Romance Funny Friendship

“You know, Cecilia. Loneliness is just as dangerous as smoking. As SMOKING. Just imagine it now, your heart is deteriorating and you don’t even get the benefit of the nicotine buzz,” her mother paused for dramatic effect, which Cecilia filled with a deep sigh.

Cecilia wasn’t lonely. She just liked being at home. After all, her home was perfectly comfortable, thank you very much. 

“Mom,” she said. “Thank you for your concern, but I’m not lonely. I have friends--great friends, actually--and they understand that I just don’t like to go out all that often. My heart is totally fine.”

After ending the call, Cecilia flipped over to her messaging app. She pulled up the group thread with Jon and Lena, her two best friends. 

Cecilia: My mom says staying at home on a Friday night will give me a heart attack.

Jon: She’s right. Come out with us. 

Lena: She is NOT right. Your heart is fine. However, there’s bound to be a serial killer who knows your extraordinarily boring routine, and we won’t discover your body for at least a few days, because we’ll just assume you’re watching Lifetime Movies about serial killers. 

Cecilia rolled her eyes. Jerks.

Cecilia: For your information, the Lifetime Movie on my DVR has a movie about a killer nanny, NOT a serial killer. And it has one of my favorite 80s TV stars in it, so …

Jon: eye roll emoji

Lena: gag me. See you Sunday for brunch.


As she scrolled through her Instagram feed the next day, Cecilia came across Jon and Lena’s posts from their night out. Everyone looked deliriously happy, their arms around each other as the sunset behind them. Cecilia imagined the warm breeze hitting them as they sat with their drinks, singing along to the music.

Sure, she felt a little twinge of jealousy when she saw those photos. Her best friends were having fun without her, but they’d had the choice to stay in with her, and instead, they went to see a local reggae band play. They always blamed her for choosing to stay in, but they were ALSO making a choice to go OUT. They liked being out around other people, and Cecilia … did not.

BUT that didn’t mean that she would die of loneliness. Right?


“Next Friday night,” Jon was saying, “we are going to Gavin’s housewarming party.”

“I’m not,” Cecilia blurted, then took a big sip of her mimosa. “He doesn’t even have a house. Nobody needs a party just because they’re moving to a different bedroom in somebody else’s house.”

“That’s fair,” Lena said. “But it’s a reason for us to have fun. And you haven’t gone anywhere with us in forever. Jon and I talked about it, and he said he would have a sleepover with us on Saturday night at your house, sleeping bags and popcorn, and as many killer nanny movies as you want. What do you say?”

Cecilia thought back to that pang of sadness, or whatever it was that she felt when she saw them having fun without her. She knew she didn’t want to go. She hated parties. And even if she said yes, she’d be thinking of excuses to get out of it right up until the last minute.

Jon took her hand. “Come on, Cece. We won’t leave you alone until you agree. AND Mr. Suspenders will be there.”

She turned and punched Jon in the arm. So she thought men who wore suspenders were sexy. So what?

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll go. But I’m not going to like it. And you should know that I hate you both with a fiery passion.”

Lena grinned. “Mr. Suspenders, here we come!”


Cecilia stared at the clock. She had one hour before the housewarming party, and none of her excuses had worked. 

Cecilia: I have severe, explosive diarrhea. I’ll catch the next party.

Lena: Take some Immodium and wear an extra layer of underwear. Pick you up at 8.

Cecilia: you guys I’m so sorry but I volunteered my brain for science and they JUST called to say they’re on their way.

Jon: Girl, nobody wants your brain. Nice try.

Cecilia: I was just mugged outside my apartment. I’m going to bed early so I can seek my revenge tomorrow and get back my library card.

That time, they hadn’t even bothered to answer.


Cecilia hooked her arm through Jon’s. “You promise you won’t leave me?”

“I promise,” Jon said.

“You promise we can leave if I’m totally miserable?”

“Absolutely. But you won’t be.”

The three friends rang the doorbell and she could hear Gavin yell, “Only come in if you have gifts!”

Surprisingly, with Jon and Lena by her side, Cecilia had a good time. The margarita she had filled her with warmth and she laughed extra hard at Gavin’s “personal tour” of the teeny tiny bedroom he rented. “This is my closet, it’s got the BEST shelves, you guys. Sturdy, too. And over here is my window. I got custom-made blinds that let, like, zero light in.”

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Lena said. “Cece? Come with me?”

They headed out to the bathroom that Gavin shared with the rest of his housemates. There was a line. And at the back of the line? 

Mr. Suspenders.

Cecilia felt a warm feeling run from her head to her toes, like an electric shock. What in the world was happening to her? She had tried dating before and it had been awful. She liked her house and books and cheesy movies and her two best friends. 

Mr. Suspenders grinned at her, showing off one dimple and eyes that revealed nothing but kindness.

“Hey! Cecilia, right? I hoped you’d be here.”

Cecilia’s mouth hung open. He … what? What did he just say? He knew her name?

Lena put her arm around Cecilia and grinned. “My girl here was hoping you’d be here, too. She almost didn’t come tonight, but you were the deal-breaker.”

She was going to kill her best friend. Murder her. Murder her dead.

Mr. Suspenders laughed. “Well, I’m glad that’s the case. I wasn’t going to come tonight either, actually. Honestly, I’m not much of a party guy. I prefer to stay home and --”

“Watch movies?” Lena interrupted.

“Well, I mean, sure. Sometimes. I just like one-on-one more than I like big gatherings. I don’t really care what it is we’re doing, I just prefer more … intimate … settings.”

Cecilia’s knees buckled. The way he looked in those suspenders, plus the way his eyes looked into hers when he said the word intimate …

“So. I guess I’ll leave you two to it,” Lena said, looking from Cecilia to Mr. Suspenders. Cecilia nodded.

“I’ll be right behind you,” Cecilia said, “I’m just going to grab another drink.”

“Let me grab one for you. Margarita, right?” 

She nodded.

Then she grabbed her phone and texted her mom.

Cecilia: I think we’re all good on the heart deterioration front. Wink emoji.

Mom: What??????

Cecilia closed her messaging app and pressed the power button on her phone Her mom would have to wonder for a while. Thanks to her best friends, she was on her way to have a drink in an intimate setting with Mr. Suspenders.

July 30, 2021 00:24

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