“Ash, get off me,” I wriggled out of her embrace. Beside me Jai pulled back. He lifted his soft drink to his lips and looked around the dying party. Those left were moving closer to the exit, herded by bar staff picking up glasses and security with their no nonsense stares.
With the music gone the night was too still, each word spoken was too loud and the thumping echo of the dj’s set was slowly disappearing.
“Do we have to go home?” Ash blinked her eyes and pouted. Then she realised something. “Oh, Jai is here.”
“Hey Ash,” Jai nodded.
Ash slapped her palm over her mouth.
Oh jeez, she was pissed. I sighed heavily. I was not in the mood to play mother to my drunk friend, especially when I had Jai who had been talking to me about anything and everything but now with the pub closing he was pulling back and finishing his drink. Was he doing it to give me space with Ash or because he didn’t want to get involved with that? Either way I was feeling the sudden chill of a cold shoulder.
“Come on, time to go home.” I hopped down from my seat on the picnic table and took Ash’s hand.
Jai followed suit.
“Are you two going to have sex?” Ash stumbled.
I blinked at her.
“You are, aren’t you? About time!” She cackled.
My face burned. I wanted to slap my hand over her mouth and stop her from speaking again, maybe use whatever was at the bottom of my handbag to gag her. Anything to stop her from saying another embarrassing thing.
“She really really really likes you, Jai,” Ash leaned across me to point at his belly. “So you better like her back.”
I coughed loudly. “Ash hurry up.” Dragging her along I hurried us out of the pub and into the car park.
“But I don’t want to walk...” She winged.
Jai jangled his keys.
It took heroics to get Ash to the car, through the door and into the seat and slipping the seat belt over her shoulder and clicking it into place. By that time Jai was in the front with the engine idling. He said nothing.
Ash rolled her head back and closed her eyes. Lucky, she gets to hide and blame everything on being intoxicated, I on the other hand have to act like an adult. I probably should’ve kept drinking.
Gingerly I closed the door on Ash, careful not to catch any of her body parts or disturb her from whatever sort of nap she was taking.
I took a minute to breath. What the hell was I suppose to say to Jai? Just give the address and sit there quietly, treat him like he was a taxi driver? Or pretend that Ash wasn’t there and talk like we had been?
The door popped open. “Are you ditching me with the drunk girl?” Jai hung over the passenger side and quietly smiled at me.
“I’m about to go running out into the bush, it is that time of month for me.”
He grimaced. “I didn’t need to know that.”
“Why not? It is a full moon,” I pointed to the sky and grinned.
“Get in the car before you turn into a wolf.” He sat back up right and chuckled.
I slipped in. “I wouldn’t turn into a wolf, though because the human body is seventy percent water and the moon has power over the tides one can make the educated guess that it could also affect humans when there is a full moon.”
Jai blinked. “I didn’t know that.”
“It’s only a theory. Something for psychologist to perhaps study one day.”
“Hmm, so that would make you a lunatic?”
“I was talking about humanity in general.”
He chuckled and put the car into gear. “Where am I going?”
“Ash’s. Um, do you know where the starfish day care is?”
“Yeah. Near there?” He pulled on the steering wheel, the muscles in his arms tensing and fingers gliding over the circumference before gripping and having complete control over the vehicle. Complete control, an interesting concept that could be explored with him, perhaps gripping my wrists... wait, what? My mind was foggy.
I snapped my eyes back up to his face. “Sorry, Ash lives opposite the day care.”
“Are you alright? You sort of spaced out on me.” He glanced over.
“Yeah, it’s just been a long night, my mind is wondering.”
“To any place I can follow?”
Should I say it? “Towards sexual things.”
I bit the inside of my cheek. “It was heading that way. The white house on the left with the grey car in the driveway,” I pointed to up ahead.
Jai pulled over and killed the engine.
No way was I going to let that conversation continue when I had Ash seated behind me. I leapt out and opened the door to the back seat. Reaching in I undid her seat belt. “Ash... hey, you need to wake up.”
She grumbled and turned her head the other way.
There was a tap on my shoulder. “I’ll get her,” Jai said and moved into my spot as I pulled back, Ash’s bag in my grasp. I was impressed as he lifted her carefully, making sure she didn’t hit her head on any metal car body parts, and held her close to his chest. That’s when I felt that sting of jealousy. Yes, rationally I understood he was doing this to get my friend inside her house, but it was like seeing him talk to a pretty girl at the bar and smile back at her. It made me sick.
And very insecure.
He kicked the door closed and began to stride up the path to the front door. He stopped and looked back. “Cecelia?”
I shook my head and followed. I shouldn’t be having those thoughts, he wasn’t mine, not my boyfriend at least. And anyway, since when did a distinction like that ever stop someone from cheating?
I jangled Ash’s keys into the lock.