18: “There are jell-o shots!”

Luke and Rachel got back together. It happened at yet another party she threw for one of her friend’s birthdays that he was invited to entirely because Zoe wanted to date Godfrey. Part of Luke wondered what the holdup was; both Zoe and Godfrey were quite clearly into each other. At the time of the invitation, he’d been annoyed because he didn’t want to spend another night at another party hosted by his ex-girlfriend where he was in fact not wanted, but only being used by his friend’s own selfish desires. But then, of course, he and Rachel got back together and he was generally fine with it.

They were back together just in time for Valentine’s Day. Rachel mentioned this a couple times, clearly angling for some sort of grand romantic gesture from Luke, who would’ve been wise to give one to her, having promised that he would be more attentive to her this time around. They’d been together for eight months before they’d broken up; spending a romantic Valentine’s Day together was not an unreasonable request.  Regrettably, Luke was pretty much the least likely person to plan anything either grand or romantic, no matter the day of the year, and this was no exception. He had, in fact, made plans to go to a party on Valentine’s Day with his friends. Rachel didn’t love that.

“You can come,” he offered, which wasn’t any more helpful.

“Can I?” She returned sarcastically, looking unimpressed. They were sitting in his living room, Gus nowhere to be seen. He was in Dylan’s room, sleeping on Dylan’s bed, as Dylan continued to recover from his appendix surgery. Luke was trying not to be angry about it; trying and largely failing.

“I would bail, but it’s for Reg’s birthday,” Luke explained.

“Oh, Reg,” Rachel replied, if possible looking even more unimpressed, not that Luke especially blamed her. Reg tended to make a rough first impression. Then he made a bad second impression, a somehow worse third impression, and a lingering bad taste in the mouth after the fourth. The first time Rachel had met Reg, he had been in the middle of telling the story about how he’d broken up with his ex-wife Charlotte, who happened to have enormous breasts, by telling her “thanks for the mammaries”. Rachel, as was undoubtedly the case with most women, hadn’t particularly enjoyed that. Of course, what Reg failed to mention every time he told that story was that Charlotte had cheated on him with his former best friend Steve. He also often failed to mention that Charlotte had actually been the one to break up with him. Luke found that generally put the mammary comment in perspective.

Reg was Griffin’s friend from university. He had moved in with Griffin, Jesse, and their friend Ryan for second to fourth year, at which point, he had been dating Charlotte. They had been together for four years before he found out that she had been cheating on him with his friend Steve. He had actually introduced Charlotte and Steve, which was no doubt an added insult to injury. Reg lived alone in a very nice condo he couldn’t afford by himself, given that he worked as a stock boy and part-time packer at a grocery store. His philosophy major had really come in handy. His condo actually belonged to his father, who had had the condo when he’d been working in the city. Now, however, his father was long retired and lived in the countryside with Reg’s very pleasant mother. Reg had one sibling, a much older brother named Graeme. Reg had definitely been an accident. His parents were considerably older than all of his friends’ parents. Ultimately, it had worked out quite well for Reg as his parents were in the financial position to help him out with his living expenses. It didn’t hurt that his father had been one of the partners at a top law firm in the city.

Reg had been born on Valentine’s Day and liked to spend every Valentine’s Day hosting a massive party in his honour, no matter the day of the week it happened to fall on. This year, it was a Tuesday. Luke wasn’t foolish enough to think that meant there wouldn’t be jell-o shots. He was eventually successful in convincing Rachel that where she really wanted to be on a Tuesday night that also happened to be Valentine’s Day was at Reg’s insane house party. He assumed it mostly down to the fact that he told her to bring her friends. Luke showed up to the party with Rachel, Zoe, and Brie. He had gone to Rachel’s place to pick them all up so they would know where to go, not that they would’ve been able to miss the party when they reached the neighbourhood. Reg’s party could be heard from down the street of his building. Luke was sure his neighbours loved that.

The first people they saw when they entered the apartment were Dylan and a group of scantily clad women Luke didn’t recognize. Dylan had his shirt lifted over his chest so that they could see his fresh appendix scar. The women were all cooing over it and him, presumably drunk. As it turned out, chicks really dig appendix scars. Dylan grinned at Luke when he saw him. Luke just shook his head and pushed forward in the crowd, leading the way to the kitchen so that he, Rachel, and her friends could claim some fridge space for their drinks. They’d only made it roughly six steps before Reg launched himself at Luke from the side. Reg, quite clearly well into it by now, laughed directly into Luke’s ear. Luke could practically feel Rachel grow annoyed behind him.

“Happy birthday, man,” Luke greeted Reg, helping him straighten up so that he was no longer at risk of sending them both crashing to the ground. Reg kept one arm slung around Luke’s shoulders, but otherwise stopped clinging to him like a sloppy koala.

“Thanks, man!” Reg replied. “There are jell-o shots!”

Luke had assumed there would be. Reg turned his head so that he could look at Rachel and her friends as well.

“There are jell-o shots!” He told them too. Luke was unclear if he was shouting because it was excessively loud in the apartment or because he was just too excited to contain himself. Probably it was both.

“Your neighbours must fucking hate you,” was Rachel’s response. Reg just laughed.

“I pre-warned my neighbours,” he returned. “Mrs. Delfino across the hall will be fine because she’s almost completely deaf anyway, but I must admit that I’m a little concerned about Mr. Delfino’s pacemaker.”

Luke just shook his head again.

Several hours later, Luke was feeling quite happy. He’d had a lovely time with Rachel and her friends. Previously, he had found Zoe boring and Brie insufferable. As it turned out, all he needed was to be incredibly drunk and then he found their company very enjoyable. Rachel was also drunk. He could tell because she’d been quite kind to Reg, even when he told the mammary story to Brie and Zoe. Rachel came home with him at the end of the night. Zoe and Brie returned to their own home, much to the disappointment of Godfrey, who had been flirting with Zoe all night long. Dylan also returned home alone, despite the allure of his appendix scar.

When they finally got back to the apartment, Luke let Gus go sleep in Dylan’s bed so that he could share his with Rachel, but he wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t dare say anything about that out loud, though. Rachel had just begun to forgive him for loving his dog more than her. He couldn’t very well confirm that he did in fact love him more than her a week into their renewed relationship, on Valentine’s Day no less. That having been said, when he got up in the early hours of the morning to go to the bathroom and walked past Dylan’s open bedroom door, he felt a certain sense of loss at the sight of Gus lying on his bed that he couldn’t quite describe.


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