The Run Around

 

The trip to Nantucket started off on the wrong foot when the six seater death machine that was to take us from Boston to Nantucket gurgled and sputtered five minutes after take off, forcing the pilot to turn around and land back at Logan.

“Engine troubles,” the pilot said, once we were safely on the ground.

I turned to Peter, aghast. “Engine troubles?”

Peter laughed. “Josie, he could have made the decision to keep flying. Instead he knew to turn around. That should reassure you.”

Nothing about that was reassuring to me. We had to wait two hours while the engineers toiled away at the faulty gear, and I was so nervous that I knocked back two double Bloody Mary’s on an empty stomach. And I’d taken an anti-anxiety pill earlier that morning. I was practically drooling on myself when we landed in Nantucket.

So yes, I decided to tag along with Peter after all. I wouldn’t have gone if Peter’s parents had been at the house. That definitely would be too much, too soon. But his parents had already returned to Florida (which is where they spend their winters), and the house was his for the weekend. He had invited a few college friends, all of them married, all of them with children. It had occurred to me that when we dated the first time around, I had only ever met his single friends, like Fedora Guy. But Peter was 37, so the singletons were few and far between. The majority of his friends were married with families, but Peter had never brought me around any of those people before. It made me feel good that he was doing so now, like he was taking me more seriously.

As for Grady. I had avoided his calls and texts this whole week. I know! I’m terrible. I just didn’t know what to say to him. He’s so hot, but I just don’t think that I can hook up with someone who gets paid to wear a thong. I don’t want to ghost on him, because I hate when guys do that to me, but it was such a busy week at work and I was out on Friday, and I just didn’t know what to say to him. I promise I will respond to him next week. He’s a nice guy at his core, and I don’t want to leave him hanging.

By the time we got to Peter’s house, I was feeling like Will Ferrell in that scene in Old School where he gets hit with a tranquilizer gun.

“I needz nap,” I slurred to Peter as we pulled up to the house. I passed out for like three hours and when I came to, the house was alive with voices. I brushed my teeth, combed the rat’s nest out of my hair, and put on some mascara.

The kitchen had been transformed since I last saw it. There were play pens, swings, toys, and babies EVERYWHERE. An older kid zipped past me, chasing a dog.

“You’re up,” Peter said, smiling. He gave me a kiss on the cheek. “How do you feel?”

“So much better.”

Peter introduced me around. There were three couples total: Jack and Reese, Ellen and Chris, and Jennifer and Rob. They all pointed out their respective children and I tried to pay attention, but all the babies looked the same to me so I just smiled and nodded and cooed how cute they were even though I felt dead inside. I am really not a baby person, or any kid under the age of 15 person. People always look at me like I’m an insane idiot when I say this, but whenever, if ever, I have kids, I would rather skip the whole baby stage and just go straight to them being teenagers. Give me a sassy mean girl, or a gentle nerd who loves his band camp, over a poopy, crying, blobity blob any day of the week.

“So what’s on tap for tonight?” I asked, mentally crossing my fingers that we were going to The Lobster Trap and I could dive into one of those big red bad boys.

“This,” Reese said, gesturing to the babypocalypse before us.

“We have steaks and stuff to just grill here,” Peter said, off my horrified look.

For the next few hours everyone sipped wine and watched babies. Literally, you guys. Just watched them. When the kids finally went to bed a few hours later, the guys decided to go into town. That sounded like a blast to me, but Reese, who had really taken a liking to me, made a pouty face when I said I was leaving and said, “No! Stay here and drink wine with us!” It didn’t even occur to me that we couldn’t all go to the bars—someone had to stay and make sure the babies were okay, and naturally, the onus fell on the moms.

I didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with the girls, so I agreed.

“You sure?” Peter asked, when the cabs arrived to take them to the bars.

“I’ll be fine,” I said, trying to convince not just him but myself. “There’s really good rose here,” I added.

Once the guys left, the girls all gathered on the porch. The coffee tabled was littered with wine glasses and baby monitors.

“Josie, we are so happy you are here,” Reese laughed, and all the other girls nodded in agreement.

“You are?” I asked.

“Yes!” Reese said. “We do this weekend almost every year. Peter hasn’t brought anyone since Elizabeth.”

“Really?” I asked.

Ellen nodded. “And we’ve heard so much about you. We’re so relieved you two are back together.”

Jennifer elbowed her. “Ellen!”

“What?” Ellen shot Jennifer a look. “What’s wrong with telling her that?”

Jennifer shrugged. “It’s just a lot of pressure, that’s all.” She looked at me. “You two just started seeing each other again, right?”

“Like two weeks ago,” I said. “I wouldn’t say we are back together by any means.”

Jennifer nodded, like her point was proven. “See what I mean? Don’t go spinning this into something bigger than it is.”

Reese waved her hand at Jennifer, dismissing her. “I just know Peter is ready to settle down. Get his ducks in order.” She pointed at me. “You’re special to him, I just know it.”

It was a really nice thing to say, but it just made me really wish I had gone into town with the guys. Especially since the three of them spent the next hour discussing preschools and I had to pinch my thigh to keep from falling asleep. I asked them about their jobs, and funny thing! Not a single one of them works. When they asked me what I did and I told them I was in publishing, Reese nodded knowingly. “That’s the perfect thing to play around in for a few years before you start having kids.” To play around in for a few years before having kids? Was that a time machine and not a plane that Peter and I rode in earlier? I was starting to have second thoughts about coming.

I was in bed, reading Night Film (buy it now if you haven’t already), when I heard the taxi pull into the driveway. A few minutes later the door creaked open. “Hey you,” Peter said, sliding into bed next to me.

“How was it?”

“Fun.” He took the book out of my hands and set it on the nightstand. Started kissing me.

I put my hand on his chest. “Wait.”

Peter looked at me. “What?”

“I just felt kind of…out of my element tonight.”

Peter sat up straight. “What happened?”

“No, no. Nothing happened. I just…well, maybe I should have gone with you. Your friends are really nice. I’m just worried I don’t have a lot in common with them.”

“I’m not following.”

“They just talked about babies, and you settling down, and how I’m special to you and it just freaked me out. I’m a long ways off from being at that point, and I don’t want to hold you back if that’s where you want to be.”

Peter laughed. “Josie, you’re not holding me back. Trust me. I love all those girls but honestly, they’re just a little bit bored with their lives and misery loves company. It’s probably hard for them to see someone who’s young and has a really cool career and is killing it.” Now, that is my kind of pillow talk. I’m “killing” it? Oh baby, give me more.

He kissed me again, and this time I kissed him back. He swung me around so that I was on top of him, and he slipped inside of me wordlessly. Reaching up, Peter curled his fingers around the back of my neck, pulling my hair so that my head tilted back. He sat up, so that we were face to face, and held me close to him, so that even as he thrust furiously into me, I was brushing against his pelvic bone, a rush building in my stomach. When I finally released I felt a tingle in every limb, even my fingertips.

The next morning, I decided to go for a run and sweat out all the wine from the night before. Peter said that I should just make a left out of the driveway and keep going until I hit the dirt road. “Follow that until it ends,” he said. “It’s a mile and three quarters out, so it’s a 3 and a half mile run total.”

I set off. The dirt road was lined with “rustic looking” million dollar mansions, some close to the road, some set way back. There was absolutely no shade, and even though it was only ten in the morning, the sun was blazing hot. I felt great on the way out, but as soon as I turned around, my stomach decided to go into douchebag mode.

I needed a bathroom, and I needed it now. I was almost two miles from the house. Shit, shit, shit. I slowed to a walk, and looked around frantically for a covert spot in the brush. But with houses on either side of me, I was so exposed! I took a step off the road, but then I heard a car coming behind me, so I bounced back on the path and pretended like I was a power walker. The driver slowed down to wave to me. He was a sweet looking old man, but my god, did I need him to just keep on going and quit dilly dallying. I forced a smile onto my face and waved back. The second he was out of sight, my body just took over. You guys, I don’t even know how to describe it. It was like my brain wasn’t in control anymore and every modicum of human decency went out the window because suddenly, my running shorts were around my ankles and I was crouched down on the side of the road and it was happening. You know what I mean.

I have never felt so disgusting in my life. I sprinted off, praying none of Peter’s neighbors witnessed me pooping on the side of the road like a dog. I made it back to the house in record time. Seriously, new way to shave a few seconds off your mile—soil the back of your light blue running shorts and run as fast as you can before anyone sees you!

There was an outdoor shower built into the side of the house. I didn’t have a towel, I didn’t have any of my toiletries, but I had to get in there and clean up before anyone saw me, namely Peter. I slipped inside, stripped down, and got under the stream of water. Nothing had ever felt more refreshing. Then I heard someone exit the back of the house.

“Josie?” It was Peter. With terrible timing.

“Yup! Just taking a shower.” I tried to keep my voice breezy. Nothing to see in here! Keep moving!

Peter was at the door to the shower. I could see slivers of his face through the wood paneling. “Hey,” he said. “Mind if I join you?”

Why yes, I do mind. “Um, not right now!”

Peter pulled at the door and I dove for my running shorts. I got to them in the nick of time, and flung them over the side of the shower. I heard them land in the rose beds. At some point over the weekend, I was going to have to wedge myself back there and dig them out. That would be a fun activity for later.

“Hey.” Peter smiled. Pulled off his shirt and kicked off his shorts. He stepped under the stream of water with me. When he pressed me up against the wall, pinning my hands above my head, it felt so good that I almost forgot the trauma of the last twenty minutes. Almost.

The rest of the weekend was a much better. (Really, there was nowhere to go but up from there.) The group got a babysitter for Saturday night, and we all went out to a really nice dinner. There was no more talk of Peter settling down from Reese. I got the feeling Jennifer told her to put a lid on it, and for that I was immensely grateful.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I snuck out of bed in the middle of the night and dug my shorts out of the flower bed. Then I triple bagged them in plastic bags and stuffed them in the bottom of the garbage, never to be seen or heard from again.

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