It was late when Tyler finally managed to nod off, and even later when he finally woke. The first thing Tyler noticed when he rolled over in his king-sized bed was the band of sunlight falling through a gap in the curtains. The second thing he noticed was the fact that he was alone. Kicking back the covers, he got up and went in search of his wife.
A quick glance at his phone told Tyler that it was just past 11AM. Jenna – who had, luckily, never suffered from the kind of insomnia that had haunted Tyler for most of his life – had probably been up for hours. He imagined her in the kitchen, mixing up a healthy smoothie; not bothering to make him one because she knew getting him to indulge in the latest detox craze was a lost cause. Afterward, Jenna would probably have done yoga before hopping on one of the exercise bikes in the spare room that had become their home gym.
The bathroom door was ajar, the light off. Either Jenna hadn’t finished her workout yet or, she’d already done that, had a shower, and gotten ready for the day. For the briefest moment, Tyler almost listened to the nagging voice telling him that he was lazy and useless for sleeping away so much of the morning. He shook his head to clear it, then snagged a discarded t-shirt that he tugged over his head before leaving the room.
Tyler had only taken a few steps down the hall when he heard hushed voices. Strange. They weren’t expecting any visitors that day…. He paused, listening intently as he tried to make out the voice’s owners. Someone giggled – that sound, Tyler would recognize anywhere. Jenna.
He followed the voices to the family room, which he found lit only by the light of the television mounted on the wall. On the screen, a man and woman twirled together in a flurry of spandex and sequins. On the sofa, Tyler found Jenna.
The pair were nestled together amid a pile of throw pillows. One of Josh’s arms was wrapped around Jenna’s shoulders, while the other was across her legs – which were draped across his lap. As Tyler watched, she turned her face up to say something, her lips close to Josh’s ear. He chuckled softly, his usual short burst of amusement, and whispered something back that made Jenna smile. Tyler stared at them a moment longer before he gave in to the feeling burning in his gut.
He slammed a hand down on a switch mounted on the wall nearby. Light flooded the room. Jenna and Josh started guiltily and broke apart. They scrambled to their feet; Josh stood in front of the television, partially blocking Tyler’s view, while Jenna came around the sofa toward Tyler. Jenna spoke, her hands held out in the universal sign for “Wait!”
“It’s not what you think,” she said hurriedly.
“Really, it isn’t,” Josh agreed, taking a step forward. “We were… uh… making out!”
Tyler raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “Making out?”
“Yeah,” Josh said, looking abashed. “Totally sucking face. It was hot.”
Tyler turn his attention to Jenna. “Hot?” he asked.
She nodded “Oh, yeah. Totally.”
“And messy,” Josh added.
“So messy,” Jenna agreed.
Tyler stared at one, then the other, before shaking his head in disgust. He stepped around Josh, picked up the remote, and turned the sound on the television up.
“Next, on Dancing with the Stars…”
He gave Jenna and Josh an incredulous look. “Really, Josh?” he said, his voice laced with disappointment. “I expect this kind of thing from her-”
“-but not you, bro.”
Josh looked away, refusing to meet Tyler’s eye. He mumbled something under his breath that sounded like secure-in-my-masculinity.
“Come on, Ty,” Jenna said, laying a hand on her husband’s arm. “Give it a try. You might like it.”
Tyler suggested several things he might enjoy better – things that included a prostate exam, root canal, and being dragged naked across broken glass. Josh tried not to laugh at Tyler’s reaction but failed miserably.
“It’s not that bad!” he insisted.
Shaking his head, Tyler threw his hands up in the air and declared them both mad. “Life is too short,” he said before turning and leaving them to it.
Tyler wandered into the kitchen, where he poured himself a bowl of cereal and started to eat it at the counter. Two bites in, he heard Josh and Jenna laugh together; their mirth filled the entire house and made Tyler feel miserable. He found himself chewing more quietly, straining to hear their conversation. Two extremely grumpy bites later, Tyler picked up his bowl and wandered back to the family room.
Neither Josh nor Jenna said anything as he squeezed between them on the sofa but they exchanged an amused look over his head as Tyler bent low over his breakfast, trying his hardest to look like he wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to the mind-numbing reality television his best friend and wife enjoyed. He had just set his bowl down on the coffee table when the show ended and – much to his horror – the TiVo began playing the next saved episode.
Tyler leaned back on the sofa and covered his face with his hands with an exaggerated groan. Josh chuckled in response. He threw his legs over Tyler’s and Jenna shifted so she could settle comfortably into the “v” created by their crossed legs. A warm sensation crept through Tyler as the first pair of dancers took the floor. Reality TV was a small price to pay for a moment of serenity with his soulmates.
Or, rather, it was until Tyler learned that they still had six more episodes to watch.