It was strange, the look in the other girl’s eyes, kind of defensive…almost challenging. It was as if Lissie was jealous of her…and was really pissed off about it.
Violet wanted to tell her that she had nothing to worry about just to make her stop glaring like that. She wanted to tell her that she and Jay weren’t even friends anymore, let alone anything beyond that. But there was no point in it. From what Violet had seen in the cafeteria that day, Lissie was already getting her way, and she’d soon realize that Violet was no competition for her.
Suddenly the party seemed like a great idea.
By the time Violet had dressed and re-dressed several times, she was starting to think that maybe Claire had been right, that maybe she should have borrowed something from the self-proclaimed “fashionista.”
She finally landed on a pair of her better jeans, coupled with a cute black top and some black flats. She added a beaded necklace and matching earrings and checked herself out in the mirror. She rarely wore makeup but had decided that this was a special occasion—her night out with the girls to forget Jay—so she’d sparingly accented her green eyes with a touch of eyeliner and gingerly applied a coat of black mascara.
The effect was somewhat dramatic, making her eyes look exotic rather than ordinary.
She glossed her lips. Not bad, she thought, tucking a wild wisp of hair behind her ear.
Her cell phone rang with the standard, preprogrammed ringtone that had come with the phone. Violet hadn’t even bothered to change it, feeling a little like she would be dancing on the graves of the girls who had gone missing—figuratively, of course—if she were to enjoy her new phone for anything other than the utilitarian purpose for which it had been purchased.
She flipped it open, and before she could say hello, Jules was yelling into her ear, “Get your fine little ass in gear, girl! We’re out in your driveway!”
Violet could hear screams and shrieks of laughter in the background. She decided she’d better get out there fast before they alerted her parents, and they changed their minds about letting her go out tonight.
“Keep it down, or I’m not going anywhere,” she insisted into the phone, and then snapped it shut without so much as a good-bye.
She grabbed her purse and hurried down the stairs two at a time.
“Chelsea’s here. I’ll see you in the morning!”
“Be careful!” her mom yelled back.
“Keep your phone on,” her dad called out without raising his voice. “Just in case,” he added.
THEY COULD HEAR THE PARTY LONG BEFORE they ever reached Olivia Hildebrand’s house. Music similar to what had been playing inside Chelsea’s car was booming…only much, much louder. The four of them climbed out of the tiny Mazda and trudged up the long driveway that was overflowing with cars. Violet scanned the vehicles, silently hoping against hope that she would see Jay’s mom’s car parked among the rest. But it wasn’t there, and she decided to set that impossible wish aside.
Still, Violet found herself smiling when they reached the front door, her arms filled with cheap alcohol that she probably wouldn’t even drink. The music was loud and her friends were louder. She could hear kids from inside the party calling out to them as they walked up to the front doors. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
Violet loved going to parties, mostly just so she could see what everyone was like outside of school. They became different people when they were away from campus. These were the same kids she’d gone to school with ever since she was a little girl. But here, at night and away from that familiar institution they attended five days a week, away from the cliques that governed where they sat and who they hung out with on a daily basis, they were free to be whoever they wanted to be. Of course, the booze helped to loosen those sharply defined social lines a little.
“Violet! Vi-o-let!” she heard a boy’s voice screaming to her from the other side of the kitchen as she set her load down on the counter. Swarming teens began to reach in and take what they wanted even before she’d taken her hands off the alcohol she’d carried in.
“Oh, good,” Chelsea yelled above the noise without even looking to see who was screaming Violet’s name. She set her bags on the counter with the rest. “Your fan club’s here.”
Violet looked in that general direction to see who it was, and when she saw him her stomach dropped.
Grady was there, weaving his way through the crowd of noisy teens and heading right toward her.
“Oh God,” Violet breathed, leaning in close to Chelsea so that only she could hear what she was about to say. “It’s new-Jay.”
Chelsea couldn’t contain her laughter, as Violet finally came over to the dark side, and it came out in kind of a half snort, which made her laugh even harder. “Here,” she said, grabbing Violet by the arm and practically dragging her in the opposite direction…away from Grady. “We’ll pretend we didn’t see him.”
They ducked quickly through a hallway that wrapped past the bedrooms and back around to the family room behind the kitchen. They were near the spot where Grady had been when he’d started yelling for her, and now he was nowhere in sight. The two girls were giggling as if they’d pulled off some great stunt by dodging him.
“Think we lost him?” Violet asked as they tried to blend into the crowd.
Chelsea grabbed two clear bottles of the tastes-more-like-juice, fruit-flavored drinks from the counter and handed one to Violet. She twisted off the little metal cap and then clinked the top of hers against Violet’s. “Here’s hoping,” she said and guzzled her drink.