What if she’d lost her chance with him?
As if there’d ever really been a chance for her at all.
Violet looked wistfully their way once more, wondering if she’d just been fooling herself. They were sitting side by side, at the table where Lissie sat every day with those she deemed good enough to be her friends. She was snuggled up against Jay and saying something that was obviously meant only for his ears.
He truly was a great guy; especially in the ways that really counted beyond his new gorgeous exterior where he was still Jay…smart, funny, sweet. Why had she never seen him more clearly before he’d metamorphosed into the very image of hotness that every girl in school was catfighting one another just to get close to?
But he wasn’t perfect, she reminded herself as she watched him sitting at Lissie’s table. He was incredibly stubborn and pigheaded. Plus, she didn’t miss the way he stole the remote when they watched TV or how he always ate all of her chips at lunch. At least she tried to tell herself she didn’t.
He never looked up from his conversation with Lissie. He didn’t even glance her way, although Violet was sure he knew she was there…sitting in the same old place, with the same old friends. While he tested his weight on the delicate ice of new and upwardly mobile social circles, she was still just the same old Violet.
Chelsea seemed to sense that this was no time for joking, and she backed off the new-Jay, old-Jay thing…at least for the moment. She put her arm around Violet. “Hey, don’t worry about them. Elisabeth Adams is no different from any other girl in school who’s been dying to get her claws in him. She’s shallow and boring,” Chelsea tried her best to reassure Violet. “She’s just another brainless cheerleader.”
“Besides,” Claire piped in, “I hear she’s a slut. I hear that she gives it up to all the guys. Half the football players call her ‘Kneepads,’ if you know what I mean.”
Of course she knew what Claire meant; how could she not understand the barely subtle innuendo? And why on earth did Claire think that that little tidbit of information would make Violet feel better?
Claire might have been the only one at the table who didn’t notice the icy glare and the scathing tone that Chelsea shot her way. “No way,” Chelsea disagreed. “Prissie Lissie is all that virginal, pure crap. She’s one of those girls who wears a promise ring to her daddy that she won’t give it up till she’s married or some shit like that. There’s no way that Jay could even get to third base with her tight, Christian ass.”
It was supposed to be a pep talk; Violet knew that and tried not to fault her for it. It was Chelsea’s way of showing her unconditional support for her friend. But somehow, Violet ended up feeling even worse than before. Now she couldn’t stop picturing Lissie and Jay making out in his mom’s car, with his hand beneath her shirt…rounding first base and heading for second. She felt sick.
That was definitely a mental image she could live without, and she wished at that moment that she could gouge out her own mind’s eye to make it go away.
“So, that pretty much settles it, Violet. You are definitely going out with us tonight,” Chelsea insisted. “Olivia Hildebrand throws the best parties, and you could use a night out. It’s BYOB, but I’m having my older sister buy for us, so if you just pitch in a coupla bucks I’ll take care of the booze.”
Violet had already told Chelsea that she didn’t want to go to the party. What she really wanted to do, all she could even imagine doing tonight, was putting on her most comfortable sweatpants and crawling into bed to watch old movies.
She started to object, but Chelsea interrupted her. “Trust me, Vi. Don’t sit around by yourself tonight. Tell your parents you’re staying at my house and we’ll go out and get stupid. Forget about Jay. Forget about Lissie.” She put on her best pout and gave Violet a doe-eyed look that was more sarcastic than serious. “Pretty, pretty plee-eease!”
“Come on, it’ll be fun,” Jules cajoled in her usual brief manner. She was nearly as incapable of tagging multiple words together as Chelsea was at any form of true sincerity.
“Ooh, and if you don’t have anything to wear, you can borrow something from me,” Claire added, as though that was Violet’s only hang-up about going.
It was Violet’s turn to laugh as she looked at her friends, each trying in her own pitiful way to make Violet feel better about losing Jay. She wanted to say no, but suddenly she couldn’t. Maybe they were right; maybe what she needed was a girls’ night out, even if it would end up being at a crowded party with a bunch of her drunken classmates.
“Fine.” Violet finally succumbed to the pressure. “But you’ll have to pick me up. My parents won’t let me out of the house by myself. They think we’re safer traveling in packs.”
“That’s my girl.” Chelsea crumpled her empty brown lunch sack into a ball and tossed it toward the garbage can at the end of the table. She missed by a mile, but ignored that fact completely, leaving her garbage where it landed on the ground. “I’ll call you when I’m on my way.”
She and Claire took off to their next class, leaving Violet to walk with Jules, who was heading in the same direction she was.
They had to walk past Lissie’s table on their way out, and Violet was surprised to see that Jay was no longer sitting there with the senior girls. She’d never even seen him leave. But somehow, Violet realized, she had attracted Lissie’s attention, and as Violet and Jules walked past, the cheerleader stopped talking to her friends and watched Violet intently.