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6 Six

    I saw Will when he walked into the coffeeshop, watched him look around before he saw me in the corner, face half hidden by a mystery novel. I pretended to sip my latte, smelled it instead. Was there latte-scented perfume? Latte bath salts?

    Will saw me and stomped over. "Do you ever answer your cell phone, Annie?"

    I patted my pocket. "Forgot it."

    "You left it at your apartment, didn't you? I bet it's sitting right there on the kitchen counter next to your house phone, as always. What's the point of having a cell phone if you keep leaving it there?"

    "My house phone gets lonely. I tried to set her up with the microwave, but he's a little hotheaded."

    He humphed and took the chair across from me.

    "Were you calling for any particular reason, or just to nag me?"

    He was staring at my latte. "You're not drinking that are you?"

    "No, of course not."

    "Good because I'm not going to hold your hair back all night."

    He would, though, if I needed him to, and it wouldn't be the first time.

    Will leaned forward and smelled my latte, then wrinkled his nose. "I want you to come to my party Monday night."

    No. "I can't. It's a weeknight," I said.

    "So...you have to be home by curfew?"

    "Who has a party on a Monday night?"

    "People who don't have to wait until Friday to have fun," he said. He gave me a partial smile that always made me think of Riker on Star Trek Next Generation.

    Damn, I had to stop hanging out with him. He was turning me geek.

    He continued, "Starts at nine. Don't eat my guests."

    "You're inviting cows?"

    "Don't call them that, Annie. It's gross."

    "Why are you inviting me to your cow party?"

    He sniffed at me, but he didn't realize how badly I didn't want to go to one of his parties, how long I had avoided going, had even avoided him when I knew one of his legendary bashes was approaching. He didn't understand the memories that would bite at me if I tried to sit in his living room and not imagine that night so many years ago, the night of what was, in my opinion, Will's only worthwhile bash ever.

    I bet he would even be serving Bloody Maries. Damn him.

    He was saying, "...low these days. I have to get some new or semi-new faces to show up or we're going to end up playing Pictionary and snacking on low-fat pretzels."

    My head tilted to one side.

    "An analogy, of course," he said. "Please come."

    "Will, I just-"

    "I'll invite Hyuck-Joo."

    "You hate Hyuck-Joo."

    "Yes, but you love him."

    "I don't love him," I stated.

    "Annie, he is one of the few people you will go out of your way to talk to. He even got you to go to a football game once, remember? You tolerated it for...for...."

    "For twenty minutes of great conversation."

    "That's pretty close to love for you," Will said, but he said it gently.

    "I go out of my way to talk to you."

    "Of course. You love me. I'm not implying anything romantic. Though if you want-"

    I gave his sleeve a light touch.

    He shut up. For an entire two seconds. "Just please come. I miss seeing you at these things."

    "You have never once looked in my direction during one of your parties. You're always deep in some philosophic or scientific debate with someone you end up calling a moron."

    "I'll hang out with you the whole time if you come," he promised.

    "No, you won't."

    "I'll talk to you for a full five minutes."

    I ran my fingers down the side of my coffee cup. I'd loved Will's parties once. I remember loving them, so surely it must have been that way.

    I said, "I'm going to spend the whole evening in a corner of the room wishing I were somewhere else."

    "So long as you show up, lemon drop. That's all I ask."

    Will stood to leave, tipping me one of his let-me-charm-you-baby grins. Then he dropped it, stepped around the dime-sized table, and hugged me.

    I don't know what I'm supposed to be anymore.

    Will whispered, "You remember that navy blue dress with the slit up the side?"

    I growled at him, but hugged him tighter for an instant before I let him go.

    What would've my life been without him?

    I might've needed two therapists.
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