sidenote, i know daria’s life is very un-dramatic right now, but it will get more interesting soon...
After the All Star festivities in Phoenix, Jake and I had a whole two nights to do whatever we wanted – which may not sound much to a regular couple, but then again, we’d never been a regular couple. We had to be in Tampa on Friday night, so going back north wasn’t really ever an option; nor was staying in Phoenix.
So somehow, we ended up in New Orleans, completely sporadically, in a strange little hotel with floral wallpaper and a view of streetwalkers and drug pushers. Jake was happy to stay in and be lazy all night, but I definitely wasn’t.
“Come on,” I pouted, straddling his lap as he sat on the edge of the small bed, pushing my hands back through his hair. “We can go out to some seedy little jazz club... I’ll wear a tiny dress, we can dance like we’re teenagers, drink as much as we want because you don’t have to play tomorrow.”
He rubbed his hands across his face, groaning. “I still shouldn’t drink, you know that, Daria.”
“You can sleep it off by the time you have to play, baby. Can’t we just be regular people for one night? Blend in with the rest of the crowd and be stupid? Not be afraid that someone is going to photograph every single public display of affection?”
“You really want that?” he asked, sliding his hands under my butt and pulling my groin close to his. I nodded, biting down on my lip and giving him the puppy dog eyes, knowing he couldn’t resist. He sighed, planting a kiss on my forehead. “Mmmkay. But it better be a really short dress.”
I beamed, climbing off him and looking through my suitcase for something suitable, also known as the slu.ttiest thing I had packed. Jake gave it the thumbs up, dressed himself, and we headed out into the slowly darkening city streets. Wanting to get as far away from tourists who may recognise us as possible, we sought out a bar with a ridiculous name in a back alley.
“The Screaming Squirrel?” Jake asked, raising an eyebrow as he looked at the sign hanging over the entry.
“Come on, squirrels are fun.”
He gave me a funny look. “You’re a weird one, Daz.”
Ignoring his comment, I pulled him inside the dark bar, which promised live jazz music. It didn’t deliver as soon as we walked in, but musicians were tinkering with instruments on stage, and Jake and I walked up to take a seat at the bar.
The bartender was old, with skin like leather, but he had a kind smile and something a little mischievous in his eyes. “What’ll it be?” he asked us, resting his big hands on the dilapidated wooden bar.
“Tequila,” I replied, and Jake groaned.
I elbowed him in the ribs, making him wince. “Live a little, Ellsbury.”
We threw back our shots, with more delivered immediately, and soon I was feeling light-headed. Jake, being made of pure muscle, took a little longer to feel the effects. Next to us at the bar sat an older black couple, maybe in their late forties, sporting strong Louisianan accents.
“Where you from, doll?” the woman asked me after we greeted each other.
“We’re from Boston, but you sound like locals.”
“Lived here all our lives,” she grinned. “I’m Sharon. This is Buddy.” Her husband leaned over, extending his hand, and I shook it.
“I’m... Lia,” I said, giving her the first fake name that came to my head. I gestured to Jake. “And Jeremy.”
“Your parents’ names? Really?” Jake whispered, shaking the hands of the other couple.
“So nice to meet y’all,” Sharon smiled. “Are you here on vacation?”
“Just passing through,” Jake replied.
“Welcome to our favourite bar,” Buddy said. “Been coming here for... well, just on thirty years now.”
His wife beamed. “We had our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary here just last week.”
“Twenty-five years!” I exclaimed. “Wow.”
“How long have the two of you been together?” she asked.
“Well, we met... almost exactly four years ago, now,” I said. “But actually together for just over three. And engaged for about six months.”
“Oh, congratulations!” she said, clapping her hands together. “When’s the wedding?”
“Um...” I looked at Jake, who smiled slightly. “We don’t have a date yet.”
“But we’re working on it,” Jake added, squeezing my leg.
“You’re just a baby!” she cooed. “How old are you, honey?”
“23, but Old Man here is almost 28,” I said, gesturing to Jake.
“Old Man,” she laughed, shaking her head and looking down at my hand. “Oh my, look at that ring. That must have cost a dime.”
I refrained from telling her that it had set Jake back more than what the average American would make in a year, smiling instead.
“So what do you folks do with yourselves?” Buddy asked.
“I’m a publicist,” I said. Not completely untrue, it was my previous profession. “And Ja – Jeremy is a... writer.”
“Sports writer,” Jake corrected me.
Before we got the chance to continue the conversation, the band began playing in the corner, filling the tiny venue with a big sound. Buddy jumped from his chair, holding his hand out to Sharon, and they made a beeline for the dance floor, gesturing for us to follow them.
Jake went without complaint, surprisingly, and we pressed our bodies close in the dark. “Do you feel normal yet?” Jake asked.
I wrapped my arms around his neck, gripping onto my own upper arms. “Mmmhmm. You hate sports writers, though.”
He laughed. “True, but I wouldn’t know enough about anything else to be a fake writer.”
“Other people would kill to be able to say that they had professions like ours. Athlete and model.”
“Other people don’t know the downsides,” he murmured, threading his fingers through my hair.
Sharon and Buddy danced back over, and we switched partners, Buddy greeting me with a smile. “You’re taller than I thought!” he laughed, spinning me under his arm.
“I know, it’s the legs, they’re deceptively long.”
They taught us how to dance like they did, which resulted in some hilarity, lasting well into the hours of the early morning before we finally decided to head back to our hotel. We were drunk off our as.ses and unable to keep our hands off each other.
He pushed me hard against a brick wall, pressing himself against my thigh. “Do you think Lia and Jeremy are the type to get it on in a back alley?” he asked, smirking.
I slapped his chest clumsily. “Ew, that’s my parents you’re talking about!”
“You gave us the names!”
“Mmm.” I grabbed his shirt, pulling him even closer. “They might not be, but Jake and Daria are definitely the type.”
Of course we were fated to return to our normal selves and fly out to another baseball game. I stayed for the first match in Tampa, but flew back to New York the next day.
“But why do you have to leave?” Jake whined, handing my suitcase to the porter, who disappeared down the hall.
“Cause I have to go make money, Jakers.”
“You can have some of my money... look.” He pulled a ten dollar bill from his pocket, shoving it my hand. “Now you can stay.”
“Oh wow, what an offer!” I exclaimed. “How could I ever leave now, when you’ve bestowed all your fortune upon me?”
He grabbed my waist, throwing me onto the bed and pinning me down with his forearm. “You’re such a smartas.s.”
“That’s why you love me,” I grinned.
“No, I love you only because you’re pretty and you’re my trophy wife,” he said, kissing my forehead.
I pushed his arm off me, rolling out from underneath him. “That’s not funny.”
“Come on, Daria, you know I don’t mean it.”
“But you know how many people say that about me, and you know how it makes me feel.”
He pulled me towards him, resting his forehead on mine. “But I know it’s not true, and so does everyone who matters, okay. Now, give me a kiss.”
I let his lips linger on mine for a few seconds before raising my knee and pushing it into his crotch, only lightly, but enough to make the pain visible on his face. Smiling, I returned his kiss quickly, and turned around to pick up my bag.
“Fuck you, Daz!”
“Gotta go, bye baby,” I grinned, making a speedy exit.
“You’re in so much trouble when I get back.”