Chapter Seventeen: “Grow a fucking beard”

Bernie still hadn’t broken up with Callum. For a while, she’d been debating whether or not she actually wanted to. Without the constant presence of Lawrence’s beautiful eyes, she had begun to wonder if she really did like him or if she just liked that he was enough of a successful adult to be able to buy her risotto. Callum was fun and didn’t make her feel like she was failing at life constantly. Priscilla assured her this was because, compared to Callum, nearly everybody was successful. Unfortunately, she wasn’t exactly wrong and it was a fact that Bernie couldn’t ignore any longer, not since she’d kissed another man.

Besides which, Lawrence had begun texting her regularly. He was very busy at work, which meant that he didn’t really have the time to see her again and also that he didn’t notice she was avoiding seeing him in person anyway. Lawrence took an interest in her life. He genuinely wanted to know what she had for dinner each night and how she felt about the latest episode of Gossip Girl she’d watched. Lawrence told her that he just wanted Serena to be able to be happy on her own. Oddly enough, it was that comment that made Bernie think she hadn’t just been fooled by his beautiful eye wrinkles.

“I don’t know what to do,” she complained to Sybil, Iggy, and Jemima one night. They’d gone out for dinner together, Tallulah having gone home to visit her parents and Priscilla at a gala for work, where she was most definitely dodging the clammy clutches of her boss’ weird son Devon. Iggy had turned the evening into a social media event, posting photos of their evening on Instagram and calling it Bombshell Blondes and the Other One. Bernie was “the Other One”, which was lovely.

“I don’t understand how this is difficult,” Iggy replied with her mouth full of linguini. “Lawrence is the literally the perfect man. No, you know what? I don’t even want to limit him by gender constructs. He’s the perfect person.”

“Bernie Wu!” Jemima cheered. Bernie ignored her.

“But I really like Callum,” she protested.

“Do you?” Sybil returned skeptically.

“Because you kissed another dude,” Iggy added.

“Bernie Wu!” Jemima cheered again.

“Callum’s a lot of fun to be around,” Bernie tried again to defend her current boyfriend.

“No he isn’t,” Iggy retorted immediately. “He’s pretentious and he wears scarves indoors.”

“What do you have against scarves indoors?” Sybil asked, rounding on Iggy.

“Why is his neck so cold?” Iggy returned. “Grow a fucking beard.”

Surprisingly, that was Iggy’s solution for a lot of problems.

“You know, I’m not really feeling the love right now,” Bernie cut in before things could get more out of hand. “You make fun of my boyfriend, you ignore my life crisis, and you’ve branded me ‘the other one’.”

“Whatever,” Iggy scoffed. “You’re the prettiest one here.”

“Excuse you?” Jemima cut in, frowning.

“Fuck off,” Iggy returned immediately. “Look at how symmetrical her face is.”

Jemima peered at Bernie’s face.

“It is really symmetrical,” she admitted, reluctantly confirming Iggy’s point.

“You know how to really solve your problem?” Sybil asked, cutting them all off with her no-nonsense, calm tone. “Get drunk and whoever you text first is the one you like most.”

“That’s a terrible plan,” Bernie said, looking at Sybil like she’d grown tentacles for arms. Sybil was usually so much more practical. She was the voice of reason in their group. Without her, they’d all be dragged down into madness by Iggy and Tallulah. They were a brutal combination.

They ended up getting drunk.

After dinner, the Blonde Bombshells and the Other One went to a bar that Iggy loved. She loved it because the entire shot list could be bought for only twenty dollars. She bought the whole thing immediately, the others trailing along for the ride. Bernie was going to be wrecked by the end of the night, as was usually the case when Iggy was involved. She would get carried away and Bernie would suffer the consequences. She was at least comforted by the fact that Jemima would be no better off. Sybil, on the other hand, could drink like an elderly sailor and be completely fine. Her tolerance was impressive.

By the time they’d bought the shot list three times over and a few other drinks on the side, Bernie had her phone out. She texted Lawrence. It really wasn’t all that surprising. She was fascinated by his eyes after all. She texted him to tell him that she was out at a bar with her friends. Her exact text said: “I’m the other one with the bombshells. We’re dancing and stuffzzzzzzz. Serena would be happy with us. She could be our friend”. Lawrence messaged her back to tell her to have a good time and not to forget to drink a lot of water. He sent a follow up text a minute later that said, “Serena would be lucky to have you as friends”. Then she texted Callum to say the same thing. He didn’t message her for another hour, at which point all he said was “kk”.

An hour later, Bernie had been texting Lawrence nearly constantly. She invited him to come out with them, but she didn’t hear back so she finally put her phone away and went to take the dance floor by storm with Iggy. Jemima had fallen off her seat earlier, accidentally flashing the DJ in the process. She had been deeply embarrassed bout the whole thing. On the other hand, he’d begun accepting all of their requests, either out of some kind of pitying kindness or the hopes that she’d flash him again if he continued to play Britney Spears and Abba on a loop. The rest of the bar seemed less interested in hearing Abba’s greatest hits, but Bernie was having the time of her life. As predicted, Sybil was mostly fine, just slightly more smiley than usual.

“Your man friend is here,” Sybil announced to Bernie in the middld of her semi-choreographed dance routine to “Take A Chance”. She and Jemima had perfected it in the bathroom earlier that night on the off chance that the DJ would play the song. This, of course, was before Jemima had flashed him her underwear.

“What?” Bernie called back. Sybil pointed to the door where Lawrence was standing with a couple of his friends. He looked really good, which wasn’t surprising in the slightest. Bernie could basically see his eye crinkles from halfway across the bar. He smiled and waved at her and then started to make his way over to the bar, his two friends following behind him. Even his friends were outrageously handsome.

“Pretty people must run in packs,” Bernie told Sybil, finishing a thought in her head.

“Yeah,” Sybil agreed, even though she’d missed the first half of Bernie’s musings. “That’s why we’re friends with you.”

It was quite possibly the nicest thing Sybil had ever said to her, which was how she knew Sybil was in fact drunk.

Lawrence came over after he’d gotten his beer. He kissed Bernie on the cheek, introduced himself to all her friends, and then joined their dance circle. His friends came to join them eventually, but Bernie didn’t pay any attention to them. Lawrence kept grinning at her and she, of course, couldn’t stop staring at his eyes. She was also amazed that he was dancing. Callum never danced, unless forced to. He danced for work, but that was the only time. Bernie loved dancing and she’d been trying to get him to go dancing with her since they’d gotten together, but he blatantly refused. Having seen him dance for work, it was possible this was a good move on his part.

“You know, Callum never dances,” Bernie informed Sybil and Iggy during a trip to the bathroom.

“You know, I’m not actually sure we can hold that against him,” Sybil replied.

“Seriously,” Iggy agreed. “That’s, like, the only good thing I can say about Callum, that he doesn’t dance often. I mean, he danced in that musical about rodents and it was horrific.”

“It was difficult to watch,” Sybil added.

“That’s an enormous understatement,” Iggy said. “He dances like all of his legs are prosthetics, but without any grace at all.”

“Harsh,” Sybil commented.

“Accurate,” Iggy amended. Bernie couldn’t even disagree.

They all stayed until the lights came on at closing time. Iggy called them the ugly lights because they cast all the hideousness of the evening into full light. The DJ tried to convince Jemima to come get a hotdog with him, but a few strong words from Sybil put the kibosh on that. Those strong words were “fuck no”. Instead, the Blonde Bombshells and the Other One went to get poutine with Lawrence and his friends. Lawrence made sure all of them had at least two glasses of water before he hailed them a cab and sent them on their ways back home.

“God, he is so nice,” Iggy said, smushed up against one of the doors. Sybil was in the passenger seat as the most sober of them all and the other three were in the backseat. Iggy’s elbow was digging into Bernie’s ribs, but she was basically sitting on top of Jemima so she figured she couldn’t complain too much.

“Bernie Wu!” Jemima called lazily from the other side of the backseat.

“If you don’t date him, let me know so I can,” Iggy continued.

“He has really nice eyes,” Jemima mumbled. She was going to fall asleep soon and they’d have to carry her out of the cab. Once Jemima was out for the night, she was out completely. It wouldn’t be the first time Bernie had had to carry her up to her apartment.

They managed to make it back to her building before Jemima fell asleep completely, though she was out as soon as her cheek hit the pillow on her bed, which Bernie and Sybil had half-dragged her to. They then went back to Bernie’s apartment where Iggy was making a bed out of the couch for Sybil to sleep on. Then Iggy curled up on the other side of Bernie’s bed with her.

“You really should date Lawrence,” Iggy said just before they fell asleep. “He’s nice to you. Plus, he really cares about Blake Lively and she seems like a nice person.”

Bernie figured she was probably right.

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