The hotel bar was dim and silent, save for the soft lounge music that played over the chatter of the few people that were there. I looked around the place, drink in hand, trying to see if anyone I know is there. No luck. Everyone’s probably asleep in the hotel room that our boss rented for us. Then again, what should one expect at three in the morning?
Then again, what was I doing there at three in the morning, too?
“Hey Chiara,” I looked up from my seat at the bar and there stood my cousin and colleague, Ian, still in the clothes he was wearing earlier this afternoon when we all met up at the hotel. His eyes looked tired, but he still had a good-natured smile in his face.
“Hey cousin,” I replied, raising my drink up to him. “Why are you still up? Aren’t you supposed to be at the Coliseum at six later?”
“Can’t sleep anymore,” Ian said with a shrug, climbing up on the seat beside me. “I was knocked out from seven. My allergies had me sneezing soI had to take a break. I missed the band’s arrival because of that.”
“So that’s why you disappeared earlier,” I said, taking a sip of my drink. Ian looked closely at my drink and then clucked his tongue. I glanced at him and asked, “What?”
“Chiara, why are you drinking? At this time?”
“I can’t sleep. I can’t drink coffee because I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all,” I explained. “Don’t go all parent-y on me, okay?” I added warningly.
“Okay, okay,” Ian said with a chuckle, raising his hands in surrender. “I’m just asking because I’m thinking of joining you.” He signaled to the bartender and ordered his drink, while I just laughed.
“So, how’s it going with you?” I asked. Ian and I were second cousins on the mother’s side, and we grew up practically beside each other. We went to different schools and then hardly hang out except for family events, but we remained close. In a lot of ways, Ian is also my guy best friend, and I know he’s one person I can truly rely on.
“Tired. Stressed, but not too much,” Ian replied, taking a swig from his beer. “Thank God for the new hire though.”
“Oh yeah, you hired Ruth’s sister, right?” I said. “Naomi, right?”
“Yeah, Naomi. She’s very helpful, despite her being…you know.”
“Pregnant? Yeah, I heard. And saw. Ruth was telling me and Mitchie about it when she found out,” I shook my head again. “I feel kind of bad that she got pregnant early.”
“Who doesn’t?” Ian said gravely. “Plus the father is not taking any responsibility, how about that? I bet if Ruth wasn’t so nurturing and non-violent, she would have found him and clobbered him for doing that to her sister. I would do that if I were Ruth, actually. No one should mess around with girls like Naomi.” Ian’s tone was actually angry, and when was the last time I heard or saw my cousin angry?
“Whoa, boy,” I said, alarmed. “Calm down.” I reached for his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
“Sorry, sorry,” Ian said, after taking a couple of deep breaths. “It’s just that Naomi is such a sweet girl, and she doesn’t deserve something like this.”
“Neither does Ruth,” I added. Ian nodded at that, and then took another sip from his beer. He still looked annoyed, but there was a tender look in his face, like when he’s recalling something he’s particularly fond of.
“Speaking of Ruth,” I continued, when he didn’t say another word. “What’s up with her and Matt?”
Ian flinched visibly when I said Matt’s name. “What do you mean?” he asked, draining his beer. He signaled for another one from the bartender, who nodded at him.
“I mean, they seem to be going out a lot together,” I replied. “Like they had dessert earlier after all of us had finished dinner. And Ruth looks so happy. Talk about big time crush. Do you think Matt likes her back too?”
Ian shrugged. “I don’t know.”
I rolled my eyes. “How could you not know? Weren’t you guys friends?”
“Not really. We were just teammates back in college, but we weren’t in the same circle of friends,” Ian replied. It was then I noticed his tone, which still sounded a bit grumpy and his expression was actually dark.
Wait. Ian couldn’t still be offended by Naomi’s pregnancy, right? He was annoyed earlier, but he’s not this annoyed. Or was he pissed at something related to Ruth?
“You okay?” I asked carefully.
“Yeah, I am.” Ian said. His second beer arrived and he took a long drink.
I watched him for a while, all brooding and very unlike the Ian I know. What was his problem? This couldn’t be stress anymore, right? Why is he so worked up over what we were talking about? Wait, what were we talking about…?
Wait, Matt. And Ruth.
I looked at Ian again, and saw his expression hasn’t changed. He was still steadily drinking from his beer, like it would somehow make him forget. I knew what that expression looked like…and it looked like he was jealous.
Was he jealous about Matt and Ruth?
Author’s Note: This totally sucks. Today is not a good day for writing descriptions, totally. 😐