“What happened to your arm?” Molly asked when I came out in my dress.
“Oh...uh...I’m not sure. I must have run into a door or something.” I said.
I threw on a black cardigan so Sean wouldn’t see the bruise Gerry had left and we left. We picked up the cake, a giant balloon, and a few extra things that Anna realized she needed once she got to the pub and we got there with about 30 minutes to spare. I introduced Molly to Anna and to Sean, again, and we got to work spreading tablecloths and hanging streamers while people started trickling in. Anna had invited a bunch of people from her and Zoey’s work, Sean’s bandmates came and offered to play a few songs (Guy had brought an acoustic guitar and the pub had a piano) and hang out. Finally Anna got the warning text from Wesley that they were going to be there in a few minutes and we all put on party hats and found hiding places. Sean and I were in a corner behind a bundle of balloons.
“You look really great tonight” he said going in for a kiss.
“Thanks” I said. I started laughing because he was tickling me and we were shushed.
“You’re going to get me in trouble,” I whispered when he continued to kiss me.
“I like bad girls,” he laughed.
We heard Zoey’s voice walking towards the back room and got ready to surprise her.
I’m pretty sure Zoey had a heart attack but once she was composed she looked very happy.
“Did you know about this?” She asked Wesley.
“Yeah, Anna, asked me to be the decoy, but it was her idea.”
Zoey kissed him and then gave Anna a hug before coming over and giving me a hug, too. She started mingling and Anna came over while Sean was across the room talking to Jake.
“You’re welcome. I’m glad she’s enjoying this.”
“Elise still hasn’t shown up. She said she would be here by now. Do you think she’s okay, Faith?”
“I’m sure she’s fine.” I said, “Should we bring the cake out, now? I can have Guy play happy birthday.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
Zoey’s cake was a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and we lit the candles. Guy led us all in “Happy Birthday” while Zoey made her birthday wish and then Wesley pulled her aside and they were being very cuddly with each other. Her cake was delicious but I’m glad Molly brought a fruit plate to make everyone feel like they weren’t pigging out completely. I introduced Zoey to Molly after awhile and as they were talking Elise arrived quietly as almost everyone else had left. I saw her make a bee-line for Wesley and watched. I don’t know what they were talking about but she brushed his hair away and started giggling and touching his chest playfully. Wesley looked awkward. I wasn’t the only one watching Elise, Anna was too and she looked terrified and angry at the same time. After Elise went in to whisper something to Wesley, I couldn’t take it anymore and went over there.
“Hi Wesley, could you excuse us?” I said directing Elise towards the exit without even waiting for his response.
“Faith, get the hell off of me!” She said once I’d dragged her halfway down the hallway. Anna, can you do something please?” Anna had followed us.
“Faith let go of her. Please.” Anna said pleading with me.
“Leave.” I said to Elise, “Go. Zoey doesn’t need to see you flirting with her boyfriend for a birthday present. Just get out of here.”
I stood in the way of the party’s entrance while Elise looked at Anna with expectant eyes.
“Anna invited me here, you’re not the boss of me, get out of my way. I’m going back to the party. Zoey doesn’t even know I’m here.” Elise tried to get by me several times but I blocked her.
“I’m not playing this game anymore Elise, you can try to rip my boyfriend’s pants off but I’m not going to stand here and watch you break Zoey’s heart simply because you’re lonely and jealous.”
Elise snorted in disgust.
“Zoey is fat, Faith. She doesn’t deserve someone as hot as Wesley. He just feels bad for her, especially since he knows he could have every man’s dream in me. I’m hot and Zoey is an overweight plain Jane with a boring job. Every man wants to date a model and Wesley is no exception. It’s only a matter of time until he steps out on her with someone else and I intend to be that someone else. What Zoey doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
“Oh, please, Elise. I know,” I turned around and Zoey was walking towards the three of us, “Did you really think Wesley wouldn’t tell me about you flirting with him?”
Elise was pale and her face was etched with shock and fear.
“You can go…It’s not necessary that you continue pretending to be my friend. And for the record: Wesley thinks you’re a vapid brat, he couldn’t be less interested in you.” And with that Zoey tossed Elise’s purse and jacket to her, turned on her heel, and walked back to the party but she stopped a few steps down, turned to Elise and said, “Oh, and he loves my fat ass.”
Anna and I followed, leaving Elise disgraced in the hallway. When we got back to the near-empty party room Zoey looked at us.
“You’re mad, aren’t you?” Anna asked, “This is exactly why I didn’t want to say anything…”
“Anna, it’s fine. I’m not mad. I’ve known about Elise’s problems a lot longer than you have. She’s been hitting on Wesley since before e asked me out. He told me on our first date. I‘m not mad…at you two. But Wesley and I have to go; he left my birthday gift at his house. Thank you for the party, it was lovely, and Faith, can you give Molly my phone number? We made plans to do something next week and I forgot to give it to her.”
“Sure.” I said giving her a good-bye hug. I was a bit dazed.
“I did not expect her to be so…calm,” Anna said watching her and Wesley leave.
“You ready to go?” Sean asked. He had come up behind me and was waving good-bye to Wesley, “Anna, Molly has offered to give you a ride home since Theo had to leave.”
“Oh, that’s…so nice of her. I’ll go get my coat.”
“What happened?” Sean asked once Anna left us.
“Zoey’s known about Elise the whole time. Wesley told her everything at the very beginning. Anna and I have been freaking out over nothing.” I said still dazed.
“Well…Elise did try to have sex with me, Sean said, so you weren’t freaking out over nothing.”
“Touché.” I said.
Molly offered to give Sean and I a ride home, too and as we were walking to her car Sean put his arm around me.
“Ow!” He had touched my bruise.
“Are you okay? What did I do?”
“I-I’m fine. I just ran into an open kitchen counter and banged my arm up the other day.”
Molly gave me a questioning look as I got into the car. Looks like I’m busted.