[No comments from the peanut gallery. Seriously, I know how long this took to get out (the last post was in June, I had to check for my numbers) and it really shouldn't be that long again because, well, usually when everything else demands my attention, my writing kicks back on. Go figure. Anyway. Enjoy it.]
"Yes," I stammered, doing an absolutely fantastic impression of a fish for longer than necessary, "Murphy's my boyfriend."
Which, well, no idea what would happen next.
"Ollie. Come sit." Tanya moved over and I walked woodenly to sit on the arm of the couch. "These are the girls - Katy, Amy, and Becca."
I smiled as best I could. Still reeling. It was like the secret wives club. Or something.
"Are you all dating football players?" Which, stupid question on my part. They went down the line.
And Murph. Okay. This...This was just weird. Not to mention awkward.
The next time I had my boyfriend alone I was going to praise him for his impeccable timing. Seriously. He opened the door and was followed in by four more guys - two I recognized (Johnny V. and Noah) and gave me a wave.
The boys scrounged up more chairs, there was some rearranging, and I was sitting sideways across Murph's legs, back against the arm of the couch. He had a beer in one hand, the other tracing nonsense patterns on my spine. And we all talked. About everything - classes, professors, athletics, coaches, movies, beer, and anything in between.
Murph's fingers were tangled around my belt loops and for as much as he'd drank - at least four - he was incredibly coherent, a slur every now and then, barely evident. Some of the others...not so much.
Katy, in particular (if she was the one I figured was her) got sloppy the more she had.
And that was before the bottle of vodka made an appearance.
It was getting late. And quite tiring. I propped my elbow on Murph's shoulder and rested my cheek on his temple. There was no way to check what time it was without pulling out a phone. That would mean moving. And that wasn't going to happen.
"Well," Murph said as Johnny V. disappeared into one of the rooms off the common room, "I think we're going to head out." A hand at the small of my back helped me up.
"We'll walk with you," Tanya said, smacking Noah's arm to get him moving.
This - I had no idea how to read this. Tanya hooked her arm through mine, waved goodbye to the girls, and steered me out the door.
"You got less nervous as the night went on."
It was that obvious? "Really?"
"Ollie. Please. The other girls might have been halfway gone but I hold my liquor better." She waved jauntily to some of the boys on the porch, heels clacking comfortably on the cracked path back to the sidewalk.
I nearly tripped over my Converse. Murph and Noah were following dutifully behind, arms slung over each others' shoulders for balance, laughing and joking. Every once in a while Murph would slip into Gaelic.
"There's no reason to be nervous." Tanya patted my arm, ignoring the appreciative looks of the semi-drunken boys passing on their way to other parties.
There probably wasn't. I still was.
My inner Spock was telling me it was highly illogical.
In true McCoy fashion, I ignored him.
"You guys do this a lot?"
Tanya shrugged. "We get together as girls sometimes and we hang out as couples. Katy and Becca are roommates and Amy and I are Soc majors."
Which didn't answer the original question, but okay.
We came to the corner the president's house sat on and she hugged me. Completely unexpected and a little bit welcome.
"You have nothing to be nervous about, Ollie," she said. "Now, where's my man?"
There was a thud, some cursing, and two large men in a heap on the grass. And that did not look comfortable by any stretch of the imagination.
Turns out that trying to touch knee to forehead while walking is not feasible. Murph heaved himself up, assisted Noah to his feet, and shook hands with the other man before he and Tanya continued down the street while Murph and I turned right. It was fairly early by collegiate standards by the time we made it to the door and up four floors of stairs. Murph's fingers were tangled with mine as we passed the first room on my floor - the perpetual party room - and there was high-pitched cackling in the bathroom I didn't want to bear witness to.
Murph was looking appropriately bleary-eyed by the time the door was open and the slightly illegal medusa lamp on. A pair of shorts and a t-shirt were laying on the bed while I grabbed my own pj's from the floor.
"I'll change in the bathroom." Which would save him some embarrassment. Exchanging Converse for bare feet and slippers, I left Murph wrestling with his layers on the indoor/outdoor carpet square.
There were girls I didn't know in the bathroom and I had to wait for a stall. The guy who finally came out and I stared each other down before going about our business.
Gotta love Saturday nights on a college campus.
Murph had the door propped open a bit when I got back - a sign he was done - and both our shoes by the door. I let it slip shut and he spit what looked like an entire pack of Winterfresh into the trashcan.
"Didn't think you'd want to share a pillow with beer breath."
Which was true, for the most part.
He locked the door and I went for the light, pausing for a second to look at his neat pile of clothes in my moon chair. A quick glance at the desk showed his wallet by the computer, underneath the hook where my Vera and his keys hung. I clicked the light off. The streetlight in the parking lot made seeing the floor a bit easier than total darkness, and Murph was a shadow in the night. I plugged my phone into the charger and vaulted into bed. Murph crawled in after and it took us some jostling to get settled - I rammed my knee into the electrical box that lead to the power strip in the wall and Murph, from the sound of it, smashed his toes into the side of the dresser at the foot of the bed - and finally he was curled tight to my back, nose behind my ear.
"Johnny had gone to get the peace pipe," Murph said quietly.
I wrestled the hair tie from my ponytail and tried not to whack him in the eye.
"I figured that would make you uncomfortable."
And he thought he right. I knew people did it, but I didn't want to be around it while it was happening. Just not my thing.
"You're right." I shrugged deeper into his chest. "You have to be anywhere tomorrow?"
He pulled the comforter around us and snuggled back in.
"Great," he breathed, kissing the back of my neck.
Damn straight, Murph. Damn straight.