I sip the juice and lean back in the booth. Cam is sitting across from me, staring at me and I wonder, not for the first time since getting here, why I agreed to go to lunch with him in the first place. He continues staring at me, like he thinks I'll break soon. I break off a piece of my bagel and nibble at it. My stomach is in knots. I know what he wants to talk about and I want to avoid this discussion at all costs. Why on earth did I agree to have lunch with him? I must be an idiot. Or a masochist.
He picks at his donut, not breaking his gaze from me, apart from the occasional blink.
"So how's work been going for you?" I ask.
He rolls his eyes, finally breaking the stare. "It's fine. Now, what's going on with you and Jeremy? You were absolute crap at work last night."
I sigh. "Why don't you talk to him about it?"
He scoffs. "And let him know that I'm interested in his love life?"
I snort. Attractive, I know. "Love life? There is clearly nothing going on between me and Jeremy in that way."
"You're stupider than I thought.'
"I'm not stupid!"
"Then why don't you realize that there is clearly something between you two?"
"Because there isn't. Jeremy said so himself!"
Cam's mouth drops open and I know he's been waiting for last night to hear this. Not those words exactly, but whatever the problem was between Jeremy and I. I know that's why he asked me to lunch today. I still don't know why I agreed to this. I'm going to regret it. I'm already regretting it. "You're not serious." He says.
"Are you saying, you think that we have something going on?"
He nods emphatically. "That's exactly what I'm saying. And I know Jeremy, almost better than anyone else knows him. He likes you."
I scoff and roll my eyes. "Don't be stupid, Cameron." I've given up the pretense of eating my bagel and I push it away from me, managing to take another sip of juice though it's mostly an attempt at distracting myself.
"I'm not stupid, Brookie. I know Jeremy. And I know that he likes you. I also know that he doesn't want to admit it."
"Now you're just being ridiculous. Can I go?"
"Last night you said you weren't really okay but that it didn't matter. What did you mean?"
I shrug. "How should I know? That was last night. I was tired. I say random things when I'm tired. No big deal."
"Why are you being like this?"
"Being like what?"
He gestures to me like I should know exactly what he means. "Like this! You're being ridiculous... and irrational."
"I'm not irrational!"
"Then come to tonight's party."
"It's a Sunday. Since when do you have Sunday parties?"
"Since we felt like partying tonight. And it's Russell's girlfriend's birthday."
"I don't even know her. It'd be weird."
"No, it wouldn't. We know you and that's all that matters. Plus if you end up hanging around us for a while you two will probably, hopefully, become friends. So you have to come. It's your potential best friend's birthday. That means something."
I roll my eyes and slowly spin my cup of juice around. "Alright. Fine. But I'm only going tonight to prove to you just how wrong about all of this you are."
He grins. "And tonight you'll see just how right about all of this I am."
We're silent for a minute as he collects his things and as we're leaving he blurts out, "Oh, also, Marlie and Alyssa went home, so you won't know any other girls there." And he bolts.
"Cameron!" I shout his name after him but he's too far gone. "Lying little cheat." I grumble on the way to my car. He knew this whole time that I wouldn't go if I didn't think they would be there. And they won't be. But I will be. Great. Just great. I start trying to mentally prepare myself for what I know will be the worst night of my life. It doesn't work. I can feel it. Nothing can prepare me for tonight.
Her ranting begins as soon as I answer the phone. "We need to hang out. As soon as possible. Like tonight. Me, you, and Andrew. We never do anything together anymore, but you use me as an excuse to do other things, which is totally cool with me, really, but we never see each other. We need to fix that."
She only winds down because she clearly needs to take a breath. I'm a little surprised how badly she wants to hang out with me, considering we're really only friends because she's dating Andrew. "Um, yeah, okay. When do you want to hang out?"
I open my mouth to object. I can't tonight. I promised Cameron I would go to the party, but I close my mouth before I can say anything. I don't want to go to the party. This is the perfect way out. "Sure!" I say with a grin. "What time?"
Her excitement hits an all time high and she squeals into the phone. "Oh my gosh, I didn't think you'd say yes!" Her voice becomes muffled, and I guess that she's holding the phone away from her mouth. "Andrew, she said yes!"
"But you promised." Cam whines.
"I forgot I already had plans for tonight. I can't bail on Anna again." I tell him.
He sighs loudly. "How are you supposed to find out that Jeremy likes you if you keep hiding from him?"
"I'm not hiding from anyone!" I grumble. "I promised Anna way before I talked to you that we would have a girl's night. Emphasis on 'girls'."
Cam groans and huffs. "Fine. But next time you can't bail."
"Alright." I say, promising myself that there won't be a next time.
"Have fun at your stupid girl's night." He grumbles the words and I hold in my sigh of relief that he believes my excuse. "I gotta go."
After hanging up my phone, I flop backwards onto my bed and close my eyes. What a stressful day? I smile at the relief of not having to see Jeremy when he clearly would rather have me not be around. I have a few hours until I need to meet up with Andrew and his girlfriend, so I decide to go take a bath. Maybe I can finally get the knots in my shoulders to loosen up.
Anna shows up an hour before she said she would, wearing a short red dress with matching heels. She drops a bag by my door and then flops onto my bed beside me. "Your mom let me in." She says. "This is such a pretty house."
Apparently we're closer friends than I thought we were. "What time are we meeting Andrew?" I ask, trying to remind her without spelling it out, that she's an hour early.
"Oh, we aren't meeting up with Andrew now. He says he has something to work on and I decided you and me need to get to know each other more. We're going clubbing!"
"I'm not 21 yet." I say. It doesn't down her excitement at all.
"Neither am I, silly. There's a club in Portland that's 18 and up!" I try to look excited, but I don't think I'm the clubbing type. "So, what kind of dresses do you have?" She bounces off my bed and over to my closet, digging through my clothes before I even have time to answer.
She finally pulls out a dress that I vaguely remember wearing once. "Try this on." She heads back to rummaging through my closet and I do as she demands, yanking my clothes off and shimmying into the dress. It's tighter than it was when I wore it last, but I haven't grown much so it doesn't look bad. I'd forgotten how short it was. Either that or my legs grew. I hitch the bottom down a bit and glance in the mirror. The purple fabric glitters a bit as I turn to see myself from new angles. I like it.
She spins back around with a pair of black sparkly heels and she grins. "That looks perfect. You're so pretty! Put these on too!" She passes me the shoes and picks up her bag off the floor. She dumps it out onto my bed, revealing a few dresses, hair supplies and plenty of makeup. "I wasn't sure if you had club clothes. So I brought a few, but I like the dress you have." She says as she stuffs the dresses back into the bag. "Now to just figure out what to do with your hair."
I twirl a curl around my finger, satisfied with the outcome. "How did you do that?" I ask her. "I can never manage to get my curls to look so good!"
She grins. "It's the wand. Best thing I ever bought. Besides, it's always easier to curl someone else's hair." She pauses and smiles again. "For me at least." She whips out her makeup and orders me to close my mouth.
She spins the chair to face her completely and continues working. The only words coming from her mouth are orders. "Turn your head." "Look up." "Look down." "Stop moving." "I don't care if your nose itches." After a few silent minutes, she tilts my chin up, dusting something lightly on my face. "You have nice eyebrows." She says, adding, "Okay. Open your eyes."
I open my eyes to look at her and she assesses my face, nodding to herself, looking pleased. "I like it. You can look now."
I turn to the mirror and my eyes widen. "Holy crap."
"Do you like it?"
I angle my face, trying to see myself from different ways. "I think so." I say after a minute. "I'm just not used to wearing so much makeup." I tell her. My eyes look larger than normal, but not abnormally so. Whatever she did emphasizes my eye color, my eyelashes, and my cheekbones. "I love it." I finally say, smiling. "This is great!"
"Good!" She chirps, her smiling growing even more. "We should get going!" She pulls me off the chair and towards the door, barely giving me a chance to grab my phone and clutch. "This is going to be so much fun!"
I'm not completely sure if I agree with her, but I decide to at least give it a chance. For all I know, tonight could end up being one of the best nights I'll ever have.
"What a surprise!" The familiar voice makes me cringe and I spin around to face him slowly.
"Cameron." I don't pretend to be excited to see him. "Aren't you supposed to be at some birthday party?"
"Well, it turns out, she likes clubbing. So a few of us are here, celebrating with her, until later when we..." He pauses and glances around before leaning towards me and loudly whispering, "We go home and get drunk."
"You said that loud enough." I mutter. I want to ask him who he meant when he said 'a few of us' but I refuse to let him know that Jeremy is, once again, on my mind. I wonder if Anna planned this. But she couldn't have. She doesn't know Cameron.
Luckily, I don't have to ask. Unluckily, that means he's here. Jeremy saunters up beside Cameron, holding two drinks. They must have been non-alcoholic when he bought them, considering it's an under-age club, but knowing these guys, I wouldn't be surprised if he spiked them before coming over. He passes one to Cameron before acknowledging that I'm standing here.
He looks surprised to see me. I'd be more surprised to see him, if I hadn't already seen Cameron. "What are you doing here?" His voice matches the look on his face.
"What's it look like I'm doing? I'm clubbing." I fist-pump one of my hands, and inwardly roll my eyes at myself. Why is it I manage to always look stupid around him? Thankfully his eyes seem to be elsewhere. I can practically feel his gaze on my exposed legs, and I hesitantly tug at the fabric.
"Purple suits you." He says after a minute. I have to strain to hear him as the music is so loud and I can't be sure that's actually what he's said. I glance over at Cameron, to see that he's walked away and the place where he stood is empty. If I didn't know better, I'd really be thinking he and Anna managed to arrange this.
"You look nice." He tells me and, again, I'm rendered fairly speechless at his words.
"Thanks." I finally manage to spit out a response, wishing that I could be more confident and less awkward around him.
"So, what are you doing here?" He asks again, and this time I know he wants an actual response. Maybe he's wondering if this was set up.
"My friend Anna dragged me out. Apparently we needed a girl's night. But now she's disappeared."
"Much like Cameron." Jeremy adds and I nod my head in agreement. "I'm gonna kill him." He mumbles.
I pretend not to have heard, but my feelings are hurt. What does he have against me? The back and forth with this boy is giving my brain whiplash. "I should probably go find Anna." I finally say, trying to keep things from getting any more awkward than this.
"I'll go with you." He says, stepping closer to me as a few boys pass by. I wonder if he's jealous, but I scold myself for the thought seconds after it hits. He's not jealous. He doesn't like me, I tell myself. It doesn't work. I can't help but hope that his stepping close was an act of jealousy and not just him moving towards us finding Anna.
"Do you know they know each other?" I ask as we circle around the room, keeping an eye out for our friends.
He pauses by the open door, and I let the air that blows in cool me off. "Who?" He asks.
"Anna and Cameron." I say, wondering if he was even really paying attention.
"Oh, right." He starts walking again, but he still hasn't answered my question. "What about them?" He asks and I roll my eyes. He definitely wasn't paying attention.
"I was wondering if you knew if they know each other." I say.
He shrugs. "Cameron knows a lot of people. He's very charismatic that way. Like how he got you to start coming to our parties." I wonder what he means by that.
"He's not the reason I go to your parties." I retort, but instantly wish I'd kept my mouth shut.
"What?" He stops walking, and faces me. We're in a semi-quiet area, near the back wall and I wish I'd never let Anna convince me into this. Where is she anyway?
"I didn't say anything." I mutter, hoping maybe he hadn't heard me.
'Yes, you did." He insists and I sigh.
"Whatever, it didn't mean anything."
"No, it did. What did you mean?"
I groan and lean against the wall, looking up at the ceiling. "Are you blind? Or just stupid?" The words come out before I can stop them. He doesn't answer, and when I look at him, I realize that he's staring at me, waiting for me to continue. "I guess that's yes to both then." He remains silent. "Never mind. If you don't get it than it really doesn't matter. I need to find Anna. I want to go home." I brush past him and start walking. I don't get far, curse these heels, and he wraps his hand around my upper arm, stopping me.
"You won't find her." He says.
"Please tell me you haven't murdered her and buried her body somewhere creepy." Maybe I've watched one too many horror films.
He raises an eyebrow and half-chuckles, but shakes his head. "No. I'm not a serial killer. But Cam texted me. He said to tell you that he found your friend and she offered to drive him home."
"They set this up." I'm a bit shocked. "They seriously set this up. They must have. This isn't some big coincidence. Oh, when I get my hands on her.. Andrew! Andrew must have helped with all this. I'm going to murder him! How am I supposed to get home? Oh my gosh, I'm stuck here. I think I'm going to be sick." I'm rambling and I know I'm rambling and only Jeremy's hand touching my chin makes me stop.
"Chill out, okay? It's going to be fine. Let's get some air." His hand is still wrapped around my arm so he leads me outside, to the creepy alley way.
"I really hate Portland." I murmur as we walk out of the alley and onto the sidewalk. The street is fairly empty for such a busy city, but it is getting late. I sit down on a bench and wrap my arms around me, wishing I'd brought a jacket along with me. "I'm actually going to murder them. Both of them. All three of them actually."
"What are you grumbling on about?" Jeremy asks, sitting beside me.
"Cameron, Andrew, and Anna. I'm going to kill them. It'll look like an accident though."
"You're plotting out murders on a bench on a sidewalk in Portland, and yet you think I'm the serial killer?" He actually laughs and I manage a smile. I can't believe Andrew would do this to me though. I actually feel sick from the stress and anxiety this is causing me.
"How am I supposed to get home?" I ask. "I don't have money on me, and even if I did I wouldn't even know how to get a taxi or whatever to get home. I'm going to have to sleep on a park bench like a hobo, and probably freeze to death, or get murdered."
He laughs again. "What is it with you and murder?" I glare at him and his laughter fades. "Seriously Brookie, it's going to be okay. I texted Jack. He's going to come pick us up. It'll be about half an hour, okay? Can you handle that?"
I sigh. "I guess so." I shiver a bit and he wraps his arm around me, pulling me in close to him.
"I wish I was wearing something other than a tee-shirt." He mumbles.
"I wish I was wearing something more covering." I grumble. "This dress is not doing much to keep me warm at all."
He chuckles and pulls me in even closer, rubbing his hand up and down my arm. "You look pretty hot to me."
It takes a second for his words to sink in. This whole getting complimented by him is new territory and I don't know what to do. So I laugh. "You're ridiculous." I say and then he laughs.
"Seriously though, Brookie. That dress looks great on you."
I manage a half-smile. "Thanks. I think."
"This night sure has taken a weird turn." I say, more to myself, but he answers anyway.
"Yeah, it really did, didn't it?"
I nod my head. "Yeah, that's why I said it."
He laughs. Have I ever heard him laugh this much? "Mom is going to kill me when I get home. I told her I was spending the night with Anna, now Anna's gone and ditched me."
"Don't go home." He suggests.
"I'm not sleeping on a bench like a hobo. Didn't we already cover this?"
His light chuckles make my stomach flip. "I didn't mean that. I meant that you should come to my house. There's a party, and you haven't seemed to mind my bed all that much."
My face flushes at his words and how it would seem to any eavesdroppers. "I suppose your bed is fairly comfortable. Considering it's on the floor."
Jeremy grins at me. "So, my bed it is then?"
I smile back and nod. "Your bed it is."
Bookluver78 - Haha, he really does go back and forth, doesn't he? He's a confusing character - he doesn't really like opening up much, he keeps himself closed off. Don't worry though, you'll get to understand him a bit more in the upcoming chapters! Thank you! :) Haha writing from the point of view of a young girl's mind is pretty complicated haha - I end up writing and then re-writing and deleting and re-writing soo much of the chapters because they just don't come out right at first - though for the most part this story seems to write itself.
I'm glad you liked the discing! I wasn't quite sure how to write it out as I've never been haha. Sorry the update's taken so long- I've just been soo busy lately! I hope you enjoyed this chapter!!
Maggiem227 - Yay,! I'm so glad you liked the last chapter! Sorry it takes me so long to update but I get really busy and don't always have time to write! I'd love to one day turn this into a published book! Thank you so much for your support!!
Chrystina J - Yay! I'm so glad that you can get so into the story :) I love your comments! Thank you sooo much for understanding how important comments are! I hope you enjoyed this chapter too!!
Zelia - She definitely does overthink, doesn't she? Haha, I tend to do that way too often myself! I'm so glad you liked the last chapter! And I love that you think it's not too predictable!! I hope you enjoyed reading this one as well, and I hope to hear from you soon!!
Scars And A Daisy - Chapter TwelveAnna makes Brookie go clubbing!
By Em Bishop