(Originally published on March 20, 2003.)
They were in her den, four of them, tipsy on white whine and whisky. The brunette wore a sharp, new skirt and everyone noticed. All were comfortable, laughing, but Paul. The guy Lara invited over. They'd only been dating a couple of weeks, and while there wasn't a chemically-based attraction between them she kept seeing him because he smelled very, very clean and he really became hilarious after a few drinks. Paul liked her pretty okay, too. She had amazing breasts and this rubber face that he found endearing. And she wasn't needy like other girls, which was refreshing.
He liked to watch her with her friends, slipping into old routines, quoting television shows they all adored. She wished he would speak up, and maybe sneak a hand through her hair. He eyed her shoulders as they rose and fell, safely from the bean bag across the room.
Her brother flipped through albums, deciding on an appropriate selection. From the bean bag he watched the blurred faces of Michael Jackson and Carole King and Fleetwood Mac, as her brother sped through the records. Then an album bearing a name they all knew surfaced, and there was a snag in time, and Paul watched Lara's brother watch her as she swallowed, bit her cheek and grabbed her cigarettes. She made for the door, and Paul couldn't place just where he'd heard that name before.
And he suddenly, without reason, Paul grew to like Lara a whole lot more.