“So, let me get this straight…” Jack took the beer that Doug offered him as he watched Jen bustle around the kitchen. “You call me up last minute, insist I break my weekend plans and get my ass all the way down here for dinner because you are worried about Joey or something…” He took a swig from the beer, furrowing his brow. “And now I find out that you are having some dinner party as part of an elaborate match-making scheme to get Pacey and Joey back together…?” Jack looked from Jen to Doug, who raised his hands helplessly in the air.
“Um, yep. That sounds about right.” Jen nodded. “Except now they are both bringing dates so the plan has changed a bit.”
“You are setting them up and they are bringing dates…okay.” Jack sighed, shaking his head. “Who are these dates?”
“Pacey is bringing Sarah.” Jen made a face.
“Really? I thought they broke up a while ago?” Jack gave her a pointed look. “And what was that face for? Sarah is not so bad, is she?”
“No. She’s not.” Doug agreed from across the room.
“She is just a little much for me.” Jen rolled her eyes, then shot Doug a dirty look. “And you just keep quiet over there. The girl hit on you at our engagement party.”
Doug raised an eyebrow. “She was talking to me about working out, Jen.”
“Yeah, I’m sure she was.” Jen replied sarcastically. “And, that’s another thing…she always has to bring up the fact that she is Little Miss Body Beautiful, as if she isn’t just perpetuating the whole objectification of women in our male-dominated society. And then she is always making these underhanded comments to me about how I should be doing this or that...” Jen growled. “It’s just the way she says it, you know – like she is trying to help the poor uncoordinated out-of-shape charity case.”
Jack raised an eyebrow at Doug, deciding to change the subject. “So, then who is Joey bringing?”
Jen sighed tiredly. “Joey is bringing Brian Russell – you know, from the hardware store downtown next to my place? You have met him before, Jack.”
“That guy?” Jack scratched his head. “No pun intended, but he is kind of a tool, isn’t he? He doesn’t seem like the type Joey would go for.”
Jen looked up from the salad she was now making, raising an eyebrow. “The girl went out with Dawson Leery…” She muttered.
Jack considered this. “True.” He nodded his head. Jen picked up the salad bowl and started to head out towards the dining room. Stopping in the doorway, she turned to look back at Jack over her shoulder.
“Oh, and another thing…” She said matter-of-factly. “It’s your birthday, in case anyone asks.”
Jack shot a confused look at Doug, who just stood there shaking his head sadly.
Pacey took a deep breath as he opened the Jeep door for Sarah, looking up at his brother’s house.
Sarah climbed out, eyeing him. “Are you sure you are okay?”
“Huh?” Pacey looked at her, rubbing his hand over his hair nervously. “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.”
They walked up to the front door and Pacey hesitated a moment before knocking. Doug opened the door with a glass of wine in his hand, looking first at the door and then at Pacey. “Since when do you knock?” He laughed, incredulous.
Pacey glowered at him as he skulked past him into the house, and then Jen came down the front hall smiling and offering to take their coats.
“Was it some traffic violation that had you end up here, Jen?” Pacey muttered, leaning down into her ear. “Because - despite what he might have told you – they wouldn’t really throw you in jail for jay-walking.”
Jen just smiled tightly, ignoring Pacey and looking over at Sarah. “Sarah – how are you? How’s…ah, the gym?”
Fine, thank you.” Sarah smiled, shrugging off her coat to reveal a backless halter-style sweater top with a deep v-neckline. Jen’s mouth dropped opened, and she closed it quickly to plaster another smile on as Sarah turned back to her.
“I just started teaching a Pilates class. You should come by and try it out some time. It’s perfect for someone like you who doesn’t necessarily need to lose weight, just tone.” She smiled sweetly.
Jen made a low growling noise in her throat, taking a step towards Sarah, but Doug laid a strong hand on her shoulder, gently pulling her back.
“Sarah, can I get you a glass of wine?” He asked.
“Sure, that sounds good.” Sarah nodded pleasantly.
Pacey was walking a little ahead of them now as they started for the living room. He turned the corner and immediately saw Joey standing with Jack and laughing at something he had just said. Her smile slowly faded as their eyes met, but neither one could look away for a moment. Pacey felt as if he were transfixed there on the spot until he felt something brush against his arm and Sarah was there beside him. He saw a quick flash of something cross Joey’s face and then she looked down, finally breaking their gaze.
“Pacey!” Jack called out, coming over to shake his hand.
“Hey, Jackers. You, um…remember Sarah.” Pacey tried to smile, still glancing at Joey out of the corner of his eye.
“Sure I do.” Jack leaned over to give Sarah a kiss on the cheek.
Pacey watched as a tall sandy-haired man joined Joey’s side. He recognized him from his frequent trips to the hardware store when he had been fixing up his house. They came over to the group and Pacey still couldn’t keep his eyes off Joey, gritting his teeth as he watched this man rest his hand lightly on the small of Joey’s back.
Jen came back now, wringing her hands together. “Pacey, Sarah…this is Brian.” Pacey shook his hand, only briefly dragging his eyes from Joey to do so.
Sarah glanced from Pacey to Joey and spoke up quietly, offering her hand. “Joey, is it? I’m Sarah. Nice to meet you.” She gave her a small smile.
Joey blinked in surprise, but then the corner of her mouth turned up in a half-smile as well. “Nice to meet you, Sarah.” She nodded.
“So, Pacey,” Brian began pleasantly as they all took their places around the table for dinner, “I would imagine that this is a busy time of the year for you, what with people starting to put their boats back in the water.”
“Why yes, Brad, as a matter of fact it is.” Pacey agreed, picking up his beer.
“I’ll bet you’re busy…” Joey muttered sarcastically under her breath. Pacey turned to stare at her as she picked at her salad.
“Ah, my name is…Brian.” Brian replied softly, glancing from Joey to Pacey.
Jen shot Jack a desperate look and Jack cleared his throat, turning to his left. “So Sarah – are you still living in Capeside?”
“Mm-hmm.” Sarah smiled as she sipped her wine. “I have a new apartment down by the marina.”
“Really?” Joey looked up, feigning interest. “Do you have a roommate?” She asked brightly.
“Um, no.” Sarah shook her head, looking vaguely confused. “Just me.”
“Well, I guess that’s a good thing.” Joey raised an eyebrow, nodding. Pacey narrowed his eyes, loudly plunking his beer bottle back down on the table. “And why would that be a good thing, Jo?” He glared at her.
Joey shrugged noncommittally, looking down. “Well, it’s just that we all know how you can be with roommates, Pacey.”
Pacey opened his mouth to say something but no words came out as he sat there staring in shock at Joey.
Jen stood up. “Can I get anyone something to drink?” She quickly glanced around the table. “Joey? More wine?”
“Sure. Why not?” Joey said evenly, matching Pacey’s glare now.
Jen started for the kitchen. “Were you having chardonnay or the merlot?”
“If you can remember, that is.” Pacey smirked at Joey, his eyes narrowing again. He turned to Brian. “One thing you’ll have to learn about our Joey, Bruce – she has kind of a short-term memory problem.”
“So, Joey which one will it be?” Jen cut in with forced cheerfulness, raising her voice.
“Ah, now see – choosing between the two.” Pacey shook his head with a bitter chuckle, picking up his beer again. “Joey also has some issues with her decision-making that you’ll come to find quite endearing, I’m sure.”
“I’ll just get my own wine, thanks, Jen.” Joey stood up quickly, scraping her chair back and casting Pacey a hurtful look before leaving the room.
“If you all will excuse me, I’ll be right back, too.” Sarah stood with a quick smile, leaving through the opposite doorway.
“Good one, Pacey.” Doug raised his wine glass to him.
Pacey just shook his head and sighed tiredly as he got up to leave the table as well.
“It’s, ah…Brian.” Said Brian quietly, looking around the table. “My name is Brian.”
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