"Okay, wait, Greg is dating Helena? Greg?" Shelly had asked for clarification at least three times already.
"And how long have they been going out?"
Tina looked around the table for help, "A month? At least a month right?"
"Yeah, it's been pretty close to a month. He met her at the New Year's Eve party so yeah, it's been right around there." Al agreed.
Shelly shook her head, "Okay, you all know him better than I do, but I just have a hard time wrapping my head around them as a couple. He's so...and she's just not...and..."
Tina started laughing, "Ladies and gentlemen, my very eloquent cousin."
"Stop! You know what I mean. You all know what I mean! Greg is a player. Unless Helena has changed from when we were kids, and granted we've only talked online for the past few years, she doesn't do frivolous."
"She was really clear about that with him when he asked her out and he went anyway." Kyle shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe he's growing up?"
They all laughed at that.
"They are going to stop by here before they go to dinner so you can see her. You can judge for yourself if they make a good couple. They are an attractive one anyway."
"Helena on her own is an attractive couple." The group started to laugh, "That's not what I meant! I mean she's so pretty that it doesn't really matter who is next to her!"
"Call the devil by his name..." Kyle started as the couple walked in to the bar.
Shelly and Helena both did the high pitched squeal that only women who haven't seen each other in years seem to be able to master. "OH my god! You look great!" "I look great? Look at you! You look fabulous!" "Look at your hair!" "That dress is to kill for!" "You got so tall!" "It's the shoes." "Those are GREAT shoes!"
Everyone waited for the rush of words to slow down. When they noticed everyone staring at them they both broke out in to laughter. "Oops! Sorry about that! Helena, can I get you a drink? Here sit next to me." Shelly pulled out a high seat for her.
Greg smiled and said, "I've got this, white wine?"
"Yes, please, that would be lovely."
"Anyone else need a refresh while I'm up there?"
The table ordered their next round and Kyle and Al joined Greg at the bar to help carry back drinks.
Tina, Shelly and Helena played a quick round of catch up while they waited. Who was working where, who had dated whom, how long Shelly was going to be in town.
"I'm actually only here tonight. I arranged my connecting flight so I would have a chance to see Tina. I'm so glad you could stop by as well. You just look great, I mean, I know I said it before, but you really do. It's almost not fair."
Helena smiled, "You look fabulous as well. It must be in the genes though. You and Tina both look wonderful. I would kill for your hair."
Tina reach up and fluffed her curls, "Do you remember Amy calling me Shirley Temple every day in school? I didn't even know who Shirley Temple was but I hated it."
"Oh Amy! She was so awful! She constantly made fun of my name." Helena broke in to a pitch perfect imitation of a bratty 6 year old, "Helena who ever heard of a Helena? That's not even a real person's name."
"You seem real to me." Al put the drinks down on the table.
"Hey! Back off there, big guy!" Greg said trying for and just missing a playful tone rather than a threatening one.
Shelly raised her eyebrows at Tina and Tina returned the look with a slight head tilt.
"So you and Tina have known each other since first grade, when did you and Shelly meet?" Kyle asked trying to ease the sudden tension around the table.
"The summer before eighth grade. We went to camp together. I found out she was related to Tina when I complimented her hair. I told her I hadn't seen curls like hers since I was in second grade."
"Wait, so what happened to your curls after second grade?"
Tina laughed, "Nothing happened to my curls, Helena moved. You were only at Jefferson for, what? Half of first grade and half of second right?"
"Yes, we moved a lot when I was younger. Tina and I became pen pals though. She was my first best friend."
"We had to stand together against Amy after all."
"And then when Shelly realized that I was Tina's pen pal we spent the summer together as well. And then we all reconnected a few years ago through Facebook. And when I moved here I met all of you." She smiled at the group.
"And then saved the best for last with me." Greg laughed.
The group spent a little more time visiting before Greg announced that he and Helena needed to take off if they were going to make their dinner reservation.
Helena got up and hugged Shelly, "It was so good to see you! I hope you can come back for a longer visit. We could have a good old fashioned sleep over!"
"Sounds good to me, should I bring the pillows for the fight?" Kyle joked.
Greg's jaw line tightened, "I don't think she was inviting you."
Kyle held up his hands, "Chill, chill, I was joking. Go feed this man, he's getting a little hangry!"
Greg shook his head a little, "Sorry, dude, yeah, I guess I need to eat something. Shall we?"
He reached out and took Helena's arm to lead her to the door, "We will see you all later."
After the couple had made their way out of the bar Al turned to the table, "What the hell was all of that? Have you ever seen Greg get possessive like that?"
Kyle nodded toward the cousins, "Don't think I didn't see that look between you two when he snapped at Al, what's up?"
"It's just Helena. She has that effect on guys. I'm really surprised you two haven't even seemed interested in her."
Kyle shrugged, "She's pretty. And she's great. But she's just not my type. A little too, I don't even know really, just too something."
Al nodded, "I really liked her when we first met. Like couldn't get her out of my head sort of thing, but then I realized that it wasn't a real feeling. You know, like I had already put her on some sort of pedestal and wasn't really seeing her. Once I realized that it sort of faded away. She's great, don't get me wrong, but she's not messy enough for me."
Shelly laughed, "Well okay then. If I find a messy girl I will send her your way."
"What can I say? I don't want to have to be perfect so I don't want someone who already is."
Kyle nodded, "So was she like that in 8th grade?"
Tina laughed, "In 8th grade? Try 1st grade. When she first started, aside from Amy trying to torture her every day, she was really quiet. It's hard to be the new kid right? Especially coming in part way through the year. But she was nice. And she was smart. She ended up in my reading group. It was me, Amy, her and two boys Ricky and Jack. Now remember, we were 6 and 7 years old. Ricky and Jack both decided that Helena was their girlfriend. They would compete for her attention constantly. They had been best friends right up until that point and they ended up hating each other. And they kept hating each other until high school. Seriously. Because of a girl they both liked in 1st grade! It wasn't until our sophomore year that they realized how stupid that was and stopped."
Shelly nodded, "Yeah, she just has something about her. There was a camp counselor that was sent home half way through the summer. The rumor mill was that he was involved with a camper. I knew it was Helena."
"Dude! Really? She was with a counselor?"
"She wasn't with anyone. And keep in mind this kid was only like 17 or 18 himself and we were 13. So it's not like it was a giant age gap. And she was already stunning at 13. They weren't a couple or anything. He just sort of became obsessed with her. He would show up at the dorm to walk us to chow hall. He would make sure he was sitting near us during campfires. I think it just became obvious to his supervisors that there was a problem brewing and so he was sent packing. But she never did anything to encourage him. I remember her telling him that she was too young for any promises. She's always been serious. Which is why I really don't understand Greg."
"He's smitten for sure. And she said that she was really clear with him that if they were going to date it was going to be on her terms. She doesn't play around. She doesn't date casually and I think she's only had like 3 serious boyfriends ever. She was engaged a couple of years ago."
Shelly was shocked, "Really? I stalked her page and looked at all of her pictures to see what was going on when we first reconnected and I didn't see any fiance?"
"Yeah, they were engaged, had picked a date and then. Done. She doesn't talk about him. All of the pictures of him were gone. And nobody brings him up. I'm guessing it was really ugly and she doesn't want reminders."
"I get that. I hate when old pictures of Angie come up. I tried to make sure I untagged myself and deleted a ton but it still happens."
Al reached out and patted Kyle's shoulder, "If it helps when I see them I always try and say something slightly nasty, but not too nasty so she doesn't really know if I'm being nasty."
They all laughed, "Yes, it does help. I'm petty. What can I say?"
"Well here's to Greg and Helena, I hope they never have to untag photos!" Tina held up her glass.
"To Greg and Helena!" The friends echoed back.
"Good luck to him." Shelly whispered as she downed her drink.