The Azalea Party
The party is already in full swing. I make my way up the path and inside towards the kitchen to find a place to rest the platter I have brought with me. I am met with mostly familiar faces, the hosts cutting through the crowd towards me, the azaleas splashing the backyard with shades of pink, magenta and white behind them.
“You’re late,” Darryl exclaims and hugs me tightly. Mike kisses me and whispers “He’s drunk.” I can tell the younger half of the duo is tipsy. I laugh at the pair.
“Well, it’s a good thing I bought some wine then, isn’t it?” I hand the bottle to Mike. His face has a boyish charm to it, his blue eyes shine. Although very much gay and in love with Darryl, he once drunkenly confessed to me that he was curious about women. He was known to be shy, but certainly wasn’t around me, or subsequently when he had consumed a few cocktails. It was time to forage for some wine glasses and keep the buzz afloat. I stop to talk to David, my neighbor from four doors down.
“You finally made it,” he smiles at me in his own sly way. We had recently become fast friends, and he had spent many a night under the stars in my backyard drinking and talking with me. His hobby was brewing his own beer, and he was damn good at it.
“Come on, you know me, I am never on time. You waiting for the life of the party to get here?” I bat my eyes at him.
“You betcha!” His face is beet red.
I chuckle at him. I enjoy his company thoroughly, and I think my openness frees him to be a little boisterous with me on occasion. I turn to survey the people around me, scanning the crowd and drinking in the scene before me. I spy the unfamiliar face staring back at me, his hair unruly, his lips almost in a pout, full and pink. His blue eyes peer at me from behind thin metal frames. Stunned, I blink at the stranger a few times, and with my pause, his smile crosses the distance of the room. Caught off guard, I turn back to David. He takes one look at my face and bursts into laughter.
“You’re a bastard, shut up.” I can feel the heat blooming in my cheeks. This only brings on more laughter from him.
“How is it that trouble manages to follow you everywhere you go?” He’s looking at me, his own crimson shade plastered all over his face.
“How is it that you’re always chomping at the bit to hang out with me?” I stare defiantly at him, my lips pressed in a half-smile. He says nothing but is still giggling under his breath at me. I look back, and the unfamiliar face is gone.
“Who was that?” I’m riddled by curiosity at the young man staring at me.
“Your next meal?” He chortles.
“I think I am going to smack you now.” He throws his head back and laughs raucously. I can’t help but laugh myself at his cheek. His happiness is contagious, he loves to make me squirm.
“Evidently you’ve been enjoying your home brew.” I nod towards his half empty glass.
“Evidently. Would you like some?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
He fetches a pint glass and I watch amber bubbles rise and sparkle to the surface. The cold liquid slips into my mouth, the slightest hint of banana dancing on my tongue.
“Yum. Thank you.”
“You are welcome.”
“Hey, I’m going to try and find Krista, I spied her as I walked in. I’ll be back.” I wink at him before I turn to walk out of the kitchen, not realizing that the stranger has planted himself behind me without my knowledge. He’s standing directly in my path as I pivot, my glass hitting his, and a spray of beer sent into the air. I involuntarily yelp and take a step back. It takes a few seconds for me to realize what has taken place, and once I do, I throw my head back and laugh loudly. He’s clearly entertained by my lack of grace. Upon closer inspection, he looks like a small boy, impish. Almost pretty in a way, cherubic. He extends his hand, still laughing at me.
“Hello, I’m Brian. Pleased to meet you. What an introduction!”
“Hello Brian, nice to meet you.” I’m smiling at him, the warmth of his palm still pressed snugly around mine. He hasn’t let go. I look directly at him, his friendliness shining from his cerulean eyes. The flush in my cheeks returns, and I immediately feel the zing of desire stir in my belly.
“You know, there are easier ways to see me in a wet t-shirt than that.” I flash him my signature grin. He laughs loudly and beams at me with a naughty flash of his own, his voice dancing over the heads of the crowd.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” His eyes have not left mine, my palm still rests in his.
“Do you live in the neighborhood?” Were standing in the middle of the bustling kitchen, oblivious to the noise or movement around us.
He laughs at me and leans in close, so close I can smell his aftershave. “Four doors down from you, actually, on the other side…” His whisper sends a tingle down my spine and over my skin.
Oh boy, said the all-knowing voice in my head…oh boy.
To be continued…