Her Dad's Friend

By: Penny Wylder


We head to the side of the house and go through the gate. When we get to the pool area, there’s a large gathering of people holding champagne glasses and looking in our direction. The barbeque is going, the smell of cooking meat and garlic salt wage war with my stomach. It gurgles and I can’t tell if I’m just really hungry or getting ready to projectile vomit.

I see my mom and dad in the crowd and I stop. Takes me a second to gather all the faces in my sleepy brain and realize I recognize most of them. There are friends from my old high school, and friends from college. Some of the guys here I recognize from the frat party last night.

“Surprise!” They all yell in unison, and my headache hates them for it.

“How pissed at me are you right now?” Emily says, smirking and shaking her phone. This whole time she’s been in cahoots with my parents, planning this thing, and I’m genuinely surprised. Especially when I see Paul standing among my friends and family.





Chapter 2




Paul is here.

Paul, the king of my wet dreams. The man I want so badly it hurts both physically and mentally when I think I might not ever be able to have him. The guy who didn’t return my text.

Shit.

Believe me, I’ve been ghosted a time or three, but never by someone I cared to see the next day. And not by someone who also just happens to be my dad’s best friend, someone I will eventually have to face in person. I just didn’t think I’d have to face him so soon after such an embarrassing text. I know my face is fifty shades of red right now and I want to jump in the pool to cool it off. I mean, what do you say to someone after a text like that?

I weave my way through the throng of guests. I say hi to my mom and try to avoid looking over by the pool where Paul and my dad are talking. It’s difficult because Paul looks edible. He’s wearing blue and white board shorts, chest smooth and tan, arms taut with muscle, showing off all his ink. And not blotchy ugly tattoos left over from his youth either. These are genuinely amazing art pieces he spent a fortune on. It’s so shocking to see because he’s always so put together around my parents, wearing suits, and designer clothes. Sometimes I forget he even has tattoos.

He turns to toss a ball to one of my cousins in the pool and on his back there’s an entire ocean scene with sharks and coral. The details are flawless, right down to the drop shadows and sun ripples in the water. That is a body I want to explore. I want to walk right over there and lick every square inch of him.

My dad is also a handsome man and manages to look elegant even in swim trunks. It’s the way he holds himself. Straight posture, shoulders back, his chin just a little higher in the air than everyone else. Maybe that’s why he seems so much older than Paul even though they’re the same age. Paul is so much more laid back.

I manage to kind of not stare at Paul, but once in a while I forget myself and glance over. His eyes latch onto mine. Even after I look away, I feel him watching me and my heart drums in my chest as I make my way to the bar for a glass of champagne. I’m going to need it.

I try to ignore the heaviness of his gaze while I sip Dom—though, at the moment, I’d prefer an ice-cold beer, but that’s not on the menu. Hair of the dog. I still feel like shit from the night before. Except now I can add humiliation to it. Which pisses me off because this is the first surprise party I’ve ever had and I want to enjoy myself.

Nursing my drink, I make my rounds, catching up with people and thanking them for coming. I smile and nod as my high school friends tell me about their new jobs and plans for marriage, and all the other stuff I’ve always dreamed about for myself. I do my best to share in their happiness, but I’m having a hell of a time trying to concentrate when Paul is nearby.

“Rachael,” I hear my dad call out to me. “Come over here and say hi to your Uncle Pauly. He drove all night to be at your party.”

He drove all night? Maybe he didn’t get my text after all. Or maybe he drove all night to be at my party because of the text. I try not to get my hopes up. Relax and don’t say or do anything stupid, I tell myself.

There’s something skeevy about my dad calling Paul my uncle. And yet, in some perverse way, I kind of like it. Don’t get me wrong, if past royals taught us anything with their clubbed feet and genetic deformities, it’s that incest is bad. But a little bit of kinky fantasy never hurt anyone.

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