Authors: Lila Moore
I stood in the corner of the room watching the clubgoers dance. Their sweaty bodies were grinding against one another as they moved to the driving bass of the music. I couldn’t join them. I didn’t have it in me. I felt too embarrassed.
Despite Astrid’s assurances that I looked amazing, I felt terrible. I was convinced that I looked awful. I walked through the club, sure that every eye was on me. People were mocking how bad I looked. I knew it. The dress I wore was too small. It accentuated all my worst features. Quietly, they mocked me.
I stuck to the corner of the room, sipping on my rum and Coke. A man walked by with a girl on his arm. His eyes drifted over my body. He smirked. I dropped my eyes to the floor. It was humiliating.
“What’s wrong?” Astrid shouted. She returned holding two drinks. She handed one to me.
“What? Did that guy say something gross to you? I saw him checking you out.”
“He wasn’t checking me out, he was judging me.”
“He wasn’t attracted to me; he was silently judging me for wearing a dress that’s too small and horribly unflattering to my body.”
“Okay, Bobbi, as your friend, I have to tell you that you sound batshit crazy right now. My advice: finish your drink, have another one- or two- or three- and relax.”
I started to protest, but she shoved my drink in my face and tipped it up forcing me to drink like I was a toddler. Laughing, I choked down the rum and Coke.
“Good girl,” she said, as if speaking to a child. “While you were over here sulking, I asked the bartender what’s up with Sledge. Turns out he’s here.”
Suddenly, the music slowed. The dancing clubgoers around me faded into the background.
“Yeah- but he’s in the VIP section. He brings security with him to keep all the girls at bay. Apparently, so many girls want to fuck him that he had to hire someone to keep them from swarming him like a pack of wild dogs.”
“They’ll never let us talk to him.” I felt relieved. “We should go.”
I turned to leave. Astrid grabbed my arm. “Not so fast. The bartender said he would hook us up. He knows Sledge’s security guy. He said he’d introduce us.”
“Astrid, you said it yourself: Sledge is surrounded by girls who want to sleep with him. He’s not going to give me the time of day.”
“Haven’t we been through this already once tonight? You’re smoking hot. You have just got to believe in yourself. Confidence goes a long way. I mean, look at me. I’m not that hot, but I’m confident and I like to talk to people. I get laid all the time.”
“And I do mean
the time. No one hooks up with hotter guys than I do.”
I started laughing and couldn’t stop.
“I knew that would make you laugh,” she said with a wink.
“First of all, you are hot.” Astrid shrugged modestly. “Second of all, Sledge has a girlfriend that happens to be a swimsuit model. He’s in a committed relationship.”
Now it was Astrid’s turn to laugh. “
… That’s why I like you Bobbi- you’re crazier than I am.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He’s a hockey player, a professional athlete.”
“So… they all cheat on their girlfriends. Those guys are all sluts. Monogamy is an alien concept to them.”
She had a point. Professional athletes were not exactly famous for being loyal, faithful partners. Sledge probably did sleep around. He was gorgeous, rich and a star athlete. He was so popular with women he had to hire a security team to keep them away from him.
It was nuts. Still, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t here to sleep with Sledge. I just wanted to see him. Why? The sad truth was that I missed him. My father had forced me to break up with Sledge the second I found out I was pregnant. I was in love. I didn’t want to leave him.
“We should go,” I shouted over the driving bass.
“We’re not leaving after coming this far.”
I should have protested. The rational part of my brain said get out of there and move on with your life. The part of me that remembered what it felt like to be held by Sledge screamed at me to go and find him. I tried to find a middle ground between the extremes. I would go, check him out, then leave. Seeing him might be the cure for my obsession. Once I saw how happy he was surrounded by beautiful women, I would know for sure that he had moved on and it was time for me to do the same.
“Okay,” I said. “I’m not going to talk to him. I just want to look at him.”
Astrid’s face twisted. “You just want to look at him? Are you going to ask him for his autograph?” she said mocking me. “Don’t be some dopey fangirl. Go over there and close the deal. Let him take you home and fuck your brains out.”
“I’ll help you talk to him.”
“No, Astrid. You don’t understand. I cannot talk to him. I cannot let him see me. You just don’t understand…”
I left her looking confused as I pushed through the crowd. I was going to take a quick peek at Sledge and then I was finished. I would go back to my dorm, change clothes, and leave. I’d head straight to my aunt’s house. If I left soon, I could make it there before it got too late. I’d tell her I got stuck in traffic or that I had to finish some school work. She wouldn’t suspect anything was amiss and- more importantly- she wouldn’t call my parents and tell them I hadn’t come to visit her. If they found out I stayed behind on campus, they’d flip out.
The rules were concrete: no clubs, no parties, no boys. If they knew I was in a club, staring at Sledge, they would force me to drop out of school and move back home. Then I’d be trapped in my small town forever. College was the only way out of that place. I had to get a good job and move on with my life.
Lost in thought, I didn’t realize that the VIP section was only a few feet away. The sound of shouting and glasses breaking brought me back to reality. I pushed myself flat against the wall as two men fell over a table. They fought, rolling around on the ground, punching each other. The man on the bottom managed to get on top of the second man. He threw a hard punch, shattering his nose.
Security rushed over and pulled the men apart. Sledge stood with his hands in the air as if to say I’m finished. He wiped the blood away from his split lip and sat down to have a drink. The man on the ground was dragged to his feet and led out of the club by security. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Sledge in a fight, but I was. He never learned.
I wondered what they were fighting over- possibly one of the skinny girls sitting around Sledge’s table.
A girl with long dark extensions, huge fake tits and a skin tight red dress cozied up to Sledge. Intimately, she leaned in and whispered to him. A girl to his right looked furious. She had bleach blonde hair, a deep fake tan and legs for days. She pulled Sledge’s attention back to her. He didn’t seem to be paying attention to either one of the girls.
I frowned. Astrid had been right about one thing: hockey players aren’t monogamous. Had I dodged a bullet? If Sledge and I were still together would I be sitting at home right now, wondering where he was and who he was with, oblivious to the fact he was cheating on me?
It was then I noticed a skinny, tall girl sitting at a table beside Sledge. She was staring at her phone, looking bored. She had impossibly high cheekbones and pouty lips. I recognized her as Sledge’s girlfriend, Svetlana. She didn’t seem to care that the dark-haired girl had her hand on the inside of Sledge’s thigh.
What did Sledge see in her? Obviously, she was gorgeous, but she didn’t look the slightest bit interested in the club and she wasn’t talking to anyone else around her. It was then I noticed who sat beside her. The man threw back his head and laughed, revealing several chipped teeth. Chick.
Our eyes locked. His face fell in confusion, then brightened. He looked thrilled to see me. Panicked, I tried to disappear into the crowd, but it was impossible. A large group of people had stepped onto the dance floor. They were packed together like sardines. I couldn’t fight my way through the crowd.
“Bobbi!” I heard Chick call from behind me. I glanced over my shoulder. He pushed through the security guarding the VIP area and ran up to me. “Bobbi! I knew it was you.”
He pulled me to him in a big bear hug, lifting me off the ground. I looked over his shoulder; Sledge stood a few feet away. His eyes narrowed as if he didn’t quite recognize me.
“How are you?” Chick said. His eyes drifted down over my stomach. He looked surprised to see my big pregnant belly was gone.
I cleared my throat. “I’m good. How are you?”
Chick started to ramble about how after he’d broken his leg he thought he was finished with hockey, but Sledge helped him recover and managed to secure him a job working for the team.
“I’m a pro now! Well sort of. I work for the team. Who would have thought?”
“That’s great,” I said, only half listening.
“I’m sure Sledge would like to see you.” He turned to find his old friend standing a few feet away. “Look who I found.”
Sledge crossed his arms in front of his chest. His hair had grown long and he had a scruffy beard now. His chest seemed wider; his arms bigger. The last time I’d seen him naked he was lean and muscular. He’d really packed on the muscle in the time since our separation.
He frowned as his eyes drifted over my body. Could he see the changes pregnancy had left on me? I looked down at my feet self-consciously.
“I’m sure you two have got a lot of catching up to do,” Chick said, giving me a meaningful look.
The way he looked at me made me want to kill him. I’d been a fool to show up to that last game. Going out in public heavily pregnant was courting disaster. Chick knew everything. He could ruin my life with one comment.
Sledge took a step towards me. For a second, the room stilled. The music faded away and it was just the two of us, alone in the middle of a dark room. A red light pulsed, casting shadows over his face.
“Bobbi…” He paused as if he didn’t quite know what to say. “You look amazing.”
I swallowed hard. I had a hard time believing he still found me attractive. He was probably just being nice.
“You changed your hair. I didn’t recognize you,” he said.
I remembered my last minute makeover. Astrid had insisted on dying my hair red to give me a fresh start. It was a radical departure from my natural dark blonde.
“Yeah, I’m trying something new. I don’t really like it, but…”
“I like it. Of course you were always beautiful…”
I smiled awkwardly. Suddenly Svetlana was at Sledge’s side. She put an arm around him protectively. “An old friend?” she asked with a thick accent.
“Yeah. This is Bobbi. We went to school together.”
It wasn’t lost on me that he neglected to mention that we used to date.
“Bobbi? Isn’t that a man’s name?”
“I was named after my dad’s favorite hockey player, Bobby Hull.”
“Bobby Hull,” she said the words strangely, as if they left a bad taste in her mouth.
“I should go,” I said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt. It was nice to see you.”
I turned to leave, but Sledge stopped me. “Wait. Are you here with someone?” There was an unmistakable edge to his voice. Was it jealousy?
“Yeah,” I replied. I left out the part that I was here with Astrid and not a guy.
“Who is he?” Sledge demanded.
I laughed. “What do you care?”
“Do I know him?”
Svetlana looked on curiously. In fact, Sledge’s whole entourage was watching us closely.
“Why would you know him?” I asked.
“I want to see the guy you left me for.”
Now it was my turn to be confused. “You think I left you for another guy?”
“It’s the only answer that makes sense. Why else would you dump me and disappear? There’s no other reasonable explanation. One minute you’re telling me you love me, the next you’re telling me it’s over.”
“I thought she was just an old friend?” Svetlana asked icily.
“Where is he?” Sledge demanded, ignoring Svetlana’s question.
I wasn’t sure how to respond. I was taken aback by Sledge’s anger. I’d spent an embarrassing amount of time fantasizing about meeting Sledge again. I imagined him rejecting me, scooping me up in his arms and telling me he loved me; not recognizing me, hating me; you name the scenario and I’ve run through it in my head. Now that I was face-to-face with him though, my mind was blank. I never imagined a jealous Sledge, demanding to see the man I left him for.
The crowd parted and Astrid emerged. She slipped an arm through my elbow.
“Introduce me to your new friend, Bobbi,” she said.
“This is who I’m here with tonight,” I said, hoping it would clear things up, but Sledge looked more confused than ever.
“Yeah…” What was he getting at?
“You left me for a girl?”