Where had the time gone? The last year had come and gone by so fast that Cody got whiplash just looking at his calendar. Still, he was ready for the year to end and to head off to Wilson and Bailey’s New Year’s party. He had on a nice navy button-up shirt and black pants that he’d actually taken the time to iron. His auburn hair was styled just the way he liked it. His freshly shaven face peered back at him from the hall mirror.
He grabbed his keys off of the kitchen counter and his eyes fell on the grotesque stack of papers that always seemed to collect there. They were mostly things that he thought he’d need or had to deal with but never got around to and eventually it faded away into the background of his life. In time, he’d spot it again and deal with cleaning it up. Tonight, he noticed it. More precisely, he noticed the spiral-bound notebook buried under all of the other papers.
What had the notebook been for again?
His interest piqued, he pulled the item out of its burial mound, which didn’t care for the sudden disturbance, and sent a few pieces of paper to the floor. With a roll of his eyes, he picked up the papers and opened the notebook. On the first page at the very top in his large handwriting read: “New Year’s Resolution: Try New Things.”
Underneath this was a very small list of the new things he tried. The coffee shop on Fifth and Main that he went to once, no twice. The one time he tried to make biscotti, which actually turned out pretty well, though he never made it again. That surprisingly well-put-together indie game that he spent over a month playing. Intermixed were a few different recipes he tried in the month of January before he eventually stopped trying new things.
“Well, that worked out well,” he muttered to himself as he put the book back on the pile to deal with at a later date. He had a party to get to.
However, on the drive over to his friend’s apartment, he couldn’t stop himself from thinking of the failed resolution. Maybe he should have made his New Year’s Resolution to stop procrastinating instead. No, he’d do that one next year.
When he arrived at Wilson and Bailey’s, the apartment was already packed with people. Everyone wore fancy outfits just like the hosts had requested. Cody didn’t spot a single pair of jeans or a t-shirt anywhere. Wilson actually had a black tuxedo on and Bailey rocked a sparkly, golden cocktail dress that matched the gold streamers hanging from the ceiling.
His friends greeted him each with a hug before returning to their host duties and leaving him alone in a maze of strangers. Cody meandered through the mix of people in an attempt to find anyone he knew. When that failed, he headed for the hors d’oeurves table. He began assembling a plate of some of the items he knew he’d like and was about to walk away when a woman tapped his shoulder.
Her wavy hair hung around her bare shoulders in a golden cascade. Her red cocktail dress had lace-like patterns on the top that transitioned to chiffon at her waist. She looked to be Cody’s age and stood just a hair or so taller than him in her matching red flats.
“What do you think of those?” She asked, pointing to the pinwheel of dough and pesto on his plate. Bailey had made them a week ago in preparation for the party tonight and they’d been pretty good then, so Cody told the woman that.
She scrutinized the little swirls on their serving dish through narrow eyes and a hand on her hip before grabbing one for herself. Then she pointed to another plate. “What about those?” With a gentle tilt of her head, she awaited his response.
Cody rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. “I haven’t actually had those before.” He figured that would be the end of things, but it wasn’t.
“Then try one.” The blonde woman stared back at Cody as if telling him to try something for her wasn’t weird at all. Her eyes gleamed in amusement as he processed what she said.
He had no idea how to respond to that. Cody stuttered for a moment before he managed to form a coherent answer. “Why?”
“So you can tell me if I’ll like them.”
“I don’t even know what you like!”
That stumped her, but just for a minute. “Well, just tell me what they taste like.”
Cody pretended to think for a moment, humming as he did so. “No, I don’t think I will.”
The woman’s mouth dropped as he turned and headed for the apartment’s balcony to get a bit of fresh air as he ate. Thanks to the cold December air, people were staying inside, so he had the place to himself.
At least, until the woman joined him at the little table. She leaned forward and extended a hand holding one of the morsels from earlier. “Here,” she said. When he didn’t immediately take it from her she shook her hand once and gave him a pointed look. “We’ll try them together.”
He noticed she had another one on her plate.
“Okay, who are you and why do you want me to try this so much?” he asked, still refusing to take the offered item.
“I’m Stephanie, an old friend of Bailey’s,” she said, before placing the item on his plate and leaning back. “Honestly, you don’t have to. I just thought it would be a good icebreaker.” She picked up her own morsel and furrowed her brow as she watched him for a moment.
With a sigh, he lifted his own bite. She smiled, toasted his snack with her own, and then they both popped them into their mouths.
Cody chewed his food appreciatively. It actually wasn’t that bad. Meanwhile, Stephanie shivered as she swallowed her mouthful.
Cody smirked and she chuckled back. “See, you could have warned me I wouldn’t like it.”
“Sorry about that.”
They shared a laugh and began to eat the rest of their plates. “What’s your name?” Stephanie asked in between bites.
Cody swallowed his latest mouthful before answering. “Cody. Wilson and I have been best buds since we were kids.”
“Ah.” They fell silent before she spoke up again. “So, got any New Year’s Resolutions?”
Cody couldn’t help but laugh as he shook his head. “No, my last one didn’t go so well.” He explained to her what he meant. When he finished, he laughed some more, but Stephanie remained silent. Her gaze drifted out over the city lights for a moment before flicking back to him.
“You know, there’s still five hours left until the new year. You’ve got time.”
The idea was laughable, but when Cody saw her jaw tighten as her gaze narrowed, he realized that she didn’t feel the same way.
“And how am I going to try new things at a party?” It would take a miracle to do enough new things for him to even consider that he tried.
One of Stephanie’s eyebrows began to creep up as she stared at him. “Seriously? It’s a party. How many people do you know in there?”
“None of them.”
She proceeded to speak slowly as if spoon-feeding a child information. “Then why don’t you try talking to the new people?”
Cody’s glanced through the glass door, then looked at her. “But what if they are all weird like you?” With a smirk, he took another bite.
Stephanie’s mouth dropped open as she placed a hand over her heart. “First of all, rude.” She dropped her hand from her chest and held her chin high as she continued. “Second of all, no one is weird like me. And third, you’ll never know until you talk to them.”
Cody grimaced as he looked back into the apartment with a frown. Talking to new people wasn’t exactly his favorite thing in the world. He preferred to keep to himself in order to avoid obnoxious people. “I don’t know.”
Stephanie jumped to her feet and was around the table before Cody could even blink. “Come on, up you go.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him to his feet, not caring about his low morale toward the prospective task.
“You’re relentless, you know that right?” That was about all of the protesting he could manage because it was hard to argue with a pretty woman. Especially when said woman had a strong grip on his arm and led him into a room with a confident stride. Plus, she was helping him, and he appreciated that.
So, the pair began making the rounds, introducing themselves to everyone at the party, trying all of the hors d’oeurves, enjoying the champagne, and just generally having a good time talking to people. When they had accomplished all of that, they found a nice corner away from the bulk of people, to talk to one another.
“Well,” Stephanie began, removing her arm from where it had been previously wrapped around Cody’s for the majority of their socializing. “You’ve met everyone at the party, and that’s everything on the table, so that’s a lot of new things.”
“So I guess we’re done then?” Cody stated, shoving his hands in his pockets and missing having her holding on to him.
She chewed her lip for a moment, then snapped her fingers. “Oh, no.” An enormous grin, with only a hint of evil, spread across her face. “I’ve got an idea.” She latched on to his arm and pulled him toward Bailey, where she whispered into the woman’s ear for a moment, causing her to laugh, and then nod with far too much excitement as she grinned at Cody, who gained the sudden desire to run, but Stephanie’s grip on his arm remained firm as it had been from the get-go. Maybe he could chew it off like a trapped coyote?
However, as she dragged him down the hall toward Wilson and Bailey’s room, he thought maybe things wouldn’t be so bad. As Stephanie shut the door behind them, Cody’s heart began to race.
Was this really happening?
His arm was released as Stephanie headed further into the room, leaving Cody standing at the door, watching her every move. “Undress yourself,” she ordered, turning to look at him.
Cody’s hands itched to move towards his belt, but this didn’t feel right. “Look, you’re beautiful, but I don’t know how I feel about doing this in Wilson and Bailey’s room.”
“Woah, slow your roll there, cowboy.” She held up her hand in a stop motion before pointing at him. “Only one of us is taking off their clothes.”
Cody’s ears and whole face felt like they were on fire, but he wasn’t the only one. Stephanie also had quite the blush on her face as she turned away and headed for the closet.
Avoiding discussing the previous mistake, and all of the embarrassment that came with it, Cody instead chose to address the other topic on his mind. “You care to share what you are planning?” he stepped up behind her but kept a fair distance between them.
Stephanie rummaged through the closet until she pulled out a long, green skirt and held it up to Cody’s waist. With an approving hum, she smiled up at him.
He instantly backed away from her. “No.”
She stepped after him with a devilish grin. “I figured the chances of you ever wearing one of these before was pretty slim.”
He dipped his head down. “I’m not wearing a skirt.”
As undeterred as ever, Stephanie just shrugged. “Then think of it as a kilt.”
“That doesn’t help. Besides, Bailey wouldn’t like the idea of me wearing her clothes. It probably wouldn’t even fit.” He crossed his arms and stuck out his tongue, figuring he had won the argument.
He should have known better.
“Bailey may be in shape, but she’s a big girl. Plus, of course, I got her permission on the way in here. And honestly, you owe me for thinking I’m that easy to get in bed with.” She stuck her tongue out at him with a triumphant smile.
Okay, that was fair.
With a huff, he grabbed the skirt from her outstretched hand and headed to the connected bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He tore off his pants, grumbling the whole time, mostly for Stephanie’s benefit. He wasn’t thrilled with this new thing, but it was just a piece of fabric. He just didn’t want her to think he would do this too willingly. Doing something like this without complaint was how a person became the butt of people’s jokes.
A minute later, he was staring at himself in the mirror while wearing a skirt that looked especially odd with his shirt. “Okay,” he called in a hushed yell, afraid that someone else might hear and know exactly what was going on. “It’s on.”
“You gotta come out here, or else how do I know you’re actually wearing it?”
Cody could actually hear the smirk in her voice. She was enjoying this way too much.
He pressed his forehead against the door and listened intently, trying to detect any hushed voices or sneaky footsteps. “It’s just you in there, right?”
“Yes.” She continued in a feigned hurt tone, “You’ve known me for a couple hours now, you know I wouldn’t embarrass you like that.”
Cody gripped the door handle. “Why am I listening to you?”
“I have no idea.” The bed squeaked and footsteps approached the door. When Stephanie spoke again, her voice held a surprising amount of understanding as it came from just the other side. “Look, you don’t have to come out if you don’t want to. It’s your resolution after all.”
With a sigh, he turned the knob and stood there for Stephanie to see. Her hand shot up to cover her mouth as she took in the sight of the man in the skirt. His shoulder slumped. “Please don’t laugh.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” She said, trying really, really hard to suppress her laughter at just how dejected he looked. “That skirt does not go with that top.”
Cody waved his hands in the air. “You think!”
Stephanie spared him by grabbing the door and shutting it, still trying to suppress her giggles and beginning to fail miserably. “What were you thinking letting me talk you into that?”
Cody shook his head, and the corners of his mouth began to twitch into a smile. “You’re the worst.”
Stephanie couldn’t take it more. She exploded with laughter and despite the situation, Cody found himself laughing too. When he was back in his pants, he opened the door and found his companion kneeling on the carpet, clutching her gut, and hunched over.
“I don’t know how, but I’ll get you back for this.” It was an honest attempt at a threat, but the words lost most of their credibility due to his own laughing.
She looked up and he could see tears in her eyes. “I think I’m going to die,” she wheezed.
Cody reached out a hand and helped pull her to her feet. “You’re not getting off that easy. You can’t die until I get my revenge, understood?”
She managed to nod as she hiccupped and wiped her eyes.
Cody watched her shoulders as they bounced. “You going to be okay?”
She chuckled and nodded once.
“Good. Any more ideas?”
She sobered up and looked around the room with a thoughtful expression. “I think we’ve done everything we can here. Let’s bounce, I’ve got one more idea.”
It was eleven, a bit early to be leaving a New Year’s Eve party, but Cody was curious what this creative and brave woman had in store for him, so he agreed. Arm in arm, the pair left the room, said their goodbyes to Wilson and Bailey, and then headed downstairs.
They got in a cab and Stephanie whispered the destination in the driver’s ear. As the cab navigated the dark roads, Stephanie and Cody talked about their history with Wilson and Bailey. They were mid-conversation when Stephanie suddenly sat up straight and asked the driver to pull over.
“Uh, what are we doing here?” Cody asked, looking at the building they were in front of. Based on the ATM’s out front, it was a bank of some sort.
“Have you ever robbed a bank before?” Stephanie asked with a grin.
She raised her eyebrows and indicated going into the closed bank with her eyes. Silence reigned in the car for what felt like an eternity as even the cab driver stared at her as if she were crazy.
She only managed to keep a straight face for about thirty seconds. “Oh my god, you should see your face!”
“I’m regretting getting in the cab with you.”
“Oh come on,” she waved a dismissive, “As you were mister driver, sir.” She fell back in her seat and leaned into Cody’s side. Cody draped an arm over her shoulders and the two returned to their conversation as the cab continued toward its mystery destination.
When they arrived, Cody paid the driver and let Stephanie lead him into an apartment complex. She put a key in a door and then opened it while throwing her arms in the air. “Ta-da!”
“Yep. Come on in. It’s freezing out here.” She hurried inside and made a beeline for the kitchen. Cody shut the door behind him and found her in the middle of getting out a blender, ice cream, milk, and chocolate syrup.
Cody leaned against the counter at the edge of the kitchen. “I hate to disappoint you, but I’ve had a milkshake before.”
“Of course you have, only a monster wouldn’t have had a milkshake before, but,” She opened the fridge and pulled out something that Cody hadn’t expected. “Have you ever had one with bacon in it?”
With wide eyes, Cody shook his head. “No, I have not.” The thought of having bacon in a milkshake always seemed weird to him.
“Good, because neither have I but I saw this recipe online and have been meaning to try it.”
Cody rolled up his sleeves and joined Stephanie who stood proudly in the center of the kitchen. “What do you need me to do?”
With Stephanie’s instructions, the two set to work cooking the bacon and mixing up the ice cream. In the end, they each had a glass filled with a vanilla shake and bits of bacon.
“You ready?” Stephanie asked, dancing in place while holding her glass.
“As I’ll ever be.” Cody hefted his glass and clinked it against hers. Together the pair tried the drink, and while the flavor was interesting, they both agreed that the two items were better enjoyed separately.
Once the kitchen was clean, they settled down on Stephanie’s couch where she leaned into his side once again.
“You think you tried enough new stuff this year?” she asked with a yawn.
“I believe I did. Thank you for your help.”
Her hand inched up and waved dismissively before plopping back down. “It was fun. We should do it again next year.”
Cody liked the sound of that. His eyes drooped closed and then snapped back open. “You never told me what your resolution was going to be.”
Stephanie lifted herself up a bit to look at him. “Oh, I want to be more confident this year. Admittedly, I got a head start on it.”
“Wait, but you seemed so confident earlier.”
She smirked before grabbing the collar of his shirt and pulling him in for a kiss. When the pair parted, she beamed at him. “Thank you, but to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I was making it up as I went along.” She snuggled back into Cody’s side and the two remained there until the sun rose on a new year.