towards my apartment. Curiosity was eating me alive, but I kept my mouth shut until we were safely on my couch. 

I put my bag on the floor and sat down facing her on the sofa, placing my hand on her knee. I was out of tissues, but I handed her a roll of paper towels and waited until she was ready to tell me what was going on. I wiggled my phone out of my back pocket to see if she had sent me any warning texts while I was at dinner, but my phone greeted me with a stamp of the time and nothing else. 

"It's over," she finally said between hiccups.

"You and Steve?" I asked, moving my hand in circles on her back. She nodded but didn't offer any words, her breathing starting to slow down as the hiccups subsided. 

"What happened?" I asked.

Ashley took in a deep breath and removed her face from her hands. She wiped the mascara and stray tears from under her eyes before turning to face me.

"I was in the shower and James called my phone," she started. "Steve answered thinking that it was someone from my work, since we have that huge roll-out going on right now. But I guess they somehow started like.. talking. He found out I cheated." 

"What?" I said incredulously. "James just opened up to your boyfriend about you two hooking up weeks ago?" 

"James has been mad since I ended things so I'm sure he saw this as an opportunity," Ash said, her voice dripping with resentment. 

"When was this?" I asked.

"This afternoon" she replied, starting to regain a normal breathing pattern. "He kicked me out."

"Ash I'm so sorry," I began, unsure of what to say to comfort her. "You can stay with me if you want. As long as you'd like."

She gave me a small smile. "Thanks."

"Did you pack anything?" I asked. 

She shook her head, "No. I honestly didn't think it was real until he was holding the door open. Then I just walked through and headed here."

"Do you want me to go get anything for you?" I asked. "I know how specific you are about your facial regime," I joked. 

She gave me a weak smile in return. "It's probably best if I stay away for awhile," she replied. 

I rummaged in my closet for an old Penn State t-shirt and shorts for Ash to change into. She texted her boss with an excuse about a stomach flu to get out of work tomorrow. A few hours later we sat on the couch watching New Girl, a bag of popcorn between us. Ash was mostly just picking at kernels before returning them to the bag, while checking her phone every two minutes for a text from Steve. By the time we went to sleep, her phone battery was worn down to 30% from incessantly refreshing the screen.

By Thursday morning, Steve still hadn't called and Ash still hadn't changed out of the clothes I had given her Tuesday night.

"Are you going to work today?" I asked her, while applying a coat of mascara. 

"No," she mumbled, rolling over in my bed. "But I am going to put on my big girl pants and get some stuff from our place." She sat up in bed, her hair twisted in a knot on top of her head. "Are you sure it's okay if I stay here for a little?" 

"Of course," I said turning to face her. "I wouldn't even hear of you staying anywhere else," I walked over to give her a hug. "But do me a favor and shower?" I crinkled my nose in mock disgust. 

She hugged me back and rested her chin on my shoulder. "Rude. But I hope he's at work today so I can just sneak in and grab some clothes. Murphy is supposed to be at doggy daycare on Thursdays," she said.

"I'm sure he's at work," I replied. I wanted to encourage her to go back to work too, especially since she said they had been so busy lately, but it didn't feel like my place to push. 

"Listen.. I'm supposed to get drinks tonight with that guy Keith, but if you want I can totally reschedule and hang here with you," I offered.

She shook her head, "No way, you should go. I can survive alone, and I promise to stay away from the knives." 

"And the scissors!" I yelled over my shoulder as I walked out the door.

Ash texted me at lunch to let me know she had successfully gotten in and out of her apartment without running into Steve. I was shocked that he still hadn't called, but I'm sure once he noticed half of her stuff missing he would feel the need to talk to her. They had hit rough patches in the past, but Steve had always loved her so blindly that they eventually made it through. 

By 6:30 I was shutting down my computer and packing up my stuff to go meet Keith. The office was still pretty packed and if I didn't have plans I probably would have been there for at least another two hours. We were gearing up for the Fall issues which meant a huge workload, so I silently promised myself I would come in a few hours early tomorrow morning.

I hopped on the subway and headed downtown to the bar that Keith had suggested. I usually felt too self-conscious to do my makeup in public, but I whipped out my mirror and mascara anyway. After all, this was a first date and I needed to look good. I scooted over as more people filed onto the train at the 42nd street stop, and was debating adding more blush when I heard someone say my name. I looked up to see Trevor holding onto the pole next to me. 

"Hey!" I exclaimed, quickly putting away my makeup. 

"Where are you headed?" he asked, watching me shove blush back into my bag. 

"Um the Guilty Goose, ever heard of it?" I asked.

"Yeah, I've been there a few times. Meeting anyone I know?" he gave me a sly smile, probably assuming I was meeting up with Nick. 

"Nope," I said shaking my head. "So how have you been?" I asked, desperate to change the subject.

"Good," he answered, nodding his head. "Any plans for Memorial Day?" 

"No, but I definitely plan to make it down to the shore a few times this summer," I answered, referring to the New Jersey beach towns that everyone from Penn State always frequented in the summer.

"Me too, we should coordinate together."

"Absolutely," I replied with a grin. I stood up as we started to approach my stop. "Great running into you," I said, leaning in to give him an awkward kiss on the cheek. I had yet to master the art of balancing while standing on a subway.

I followed a large crowd out of the train and up into the afternoon. I had no trouble finding the bar, and when I walked in I was relieved to see Keith waiting at a small table near the windows. 

"Hey you," I said leaning down to give him a hug. 

"Hey, you look great," he replied with a genuine smile. I felt my knees threaten to give out on me. "I ordered you a vodka soda, I remember you drinking that the other night. I hope that's okay."

"Good memory, but actually that is Ash's favorite drink. But you still get points," I grinned.

"Oh so I'm being rated now?"

"Yep so you better tread carefully," I quipped. 

"Duly noted," he said with a smile. "So how long have you lived in the city?"

I took a long sip of my drink, "Almost a year now, I moved here last summer. You?" 

"Almost three years, by way of Boston," he replied.

"I've always wanted to go to Boston."

"You've never been? It's great. I really miss it sometimes, but it's hard to complain when you live here." 

I nodded, "Yeah. New York is great, it really is, but my friends who don't live here have such a skewed idea of my lifestyle. They're convinced that I spend my days flitting from store to store in four-inch heels, rubbing elbows with the elite and drinking champagne." 

"Don't you?" he asked with a chuckle.

"Only on Wednesdays," I smiled. 

The rest of the date passed quickly and I was surprised at how much I liked him. He was a few years older, which I found endearing. He definitely had his life together more than some of my guy friends. I found myself clutching my stomach from laughing so hard at least three times. When I finally looked down at my watch, I was shocked to see it was 9:30. 

"Oh shoot," I said when I realized the time. "I should really get going."

"Something wrong?" he asked at my sudden desire to hustle out of there.

"No, not at all, it's just that my friend is staying with me and I feel badly leaving her for too long." 

He gave me a weird look, and I supposed it did sound a little bit like my friend was a dog I had to walk. 

"She's going through a break up and her boyfriend kicked her out," I added.

"Ah, that's never fun," he replied. "Been there." I was surprised - both that he had lived with someone and that he was offering up this information so soon. I decided not to dive into it though for fear of what I would find out. I had enough baggage for the two of us with Nick in my corner.

When we got outside, he wordlessly headed to the corner to hail me a cab. He got one almost instantly, and held the door open for me. 

"I had a great time," I said, tilting my head up towards his. 

"Me too," he answered. He started to lean in and I closed my eyes waiting for the kiss I knew was coming. That was, until it landed four inches to the left... on my cheek. My eyes snapped open at the unexpected let down. 

I sunk into the cab and gave the driver my address, watching out the window as Keith grew smaller and smaller. 

When I got home I found Ash on the couch with a tub of ice cream and a bottle of wine half-gone in front of her. "Oh man, be less of a cliche," I said reaching for the ice cream.

"Let me wallow!" she replied. "How was the date?"

"Amazing," I sighed. "But he kissed me on the cheek when we left," I said, scrunching my nose. 

"So?" Ash replied, taking a swig of wine straight from the bottle. 

"Classy," I said, pointing at her. "And I don't know.. we had this great chemistry and I gave him all of the signs to kiss me." 

"Maybe he just wants to take it slow," she said, shrugging. 

"Maybe," I echoed. "What are we watching?"

"Re-run of The Bachelorette," she said, nodding towards the screen. "I can't decide who I'm rooting for." 

I settled in to watch with her, relishing in having my best friend around. Even though I wanted her and Steve to work it out, it was nice to have her here for now.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Way We Were

Hey Dani, it's Keith. I hope it's okay but I got your number from Haley. Any chance you want to grab drinks this week? 

I was embarrassingly excited when I received this text from Keith on Tuesday. It wasn't until half-way through Sunday morning yoga with Elena that I realized Keith never asked for my number. I skipped over to Elena's desk on Tuesday to show her the message. 

"Ohh what are you going to say!" she asked excitedly. 

"Yes," I replied. "I haven't heard a peep from Bray since Thursday, therefore I'm just going to assume he has moved to Zimbabwe with Chelsea. Onto the next!"

"Atta girl," she laughed while casting a side-eyed glance at Jeff. I could feel his eyes on us as we talked. He had responded to Elena's text Sunday and told her they could talk whenever she wanted, but she still hadn't replied. I kept telling her that was super awkward, seeing as they saw each other every single day at work. But she argued that she still needed time.

"Are you ready for tonight?" she asked, referring to my date with Nick that evening.

"I guess," I said with a shrug. "It's weird, every other time I've seen him in the last few months I've been a nervous wreck for days beforehand. And now, I haven't even mentally chosen my outfit." 

"Woow," she answered, half-mockingly. I gave her a small shove.

"Okay back to work," I said as I headed back towards my desk. Once I sat back down, I typed a response to Keith.

Ugh that damn Haley, always giving my number out. But I'd love to. How is Thursday? 

I immersed myself in some website updates to avoid staring at my phone for him to text back. I tried to find his Facebook, but Haley wasn't friends with him and I had no clue what his last name was. My stomach did a flip when I felt my phone vibrate across the desk. 

Perfect - how's Guilty Goose at 7?

Never been! But see you then.

I quickly googled the bar, which was down on 23rd. It looked nice though, despite the weird name. I gave myself a mental high-five. This was now the second new guy I was dating since Nick and it definitely felt like it was getting easier. 

By 7:30 that night, I was sitting in front of my mirror applying makeup for my "date" with Nick. It felt weird - like some sort of combo between a first date and an interview. Because if this dinner didn't go well, there really was no point in trying to make it work. After having a fun night out with Keith I had more confidence in the idea of being single. Even though my heart still jumped into my throat every time I saw Nick, he was starting to seem like more drama than I needed. 

I grabbed my bag (a recent Michael Kors splurge for summer, which ensured that I would be eating pasta and stale crackers for two weeks straight) and headed out the door. I was meeting Nick at a tiny Mexican restaurant that had been a favorite of ours when we were together. A light rain had begun to fall, so I pulled my denim jacket up over my head and hustled the six blocks to the restaurant. I pulled open the heavy door and shook myself off, which probably slightly resembled a golden retriever. 

"Hi, I'm meeting someone?" I said to the hostess, while scanning the tiny restaurant. I was ten minutes late, but there was no sign of Nick. 

"Name?" she asked.

"Um I guess it's under Murray?" I offered. She scanned the list and grabbed two menus. 

"You're the first to arrive, right this way," she said flatly and turned on her heel towards the dining room. 

I followed behind her and settled into the tiny table. I whipped out my phone, he was now 13 minutes late. I figured the rain made it tough to find a cab, so I ordered a margarita and looked around the room. It was surprisingly full for a Tuesday, and I was glad that Nick had the smart sense to make a reservation. 

By 8:20, Nick was officially twenty minutes late. I sent him a quick text.

Running late? 

I didn't want to sound like I was pissed, even though I kind of was. Even if he had trouble finding a cab he could at least have called. 

Ten more minutes passed before I officially started to feel stupid. I had housed the first margarita and nearly finished the bowl of chips in front of me. I was debating between ordering a second drink or leaving, when Nick finally walked in. He spotted me and loped casually over to the table.

"Hey gorgeous," he said, giving me a kiss on the cheek. 

"Seriously?" I said, fuming. He was thirty minutes late for our date, the one he had planned. 

"What?" he asked, settling in across from me. 

"You're a half an hour late!" I said, trying to keep my voice down so that the other patrons wouldn't hear. 

He looked at me and frowned, glancing down at his watch. "We said 8:30."

"No, we said eight," I snapped. "You made the reservation! It was literally under your name when I got here." 

His face fell, "Oh my god you're right, I'm so sorry. Work has been so crazy I just got confused. Have you been here long?"

I rolled my eyes, "Only a drink and a bowl of chips long." 

"Shit," he said. "I guess I'm doing a crappy job of winning you back aren't I?" He gave me his most charming smile. I took a deep breath, determined not to let him off the hook.

"Yeah, you are," I replied. We spent a few minutes in silence as he looked over the menu. We both ended up ordering chicken tacos, which was what we had always gotten in the past. Nick and I had almost the same exact taste in food, which usually resulted in ordering the same thing when we went out. Most people said they would be annoyed at this, but I always found it comforting. Like a weird declaration of our compatibility. 

By the time I was halfway done with my second margarita, I was starting to forgive him. I mean, it was an honest mistake, right? We were flirting and the tequila was making me feel warm on the inside, and the rainy weather increased the cozyness of the restaurant. 

"Want another?" Nick asked, gesturing towards my empty margarita.

"I don't know, tequila will start to give me impure thoughts about you," I joked. 

He laughed loudly and raised his hand, signaling for the waiter. "In that case I will be ordering you two," he winked. I must have been buzzed, because I didn't even want to make a quip at the fact he felt bold enough to wink at me.

The rest of dinner passed in laughter and I was beginning to think we might actually be able to be friends. We avoided any talk of dating - other people or each other - and fell into the steady rhythm of the way we were. 

The rain tapered off by the time we got up to leave. "Can I walk you home?" he asked hopefully as we stood outside of the restaurant.

I shook my head, "I'm okay." 

He reached for my arm and pulled me closer to him, "Are you sure?" 

His face was inches from mine and his familiar smell surrounded me. But I was firmly listening to my head and not my lady parts this time. "I'm sure," I said with a smile.

He gave an audible sigh and leaned in to give me a kiss on the cheek, which he held for a little longer than he should have. 

"Wanna catch a movie or something later in the week?" he asked as I started to pull away.

"Um I'm pretty busy actually," I answered staring down at my toes. 

"Oh? With what?" he asked.

"Boundaries, Nicholas," I joked. "Have a good night." 

With that, I turned around and headed towards home. I didn't even look back to see if he was watching me walk away. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

All The Single Ladies

Jeff conveniently came down with the flu for the rest of the week, so after Monday there were no more uncomfortable encounters between him and Elena. I wasn't sure if he really was sick or not, but I wasn't about to show up with soup to find out. 

"So, I blocked his number," Elena stated as we were getting ready at my apartment on Friday night.

"That seems...bold," I answered. "How do you even do that? Is it like that app that Charlie invents when he doesn't want to hear from Marnie?"

"What?" she asked, confused.

I stared at her blankly. "You don't watch Girls?" That is like saying you didn't drink wine! 

"No," she replied shrugging. "I just went to Verizon's website, put in his phone number and voila! His calls and texts now go to a lovely virtual box that I cannot view." 

"Interesting," I replied, while applying bronzer to my cheekbones. "But back to you not watching Girls, that needs to be remedied immediately."

"Whatever you say," she said, heading into my kitchen. She came back with two glasses of wine and handed me one before plopping onto my bed. "So when is Ash coming over?" 

I glanced at my phone, "Should be here any minute, she said 8:00." 

"Does she know that I know about her and Steve?" she asked, raising her eyebrows. 

"Probably not, so don't bring it up. I definitely broke the girl code sharing that with you," I sighed.

"Well lucky for you, I don't typically point out people's infidelities in everyday conversation. So we're good," she smiled. 

"Speak of the devil!" I said, as I heard the buzzer blare from my living room. I walked over and pressed the button to let her into the building. 

"Helloooo," I heard Ashley's greeting as she walked into my apartment. 

"Back here!" I hollered, as if it would be hard for her to find us in my tiny studio. 

"Hey!" she came sweeping in, carrying a bottle of vodka and wearing a very tight black dress. "Elena! It's been forever," she said giving her a hug. 

"I know," Elena responded giddily, "God you look great." 

"Thanks," Ash said, coming over and giving me a hug. 

I grabbed her wrists and held her at arm's length in front of me. "In the flesh, I can't believe it.." I joked.

"I know, I know," she said waving me off. "I've come out from hiding now so you can cool it with your incessant calls and texts to me."

I laughed, "I'm needy out of sheer love for you, that's all!" 

Ash sat down next to Elena and sunk into the pillows. "Tell me things! I'm so disconnected."

"Yes, you get very bad service in yours and Steve's love nest," I joked. 

Elena filled her in on the terrible wedding with Jeff, to which Ashley was appropriately appalled. After she had called him half a dozen bad names, Ashley turned to me. "Where are you with Nick? The last you told me was him showing up at the train station last weekend."

I sighed. "Just a few texts this week, but I haven't seen him. We're getting dinner next week though."

"So you're giving him a chance?" Ash asked.

"I don't know if it's a chance, but I want to try being friends first. Then, we'll see." 

Ash smirked. "You two have hung out maybe twice without hooking up. In what world do you see friendship as a plausible outcome?" 

I tossed the shirt that I was holding at her. "Have faith in me!" 

"Alright, alright," she replied, laughing. "What about Bray?" 

"Ugh I've been so consumed in my Jeff drama I haven't even asked you about Bray," Elena interrupted. 

"Jeff drama was very warranted," I answered. "And I don't know. I feel so..used or something. I just keep blowing him off. And by keep, I mean I've turned him down twice to hangout, so it's not like he's really trying that hard anyway."

"You should at least ask him about that girl," Elena said. "Won't it be weird if you two just never hang out again? I feel like that's taking the easy way out."

"That's me giving him the easy way out," I said. "Shouldn't he prefer that?"

"I think you should see him and ask," Elena replied, shrugging. I looked over to Ash.

"I only met the guy once, but I think that he's hot enough to get a second chance," she grinned. 

I rolled my eyes, "Let's just go out, have fun, and keep Bray, Jeff and Nick out of the conversation for the rest of the night." 

"Hear hear!" Ash said. We gathered our things and headed out the door. 

We headed downtown to Stoudts where we were meeting up with Haley. Even though we were running late, she was no where to be found in the dimly-lit bar. We managed to snag a table near the back and dragged over a fourth barstool for whenever Haley arrived. 

"Liquor or beer?" I asked Ash and Elena before heading to the bar.

"Girls night out equals liquor," Ash quipped.

I sidled up to the bar, squeezing in between two girls. "Three vodka tonics, splash of pineapple," I said, reciting Ashley's favorite drink. 

I juggled the three glasses and navigated the crowd back to our table, where Haley was standing along with two guys I didn't recognize.

"Hi!" I greeted Haley, eyeing up the two dudes next to her. They both looked like frat bros, but the one to her right was definitely hot. 

"Hey babe!" she squealed loudly in typical Haley fashion. "I hope you don't mind, but I brought some men along. She grabbed one by the arm and presented him to me like a prize. "This is my boyfriend, Joshua. And this is Joshua's friend, Keith," she said gesturing to the one I thought was hot. I did a mental fist pump that Keith was not her boyfriend.

"Dani," I said extending my hand to each of them. "Should we grab a bigger table?" I asked, scanning the room. 

"I think everything is taken," Keith replied. "I'll rustle up some extra stools," he smiled - good god, he's hot - and disappeared into the crowd. 

"So," I said turning my attention to Haley and Joshua, "How did you two meet?" When Haley and I were up at Penn State just a few weeks ago, she had made no mention of a boyfriend. 

Haley grinned hugely, "On the subway, can you believe it! We just made eye contact, started talking and bam! Love at first sight." 

"Yeah, she was the prettiest person on the 1," he smiled back at her. I saw Ash make a gagging motion out of the corner of my eye, and I bit back a laugh. 

"That's great! So what do you do, Josh?" I asked. 

"Keith and I actually are in business together, we work for a tech start up," he answered. Just then, Keith appeared carrying two bar stools. 

"Here we go," he said, setting them down. "Just don't tell on me, I snuck them away from a table when two guys got up for drinks," he smiled and I felt my stomach do the tell-tale warning sign. 

We spent the next hour drinking, laughing and talking. I kept forcing myself to not stare at Keith like a drooling dog. During our first girl pilgrimage to the bathroom, I approached Elena to see if there was any competition in the Keith department. 

"So, Keith is pretty goodlooking," I said while reapplying lip stain.

"I'll say!" Ash replied. I looked over at Elena to judge her reaction.

"Not really my type," she answered casually. 

"He's single!" Haley chimed in. This was working out entirely too well. 

"Ohmygosh, you should totally date him. Then we could hang out all of the time," Haley added.

"Woah there," I said with a laugh. "I just want to get his number! I don't think I'm mentally stable enough to date anyone right now." 

When we headed back to the table, I saw Haley whisper something to Joshua. I kicked her lightly under the table, hoping she wasn't trying to get Joshua in on the plan. She smiled guiltily at me. 

After a few more drinks, we all decided to head downstairs to dance. The alcohol was making me courageous and I managed to coax Keith out on the dance floor. We started off fooling around, doing terrible salsa moves and twirling each other to the point where I was laughing so hard that I was almost crying. After two songs, he pulled me closer to him and turned me around so that I was facing away from him. His hands were on my waist and his face close to my neck. It was the worst kind of teasing, feeling his whole body against mine. It took everything in me to keep some shreds of dignity and not start making out with him on the dance floor.

After two more songs, we all gathered and decided it was time to head out. We spilled out into the warm night, still laughing at some of Joshua's dance moves. I was suddenly so glad that Haley had ruined girl's night by bringing along these guys. 

"Anyone want to come back to our place for some drinks?" Joshua asked, placing his arm around Haley.

"I should get back.." Ashley said, "Steve will probably be waiting." 

"I'm in," I said, trying not to look at Keith. 

"Me too," Elena agreed. I hugged Ashley goodbye, making her promise to text me when she got back. 

It turned out that Joshua and Keith's place was just a few blocks from the bar. We walked into their building and up to the second floor. Their place was surprisingly clean and well decorated for a boy's apartment.

"Isn't is nice?" Haley whispered to me as we set our bags down. 

I nodded my head. She grabbed my hand and dragged me into the kitchen. 

"So, you and Keith.." she said, wiggling her eyebrows as she reached for a bottle of whiskey from on top of the fridge.

"Stop," I said giving her a small shove. She twisted off the cap and handed me the bottle.

I took a swig and then followed her into the living room, where the boys were playing music. I extended my hands to Elena and pulled her off of the couch to dance with me. We took turns passing around the whiskey while belting out Journey songs. I felt like I was in college again, but I didn't hate it. 

Eventually I ended up sitting on Keith's lap in an armchair. We were laughing about Haley's need to spend two full hours on her hair before she goes out. 

"She's a nut, but she's the nicest nut I know," I said. 

"That's a tongue twister," he laughed. 

Every nerve in my body was telling me to kiss him, but I held firm wanting him to make the first move. 

"Dani, we should go," Elena interrupted. "It's 3:30." 

"Okay," I said reluctantly, lifting myself off of Keith's lap. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me back down.

"Stay," he asked. 

I shook my head, "No thanks," I smiled. "I should head back with Elena." 

He frowned but stood up with me. "At least let me walk you girls out," he offered.

The three of us headed towards the door, and Elena quickly sped up and slipped out before us. I stifled a laugh at her obvious-ness. 

"Well it was great meeting you," I said, turning around to give him a hug goodbye. 

He leaned down and gave me a muscle-melting kiss, reaching his arms around my back and pulling me close. His hands moved down to my ass and pulled me firmly into him. After a minute the door swung open and an impatient Elena interuppted. 

"Hey slutty mc slut, let's go!" she laughed. I extracted myself from Keith, looking sheepish.

"Bye," I said before slipping out the door. Once we were in the hallway, I gave Elena a little shove. "I didn't even get his number!" 

"Sorry! But I was getting bored alone out here," she laughed. I hooked my arm through hers and headed towards the stairs. 

"Well, I would call girl's night a success!" I said triumphantly. 

"Well.." Elena started, handing me her phone. It was an outgoing text to an unsaved number. 

I think we need to talk

"Who is thi-- NO," I said, my eyes widening. Even in my drunken haze, I could put two and two together. "I thought you blocked his number?" 

"Yeah, that only prevents him from contacting me," she replied. "But I logged in and undid it anyway. Apparently, whiskey washes away my self control." She dropped her face into her hands and groaned.

I took a deep breath, "Well I think that we need pizza, we need sleep and then we can re-evaluate. Wanna sleep over?" I offered.

She nodded her head as we stepped out onto the street. I started to hail a cab uptown. Although I knew that Elena texting Jeff was not a good move, all I wanted at that moment was my bed. And it was too bad that Keith wouldn't be waiting in it when I got home.