Animal in me
Another significant whatever-ship had ended around the same time.
Noah had two friends, Jamie and Ned. Jamie was a tall, blond, and blue-eyed investment banker, but his appearance was far less attractive than the description. He had a Japanese girlfriend, Mai. She was tall, long-haired, and also unattractive. Jamie’s expression of affection to Mai was so cheesy and inauthentic that anyone could suspect his promiscuity. Ned was a former Navy IT specialist at a financial media company. Although he was inching toward fifty and wasn’t tall, his body was heavily built, and his face had the rugged handsomeness of the 80’s Hollywood action movie actors. I had an impression he was less expressive about his interest in women, but I sensed his eyes on me whenever we met. But there was a boundary between us while I was with Noah.
My low tolerance to alcohol usually kept me sober, but Noah would order Veuve Clicquot for me at the bar he and his friends frequented, and I was pleasantly drunk one Saturday night. When Noah stood up for the restroom and Ned was getting drinks, Jamie and Mai asked me if Noah and I were in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I told them we were friends, as I had believed we were. They nodded and didn’t press me further. By the end of the night, the Veuve bubbles gently stripped me of the thick blanket that had covered my awkward personality, and I was acting very friendly. Noah sat on my left and Ned on my right of the round table. At some point, Ned reached his hand over my back and gave a slight rub. It was my animalistic reaction to feel good, like a cat with its back stroked softly. I relaxed my rigid nerves and let him continue. I wasn’t sure it was within Noah’s sight, or he initially ignored it, but it wasn’t until Ned’s fingers stroked my bare skin between my top and skirt that Noah intervened. I heard him say, “alright, stop it now,” and as the warmth of Ned’s hand was taken away, I felt disappointed. Jamie and Mai announced it was time to go. Ned hugged me and kissed my cheek, and this time, Jamie and Mai had to pull him off of me.