Still damp from the shower, I rushed toward the door after hearing the doorbell ring for the second time. When I threw open the door, my ears echoed from the loud squeals.
"You're twenty-five!" My cousin Kris burst into the apartment and began dancing and twirling in the foyer behind me.
Her sister pushed past gracefully. "I wish I was still twenty-five," she whispered as she joined the gleeful dancing.
"Y'all are so freaking crazy!" I said, still holding the door ajar. "And Bethie, you're only thirty-one. Geez, you're acting like your mom's age or something."
"Shut up! That's hate speech!" she said as she danced up behind me and dirty danced against my backside.
I bumped her with my butt, almost knocking her down and causing Kris to laugh so hard she was in danger of falling over.
Renee, the oldest of my three cousins, walked in the door and shook her head when she saw the chaos. "Dear God, y'all are already acting like you're drunk."
"Your sisters are harassing me!" I said as I kissed her cheek. "Sooo... are y'all ready to go?" I asked.
"Someone's in a hurry," Kris singsonged. "Do you think you're gonna get lucky tonight?"
I flipped her off. "Hardly, with my three old cousins cock-blocking me."
I had to duck for cover when all three of them came for me at once.
My cousins and I have always been close. I didn't have any brothers and sisters, mainly because my dad came out as gay shortly after I was born, and mom never remarried. As we headed out the door, I thought of my parents and sighed inwardly. "So, are my parents coming?" I asked.
"Of course, they are! You think they'd miss their only son's birthday?" Renee asked, then took a long drink from her water bottle as she tried to hide her smile. I almost said “bitch” but caught myself, knowing my power-woman lesbian cousin would beat my ass for using the word. My gay friends and I might toss that word around like it was nothing, but Renee had zero tolerance for it.
The four of us piled into Renee's minivan while dodging the baby toys and melting in around the two baby seats. "You could've removed these, sis?” Bethie fussed as she climbed in the back.
"You wouldn't ask that if you knew how hard it is to get them back in," her sister replied.
"How are the girls?" I asked Renee as I slipped into the front seat and threw a baby giraffe at Bethie. I was taking advantage of my status as the birthday boy to take the front seat. Usually, I'd have to sit in the back on the far side, which was the most difficult seat in the van to get into.
Without responding, Renee opened her phone and handed it to me. We usually got daily pics texted to us of the three-month-old baby girls, but none of us ever felt like we could get enough of them.
Unfortunately, Renee's wife, Fiona, a fiery Irish redhead who was the life of every party, refused to leave the babies with a babysitter, so she wouldn't be with us tonight.
It was a little after eight when we arrived at the club. I gasped when I walked in. There were streamers and balloons everywhere. Champagne was thrust into my hand by someone I didn't know while friends swarmed around me, everyone talking at once.
The bar was packed with our group. Both my mom and dad gave toasts. After that, I was forced to endure a horrible rendition of “Happy Birthday,” before Renee passed around the cake, and the DJ began pumping loud music through the speakers.
Mom disappeared shortly after the music started; she was never a fan of loud, crowded clubs. As a gay romance novelist, she was happier writing about the gay nightlife than being a part of it.
My father lasted a bit longer, but when the club's regular crowd began arriving, he too disappeared. I loved my parents, but when they were gone, I felt I could let loose. It wasn't like they were uptight or anything, but they were still my parents.
My cousins plied me with beer and various other alcoholic beverages. Honestly, I knew better than mixing my drinks. Still, we were having so much fun I figured the hangover I'd have tomorrow was a small price to pay.
By the time midnight struck, I was toasted.
"We should take you home," Renee said. "You look like you could pass out at any moment."
"No!” Kris yelled over the music. "Just one more hour. Lane, start drinking water before you force Mother Superior here to end the fun!"
"Yes, Your Highness," I slurred, bowing toward her and almost falling over. Kris was the most controlling of my three cousins, so I constantly called her “queen,” “her majesty” or anything I could think of when she began bossing me around.
A glass of water was thrust into my hands just as the world stopped in front of me. The most handsome man who’d ever walked the earth stepped through the door and into the bar.
"Who the fuck is that?" I asked. The look of the gorgeous man, whose sheer presence sobered me, was enough for me not to slur my words.
All three cousins turned at once to check him out. He turned toward us and smiled, causing my already flushed face to burn in embarrassment.
Just as my heart began to pull me in his direction, a smaller man slipped around him and possessively grabbed his hand.
"Fuck, he's taken," I said, and turned toward the dance floor loudly announcing, "I'm gonna go dance."
Like the drunken fool I was, I argued with myself all the way to the dance floor. Several people looked at me, but fuck if I cared. All the handsome men seemed to be taken. I fell hard for an idiot three months ago. We’d had a torrid love affair, with sex almost every night, only for me to find out the asshole was married to and cheating on a military man who was away on assignment.
I was sick of married men, even though I secretly wanted a fairytale love for myself...as if those really existed.
"Fucking men," I said as my cousins came up behind me.
The thumping beat of the music and my cousins dancing around me allowed me to momentarily forget the hot man and my former lover. I was slowly beginning to enjoy myself again when I looked up and noticed his eyes were locked on me. Everything in me was drawn to those eyes. I was dancing toward him when I noticed the little twink from earlier dancing around him. "Fuck!" I said out loud and turned to leave the dance floor. I would not end up in the same situation with a cheating asshole again.
I ordered three more shots and downed them before my cousins could stop me.
As soon as the tequila hit my stomach, I knew I was in trouble. My stomach gurgled, and I turned to rush to the bathroom just as the hunk stepped into my path.
Before I could stop myself, I puked all over him. "Fuck!" I yelled. "I'm so sorry. Damn!" But he just laughed. I could feel my face and ears grow hot with embarrassment.
"It's okay," he said as he peeled his shirt off and tossed it into a trashcan next to the bar. I gawked at the muscled man in front of me. Huge biceps flanked a beautiful chest that led down to a perfect six-pack. If I hadn't just puked all over him, I'd have probably leaned in to lick him. To be honest, my inebriated brain was considering it anyway. Only the sheer mortification of what caused him to shed the shirt held me in place.
When my cousins got to me, I shamefully turned to them and said, "I think I should go home."
The little twink reappeared and said, "You should've gone home thirty minutes ago, asshole.” His anger was palpable and strong enough that it infiltrated even my very compromised consciousness.
I turned and rushed toward the door and hoping my cousins would follow.
As I stepped outside, a large hand landed on my shoulder. "I'm sorry, my ex can be a total ass."
His ex? Did he say the twink was his ex? I couldn't think about that, though. I needed to get home and deal with my embarrassment. I doubted a hunk like him would be interested in a homespun guy like me, even if I hadn't just emptied the contents of my stomach all over him.
I decided to ignore him as I stumbled toward the minivan. Luckily, it wasn't parked very far away.
I heard the door alarm chirp, telling me Renee had unlocked it and was on the way. I climbed into the front seat and leaned my head back, closing my eyes. The memory of me vomiting all over the hot guy kept rolling through my brain, intensifying my mortification.
It seemed to take forever for my cousins to get into the vehicle. When I finally heard the door open, I jerked and looked around. Renee was smiling wickedly at me. I tried to ask her what the look was for, but I ended up hiccoughing instead.
In a flash, Renee reached over me into the glove compartment and grabbed a trash bag. “This is your puke bag, if you puke in my van, you will be licking it up!” I caught the humor in her expression just as all three of my cousins burst out laughing.
"Shut up!" I slurred. But my cousins' laughter had always been contagious, and I ended up laughing with them.
I heard Kris in the back seat saying, "I can't believe it. The first time you have a total hunk come onto you, and you puke all over him."
My embarrassment warred with the humor of the situation. "He has a boyfriend anyway, so it didn't matter."
"Had a boyfriend," Bethie said. "The little shrew is his ex."
"It doesn't matter," I yawned. "If there's a God, I'll forget all this by tomorrow anyway."
Renee laughed. "I don't think you're quite that drunk, especially since you threw up your last drink... you'll remember," she said then laughed when I flipped her off.