Chapter Thirty: “We could be here to see Gavin”

Jacklyn’s roommate Stephanie hosted a birthday party for herself at their apartment and told Jacklyn to invite all of her friends, which she did nearly immediately because there was no way she’d be attending Stephanie’s party on her own. Stephanie had one female friend, a fun-sucking woman named Alice. The rest of her friends were all men she used to date. Stephanie was apparently a very amicable dumper because she managed to convince each of her ex-boyfriends to remain her friend. Of course, every single one of them was hoping to get her back. It usually made for a very overwrought, not very fun, Stephanie-centric experience. Jacklyn was glad for company she actually enjoyed. She invited all of her friends, but Melly couldn’t come because of Madison and Bernie had to go to her parents’ for dinner where her mother would no doubt nag her about Lawrence. Jemima, Iggy, Tallulah, and Priscilla came, though.

“How many of you are only here for the chance to see my hot neighbour?” Jacklyn asked her friends as they gathered in the small kitchen and tried to avoid the army of Matts trying to win back Stephanie.

“Oh, I don’t think there’s any other reason to ever come to your apartment,” was Tallulah’s incredibly blunt reply.

“Ah, that’s nice,” Jacklyn returned sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Although, truth be told, she didn’t really blame any of them. Her hot neighbour was really hot, hence the nickname Hot Neighbour. She didn’t know much about him except that he was tall, extremely handsome, and possibly a doctor because half the time she saw him he was in scrubs. She’d been trying to figure out which apartment he lived in for months to no avail. She was pretty sure he lived on her floor though, so it was only a matter of time before she managed to bump into him in the hallway or share an elevator with him.

“There sure are a lot of dudes here,” Priscilla remarked, looking around the apartment at Stephanie’s ex-boyfriends. There were quite a few. Jacklyn had spoken to a few of them before her friends had arrived. They all appeared to be some kind of broker; insurance, mortgage, investment, stock. One of them was a yacht broker. He had shown up in Sperry’s boat shoes, despite the fact that it was mid-November.

“And none of them are remotely interesting,” Iggy added. “None can hold a candle to Hot Neighbour.”

“I hope we don’t see Hot Neighbour tonight,” Jemima said, voicing a very unpopular opinion. “Because the last time I crossed paths with him in the lobby, I was wearing my Mennonite skirt and it’s my least attractive item of clothing.”

The other four looked down at her legs with what Jacklyn could only assume were matching looks of sardonicism.

“You mean the skirt you’re currently wearing?” Jacklyn asked dryly.

“Yes,” Jemima nodded.

“Uh huh,” Jacklyn returned.

“I feel the need to point out that you once owned a cowhide blazer,” Priscilla piped up. “And a velour tracksuit. So let’s hold off on such strong statements about the skirt.”

Jemima stuck her tongue out at her.

An hour later, Priscilla was horrified to discover that there wasn’t any food at the party. She shared this revelation with Jacklyn immediately and Jacklyn was more pissed than horrified because she had expressly asked Stephanie if she wanted her to pick up any snacks and Stephanie had said no.

“I’m so hungry,” Priscilla whined dramatically. “I’m basically wasting away to nothingness as we stand here.”

She turned to the side as if to show them how thin she had become. She looked exactly the same.

“I could go get some food,” Jemima offered. As she had consumed the least amount of moscato, she was definitely the safest bet for the venture.

“Ah, my little hero,” Tallulah crowed, reaching over to pat Jemima on the top of the head. They were roughly the same size. If anything, Jemima was bigger solely due to the size of her boobs.

“Hurry back!” Priscilla called as Jemima turned to leave. “Before I’m forced to eat the leg off one of these dull as fuck Mikes!”

Jacklyn would have been concerned that she’d offended one of the aforementioned dull as fuck Mikes, but they were too preoccupied with all things Stephanie to notice.

When Jemima returned forty minutes later with an armful of snacks, she was flushed and she looked horrified, like she accidentally saw someone grope their significant other on the subway. She walked over to where the other four were still standing in the kitchen and began to unload the snacks without any discretion. Jacklyn ended up with a package of Oreos, some licorice, and a bag of family-sized goldfish crackers.

“What’s the matter with you?” She asked Jemima, sparing a sideways, and mildly repulsed, look in Priscilla’s direction. She was tearing into a bag of popcorn like a rabid dog.

“I just ran into Hot Neighbour in the hallway outside your apartment,” Jemima began to explain, looking scarred. “Why does he always see me in my Mennonite skirt?”

“Well, because apparently you wear it all the time,” Priscilla returned, mouth full. “Like an actual Mennonite.”

“You saw him outside my apartment?” Jacklyn demanded, less interested in Jemima’s skirt than the home address of Hot Neighbour. “Where did he go?”

“Into the apartment across the hall,” Jemima answered, clearly still traumatized.

“Into the…,” Jacklyn trailed off as she felt her stomach sink. Gord. Hot Neighbour lived with Gord. She’d known Gord had roommates, but she had never met or seen any of them because Gord was the only one who ever tried to steal her cat.

“Well, we have to go over there,” Iggy said immediately, eyes wide.

“To do what?” Jacklyn rounded on Iggy.

“Borrow something,” Iggy shrugged. “Sugar! People borrow shit like that all the time!”

“Yeah, in nursery rhymes,” Tallulah snorted.

“Hot neighbour,” Iggy retorted, as if that settled everything.

“Mennonite skirt,” Jemima chimed in.

“Hot neighbour!” Iggy said again, louder.

“Well, Jacklyn, at least let me borrow something,” Jemima pleaded.

“Do you realize what it will look like when you’re not wearing the skirt you were wearing when you saw him in the hallway three minutes ago and instead are wearing something with eight feet less material?” Priscilla asked Jemima, still shoving handfuls of popcorn into her mouth. “It will look like you’re stalking him.”

“Well, I mean we kind of are,” Tallulah offered. Priscilla was silent for a moment, chewing thoughtfully.

“Fair,” she relented.

“Okay, let’s go,” Iggy said, pushing away from the counter and leading the way to the front door. Jacklyn really had no choice but to follow along, petrified that they were going to embarrass her in front of her neighbours. Of course, that wouldn’t change even if she was present, but she at least had a better chance of stymying some of the damage if she was there. They crossed the hall, leaving Stephanie’s dull birthday party behind, and Iggy knocked on Gord’s apartment door. Jacklyn prayed Hot Neighbour would be the one to answer.

He wasn’t. It was Gord in all his moustached glory, wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt that looked like it was legitimately from the 1970s and holding a beer.

“Hello,” he greeted them, raising an eyebrow. There was a very good chance he was thrown by the fact that all five of them had traipsed over to his apartment. It also could’ve been because Priscilla was still holding popcorn in her partially closed fist.

“Hi,” Iggy greeted him confidently. “We need to borrow…something.”

The plan really fell apart at that point. They definitely should’ve come up with something they actually could borrow. Sugar would’ve preferable to nothing.

“You need to borrow…something,” Gord repeated, raising his other eyebrow to meet the other. “And what would that be? A butter churn for your little house on the prairie, Anne of Green Gabels?”

He was looking directly at Jemima, who blushed and turned to glare at Priscilla, who rolled her eyes.

“Wow, that was a lot of references,” Priscilla commented to Gord. “I don’t think you used enough to prove your point, though. Try some more. We’ve got time.”

Gord snorted at her, opened the door wider, and leaned back to look over his shoulder.

“Amare!” He called behind himself. “You have visitors!”

Jacklyn was mortified. She would never recover from this. She was being judged by the weirdo who kept trying to steal her cat. Her embarrassment only grew as Hot Neighbour, presumably Amare, ambled into view, joining Gord on the opposite side of the threshold to Jacklyn and her horde of friends. There was too many of them. They had clearly only come over to ogle Hot Neighbour. They looked ridiculous and it had nothing to do with Jemima’s enormous skirt.

“They’re here to see me?” Amare questioned Gord, looking handsomely baffled. Of course he was confused. He didn’t know a single one of them.

“Well, this one hates me,” Gord began to answer, gesturing to Jacklyn with a smug smirk. “And they sure as fuck aren’t here to see Gavin.”

“We could be here to see Gavin,” Iggy protested defiantly in a valiant effort to save face. Judging by the skeptical, yet amused expressions on both Gord and Amare’s faces, Jacklyn assumed it was too little too late.

“Oh, shall I go get him then?” Gord asked, hooking a thumb over his shoulder. He didn’t give any of them a chance to respond. Instead, he disappeared into the apartment, leaving them at the door with Amare. He grinned at them. Jacklyn got the impression they had given him an unneeded ego boost.

Gord returned a moment later with another twenty-something man, Gavin presumably. He was wearing a button-down short-sleeved shirt patterned with small, cartoon tacos and what appeared to be in the inner spandex portion of running shorts. He was also wearing lavender socks that went to his mid-calf and he was eating dill pickles from the jar. His hair was a disaster, a little bird’s nest on top of his head, as if he’d slept in a ditch the night before. Or like he’d slept in a ditch and then been electrocuted.

“We’re not here to see Gavin,” Tallulah said immediately. Jacklyn groaned. There definitely wasn’t any way to escape death by humiliation now. At least her friends got to leave and never come back. Her apartment was across the hall and also rent-controlled. Plus most of the furniture was Stephanie’s and she really didn’t want to buy a couch.

“That feels unreasonably harsh,” Gavin said, pointing a pickle in Tallulah’s direction. “I don’t come to your house and say cruel things about you.”

“It’s the shirt, bro,” Amare told him. “I told you it was ass-ugly, but you still wore it.”

“It isn’t the shirt,” Tallulah interjected, much to Jacklyn’s continued horror. “That shirt is rad as fuck.”

“The pickles aren’t great,” Priscilla cut in. Gavin gave her a startled look before turning back to Gord.

“What the hell is happening here?” He demanded, not unreasonably. “Who are these people? Why are they insulting me?”

“Because you’re a disaster,” was Gord’s answer. Gavin huffed.

“Fuck you guys,” he said before turning and leaving in the direction he had come. Gord laughed riotously and followed after him, leaving them with Amare once more. He grinned at them again.

“We wanted to borrow some sugar,” Iggy told him and Jacklyn thought about hitting her. She supposed she should be pleased that she had come up with an actual object to borrow, but it was difficult when she’d have to spend the near future walking eight flights of stairs to avoid being trapped in an elevator with her neighbours and her own stifling embarrassment.

“I don’t think we have sugar,” Amare replied, clearly thinking it over. “We might have salt.”

“Those are not at all the same,” Tallulah returned.

“Then I can’t help you,” Amare shrugged, smiling again.

“Okay, well thanks anyway,” Jacklyn cut in before any of her friends could say anything else to embarrass her further. Although, at that point it seemed like she might never recover. She smiled at Amare and then turned to return to her apartment, pushing and prodding her friends until they got the hint and went with her. As they settled in the kitchen once again with the unreasonable amount of snacks Jemima had bought, Jacklyn tried to mentally prepare herself for all the stair-climbing she’d be doing. On the plus side, she’d have the most glorious quads of all time.

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