The Other Woman

“The first night i went over to Jake’s apartment for dinner, he got a phone call. “Can I call you back?” he said. “Amy’s over.”

“Who was that?” I said.

“My best friend.”

“What’s his name?” I asked, swirling the Rioja he’d just poured me.

“Tatiana. She’s like a sister to me.”

“So you haven’t hooked up?”

“Of course we have. But it was seven years ago. Now we’re good friends. I’m very close to her and her 2-year-old, Isabella.”

“I don’t know if you should have told me the truth.”

“Isn’t it better to know that we’ve gotten together?” he said. “So you don’t have to worry it would happen again?” He had a point. On the other hand, the fact that they’d hooked up once was proof there was some chemistry. And chemistry never dies completely. Until last year, I was still regularly hooking up with my summer-camp boyfriend from 1987.

I scowled, and Jake leaned over to rub my shoulders. “Don’t be upset,” he said. “She wants to meet you.”

A week later, we made the date. He’d been over to her apartment during the day with Isabella, and she wanted all four of us to meet at Balthazar that night. I got there first and waited outside, and as I spotted them rounding the corner, my heart catapulted out of my chest and splattered all over the sidewalk.

Coming toward me, walking so close to Jake they seemed joined at the hip, was the hottest woman I had ever seen. She was in a tight, slim coat, with legs as long as my body, and she had high cheekbones and perfect straight hair. This wasn’t just a mom; this was a MILF. Even the kid on her hip was hotter than me—so button-nose adorable she could have been a Gerber model, in a navy wool cape that appeared to have cost more than my outfit.

I stood up and pasted a smile on my aching face. “You’re even more beautiful than your picture,” Tatiana said, kissing me on both cheeks.

I felt like Julia Roberts when she meets Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding. You don’t expect your nemesis to be charming; it’s just not part of the deal. So I said the only thing I could think of: “Thanks. I have a blowout.”

As we went through the door, I whispered to Jake, “She looks like a model.”

“That’s because she used to be one,” he said, smiling sweetly.

A few nights later, I got a call from my friend Emi, a married Swedish mom. She was in town with a girlfriend and wanted to get together. Tatiana, Jake, and I were going to an art opening in the meatpacking district, so I arranged for everyone to meet at Pastis. I arrived first, and then the Swedes, and just as I was bragging about how great Jake was, the door opened and he came in with Tatiana.

“Jake!” I waved, rising to greet them. As I ushered them toward the table, I saw that the Swedes were frowning. “This is Jake,” I said, “and his very good friend Tatiana.”

“Oh,” Emi said, and then murmured something in Swedish to her friend.

After they sat down, Jake asked me to order him a steak-frites and got up to use the men’s room. The waiter came and I gave him the order, but when he asked how Jake wanted it, I didn’t know. “What do you think, Tatiana?” I asked.

“Rare,” she said. I swallowed, embarrassed, and glanced at Emi, who was shaking her head. Halfway through the meal, Emi took out her camera and said, “I want a picture of you three,” but Jake and Tatiana must not have heard because when I came around to stand behind them, they had already angled their heads toward each other and were smiling for the camera. “She said the three of us!” I cried. “Not the two of you.”

“I didn’t hear her,” Tatiana said.

“I saw her take out the camera, so I thought she wanted us to pose, come here,” he said, and pulled me onto his lap. Tatiana must have felt guilty, because she tried to angle her way out of the picture, but I put her in a headlock and pulled her back in.

The next night, Jake came over with groceries. He took out a six-pack of yogurt and laid it on the counter. I looked at the label. YoBaby.

“Have you ever had these?” he said. “They’re incredible.”

“No,” I said. “I prefer Yoplait.”

“Try one,” he said. “They’re sooo yummy.”

“I’m not even hungry!”

“I can’t believe you,” he said. “You’re jealous of a 2-year-old.”

“I’m not jealous of a 2-year-old!” I cried. “I’m jealous of a 32-year-old.”

“It was a long time ago. She’s not even my type. I like my women like you,” he said, putting his hands on my hips.

“It’s not you I’m worried about. Maybe she never realized how much she cared about you until you met someone else, and now she’s going to admit she loves you and you’ll run right into her arms. Why wouldn’t you? Who wants Ralph Bellamy when you can have Cary Grant?”

“I like Katharine Hepburn,” he said, pulling me close.

“Why does she spend so much time with you if she doesn’t want to sleep with you?”

“Because I listen to her, and I’m really good with her kid. Just try to be nice to her, okay? She thinks you don’t like her.”

“I do!” I practically screamed. “It’s just that when we all get together, I feel like she knows you better than I do. She knows how you take your steak! How am I supposed to catch up?”

“You don’t even cook,” he said. The phone rang. It was Tatiana.

“Hold on a sec,” I grunted. “Jake’s right here.”

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you.” I gulped nervously. Maybe she was going to call me on what a bitch I’d been, tell me I was territorial and immature. “I wanted to thank you for being so generous about sharing Jake with me. I know it’s not easy to have me around all the time, and you’ve been really cool about it.”

“No problem,” I said.

I hung up shakily and looked at him. “What was that about?” he said.

“Nothing,” I said. I reached for a YoBaby and tried a spoonful. I hated to admit it, but it was actually pretty good.

The Other Woman