I didn't know Lyn very well back in her former life - we were internet buddies, and our conversation didn't stray very far from the topics of the fora where we met - but I suspect that Jake wasn't very much of a party person. Now, Lyn's a total party girl, but give her credit - as much as she likes going out, flirting, and getting wasted, she still has enough of Jake's interest in how things work and maybe a little ambition left, so she has also figured out how to throw a good party.
This is a skill. I know, because I've tried to do it in the past, and no matter what body I was wearing, it was a disaster. I was stressed, the room frequently went dead silent, and it took me days to clean up. Lyn, on the other hand, knows where to find absolutely everything she needs, can set up a five-hour-long playlist ahead of time, knows just when to disappear into the kitchen to bring out some more snacks, and balances the invitation list so that everybody has someone to talk to all night, even if people decline. I strongly suspect she had the apartment cleaned up within an hour of people heading home.
Me, I'm not much of a party girl. Even if I'm a bit more comfortable in my skin now, "party" meant "networking" meant "work" while I was with Rick, and who wants that? Plus, as much as I enjoy being tall and fit and all, it means decent party wear is expensive, and if the party with just the right sort of girl I despise, I get ragged on for basically cycling through the same few outfits. Or they'll find some way to rip into me no matter what I do for footwear - I'll be too tall, or déclassé, or something. Besides, parties happen at the time sports is going on, and I'm busy writing and revising game stories.
I got New Year's Eve off, at least, so I headed to Lyn's. She met me at the door, took my coat, and had just enough time to make sure I had a beer and chat with me for a few minutes before slipping away to handle something, but when she did she made sure I was deposited among some pleasant company.
The big surprise of the night was when Liz and Ray showed up. I'd only seen them once since getting to town as Penny, and they don't know who I am. Lyn tells me that even though Liz had said she'd wanted to talk, she hadn't made a regular thing of it, just dropping back into her old life like nothing had happened, although she did more or less cut off contact with Lyn. Curious, I eventually made my way to that sector of the party, drifting into a conversation about something or other. I was a bit disappointed but not surprised when they didn't remember me from September. Someone else decided I looked familiar, and I mentioned that sometimes Boston Today let me do an opinion column and ran a picture with it - I think the last one had been about the Yankees signing Teixeira - and that was when Ray remembered that we'd met.
I asked how they knew the hosts and got the response about Liz and Ashlyn having been roommates, although they hadn't talked much lately, and Lyn and Ray had just run into each other Christmas shopping a week or so earlier. Of course, having a couple of drinks in me, I didn't immediately recognize that this meant they would toss the question back at me. Fortunately, Lyn is a party savant and appeared beside me out of thin air, telling an embellished version of the time I came to cover the lacrosse all-star game, where I was uncomfortable in Headlights and she helped keep me loose and we met at the bar later, exchanged cards, and I found hers when I wound back up in Boston.
Liz and Ray may not have recognized me, but someone else did. Just walked up and told me he liked my dress, and the paper should let me use a picture that shows off my legs. I blushed a bit, and came back with the very real problem that if they did, then they'd have to do it with everyone else to show there wasn't a double standard, and brother, you do not want to see more than a headshot of some of these guys. He laughed and said that was fair, and we talked sports for a while.
His name was Chance Owsley, he's the right height to be eye-level, and not unpleasant to look at. He seemed funny and smart and not inappropriately touchy at all, which isn't always a given. I wasn't displeased when he called me a couple days later so much as surprise, since I hadn't given him my number.
I dragged Lyn out for coffee on Saturday to get to the bottom of it, and she shrugged it off. "He asked, I supplied. You looked cute together."
"What makes you think I wanted his number? Don't you think I'd have asked for it?"
"You? Ha! Art would never let Penny have a guy's number."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Art-slash-Penny, you know I love you, right? I've been where you are, working for someone and then doing something ambitious on the side, filling up your time too much to have a personal life. The Inn yanked me out of it, and even if the way it happened was shocking, I'm grateful that it did. It just looked to me like you could use a yank, and no-one else was going to do it. Relax, he's an awesome guy - I wouldn't let him near you if he wasn't."
"Maybe I don't want a guy!"
"Why? Have you decided to explore other options without telling me?"
"Maybe I have!"
"Yeah, right. You were with Rick way too long for me to think you don't like guys."
"And that's worked out so well."
"Hey... This is different. It's not someone you're inheriting, or someone who is just convenient. It's someone who is interested in you. Not the person who used to look like you, you. That's wonderful, Art. Even if you've had that as a guy, it's different as a girl. You deserve it."
I don't know that I came away completely convinced, but while trying to find another message on my phone today, I came across his.
What the hell, I don't have any plans for Saturday night.