“Are you sure you should be—?” Eric started to ask but Taylor had already downed the shot.
“Woooh!” she squealed after swallowing and setting the glass down. She shook her head as the others laughed with varying degrees of sincerity.
“I think you should slow down a bit,” Joan advised, nudging the bottle of tequila out of reach.
“What?” Taylor slurred. “Why? I’m just keeping up with this guy.” She threw an arm around Eric who was grinning from his own buzz. He turned to look at her and she pulled his head towards her so she could give him a kiss on the cheek. Before letting him go, she licked the side of his face and then giggled.
“Okay,” Steph said with a groan. Despite the fact that they were at Eric’s apartment and all lived within a three-block radius, Steph had switched to just water as soon as she felt warm enough to lose her jacket. Billy squeezed her leg to caution her about butting in but Steph kept talking. “Taylor, you can’t keep up with Eric. He’s got ten inches and a hundred pounds on you.”
“Watch me,” Taylor said with a wave of the hand that almost knocked the half-empty bottle of tequila over, the arch of her arm wider than Joan anticipated. She grabbed the bottle out of the way.
“No, we need to get you home,” she agreed, downing the last of her margarita and rising to fetch their coats. “I’ll walk you home.”
Taylor leaned too far into Eric and they both slumped against the sofa, Eric’s arm coming up and stroking Taylor’s arm. She didn’t seem to notice. She was too busy watching Steph and Billy. They’d just made their relationship official a few days earlier and it was the first time they’d gone anywhere as a “couple,” even if it was just hanging out and watching movies at one of their apartments.
“You know…” Taylor said, ignoring Eric’s other hand moving to her thigh. “You two… you’re gonna make it. I… I can just feel it.”
“You can feel what?” Joan asked, reentering the room with a pair of coats. Her eyes went straight to the hand massaging Taylor’s thigh.
“And you,” Taylor said, rising and pointing an accusatory finger at Joan. “When are you going to dump Jack-the-Ass? You can do soooo much better. He’s just gonna keep treating you like shit.”
Joan flushed and looked down, fiddling with the coats so they wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.
Steph shook off Billy’s touch as she hurried to get Taylor to her feet. “I’ll go with you guys,” she volunteered.
“Come on, Steph. Stay,” Billy implored. “I’ll walk you home later.”
Joan and Taylor were already in the hallway. “Nah, I’m gonna help Joan,” she said with a significant look, trying to communicate with him silently. Billy rolled his eyes and finally let her go.
They broke up a week later. Joan and Jack lasted six months longer.