Chapter Five - Putting A Plan Into Action
“Hey, Tristan, you made it!” I said, jumping off the seat in the café and embracing him in a tight, bone-crushing hug.
Tristan had been a friend of mine for as long as I could remember since I started here. We met in the supermarket when our shopping carts collided in the cereal aisle, and he went to the public school ten minutes away. We hung out whenever we could and studied together in the library. He was a whiz in math and biology and I helped him in literature, history and geography. We were a good team.
“Hey, Grace!” he said, his plump lips tugging into a grin. He had cropped fair hair and light gunmetal gray eyes. “I was gonna call you soon, but I’m glad you beat me to it.”
We both sat down, and he must have seen something in my eyes, because he asked curiously, “Everything okay, kiddo?”
He had taken to calling me kiddo since we met, since there was a noticeable size difference between us. He was a good six foot four, whereas I dampered down at five foot six. It annoyed me, but I couldn’t really comment, because it was sweet and familial at the same time. Our own private nickname. Plus, I did call him Sasquatch every now and then, as well. I gave as good as I got.
“I have a massive favor to ask that is both going to insult your manly-hood and possibly make you mad, but you’re the only person I had to help me.” I gave him the puppy-dog eyes to at least get him listening to what I had to say.
“What is it?” he asked, worry lacing his words. “And why do you need me to do you a favor?”
“Cole Adams has been giving me hell lately and I would just like to get revenge.”
“What about karma?” he asked, his fair eyebrows pulling together.
God, why was everyone so interested in karma?! I thought angrily.
“Well, karma has been no help to me so far, but I really need your help. This is karma in a kind of way, as well.”
He leant back with a smirk. “What exactly is this prank, kiddo?”
“No way,” he said as soon as I finished explaining. The smirk had disappeared from his face. “Over my dead body, Grace. You’re one of my best friends, but there are some lines I will not cross.”
“Please, Tristan. I’ll only need you this one time and it will all be over. Please, please, please,” I begged. I swear, I could give Annie a run for her money in this begging department.
“Oh, come on dude! I helped you score Abby! You couldn’t have gotten your girlfriend without my interference and you said you owed me!”
“As in I would buy you an extra coffee!” he snapped.
“Well, I don’t need coffee. I need this.”
“Well, I’m not doing it, Grace.”
“Get another one of your male friends to do it. What if Abbz saw me?!”
“Why would Abby go to the party? Come on, I need you to do this. You’re the only one. And it’s a good plan and none of your friends are going to see you. I will owe you big time and even pay you if you want!”
I understood that what I was asking was far-fetched, but he was my friend! Friends did this for each other, right? I didn’t exactly know a lot of guy-friends who owed me big-time and went to another school. I didn’t have many resources here! And Tris was as good as it got.
“Do you even know what you’re asking me to do?” he asked. “Grace, some of my friends could be there and you know that! What if word got around to Abby?”
I guess I should explain that Abigail Rose Walker (Or Abby or Abbz, as we called her) was Tristan’s girlfriend of quite a few months. With spirally-scarlet hair that cascaded to the middle of her back in soft curlicues, emerald-green eyes that were cool and sweet, and a smattering of freckles across her nose, she was kinda ditzy, but very sweet, and I was happy to proclaim that I had played cupid with them and hooked them up.
“It won’t!” I cried. “Please, Tris. One time. That’s all I’m asking.”
He sighed. “Grace…” His defences were slowly crumbling as I looked into his eyes. I felt horrible for doing this to him, but I knew I had to.
I grabbed his hand and looked earnestly into his eyes. “Tristan James O’Neill. Please, please, please help me do this to Cole. Please.”
He sighed. “Fine. But if this blows up in our faces—which I’m sure it will—I am blaming you, okay? You take full responsibility and you explain everything to everyone it affects and you apologize to me, okay? And if Abby somehow finds out, you tell her what’s going on.”
“OK,” I said. “I promise I will do all of the above. Would you like me to sign a napkin to prove it?”
He waved it away. “I think I believe you.”
“Tristan, it’ll work out,” I reassured him, giving him the best smile I could muster. “Who knows? Maybe it’ll get a few laughs.”
“It better be worth the trouble, Grace. Because Cole is notorious. Everybody in my school worships him like some kind of Greek God.”
“It’ll work, Tristan,” I said, gently but firmly. “I have to go, but I’ll get in touch with you tomorrow ready for Friday night, OK?”
He nodded. “Yeah, yeah, Grace. We’ll talk then.”
For probably the first time in the history that I hadn’t been friends with Matt, I didn’t go to a football game. I had to be perfect, and plus I was picking up Emilie and Alyra at seven from their house to take them to the party - this time being hosted by Blake Welsh.
I pulled on a long and pretty dress without looking for a hidden message, and some country boots that I bought because I’d always loved them. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on hair and make-up and checked and rechecked my outfit.
I picked out a matching clutch purse and checked my appearance in the mirror like a self-obsessed cheerleader. This was getting absurd. I wasn’t the kind of girl that spent hours staring into a mirror, obsessing over every last detail and examining herelf from all angles. Yet that was what I spent a good forty minutes doing so.
No doubt Annie would’ve been proud of both my time-managing skills and the amount of make-up I had basically plastered onto my face by the barrelful.
I looked like a completely different girl than the one who wore flannel shirts and jeans and clothes with secret messages.
My eyes were outlined with the blackest eyeliner money could buy, and my lips were bright red, contrasting nicely with my pale skin. I put on a pink blush to make my cheeks rosy and my eye-shadow was gold.
I had spent an extra $35 on this outfit than I normally would have on any other. It was a gold dress that fell to about three inches above the knee, and I had sprung for a plunging neckline and tight bodice with a sparkly bow at the back. My hair was perfectly curled and pinned so that it fell around my body soft and tightly-coiled.
I gave myself one last pep talk in the mirror. “You look good, Grace. Cole won’t know what hit him. The prank will work, and it will be revenge for all the things he did to you and Aly and everyone else affected by Hurricane Cole.”
Okay, that was probably the best pep talk I was going to get out of myself considering the nerves.
I gave myself one last check in the mirror. Lipstick, check. Gold nail glitter, check. Purse and phone, check. Attitude, not yet, but working on it.
My appearance was the best I could do, and if I didn’t hurry now I would be late and everything would fail. I hadn’t had enough time to work out all the kinks in my plan yet, so everything had to be done at exactly the right time.
I texted Tristan to tell him that I would be twenty minutes and that we needed to get a move on.
Then I closed the door and slipped past my mother and little sister, steeling myself for what would surely be the most eventful night of my entire life.