The following is the New Year’s Eve party passage from my mid-life romance novel:
A little backstory first:
-Eve and Tom are just embarking on a new romance and this party is their first real date together.
-Dolly is Eve’s feisty and beloved (by all) mom, who has done some match-making beforehand, to bring this night together.
-Samantha is one of Eve’s best friends and Tom’s former partner.
-Sharlene is Tom’s receptionist at his business. She has had a long-time, unrequited crush on Tom. Seth is her “toy boy” partner.
HOPE YOU ENJOY IT! HAPPY HOLIDAYS 🙂
Dolly stood in the front doorway, watching Tom back out into the street, waving at Eve. Closing the door, feeling the chill of the night air through her long, purple chenille robe, Dolly headed back into the cozy living room. Have a wonderful time my dear Eve, she thought to herself. You deserve lots of happiness.
It took about thirty minutes to get to the condominium where the party was being held. Driving was down to a crawl as the snow continued to fall in heavy, wet flakes.
Tom carefully navigated the roads, concentrating for the most part on driving. Christmas songs were softly playing on the car’s CD player. Eve smiled as she leaned back in her seat, briefly closing her eyes. She wanted to let Tom concentrate on the tricky driving conditions, instead of a conversation. They had the whole night ahead to talk. For now, she was happy just to be sitting so close to him, feeling warm and content.
Arriving at the large, newer building complex, Tom came around to open Eve’s car door.
“Looks like quite a crowd here already.” Tom said, scanning the visitor’s parking area, brightly lit with streetlights around the outer edges, illuminating the heavy falling snow.
“Yes, it does.” Eve replied, being careful not to slip on the ice and snow in her evening shoes.
“I guess I should have worn boots after all.” Eve said, laughing slightly.
“Just hang on tight to me; I won’t let you fall.” Tom said, smiling and holding out his hand. “It’s not too far to the main entrance.
Heading into the brightly lit building, Eve took in the tasteful appointments of the condo’s lobby as she brushed off the snow from her coat and wiped the bottoms of her shoes.
“The recreation room is here on the main floor.” Tom said motioning down the brightly lit, wide front hallway; also flicking snow from his coat collar. “I’m so glad you came with me tonight Eve. It means a lot to me.”
“My pleasure Tom.” Eve smiled broadly up at him. “I like the idea of welcoming in the new year with you. I’m happy you asked me to come.”
“Well, I wouldn’t be here if you had said no Eve. There was no one else I wanted to be with tonight.” Tom said before lightly kissing her on the cheek. “You’ve given me a reason to get back out of my shell. I guess you know that.”
“Thanks Tom. I know you’ve had a difficult time recently.”
“Well, here’s to a new year full of lots of good things. For both of us.”
“Sounds good to me.” Eve said, taking his arm again as they headed down the richly- carpeted hallway, noting several local artists’ paintings on the walls as they passed by. The sounds of laughter and music continued to get louder as they headed towards the back of the building.
“Here it is.” Tom said, pushing open the door marked: Recreation Room.
Eve and Tom stepped into the dimly lit room. Round tables, covered by red tablecloths were placed around three of the outer walls,with a large festive green candle flickering on each of them. A bar was set up at one end and next to that, two long tables were laid out with various party foods.An instrumental version of “Jingle Bell Rock” was playing loudly through the overhead speakers and a few people were up and dancing in the center of the room. Most of the other guests were either standing around or sitting at tables, chatting and laughing. The air felt warm, permeated with the scents of various perfumes.
“Oh there you are Tom.” a buxom redhead looking to be in her early thirties, called out loudly as she headed towards them. She was dressed in a short, low-cut, silver sheath dress, with very high-heeled, matching sandals. She was heavily made-up: with black eyeliner rimming the top and bottom of her eyes, a generous slash of red lipstick and what looked like artificial eyelashes.
“Oh hi Sharlene.” Tom smiled at her. “This is my friend Eve Vincent. Eve, this is Sharlene Roberts, my very capable receptionist over at Petchko’s.”
“I’m so pleased to meet you Eve.” Sharlene said, extending a hand in greeting. She had long red fingernails that looked artificial and wore several sparkling rings “And I’m so glad you managed to get our boss to come out for the evening. He’s been kind of a recluse lately.”
“Pleased to meet you too Sharlene.” Eve replied, briefly shaking Sharlene’s slightly sweaty hand while taking in the not so subtle way that she was looking her over. “And I’m glad Tom and I could be here tonight. I’ve heard so much about his great team at Petchko’s, over the years.”
“Here, let me take your coats.” Sharlene said, reaching for their coats, that Tom was holding.
“Oh, what a fab dress and it suits you so well.” Sharlene said, with a grin bordering on a sneer.
“Thanks. I like yours too.” Eve replied, thinking just the opposite. Sharlene Roberts looked like a glorified hooker, in her opinion.
“Let me get these coats stashed for you.” Sharlene said, once again giving Eve a quick but rather obvious, top to toe glance-over. “I’ll see you both in a bit. I’ve got to go find my Seth; he’s around here somewhere.”
“We’ll see you later Sharlene.” Tom said, while taking Eve’s hand. “And thanks again for organizing all this. Looks like you and Betts did a great job.”
“Oh, it was our pleasure Tom. See you later and have fun you two.” Sharlene took a long, lingering look at Tom and briefly smiled cryptically at Eve, before heading towards the back of the room with their coats over her arm.
“What can I get you to drink Eve?” Tom asked as they reached the bar table.
“A white wine spritzer would be lovely, thanks.”
“Coming right up. Do you want to sit down while I line up for the drinks?”
“Yes, that would be fine. How would that table over there be? Eve motioned to one of the round tables that was unoccupied.
“Perfect, I’ll be right there. Then I’ll take you around and introduce you to our group. And show you off too.” Tom said quietly in her ear, as he drew Eve into an embrace. “You look great Eve.”
“Thanks Tom. Nice of you to say and nice of you to ask me to wear this dress. I didn’t know if it would be appropriate for tonight or not when you first mentioned this party.”
“You’re the best-looking woman here Eve. I’m a lucky guy.” Tom smiled at Eve, continuing to hold her lightly in his arms. “You’ve given me a reason to smile again Eve and it feels so good.”
“Ditto for me Tom.” Eve leaned against Tom’s shoulder briefly. She felt giddy being so close to him, desirable too.
“I’ll be right back.”
Eve sat watching Tom for a few minutes before turning her attention to the whole room; taking note of the various guests. She guessed that there were about forty people in attendance already and more continued to arrive, as she waited for Tom.
She was generally a bit nervous when it came to meeting new people, but being here with Tom, she felt more confident and at ease than was usually the case.
Glancing towards the back of the room after a few minutes had passed, Eve saw Sharlene Roberts heading towards their table.
“Oh there you are. Mind if I join you for a bit? I’ve given up looking for Seth. Probably outside, puffing away. He better show up soon.” Sharlene said, sounding annoyed; sitting down across from Eve before waiting for a reply. She was holding a half-filled drink in a short whisky glass. Her heavy perfume wafted towards Eve. “Tom getting some drinks?”
Yeah, like you don’t know that already. Eve thought to herself.
“Yes he is.” Eve replied, trying to be pleasant in spite of disliking this woman already. Her strong, unpleasant perfume was giving Eve a slight headache. “You’ve got a good turn-out.”
“I think almost everyone from work is coming tonight and so far it looks like they even managed to drag along most of the significant others, from what I can see.” Sharlene laughed loudly, taking a generous gulp from her glass. “Have you known Tom for a long time?”
“Oh, for quite a while.” Eve replied, already wary of how much this woman was planning to quiz her. “Samantha, his previous partner is a good friend of mine too. We’ve all known each other for years.”
“Oh, that’s interesting. I mean about you and Sam being friends. Are you still friends now? With Samantha, I mean? Gosh, it was such a shock to hear those two had split up.”
“Yes, we’re very good friends actually.” Eve said, starting to feel defensive and wishing this woman would move on.
“She’s out in BC now, isn’t she? I guess that helps, with anything being awkward I mean.” Sharlene replied slowly, staring intently at Eve with a slight sneer on her face.
“Yes, Samantha’s moved out to the Island. But as far as anything being awkward, that’s not the case at all. It was her decision to move on.” Eve replied curtly.
“Oh right, right.” Sharlene said, nodding her head. “Sorry Eve, didn’t mean to step on anyone’s toes.”
“No problem.” Eve said tersely, moving her chair back a bit, away from Sharlene’s overpowering scent. She could already feel her headache intensifying.
“Something wrong.” Sharlene asked, noting Eve’s slight movement.
“I’m just not great with perfumes.” Eve said, smiling thinly.”
“Oh dear, I hope you’re not getting a headache because of me.” Sharlene replied, feigning concern. “Seth tells me all the time that I overdue in that department. I guess I should start listening to that toy-boy of mine. Oh speak of the devil, there he is.” Sharlene looked up and waved rapidly at a tall, thin man heading towards their table. He looked to be in his late twenties.
“There you are Seth; I’ve been looking all over for you. Where were you? Out for one last smoke before quitting next year?” Sharlene asked, reaching up to tug on his arm.
“Very funny Shar.” he replied, placing his bottle of beer on the table as he sat down slowly next to Sharlene; the smell of cigarette smoke wafting through the air.
“Seth, this is Tom’s date: Eve. Sorry, I can’t remember your last name already, aren’t I the dim one!” Sharlene said, laughing again.
“Vincent. Eve Vincent.” Eve replied, extending her hand to shake Seth’s briefly.
He was dressed in a tight-fitting black suit, with a bright white shirt open at the neck with no tie. His hair was long, pale- blond and almost touching his shoulders. Eve also noted the dark roots showing along the center part in his hair. Charming, she thought to herself. A Miss Clairol man; as she tried to stifle a laugh. He had a very slim build except for rather well developed shoulders. He wore a bemused, half-smile on his face, as he looked at Eve.
“Nice to meet you Eve.” Seth said, shaking Eve’s hand limply just as Tom reached their table with two drinks.
“Sorry that took so long. I got stopped a couple of times on the way back.” Tom said, handing Eve her drink and sitting down next to her at the last remaining chair at the table. “Good to see you again Seth. Having a good time?”
“Yeah, pretty rad party so far Tom.” Seth replied before taking a large swig from of his beer. “Sharlene outdid herself, don’t you think?”
“Oh Seth, stop it.” Sharlene said, feigning shyness as she looked down briefly. “I didn’t do everything by myself you know; Betts helped too.”
“Well, you both did a grand job from what I can tell and I really appreciate your efforts. Everyone seems to be having a great time.”
“Thanks Tom, it was my pleasure.” Sharlene smiled broadly at Tom.
“Wanna dance Shar?” Seth asked, after finishing his beer in one long swallow.
“Not right now Seth.”
“Don’t say I didn’t ask.” Seth replied, looking bored.
“Do you want to go around and meet everyone?” Tom asked Eve as he noted her squirming slightly in her chair.
“Yes, let’s do that. I’d like to meet everyone.” Eve said, quickly standing up. It would be a relief to get away from this obnoxious woman and her cheap perfume.
“We’ll see you two later, okay?” Tom said also standing up and taking Eve’s hand. “Have fun now.”
“Oh we will Tom, we will.” Sharlene replied, again smiling broadly at Tom. “And don’t forget, you owe me a dance. You promised me one at the Christmas party then you ducked out early, remember?”
“Will do Sharlene. We’ll see you both later.”
As they walked away from the table, Elvis’ rendition of: ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ began to play.
“Speaking of dancing, how about it Eve?” Tom said close to her ear, trying to be heard above the music and noise.
“Sounds good and this is one of my favourite Christmas tunes.”
Tom led Eve out onto the dance floor and drew her close. Eve leaned against his shoulder and savoured the feeling of being wrapped in his arms.
As they danced, Eve had the feeling of someone staring at them. When she looked across the room, Sharlene Roberts was gazing intently at her and Tom. She was not smiling. Her boyfriend Seth was still sitting next to her but she seemed oblivious to his presence. At the same time, Seth was grinning broadly, but not at Sharlene. He was deep in conversation with a young woman who had sat down at the table next to them. He seemed to be ignoring Sharlene from what Eve could see. As for Sharlene, her eyes and attention were totally riveted on Tom and Eve.
Well, enjoy the view, Eve thought to herself. That was one woman she didn’t want to have anything more to do with tonight or ever if she could help it. Eve was surprised that a person like that worked for Tom but maybe her office skills made up for her other questionable attributes. Eve certainly wasn’t going to let the likes of Sharlene Roberts ruin her evening.
Looking up at Tom, Eve smiled contentedly. It was nice to have something to really smile about now. Or rather, someone to smile about. She loved looking at his handsome face and expressive, kind eyes. It was a face she couldn’t imagine getting tired of looking at. And how wonderful it was to see Tom looking so happy tonight too.
“Having a good time?” Tom asked, as he expertly led her around the dance floor.
“I am now.” Eve replied, before resting her head against his shoulder again; feeling transported by the romantic song and having Tom so near. Nothing and no one was going to rain on her parade tonight.