Axel was right. Maybe I had a crush on this guy. But he had been watching me, so he had to feel something for me, too.
As I got ready for the party, I wondered if I’d made a good decision. It was too late to second-guess myself, but I already knew that Rosalyn and her friends didn’t have that much in common with me. I didn’t like to shop or gossip. I liked to read and loved to listen to a good DJ set.
Every once in a while, I’d convince Axel to take me to a club and we’d dance all night. I wore something to cover most of my skin, and Axel kept people away from me. It was one of my favorite things. Not like they had much of that around here and Axel would be leaving next week, but still, Rosalyn and I just didn’t see eye to eye on music. Which might not seem like a big thing, but it was most likely the beginning of a fatal flaw in our relationship.
I’d bitten my nails down to the quick. When Axel saw me gnawing on my fingers, he offered to tag along with me, but I couldn’t—wouldn’t—let him do that. He was leaving soon. I had to do this on my own. But I was keeping my cell in my pocket just in case I needed backup.
By eight, Rosalyn was waiting for me outside. Her crooked smile spelled mischief as I closed the door to her little silver Honda. Her red hair hung halfway down her back in perfect curls. “You ready?” she asked.
Nope. Not at all. “Totally.”
Rosalyn’s country music filled the silence as she drove through the winding streets. I tried to tune it out, but the singer whining about losing some lame boyfriend was like needles digging in my eardrums.
“This song is great,” I said, my lame attempt at trying to start a conversation.
“I know, right? It’s one of my faves.” She turned it up.
Thankfully, only a few minutes passed before she pulled into a packed driveway and parked. “Nervous?” she said.
I wondered if the gleam in her eye meant that she was hoping I was nervous. “I’m more curious than anything.”
“It’ll be fun. Plus, it’s Texas. We’re all nice,” she lifted one shoulder, “for the most part.”
Yeah, I wasn’t buying that one. I had a feeling that if I got on Rosalyn’s bad side, she would become a huge pain in my ass.
She grabbed her purse and pulled out a glittery tube of lip-gloss. “Here. Try this one.”
Oh God. That was a terrible idea, but one I couldn’t refuse without being rude.
“Thanks.” I took the tube from her, and with a shaking hand, started to apply the gloss in the vanity mirror.
Short, staggering visions popped through my mind of the different places she used the gloss.
In a bathroom. In her car. In English class. In Carlos’ car.
And then she was at a pharmacy. She looked around as her pulse pounded. The coast was clear. She put the gloss in her pocket as she walked down the aisle, toward the exit. Her fear and excitement filled me.
And then I was back in her car. I pulled the tube from my lips. Rosalyn was texting and hadn’t noticed a thing.
I exhaled slowly and focused on my reflection. The gloss was slimy and sticky, but it made my lips look Angelina-plump. My eyes were lined in my favorite midnight shadow, making their brown look richer.
“Ready?” she said.
“Sure.” I flipped the vanity mirror shut and hopped out of the car.
We walked across the lawn to the large brick house. A lilting beat floated across the yard. I took a look down at my outfit—black skater dress, thin silver belt, flip-flops, thin silver scarf, and black over-the-elbow gloves—as my nerves started to reach an all-time high. I smoothed my skirt down and centered the knot on my scarf as my nerves rose.
If I could make it through the night without freaking out from some vision, then I had a chance at finding a place where I belonged—even if it wasn’t with Rosalyn’s crowd.
Rosalyn went straight for the door, and opened it without pausing to knock. I might have been a little bit naïve—it was my first party after all—but I wasn’t expecting everyone to be drinking. Thirty kids or so were scattered around the entryway screaming at each other over the music. They all had red plastic cups in their hands.
How in the hell did a bunch of sixteen and seventeen year olds score enough booze for everyone?
I shook my head. Some of those cups had to be filled with soda.
One girl gestured while talking, unaware that the contents of her cup were spilling all over the floor. A guy was falling all against a girl, who pushed him away.
Nope. They were drunk. Unreal.
Guess there were no parents here.