The party was bigger than Georgina anticipated. There were obviously a lot of people who wanted to see Dylan. He had always been popular. In School and later in college, Dylan had always been a crowd pleaser. He knew how to get along with everyone.
She spotted Scarlet and Gill and immediately over to them. "You’re a bad girl." Gill wagged his finger at her.
He raised a hand to silence her, "Noah told me everything."
"I’m sure he could hardly wait," Georgina said, her voice dripping sarcasm.
"Sarcasm won’t help you," Gill continued in a sing-song voice, "What were you thinking?"
"Do you agree with him?" She turned to Scarlet.
"Maybe let the guy get settled in before you try to jump his bones."
"That was not what I was trying to do," she said slowly, "I was just offering him some advice."
"Is that the same advice you offer your patients to leave their families," Gill shook his head, "I am disappointed, so disappointed I’m going to get another drink."
"Why is this such a big deal?" Georgina took off her scarf. "I am allowed to say what I want to Dylan."
"Five years ago yes, but is this the same guy or is this a man who is hurting. His wife and daughter are in another country, this can’t be easy for him."
"So now I’m the bad guy."
"You will be if you don’t handle the situation with a little more delicacy. Dylan is here because he needs time to think. Space to sort out everything. Don’t be the pushy woman in love with her best friend looking for a gap."
"Fine. I get your point."
She heard his voice across the room, but paused and counted to 10 before turning to smile.
"You’re late," Dylan scolded. He was drunk she realized. "You were late for my farewell and you’re late for my welcoming party."
"That’s Georgina always late on the uptake," Noah approached a beautiful woman on his arm.
"You have a new friend," she shot at him.
"Everyone this is Francis. We met at the club."
"Of course," Georgina prickled and he shot her a warning look.
"Are you enjoying yourself," he turned to Dylan.
"Yes. I didn’t know you had done so well for yourself. This a great place."
"Yeah, Noah likes to show it off every chance he gets," Georgina slotted in.
"Georgina, help me in the kitchen," he hauled her off to the kitchen before she could refuse.
"This is a catered party."
"I wanted to spare you from embarrassing yourself." He said curtly.
"That’s usually your territory."
He tensed, "He isn’t back one day and you’re already acting like we’re back in school."
Georgina felt bad, she knew he was sensitive about their childhood. "Look I realize that I was a bit aggressive this afternoon but I promise to take things slower."
"You forget, I know what you hope. But what if he goes back to Australia, will you wait around again hoping that something else happens," he stopped and turned to her, "Don’t answer that."
"And why are we talking about me. What happened to Selene? Who is that out there?" She pointed in the direction of the lounge.
"Selene and I-didn’t work out," he explained with a casual shrug.
"Maybe you should stop bringing these women around."
"Georgina, are you going to start lecturing me on my bad taste in women."
"So you agree then," she looked at him, "I’m going to get back out there. You're coming?"
"I’ll join you in a minute. I just need to check on the wine."
She left him and joined Scarlet and Gill. "Everything fine between you two?"
"You know Noah, always the moral compass forcing me back on the right path," she looked around, "Where’s Dylan?"
She went in search for him and found him in one of the guest rooms. He was sprawled across the bed, his face buried in a pillow.
"I’m sorry. I guess I went too hard," he moaned when she sat on the edge of the bed. "I guess the alcohol helps to block it all out." Georgina felt his pain. "I just keep imagining her with him."
Georgina stroked his back, "It will get better."
"Does it, can this get better, maybe you were right. Maybe there is no forgiveness for something like this."
"I wouldn’t take everything I say so seriously."
He rolled over onto his back, "I do take what you say seriously. You’re the one person I can rely on to, tell me the truth," he looked at her, "what should I do?"
"What you should do is sleep for now. You can always decide what to do tomorrow." She pulled the blanket over him and stayed until he had drifted off to sleep.
"Well, he’s out for the night."
Scarlet and Gill smiled, "We’re heading out anyway. You want to catch a cab with us."
"No, I’m going to stay."
"I’ll drive her home." Noah assured them.
"Where’s whatever her name is." Georgina questioned.
"She went to a better party."
"You were right," he handed her a glass of wine. The party was coming to an end and the last people were leaving. She curled up on his couch in front of the fire. "I shouldn’t push him. He’s fragile," she bent her head, "I’m supposed to be the therapist," he didn’t say anything, "This is the part when you’re supposed to say, it's alright that we all make mistakes."
He laughed, "Do you want ice cream?" She blinked, "There’s a great place downstairs that stays open late, I think you’re in desperate need if ice cream."
They pulled on their coats and headed downstairs to the shop. Afterwards they walked with their cones along the busy sidewalk. "You’re right this is good."
He smiled, "Can I ask you something?" She nodded, "When we were younger and you could have made your move. Why didn’t you?"
She considered this, "I think I was afraid. I know I was afraid," he waited, "Now I’m 28 years old and I feel I have nothing to lose."
"I guess, everything seemed intimidating back then."
"What’s your biggest regret?" She walked backwards looking at him. "I mean I know you’re a huge corporate success with a massive penthouse and women falling all over you and then there’s the name," she laughed and stumbled over a loose brick. He caught her easily and steadied her. "You have everything what could you possibly regret?" She decided for herself.
"I have regrets," he said quietly looking at her for a moment. Then he turned back towards the apartment. "I wish I had been there when my sister needed me. If I hadn’t been so set on my own goals, I would have noticed that something was wrong."
Georgina was silent as he spoke. Grace Scott had been a troubled girl. By the time that anyone took it seriously, she had tried to take her own life. She was now a permanent resident at psychiatric facility in the city. "It was your sister," she said suddenly. He looked at her questioningly, "That was why I became a psychiatrist."
"I should never have you allowed to come on those visits."
"It was silly of me to say you don’t have regrets," she apologized.
"You have a lot on your mind. Come on let's go check on the object of your affection."
"Hey, morning sleepyhead." Noah pushed a cup of coffee towards Dylan.
"I am so sorry," Dylan mumbled graciously accepting the coffee. "I know I ruined the party."
"It served its purpose." Noah smiled ruefully, "Listen you don’t have to explain anything to me. I know all about family dramas."
"That you do," Dylan agreed, "Look I’ve been a bit of an ass. I guess coming back here after all these years and seeing what a success everyone has made of their lives hit hard. I mean my life is a mess."
"Like I said you don’t have to explain. You are more than welcome to offload though."
"How’s Georgie been? She looks great by the way. Doesn’t she?"
"Yes, she does," Noah said thinly.
"Did something happen between the two of you."
"I want to know."
"With all due respect dude, it has nothing to do with you."
"So something did happen."
"Why do you care?"
"She’s my best friend."
Noah’s eyes widened, "Right," he made to leave.
"Come back. I’m sorry I know I have no right to pry."
"No, you don’t. Nothing happened but maybe you should ask yourself why you give a damn. Other than the fact that she’s your best friend. I’ll drop you off at home, so you can get properly settled."
"What did you say to Dylan?" Noah hung up on whoever he was speaking to and leaned back in his chair.
"What a pleasant surprise. On a Sunday."
Georgina steadied her temper, "What did you say to Dylan about us?"
"What would I say? There is no us." Noah stood and moved round his desk to lean on it.
"We had lunch today and he wanted to know if something had happened between us."
"And what did you say?"
"I told him that nothing happened between us, of course."
"Of course," he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Would you stop that," she wrung her hands; "Looking so suave and charming… Just stop being so distracting," he smiled easily. "I need to think."
"Georgina. What is the problem here? So we slept together. It was a long time ago."
"More like a month ago. If that is a long time ago for you, then we’re obviously using different dictionaries," she looked at him, "You don’t think anyone knows."
"God forbid that someone should know that we’re friends with benefits," he mocked.
"Don’t be crude."
"Did you come here to fight, or can I please get you out of that dress."
"Who was that woman on Friday?"
"You care?" He launched himself off the desk and came towards her.
"We cannot keep doing this," she sighed heavily against him. Reveling in the feel of his strong body against hers.
"Now that Dylan is back you mean," he stepped back, "fine."
She wrapped her arms around him, "Wait, Noah."
"I thought you wanted to stop," he leaned back against her.
"I do, are we still fine."
"Are we teenagers? Don’t worry about it."
"Of course, you have options."
"Your low opinion of me continues to give me endless pleasure."
"Noah Ryan, did I hurt your feelings."
"All the time," he grinned, "What are you still doing here with me. Go on."
She kissed him, "You’re a great friend."
"So I’ve been told."