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Charles, my future husband, (I just hadn't known it yet) would break down my walls, win over my friends, and completely shatter my perceptions of men.

What a feat! He deserves some kind of metal for his bravery. I was 22 years old when I met him.

The first time I laid eyes on him he had been sitting at the gazebo in front of our building. His light brown hair was cut super short and he sat down bundled up in this large jacket that didn't seem to fit him quite right.

Monterey didn't get that cold so it seemed like an odd choice but it was January so I couldn't hold it against him. I watched him puff on his Newport cigarette as I walked down the path.

The sun was setting and the suns rays hit him at just the right angle. His youthful yet chiseled features captured my interest. A part of me wanted to take a detour and stop into that gazebo, maybe ask him if I could bumm one off of him, but I had obligations.

Mimmie and I had just finished getting ready to head to the bar. Everyone wanted to celebrate the ex-boyfriend's new relationship. I was still with Jeremy during , and he wasn't invited so unfortunately for me I would be going dateless.

"Why don't you just let him come, Catherine?" she asked me exasperated.

"I don't want him there," I replied a little more harshly than I had intended.

This had been about a week before he and I broke up. They had been asking to meet him. Telling me to bring him around so they could see if he was worthy of me. That was the thing though, I didn't want to bring him around. He was my secret. He was just mine and I didn't want to share him with them.

I didn't want him involved in my world. I wanted to keep him on a shelf. Was that selfish of me?

Looking backing maybe He right to be so hurt by my unwillingness to allow him to invade my life? Here I was eyeballing this beautiful specimen sitting at the gazebo, telling myself that I would willingly bring this stranger to meet my friends.

I paused for a second to question that logic and quickly dismissed it. I didn't even know this stranger. Why would I be willing to allow him to enter my circle?

It was a curious thought that I allowed to pass by quickly. After I shook those foolish thoughts from my mind I proceeded as planned. It was Saturday which meant hotel night. We would be having more fun that I was prepared for and unfortunately, tonight would be at Mimmie's expense. She just didn't know it yet.

The evening carried on, everyone was drinking and smoking and having an amazing time. Lots of sexy dancing and the beverages flowed easily. The new girlfriend was as annoying as ever. Every story she told involved me and my relationship with her boyfriend in some way and that troubled me.

Could she not see that bringing up our relationship was uncomfortable? Or had she expected that would somehow push me out?

I was the only one in the group that was dating 'outside' of the group. Maybe, her logic was to make me uncomfortable enough to leave. Poor thing. She must have known that wouldn't work. She wasn't one of us.

She was just barely accepted here and that was only because he wanted it. If it weren't for his wishes and my approval she would be gone. I decided to let it pass. He needed this and I am a good friend. I'll tolerate her nonsense for a while longer.

A few eye rolls later, I began to relax as I found myself talking to the girls about the mysterious stranger that I saw at the gazebo.

"Aren't you dating that guy from your class?" Sally asked.

"Yeah, you know, he's great in bed, don't get me wrong. It's just..." I trailed off. Lost in my own thoughts. What was it? What was it about Jeremy that was wrong. He's a player but I hadn't actually heard or seen him with anyone besides me.

What was happening?

"What?" Mimmie asked and then sneezed loudly.

"You alright?" I asked her.

"Yeah, I think I am coming down with..." she sneezed again. Oh boy. This wasn't a good sign.

"Let's get you back to the hotel," Sally said.

With her hand outstretched, Mimmie reached for her and their fingers laced together.

"Parties over," the ladies said in unison.

"The party continues back at the hotel" Barry chimed in after seeing the ladies packing it up.

"Fine by me," Sally said with a wink. "So, Cathy, what is it? You going to bring him around or what?"

"Maybe," I said.

"I know he's real I've seen you two together. Why are you hiding him from us, he's hot." Sally said with another one of her famous winks.

"That he is. Let me think about it. You know that guy is annoying. I don't know if I want him around." I said being truly honest about my feelings.

"If you think he is boring, drop his ass and find someone else. Don't bring any fucking boring ass dudes into our group Cathy. I won't allow it." Barry said in a matter of fact tone. He annoyed me too.

"I will BRING whomever I want to BRING, BA.R.R.Y" I stretched out his name to let him know that his words annoyed me.

Barry and I tolerated each other but some days the hostility was thicker than others. I was the only person in the group beside Mary that he hadn't bedded. Mary was in a serious relationship with Barry's number two Brad. It was no surprise that Barry hadn't bedded Mary, Brad would have lost his shit.

They were madly in love those two. From the moment they first laid eyes on one another. It was like one of those fairytale moments. Truly inspiring. I kept waiting for Brad to screw it up but he never did. He always looked at Mary as though she were the only person in the room. 17 years later and those two are still a couple. (I thought you'd like to know)

Barry had gone through all of the others. Mimmie knew about it but she preferred to be ignorant. Ignorance is bliss after all.

Even though she knew, she didn't know and not knowing was better than knowing because if she knew she had to admit that her had chosen her friends poorly or that Barry wasn't who she thought he was.

Neither or those options worked for her. I would discover later that she had preferred her ignorance but not tonight. Tonight, the events that took place would challenge my loyalties.

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