Raleigh Reunion Ch. 01bycinnamon1977©
It all started so innocently. The five of us reuniting from all over the US for a kinda 'high school reunion.' So most of us missed the 10-year reunion last year because we didn't have the money or something else. So the following year we made time to finally get together.
JWalking: Hey guys, it'd be great if we all got together
cinnamon77: Yeah, for ol' times sake kind of thing
RantNRave: Where should we get together? we are all spread out!
cinnamon77: I'm actually in the process of moving. I've got a couple of houses I'd like to take a look at and a book to finish
JWalking: You're moving? That would leave me alone in Florida!
cinnamon77: Sorry dude, but we can hitch together till we get there and after you head back to muggy FL without me
RantNRave: But that still doesn't solve where
CRXSmooth: I can't travel far from NC
RantNRave: Hey, I got a transfer I'm escorting to Raleigh in a few weeks; how about we meet there
cinnamon77: What is there to do there?
JWalking: I've got an idea of something we can do
So there it was, we all decided we'd schedule some time out and meet at Raleigh. Jason and Naomi arrived Thursday afternoon and split up at the airport since the hotel her agent had booked for her came to pick her up. He said that it was alright since he had some stuff he wanted to do to surprise the rest of the gang. So she checked into the Marriott-Raleigh Cty Center and up to her suite, dropped her laptop on the desk, and plopped on the bed. Here she was just a few miles away from the love of her life, her best friend, and the woman who stole him away from her. But Naomi wasn't going to dwell with that at the moment. She got off the bed, unpacked her laptop...
"Let's see if we can finish the last few chapters," Naomi told herself.
It was hours later and the book was almost complete. She just needed a final chapter, but somehow the standard happy ending just didn't seem right. After all the heroine had gone through and she had her beloved at her side, all it needed was a happy ending. But the ending just wouldn't come. So Naomi decided to do a little web surfing. Logged into her Messenger, saw no one of interest was online so she decided to do a little more narrowing down on which house she was going to move to.
Naomi was looking at houses in northern California when they all started popping online. Richard had just dropped up his prisoner at Wake County Jail and was ready for some fun. Jason wanted to relive the fun days of college and let us know that he put together a Pub Golf course for us tomorrow. 'Dress appropriately or be penalized!'
"Great," I exclaimed, " the one thing I don't have is golf clothes!" So for the first time since she started staying in hotels because of her book writing career, she decided to use the concierge service. She asked them for some fun golf wear, and explained that it was a night of pub golf with some guys... emphasis on the guys. Naomi went to bed and hoped for inspiration in the morning.
Inspiration she received, but not of the kind Naomi wanted. She dreamt not of the resolution of her book, but instead of the man that she wanted, she cared, and she had to admit she still loved. So Naomi woke the next morning unfulfilled, lonely, and wet. Off to the shower were she stood in the cold water for a while; letting the droplets wash away the wisps of dreams past and start a new day.
Instead of ordering room service Naomi decided to go downstairs with her laptop and have breakfast in a café nearby. She was in desperate need of some fresh air. She looked at the store fronts and the people passing by. Stopped by a few stores, bought a new pair of shoes, even did the proverbial 'stop & smell the flowers' at a flower shop. Yet still Naomi found no ending to her story.
As evening approached and she walked idly back to the hotel she wondered if perhaps her ending wasn't coming because she herself wasn't happy. Just recently come off an ugly divorce, and now here in North Carolina with all these guys and none of which she was interested in or couldn't touch! Naomi thought herself a sucker for punishment.
She went up to her room to get ready for the night. Made sure to have a good dinner before taking a shower and getting clothed. Per Jason's instruction they were to meet at the Wolfpack Club, which was a few blocks down and up. Naomi wore comfortable shoes, but no way did she want to start on her feet so early. The doorman hailed her a cab and she stepped out at the club realizing that either her skirt was too short, her v-neck too low, or something must be attracting the eye of every man around judging by the wolfish look the cabbie and bouncer both gave her.
As Naomi stepped inside and she was not surprised to fine Jason with the DJ up at the booth and Richard was having some debate with a guy from the local college at the bar. What could she expect but the popular to be living it up while the intellectuals try to take something apart. How those four ever came together was still, after so many years, remained a mystery. Eventually everyone else met up at the bar.
Jason gave everyone the run through. They were to go through nine bars, two drinks each bar from a choice of 5. "I tried to get George to come down too, but he wasn't able to get time off. So you," Jason pointed at Naomi, "will be playing caddy and not allowed to drink."
"Oh come on, why me? Just because I'm the only girl doesn't mean that I have to play secretary to the rest of you" Naomi was upset. She was looking forward to actually getting a few drinks and relax.
Jason looked a bit sheepish, he hated when she played the girl card. "It's not about you being a girl, its just we are bigger."
"I disagree, she's about the same size as Elliot if not a bit taller," Cameron pointed out.
"And I don't need you to come to her rescue," I snapped back.
"That's not how it sounded last year," retorted Cameron. He had a heated look to his eyes and the whole dialog of last summer just flashed in her head.
Naomi was stressed out, just had a miscarriage, husband was cheating, and when she had confronted him he hit her. She was in a hotel room, alone, and needing someone to talk to. Naomi turned her computer on to find that none of her normal friends were online at midnight, but she noticed someone in her collapsed 'high school' list was on. Naomi had 'stealth' offline all of them long ago because they didn't like Daryl, but now she was willing to hear even an 'I told you so' as long as she could just vent. Naomi was surprised to find it was Cameron and they had a long chat catching up, laughing at old time, reminiscing about the times they had as a couple in school; and then she told him what had happened. He was upset, Cameron wanted to go down on the first plane and go to her rescue. Thankfully Cameron did not want to anger his wife, nor did he have the money; Naomi wasn't about to tell him she did. High school was one thing, that kind of attitude in real life was a dangerous thing; and though she was in deep, Naomi was too proud to have him charge to her rescue.
She had managed on her own before, she always did so again. But here they were again...sort of. "Fuck off Cam!"
Naomi turned to Jay who then proceeded to tell them the rules and points for the night. Five choices of shots/drinks: 1-glass Cabernet (+2 par), 1- shot Magic Dew (+1 par), 1-Vodka & Red Bull (par), 1-shot tequila (-1 par), 1-Jaeger Bomb (-2 par); a glass of water was a penalty of +4 par. Looking at the list of choices Naomi thought it would be lucky if any of them would be left standing at the end. "Okay guys, I'll be 'caddy' under one condition, I need to know where to take your drunken tails after because there is no way y'all be able to even see straight after all this!" They didn't argue, it was a perfectly logical thing to do to make sure everyone's safety in the end. Richard and Jason gave her their hotel addresses and room numbers, Elliot and Cameron gave her their home addresses; and they all pitched in $10 for transportation.
Once all these prerequisites were taken cared of the game began. First round was shots of tequila all around, so was the second. They left Wolfpack and walked down to doors to Landmark Inn & Pub. There the drinks varied a bit; for the third round Elliot went with the wine; Cam shot a Magic Dew, Rich and Jason went with Jaegers. Fourth round Richard downgraded to a Magic Dew along Cameron, Jason went for a Vodka Bull, and Elliot took a penalty with a glass of water. Across the street and down the block the group made it to an Irish Pub decorated with many clovers and lots of green. There they all went for double shots of Magic Dew, "its only fitting to have a green drink in a green bar!" So it went bar, after pub, all the way down and around five blocks. A few penalties were accumulated along the way. Jason took his 10th drink when he went for a piss, Elliott had to have a puke between the seventh and eighth bar. By the time they reached the ninth bar they were laughing, babbling, and some even stumbling. Hours later, they finally made it to the Posta Pool & Bar. Some got daring with a Jaeger Bomb or shot of tequila, while the early leader Jason took a break with a Magic Dew and a glass of water. Once they all finished their drinks Naomi waited a minute before declaring the winner, just in case someone made a last minute mistake.
"Okay, I have tallied the scores," she announced. "In third place with three under par, Cameron. In second place with five under par, Jason. And our winner for the night, the master of control, the all knowing Richard. (applause) Congrats, though I still wish I had a chance to drink one of you under the table."
"I'll take you up on that challenge." Cameron came and sat next to her, "pick your poison."
"You are already partly buzzed, it wouldn't be fair to you," Naomi pointed out.
"Nonsense, I've seen you drink a glass here and there," he said. "I'm sure we are about equally buzzed. So what will it be?"
"Alright, I'll make it quick for you." Naomi took a look at the choices behind the bar, and thought about it a moment, "Tennessee whiskey. Though I hate to take you back to Charlene in a drunken stupor I'll go forth with this challenge, but on one condition. With each shot we need to answer one question from the other person, and they must be answered in as much truth as possible. Any lies the person has to have another shot. First person to not want to answer a question or can't take another shot looses."
Cam agreed. "First question, and I'll make it easy for you, what are your plans for the rest of the year."
She shot the whiskey back, it burned going down. "That's easy. Find a new house, finish my book, then I don't really know. Maybe Christmas holidays in Europe or something. My turn, What do you really think of your job at the firm?"
He drank the whiskey and she took a bit of pleasure at seeing him squint his eyes as the drink burned him from the inside. "It's okay. Not my dream job, but it pays the bills. Okay, tougher. Why didn't you let me come help you when you needed it last year?"
That was a low blow, but two could play that game. "I could handle herself just-"
He buzzard Naomi. "Liar, I know you better than that. Try again."
"Fine," Naomi took a deep breath and took another shot, "I didn't want to look weak. I never really asked for help before and I wasn't about to ask for it then." Naomi shot him a dirty look and shot back with a question of her own, "Why didn't you chase after me when we last broke up? I moved with my mother from Cocoa to Okaloosa; I told you I didn't want to go and that I wanted us to move in together, and you left me hanging. Why?"
This got the other guys attention. Cameron and Naomi had broken up, supposedly a friendly break; but none knew the exact reason why. He looked pensive, "I don't know."
"Bullshit," Nancy spat. "That's bull and you know it."
"Okay, I didn't know what to do. I was barely 20 and you were going too fast for me. But I really didn't want you to go." Cameron took another shot of whiskey. "My turn. Why did you message me last year instead of so many others?"
"You were the only one on at the moment, and that is the honest truth." Naomi took her own shot of whiskey, her head started to feel like it wanted to implode. "I guess it's my turn to ask a question...Are you happy?"
Another moment of thought. Cameron shot the whiskey back and with a smile responded, "I'm within parameters."
Naomi could do nothing but laugh, it was such a typical Cam thing to say. "There is the smile I missed," he said tickling her sides. "It's your turn to drink. Look me straight in the eyes and answer me this...do you still love me?"
Naomi was utterly shocked, wasn't even sure how to answer the question. She drank the whiskey and hoped to take comfort in the warmth it brought. She didn't really want to answer the question and took another one. "I have to answer the truth right?"
"I asked the question, you are supposed to answer," Cam responded. "Unless you want to give up now."
"At the risk of sounding cheesy, weak, and girly," Naomi took a deep breath and plunged in; "yes, I still love you. What about you?"
He took his glass, emptied it in one quick gulp. "The answer to that question is -" (THUNK) His answered got cut off by the loud sound of Richard's head hitting the table. "Looks like Richard passed out."
"Don't change the subject and answer the question," Naomi prodded. She had opened up and she wasn't about to be left hanging.
"I did answer, and I'm not going to repeat it," Cameron said.
"That's not fair," Naomi exclaimed. "I couldn't hear through Richard's head hitting the table. If you aren't going to repeat the answer that's it. I'm not playing anymore."
"So do you admit defeat," Cameron asked.
"My head hurts, it's getting late, and I don't feel like arguing this," Naomi conceded. Her head was in no shape at the moment for a debate so she decided to admit defeat this one time. Naomi went to the restroom, called a taxi, paid the tab, and started escorting the guys outside.
As Elliot and Jason struggled to put the drunken figure of Richard in the taxi van Cameron pulled Naomi aside. "Just so that you aren't left hanging, let me show you something." With that he cradled her face in his hands and kissed her. Her lips opened to his; she could taste the whiskey, the Mountain Dew, and everything else he drank that night. But beyond that Naomi could taste him, he still tasted like she remembered. He removed his lips from hers and whispered in her ear, "I'd like to be with you tonight, if you'll let me."
Naomi wasn't sure what to say. On one hand she'd love to spend a night making love to him; on the other, did she want to be 'the other woman'? Unsure Naomi took a quick glance at the cab and noticed the guys had managed to get in the cab. Naomi stalled for time. "We should get in the cab and take care of the others."
Time passed quietly in the taxi. First they dropped off Richard at the Radisson which was closest, then took Elliott home at Brentwood. As Naomi got back in the taxi she noticed both Cameron and Jason had fallen asleep, which made her decision much easier. On the way to Glenwood Village Naomi took out a pad and pen from her purse and jot a quick note.
They got to Cameron's house, roused him up enough to half-way walk up to his house and propped him up against the wall as Naomi knocked on the door.
"No I don't wanna go home," he mumbled. "I want to stay with you. Please don't go away from me."
Naomi's heart lurched.. It would be so easy to steal him away in this state, but Naomi knew it was wrong. Charlene answered the door with a suspicious look on her face.
"Hello Charlene," Naomi said quickly, nerves taking the better of me. "We haven't met in person but I'm Naomi. I brought Cameron here to you, as you can tell he is in no shape to drive. And I can't stay because I still have Jason I have to drop off before I get to my hotel." With that Naomi pushed Cameron in her arms and slipped her note in her hand, and quickly ran away back to the taxi.
Naomi dropped off Jason at his hotel and then went to mine. She was glad for the sanctuary of her quiet hotel lobby, clean, bright, and no one in sight except for the Front Desk clerk reading a sci-fi book. Naomi went up to her suite, kicked off her shoes, and massaged her hurting feet. Still too wired to sleep Naomi decided she actually had an ending for her book. "Even a twisted ending was still an ending."
Charlene dragged the drunken figure of her husband to the guest room near the entrance. Slowly she walked to the kitchen and turned on the overhead lamp over the stove and read the note Naomi left in slipped in her hand as she hastily ran back to the taxi:
I understand why you may think of me as competition, or just plain regard me warily. Cameron and I dated many years ago when we were in high school, but we broke up many times because he cheated on me and I knew each of the girls he cheated on me with. I know the last and final time we broke up you were that girl. I just want you to understand that though I still love him, I understand that he has chosen you over me. And all these years that he could have left and come for me, he didn't. He made his choice, and I am a firm believer in sticking with your decisions.
I vow to you that I will not knowingly try and steal Cameron away from you. And if he should ever come knocking at my door for a tryst I won't deny him; but in respect to sisterhood I will kick him back in your direction. For he married you, not me.
"Well, isn't that interesting," Charlene said slipping the note down the slide of the trashcan.
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