The First Affair

The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin Read Free Book Online

Book: The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emma McLaughlin
Tags: Fiction / Contemporary Women
I proposed, a technique I’d used in the past to move the conversation off things I suddenly regretted bringing up, like my dad punching a wall parents’ weekend.
    “Nuh-uh.” Lena withdrew her hand. “No way are we just returning to our evening.” Spotting a garbage can, she grabbed my cone and tossed it along with hers while I flashed to coming upon Greg, the sound of his labored breath. She turned back to me. “How?”
    I shook my head as the mental sparkler I’d burned to the point of dust reignited. “I don’t even know.” The strip was at full throttle. It was the last place to be having this conversation that I never should have started. Girls burst from the bar behind us on the pulse of a throbbing bass. Giggling, they attempted to ballast each other.
    “You did— that —and you didn’t tell me for a week ?” Lena crossed her arms while I rubbed my sticky skin with sticky napkins. “I’ve been talking so much about my middle-school crush’s best friend hugging me at a bar that I’m actually hoarse and you’ve been sitting on this .”
    “I’m sorry!”
    “I feel like we’re going to be all face-lifted in our rocking chairs and you’re going to, I don’t know, slip in that you had a kid I never heard about.”
    “God.” I shuddered. “No. I only want the kids you will hear about.”
    “I’m being serious.”
    “Lena.”
    “No, you do this all the time. I tell you everything, every fucking thing.”
    “I tell—”
    “No, you talk and you’re the one with all the funny stories and everyone thinks you put it all out there, but then there are certain things where you do this weird look-over-here—when it comes to family—guys—and I’ve been thinking about it—”
    “You’ve been thinking about it?”
    “Don’t you trust me?” Her brown eyes searched mine. This was the last thing I wanted. It was, in retrospect, an unfortunate moment for Lena to hit her wall. I told her that I did trust her, because I did—because she was my most important person—and then I had to prove it.
    “We ended up in the private hallway that connects the Oval Office to his dining room and he kissed me.”
    “Holy. Shit.” She lifted her hands to her cheeks.
    “Yeah.”
    “Holy. Shit.”
    I nodded, the wine swinging my head into a deeper dip.
    “We need to—I don’t know what—get more drinks. And candy.”
    I pulled her in for a hug and begged her to just come live with me and follow me around everywhere. “Please? We’re rent-free, and I’ll pay you in cheap Indian food.”
    “One, nothing is free when it comes to my mother, and, b, stop stalling.” She weaved her arm though mine to direct us toward the nearest liquor store, our flip-flops flapping in unison.
    • • •
    The next morning we were too hung over to venture out and made do pillaging Gail’s frozen flax waffles while I helped Lena play through whether this was the right moment to quit smoking. (It wasn’t.) We camped with the balcony doors open, the frigid and humid air canceling each other out. “You know this makes us bad people, right?” Lena called from the kitchen.
    I reminded her that I’d once embarrassingly insisted we not only compost in our dorm room, but use one roll of toilet paper for a week. “I think our carbon footprint can sustain a little wasted AC.”
    “Jamie?” She came to the doorway, finishing off a spoonful of peanut butter.
    “Yeah?” I asked from the couch.
    “You hooked up with the President of the United States.”
    “Kissed. ‘Hooked up’ is an exaggeration.”
    “The President of the United States knows that you taste—”
    “Don’t.”
    “Fruity.”
    “Ugh.” I dropped my face into my magazine until I heard her resume foraging in the fridge. This was the only detail I had given her beyond the kiss, and while I didn’t love myself for it, I felt I had told her only the part of what transpired that was mine. Nonetheless, I was relieved to hear her phone from the

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