Everyone and everything in the room becomes one giant blur as I take a moment to thank the heaven for all the blessings in my life. The blasting of club music slowly subsides and the screams of my friends are background noise. Despite all the hardships that I have endured in the past three years... right now...this moment is as perfect as it can get. I have risen from the tragedy...in one piece and still breathing... That is all I could have asked for. Despite the many hardships that hindered me from where I am supposed to go; I overcame all of that and it has made me the person that I am today. A sob catches in my throat and I swallow it down. Tears of happiness, tears of joy... Can I be any happier than I am now?
Loud screams pull me from my thoughts. I turn to look at Sadie whose eyes are wide open in shock, her hands covering her mouth. From behind me, my friends throw their arms around me.
"We hit it big Josie! Two thousand dollars!" the first voice I hear is Penelope`s.
"Two thousand dollars!" all my friends` high pitch laughter and whooping turns into one big noise.
"Who`s the lucky guy? Who`s the man of the night?" Sadie takes the microphone and scans the room for the lucky guy.
Wow. Two thousand dollars? Who knew one dance with men would cost someone two thousand dollars and what kind of maniac would spend that kind of money? It`s nice that I get two thousand dollars extra to spend for my bachelorette party but I`m pretty sure that means I`m going to have to dance with a man who is way older than me... I mean way way older than I am or someone who is very lonely and desperate.
"Alright Casanova! Show your face-," Sadie says into the microphone before Tessa steals it from her.
"And your wallet!" a very tipsy Tessa slurs.
I bite my lips in curiosity and anxiety as I wait for this mysterious man to make himself known. Ugh... I never should have let the girls have their way. Now I`m going to have to suffer through three minutes of dancing with a completely stranger.
"Hellooooo?" Tessa impatiently half sings into the microphone.
From the crowd I see someone making their way to the front. Well here comes the moment of truth. I either get to go home and have a story that my friends and I will be laughing about for about forever, or I get one last dance with a handsome Casanova.
I look over at my friends on stage. I am hidden behind them. I don`t love the spotlight as much as they do. Tessa, Sadie, Penny, and Mia are all restless and excited; they can barely stand still long enough without leaning on each other. I smile at the sight of my tipsy friends. I couldn`t spend tonight with anyone more special than the four of them. They have been my rock through the entire thick and thin of my life. I couldn`t have gotten this far without them.
Their smiles quickly fade into shock as they stare at the man in front of the crowd. My eyes follow to where they are looking. I assess the crowd to see what they are seeing. It takes me a few moments before I see the man standing in front of everyone else. My heart immediately leaps into my throat as soon as my brain registers his familiar eyes, the strong, masculine curve of his chiseled jaw, and his bright smile. My breath catches and I feel like I can`t breathe. Before I know what I`m doing I am up and running out the back door.
Breathe Josie. Just breathe. I shut my eyes tightly and rest my forehead on my knees. My hands cover my head. Just Breathe.
What the hell is he doing here? And what the hell was he doing betting on me? Two thousand dollars! The last time I saw him he was an assistant at Hilltop Corp.
"Josie!" I hear my friends call out for me in the distance.
"No...," I mutter to myself, unsure of what it even meant.
I close my eyes and try to wish the last five minutes away. No, not now. He can`t come back into my life after all this time… He can`t come back just for one night… Doesn`t he understand that it only takes one night to bring back all the hurt that I associate with him-those terrible years of my life?
"Josie!" I hear Sadie`s voice behind me but I don`t look up. I feel her arms around my shoulders and her chin on my back.
"Josie… I`m sorry. We didn`t know," Sadie whispers gently into my ears.
"I-," I choke on my words. The tightening feeling in my chest makes it hard to breathe. "It`s okay. You guys didn`t know."
"…Hey, let`s just head back to the hotel okay? Let`s call it a night?" I look up at Sadie and smile.
I watch her eyes as they tentatively search mine. A small smile manages to form on my lips.
"I`m okay, I just freaked out for a second there, but it doesn`t matter anymore. Let`s just go."
Sadie hesitates before taking my hand in hers.
Before we get back to the others, I stop Sadie.
"Hey. Will you ask the girls… not to let Vinny know about this?"
Sadie smiles softly at me. "Of course."