"Where's Noah these days, have you seen him recently?"
"No," Scarlet said, they were preparing dinner, "but Gill and I will see him this weekend."
"What's happening this weekend?"
"George, Noah has been in Paris for the past three weeks, he's coming back on Friday," she shrugged, "we're taking him out as a welcome back."
Georgina stopped stirring and looked at her friend, "what do you mean he's coming back from Paris?"
Scarlet shrugged, "He's been overseeing the opening of a branch there."
"When did this happen?" Georgina was shocked, had she been that consumed in her own life that she didn't even know when one of her closest friends had left the country?
"Three weeks ago," Scarlet repeated slowly, "I guess you were so busy with Dylan you forgot all about him."
"Did you guys go see him off?"
"Of course we did, we're his friends," Scarlet said in a rough tone.
"Wait, are you angry at me? I've been sensing something from you and Gill, and I just didn't want to say anything."
"Of course not love," Scarlet laughed and left the room suddenly. Georgina stared at the stove and the pasta sauce she had been making, then she slowly switched the stove off and went in search of her friend. She found Scarlet out in the garden smoking a cigarette.
"Why didn't anyone tell me, I would have also liked to be there."
"It's just a business trip, I thought he told you. I just assumed you were busy on that day and that's why you weren't there."
Georgina sat down on the stairs and looked at her friend. "I know this may sound strange but I feel as if you're all slipping away from me and there's nothing I can do to bring you back."
"Why are you being so dramatic, did you even think to call the guy? You randomly thought about Noah today and found out he's been away on business."
"You make me sound awful."
"Look don't lose sleep over it, he's finally coming back. Thank God, I don't think I can stand spending this much time with Gill. I mean I love the guy but Noah is a vital part of my relationship working. Why are you so upset over this anyway?" She was suddenly suspicious.
"I don't know," Georgina snapped, "we used to tell each other everything, spend time together, we were close."
"And now you have a boyfriend. Do you blame Noah for stepping back? He's being considerate. You can't have your cake and eat it too."
"Do you think that I want that?"
Scarlet looked away, "I think that you're an amazing person and you're one of my best friends, but sometimes I think you are the most selfish, self-absorbed person I know." She walked past Georgina and back into the house, leaving Georgina feeling small and ashamed.
She dug her phone out of her pocket and dialed his number, she was surprised when he answered, "Hi, where are you?" She asked.
There was a slight pause, "Hello to you too," came that familiar suave and incredibly sexy voice. "I'm well, how are you Georgina?"
She glared, "I'm fine. Where are you?"
"From the tone in your voice, I think you know where I am."
"When were you thinking of telling me this."
"I didn't think I had to inform you of my every move," he drawled. She could hear music and chatter in the background. She could picture him at some chic Paris nightspot surrounded by beautiful Parisian women. "How's Dylan?"
"He's fine," she snapped, "we're in love and it's great."
He laughed, "I'm glad, well you can tell me all about it when I'm back."
"When are you back?" She asked even though Scarlet had told her.
"Alright, I'll probably see you then," she said quietly, suddenly feeling stupid for calling him.
"Speak later?" He said and cut the call. She stared at the phone and then resisting the urge to fling it against the garden wall, shoved it back into her pocket and went back inside.
She watched him, he had just entered the crowded bar with Gill. He greeted a few people and kissed a woman on her cheek. All smiles, she noticed joking with Gill as they approached the table. Scarlet was up and throwing her arms around him.
"I guess you missed me."
"Like you have no idea," Scarlet laughed, "here take him back, he's all yours," she shoved Gill towards him. Noah grinned and then his eyes fell on her. She felt a nervous flutter and then she felt herself standing to face him. The bar and all its people seemed to fade away and all she could do was take him in, the way he was still the same, yet seemed so different.
"Hello Georgina," he greeted easily breaking the spell.
He looked past her and saw Dylan, "Hey, how are you?" He shook his hand and then he turned back to her, "have you been well?" She nodded, her tongue felt heavy. He frowned finding her behavior odd.
"Can someone please get me a drink," he turned to Gill expectantly.
Gill motioned for a waiter and then placed a long order. Noah shook his head, "I take it, we're not walking home."
Gill slapped him on the back, it was easy to see that he had missed his friend, but she had so much that she wanted to say to him, so much that she wanted to make right.
"How's the romance going?" Noah asked when he had a drink in his hand; she was pleasantly surprised that he was actually staying with her.
"It's going well."
"I believe you said you're both in love," he added on, he greeted someone and then turned his attention back to her.
"Yes, I did say that," she murmured, distracted when someone else came over to steal his attention away. This time he turned away and entered into conversation with the man.
Georgina sat back down next to Dylan who leaned over to plant a kiss on her cheek. She smiled at him and took a quick sip of her drink. What was that feeling when everything was not, how it should be, and you could see it happening right before your eyes? That was how she felt sitting here watching him.
"Do you want another drink?" Scarlet shouted down at her, Georgina nodded and Scarlet motioned to Noah, "can I have another drink," she asked him, "and for Georgina," Noah nodded and disappeared into the throng of people. Georgina bristled with unexpected jealousy that Scarlet could be so free and easy with him. "Excuse me," she said and quickly scooted out of the booth and went in search of him. She found him at the counter waiting for the drinks. He had struck up a conversation with a woman.
"There you are," she gushed pushing in-between them, acting as if she didn't realize he was in the middle of a conversation, "we were wondering what was taking so long," she lied and smiled up at him.
"Here I am," Noah said turning back to the counter.
"Do you want a shooter?" She asked suddenly.
"Sure, why not," he held up two fingers to the bartender, who set down two shot glasses, "whiskey straight," Noah said and grinned at her sick expression. They clinked glasses and she threw back the shot. She shook her head as the warm liquid burnt its way down her throat, "shall we?" He held their drinks in his hands and they made their way back to the table.
Noah sat down beside Scarlet who leaned her head on his shoulder, "I've missed you," she sighed and closed her eyes.
"Yeah, what made you get up and leave to Paris?" Dylan asked.
"We're opening a branch there," Noah explained.
It's just that you didn't say anything, I didn't even know you were gone."
"Exactly," Noah relaxed in his chair, "it's not such a big deal, is it."
"No, it isn't," Scarlet opened her eyes and looked across at Dylan, "you don't know these two," she said referring to Gill and Noah, "if you don't keep tabs on them they'll be calling you from Mexico," she laughed, "but that's what makes it so exciting."
"I like a bit of stability in my life."
"That's great," Noah said.
"We're happy for you, aren't we," Gill teased roughly and then smiled as if realizing how hostile he must sound.
"When are you going back?" Dylan asked.
Noah thought about this, "I'm scheduled to go back next month. Gill is coming with me, aren't you?" Gill nodded eagerly, "no but it's exciting stuff. I saw your brother when I was there," he mentioned, "we went out a couple of times."
Dylan sobered, "James was always the more business inclined."
"He's brilliant actually," Noah said, he turned to Gill, "we spent the whole night arguing about the new strategy I'm trying to implement, I'll share some of it with you. He had some interesting points that made me revisit part of my approach."
Dylan nodded but the conversation was not his cup of tea. Georgina could tell that Dylan felt uncomfortable with the mention of James. She supposed it had to do that he would at some point have to settle down and get a job and that might involve working for his brother. They had spoken about it but Dylan was still more than happy to live off his trust fund. That had never been a problem for her while they were friends, but now that they were seeing one another, she wanted him to think seriously about his future. Those conversations usually ended badly and she had stopped asking him, besides it was not like he needed a job. She also tried to remind herself that even though she had known Dylan all her life, they had only been dating for three weeks.
"Alright," Gill stood up, "will you hate me if I call it a night?"
"Getting old," Noah teased.
"Look who's talking," Noah stood up so that Gill and Scarlet could get out, "breakfast tomorrow?" Gill asked.
"Of course," Noah slapped him on the back and kissed Scarlet goodnight.
"I'm also tired love," Dylan said.
Georgina looked at Noah, "We can't just leave Noah here by himself," she protested, "you go on with Gill and Scarlet."
Dylan hesitated then shrugged his shoulders and left with Gill and Scarlet.
Noah whistled and then ordered two more drinks. "What?" She asked indifferently, "he didn't look too happy about that."
"We're all friends, we've been friends for ages, Gill leaves you alone with Scarlet doesn't he?"
"Yeah, but I didn't sleep with Scarlet, nor have I ever wanted to," he supplied smoothly, looking directly at her a lazy yet incredibly sexy look on his face. Georgina blushed, "I see you remember that little detail."
"That was a long time ago," she said flustered, remembering the details of what he spoke of.
"About two months ago give or take," he corrected, "but who's counting."
"You're impossible," she said, "if this is the way you're going to act then I'll also leave."
"Be my guest."
She hesitated, "I forgot what an ass you could be," she took a sip of her new drink.
"Yet you missed me so much you sent your boyfriend home alone," he sat forward, "you didn't even know I was gone, did you," she lowered her eyes, "Hey, it's cool, you're happy. It's normal."
"Noah..." she began and then she stopped herself. She looked up at him feeling like it was all there for him to see, the confusion and secret longing that she had never wanted to fully give in to.
He straightened and sat back, "Maybe we should call it a night."
"I think so too."
They paid for their drinks and got a cab. Both of them were silent on the way to her house.
"It was good seeing you again," she said as they stood on the curb, in front of her house, "I'll see you around."
"Take care of yourself," he said and turned to the cab, then rounded and it seemed on impulse clasped his hand on the back of her head and kissed her on the forehead, "you're still my No. 1," he said and then got back into the cab and it drove off leaving her alone but incredibly happy.