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We had previously decided to go have dinner at Texas Roadhouse so the drive from Kass' house to the restaurant was only 10 minutes. We parked outside at exactly 7PM and walked towards the entrance. I held the door open for her and followed her inside.
Texas Roadhouse was always packed during the week and it was especially packed now on a Saturday night. I looked above everybody's head and scanned the room for either Carol or Sebastian.
"Oh, I think I see them over there, A."
I looked to where Kass was pointing and sure enough, I could see the top of Carol and Sebastian's head as they were hunched over looking at something on the table. I told the hostess that we were meeting with the people at the far booth and Kass grabbed my hand as another waitress led us to them.
"Hey, guys," I said, "this is Kass, the barista from El Vaso. Kass, these are Sebastian and Carol. They were the friends I was with a few weeks ago when you saw me perform."
"Nice to meet you, Kass." Carol stood up and hugged her. "Alex has told us so much about you so it's great to finally meet you."
I was taken aback by what Carol said since I had told neither Sebastian nor Carol much about Kass other than that we were getting lunch often. I waved it aside as Carol trying to paint me in a good light when Sebastian stood up to hug Kass.
"Hey, Kass. Nice to meet you. Glad Alex has someone to put up with his shit." He put his phone back in his pocket, smiled at me and offered his hand in a handshake. As I took his hand I became aware about how noticeably warmer his hands were than Kass'. I smiled back and jokingly gave him a "Fuck You."
I let Kass slide in to the inner corner of the booth facing Carol as I took the outer corner in front of Sebastian. A waitress came over and asked us if we wanted anything or if we were waiting for more people.
"No, it's just us. Can you get us four beers though?" Sebastian said.
"Oh, actually," said Carol, "I want a water for right now."
"Yeah, me too," joined Kass.
"Well, fuck guys I thought we came to get drinks. You want a water, too, or what A?"
"Nah, man. If you're getting a beer, I'm getting one, too."
"Alright, two of your house beers and two waters then, please."
She placed her hand on his shoulder, smiled, and said, "Alright, sir. On its way," at Sebastian as she walked away to get us our drinks.
"Damn," I said. I reached over, grabbed Sebastian's shoulder, and looked him in the eyes with my best flirt face. "So sir, how are you tonight?" I laughed as Sebastian pushed my arm away and told me to go fuck myself.
"Seriously though," Carol said through laughs, "Did you guys see the way she was looking at Sebastian the whole time? It was like she was undressing him with her eyes!"
We all laughed, but I did agree with what Carol had just said. I thought I was the only one that noticed, though.
"For reals," I joined, "Maybe we'll get a free appetizer, though. Sebastian unbutton your shirt a bit."
"Fuck you, guys," Sebastian said as he pulled the top buttons of his shirt tighter.
The waitress came back with our drinks and asked us if we were ready to order.
"Uh, yeah I think so," I said.
We gave her our orders as she wrote them down on her notepad.
"Ok, sounds good, guys." She looked at Sebastian again, "the order will take about 20 minutes to come out. I'll be walking around if any one you need anything." She smiled at all of us, but I saw that she lingered on Sebastian before she walked away. I can't blame her, I have caught myself lingering whenever I see Sebastian's eyes, too.
"Wow," I smacked my lips, "It's like, I could taste her hormones in the air."
"Yeah," joined Carol, "I bet she's going to go into the back and lick the stake you ordered, Seb."
"I wonder if she's hurt," I continued, "she threw herself so hard at you I am sure she is."
"Ha-ha ok, guys. I get it shut the fuck up."
25 minutes later, our waitress came back with our food and complementary beer refills for Sebastian and me.
"Well, at least you guys are getting something from this," Kass said.
"Yeah, whatever though."
I smiled. The fact that Sebastian didn't spur our waitress' advances felt- I admit- pretty great.
"So," started Carol, "it's been months Seb, when am I getting to meet Lily?"
"Oh, I don't know." Sebastian cut up a piece of his stake and ate it. "Soon, I guess."
Lily? In the past weeks I've known Sebastian and Carol, I hadn't once heard them talk about a Lily. I guess in the back of my head I knew there was no way Sebastian was single. It was just a disappointing feeling finally putting a name to my doubts.
"Uuu, Lily," Kass leaned forward closer to Sebastian, "is she the reason you won't give our waitress here the time of day, Sebastian?"
I met Sebastian's eyes. Since I had known both him and Carol, I had suspected that there might have been a thing between them. Carol had assured me that there wasn't. I guess whoever this Lily was was the reason why.
"So," I asked as I shoved a piece of the shrimp I ordered in my mouth, "who's Lily?" I pretended to be only slightly curious but really, my head was screaming. I was jealous, I admit.
"Ok, hold on." Sebastian wiped his hands off in his napkin and reached for his phone. He typed in his password, clicked on some icons and showed the phone to Kass and Carol.
"Oooh, Sebastian! She's adorable!" Kass said.
Adorable? Ok? It was weird for Kass to say that, usually girls compliment other girls with "pretty" or "hot" even "cute," not "adorable."
"Yeah, Sebastian. She's gotten so big since the first pictures you showed me!"
Big? What the hell was Carol talking about? I guess it must be a puppy or something. What else could be adorable and small?
Sebastian moved his phone over and showed me.
It wasn't a puppy.
"Oh," I said, my heart sinking a little, "she's adorable! Is she-?"
"Yeah," Sebastian said. He looked back at his phone, "She's three months and a half. She's already getting so big."
I could still see it- see her. She was a beautiful baby girl, wrapped in a pink blanket on a baby carrier. Lily.
I felt like someone had dropped a bucket of ice water on top of me. One second I'm looking at Sebastian, my 23 year old friend, with the hazel eyes and sand brown hair and pink lips and the next minute I'm looking at Sebastian, the 23 year old father to a beautiful baby girl.
I realize Sebastian and I had no romantic history. We weren't lovers. We didn't have a secret past that we shared. He was a father with a baby girl he was in love with and I was a stupid boy who thought he could have something- anything- with him.
The dinner continued with much less talking on my part. When asked if I was feeling ok, I lied and blamed it on the shrimp I just ate.
Lies. I was good at them. I had to be. Since the day I understood that I felt for boys what I should be feeling for girls, I was forced to learn how to lie.
I was forced to learn how to lie before I learned how to fall in love.
Kass, under the assumption that my stomach was hurting, asked me if maybe I wanted us to head back to my apt.
"Sure, our waitress must have put something in my food to get rid of me, huh?" I joked, providing a half smile that was aimed at Carol and Kass. I avoided Sebastian's gaze as I didn't think I was strong enough to look him in the eyes and lie about my food again.
"Kass, it's still pretty early, maybe you want to stay with Carol and Seb? I'm totally fine with driving back on my own."
"You sure Alex? I mean, I can go with you if you want."
"Nah, its fine."
"Yeah Kass," Carol looked at both me and Kass for approval. "I mean, it's still pretty early and we haven't gotten drunk yet, I can drop you off at your house tonight if you want."
"There, you see. It's settled. I won't let my stomach stop all three of you from having a good night. You guys have fun. I can join some other time."
"Oh, ok sure" Kass didn't sound too convinced but still she said, "Sorry about your stomach, Alex."
"Hey, no worries," I said, "I'm a big boy. I can handle it. I just need to go home and rest I guess."
I said goodbye and stood up from the booth ready to leave when Kass called me back.
"Hey, wait." She held my hand, "Thank you for inviting me tonight. Seb and Carol are pretty cool."
"Yeah, they really are, Hun." I smiled.
She leaned into me and kissed my lips. "Feel better, babe."
I smiled at her then waved bye to Carol and Sebastian, again making sure to avoid his eyes.
I turned up my radio to my favorite country station as I drove back home alone. I was met with the last chorus of Blake Shelton's Neon Light.
I put the song up and sang to it to distract my head. The song finished and I was met with the uncomfortable quiet in the intermission between two songs. I kept my eyes on the dark road ahead as Kacey Musgraves came on the radio.
"I saw your picture in the paper.
Honeymoon in Jamaica.
She's a lucky girl."
God, I was stupid. The guy had a daughter. I grabbed my head as I held on to the wheel tighter. I really tried to, but I couldn't keep myself from remembering what happened back at Roadhouse. How the fuck did I think there could ever be anything there?
"I got the class ring
She got the diamond and wedding band.
I got the boy and she got the man."
I could feel my breathing getting faster and so I stepped on the gas. I was already going 60 on a 50 mph road and I was only getting faster.
"And now you're cleaned up with a haircut,
Nice tie and shoes.
If things were different and I had a choice,
Which would I choose?"
I didn't love him.
There was no way I could have fallen in love with him.
This was just me overreacting to the news that me and him were probably never going to hook up.
That was it.
But then why the fuck where my eyes burning.
Why the fuck was I tearing up?
I gripped the steering wheel harder.
"I got the first kiss,
And she'll get the last.
We each got something the other will never have."
I couldn't keep driving. I felt like I was about to pop.
I pulled to the side of the road and parked my car.
I. Couldn't. Breathe.
It was like I was trying to breathe in all the oxygen in my car but my lungs weren't working.
What the fuck was going on?
I tried to calm down and breathe but my lungs weren't listening to me anymore. I pressed my head against the steering wheel.
Get a grip on yourself, I thought.
"I got the long hair, hot head.
She got the cool and steady hand.
I got the boy and she got the man.
I got the boy and she got the man."
I couldn't stop myself. I thought of him and an unnamed girl giving birth to Lily. I thought about the perfect little family they must make. I thought about how he must have felt when he heard the news he was going to be a father. I thought about how happy and in love he must be with the girl that gave him that little miracle. I thought about Sebastian.
But most importantly, I thought about how much it hurt to think so many things about him and to feel so much for him. I could feel hot tears running down my cheek. Whatever I was feeling for Sebastian, I knew that I couldn't pretend it was nothing- the tears running down my face proved so.
I spent a good thirty minutes in my car just deciding on where I was going to go now.
I got back to my apartment by 9PM, crawled into my bed, threw my phone with two missed calls and unread messages on the floor, and fell asleep.