I weave my way in between the sweaty, dancing bodies all tightly packed in the living room. Never in my life have I felt so claustrophobic. It's getting to the point where I'm fairly certain that the walls really are closing in on me, and it's so loud. The music blares from the pulsing speakers. Whoever is in charge of the music tonight must have turned the bass to the highest setting because the song sounds almost rattly. I have only been able to make out a few words from whatever songs they've played tonight, not that I was trying overly hard to understand what was being sung.
The only thing I'm really aware of is the pounding headache beneath my skull, one I'm starting to think will become a migraine.
The entire house, more so mansion, where the party is held at tonight, is packed full of people, like a can of sardines. I wouldn't be surprised if other kids from the neighboring towns showed up in Rushmore for the party. This party has been the talk of the town among us graduates for the past week. Everyone has been so excited for the Fourth of July party that some rich kid, who was on the baseball team, throws every year, just like his older brother before him. It's a tradition that I'm sure will be picked up, for the last time, by their youngest brother come next summer.
It's like the last major party before we all leave for college come fall, well most of us will be.
In three days, all the kids who have an athletic scholarship will be leaving for a month long training camp, so the new arrivals can introduce themselves to their new teammates and start to learn how to play together or something. I honestly don't really have any idea what it's about, since I was never into any sports or really anything to do with running in general.
I preferred to spend my time in the library during gym class reading.
The gym teacher wasn't happy about that at all and called my parents more than once, who didn't scold me for skipping gym class ever. Still, I don't understand why he was so upset. There were worse things I could have done instead, like ditching school completely, or sneaking back behind the school to get stoned off pot with the stoners.
I was an outsider among my peers who didn't understand me, and probably would have spent all of high school without any friends had it not been for Molly and Nora.
Except being at this party tonight is making it obvious that our friendship is merely surface level.
There are many faces in the crowd that I don't recognize. I don't even spot my two sort of friends that talked me into coming here. Molly and Nora thought the Fourth of July party would be a good time for me to finally let loose before us non-sports playing kids all head off to college in a few weeks. At first, I agreed with them, thinking it wouldn't hurt to go to one party.
Considering I haven't been to a single one in all four years of high school, much to Molly and Nora's chagrin.
I'm regretting coming here.
I have had my foot stepped on three times, two people almost spill their drinks on me, and accidentally walked in on a couple having sex in one of the upstairs bedrooms while trying to locate an unoccupied bathroom. Not only that, but I have never been more uncomfortable with clothes before, though it's hard to even label them that. If I were to bend over right now, half my butt cheeks would be on full display for the party goers around me. Even now I'm half afraid my butt is peeking out beneath these tight, tiny booty shorts, that are very fitting, no pun intended, for the Fourth of July with a rustically painted American flag on the right side. Also, don't even get me started on the shirt! A white crop top that's making me feel like my minimum, barely a b-cup, cleavage is about to spill out the collar of the shirt due to the built-in push-up bra.
I was forced into the outfit by Molly and Nora, since they said my normal attire of a nerdy t-shirt, decent length shorts, and chuck taylors were not party appropriate.
It's seriously the one and only time they'll get to dress me up like a life size barbie doll.
Though I don't see why I couldn't have worn what I wanted.
It's not like they would have been around to see my outfit. They pretty much ditched me at the door the second we got here.
Last I saw, Molly was making out with some guy, well more like they were slobbering all over each other, like a dog begging for a bite of steak. By now she has probably found an empty room to hook up with him in. First of all, gross. Who knows how many people have had sex in any of these bedrooms tonight? Secondly, now that I'm thinking about it, there was a high possibility that the couple I walked in on getting freaky was them. I shudder, disgusted at that and try to push the image as far out of my brain as I can.
Nora was playing beer pong last time I saw her. Looking like she was dominating the other all-male team, which good for her, girl power and all of that. Still, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if she got extremely intoxicated, Chad would have taken her home at that point.
Poor guy, she's never going to fall for him, she's too shallow.
It seems to be the norm for them at parties. She gets drunk and he gets her home safely. Going off the rumors I heard floating around at school, anyway.
I take a sip of my now warm beer, nearly gagging at the horrible taste of cheap generic beer. You would think there would be better beer at a huge mansion. Not that I have a taste for beer, or any alcohol really, just if I'm going to be miserable, I at least want something that tastes halfway decent.
My grey eyes flicker over the expansion of the living room, well, the parts of it I can see, and never settle on anything for long.
I just want to find the nearest exit and go home, even if my Mom did say I could stay out all night. Catching a momentary glimpse of a sliding glass door when some girl moves, I shove my way through the warm bodies, cringing as their skin touches my own, trying to get to the exit.
Freedom is only a few steps away when someone rams into my shoulder. I stumble and try to regain my balance. The half-full red solo cup I'm holding slips out of my grasp, sloshing warm beer all over my sandal clad feet.
"Watch where you're..." The words die on the guy's lips when he turns back around to face me, and flicks his dirty water brown eyes over my barely clothed body, with a look of appreciation.
I bite my tongue to stop myself from going off on the guy who bumped into ME, hard enough to almost draw blood.
The guy, completely clueless to the annoyance that I have no doubt is written on my face in neon, flashes me a cheshire cat grin, teeth on full display. He should really close his mouth because it looks like he has some pot brownie stuck in between his teeth. I know it's from a pot brownie because I overheard some kids talking about how they brought them.
Still, I'm not about to inform him of that fact.
"I'm glad I bumped into you because, damn, do you look like a hot temptation I can't just walk by."
I must be the unfortunate girl of the night that catches this idiot's attention.
Though I don't know why me, I mean there are countless of other girls here dressed similarly to me, and some that are only walking around in bikinis. You would figure one of them would be likely to catch this dude's attention going off his lust filled gaze. That's aimed directly at my cleavage.
I know he's only looking to get laid.
Bet he won't even ask me for my name. It's easier for guys like him to call a girl anything but her name, so when he hooks up with someone else she doesn't get pissed at him for accidentally moaning their name.
"Uh-huh, sure," I answer him off handedly and go back to observing the party, hoping he will get the hint.
"That's high praise coming from me, baby girl. The least you could do is say thank you, and flash me that pretty little smile I know you're hiding."
What did I tell you?
He didn't even ask me for my name, just as I thought. If a guy doesn't even bother to ask you for your name, he's not worth it, not that this guy is worth it even if he did ask.
I roll my eyes and turn to face him fully. He doesn't go to my school, or I guess didn't since a majority of us here all graduated a few weeks back. Probably all the girls at his school, if he's still in school, don't give him the time of day anymore, which is why he's trying his luck with me. I guess he could be considered cute to someone, except him leering at me like a piece of meat and calling me baby girl put me off instantly.
Plus, he's not my type, not that I even know what my type is.
He has a medium size build and is only about six inches taller than my five-foot - one frame. Rectangular face, protruding dirty water brown eyes, hooked nose like he broke it at some point, and thin lips that look dry like the desert floor. Dark brown hair with unnatural lighter brown highlights that look like a five-year-old did it, streaking through his shaggy hair that's in desperate need of a cut.
"Oh, thank you fine male specimen. No compliment would be of higher praise than the one you have so graciously gifted me! I can die peacefully or become a sacrifice to the party gods now knowing I had earned such a compliment from the king of all men!" I sarcastically answer him, flashing him my pretty little smile, he was so desperately seeking, that's a hundred percent artificial.
He narrows his eyes at me and his nostrils flare, a sign that he's getting angry. Just when I think he's going to snap at me like some rapid dog, his features smooth out into a carefree grin.
"You got some fire in you, baby girl. I love a girl with sass." He drags one of his pointer fingers down the side of my bare arm. I shiver, repulsed.
"Aww really?" I bat my eyelashes at him, leaning in close to whisper in his ear. "You know what I love? Six feet of space."
I step back from him before I can inhale any more of the disgusting stench of vodka and sweat that's pouring off of him in waves. I turn around, beginning to walk away from him, only to be stopped by a painfully tight grip on my wrist. Looking down at the hand tightly latched onto me, I glare at it like that will magically make it disappear. Taking a deep breath, I spin around fast enough that my long, chestnut hair whips through the air.
"Where do you think you're going, baby girl?"
"Isn't it obvious? Away from you." I tug on my arm, shooting him a dark look to let me go.
He ignores that, and slowly inches forward, crowding my space, even more than he already was. With his free hand, he pushes back the strands of hair that flew in my face when I spun around. I flinch back from his touch, like his hand is carrying some sort of contagious disease. I try to hide the fear that's starting to flood my veins, not liking the warnings of danger this guy is giving off. Then he wraps an arm securely around my waist, further trapping me and ensuring that I'm not going anywhere.
"Don't be like that, baby girl. I know I can show you a good time if you just give me a chance."
If I didn't already regret coming here tonight, I definitely would be now.
Nora and Molly better not show up in front of me anytime soon, not that I really think they will. Because I might be tempted to hit them, after how terrible my night is going.
Stupid Fourth of July.
"Let go of me," I demand, doubting he will even listen.
"Oh, come on, don't be like that. I know you think I'm hot. You're just playing hard to get, but there's no need for that, baby girl. You have got my full attention." He releases my wrist, cupping my cheek and jaw with his clammy hand, and leans in to kiss me.
I bend backwards, turning my head to the side as I do, breaking the contact with his flesh. I close my eyes tightly when his disgustingly chapped lips land on my cheek instead. He lets out an angry growl, fingers digging into my hip hard enough that I know there will be a bruise there tomorrow on my creamy skin. My heartbeat kicks up a few beats, pounding rapidly against my chest at what he might do because I denied him access to my lips.
Growing up there have been all shorts of things that have frightened me, like geese, red licorice, the dark, but nothing has struck fear in me the way this guy has.
To any of the party-goers, it would look like we're really into each other.
I can only hope someone close by is sober enough to see the frightened look on my face and help me.
Someone up in heaven must have heard my wish or whatever, because the next thing I know, the guy is being jerked away from me. He slams into the marble flooring beneath my feet and whoever pulled him off of me straddles his waist, throwing punch after punch at his face. All around, people are scooting back. Some are cheering, while others have a hand covering their mouth looking shocked.
I stumble away from them both on shaky legs and feel my back hit a wall. Turning around, I rest my hand against the smooth surface to hold me up, taking deep breaths to try to calm down my racing heart.
"Hey, are you okay?"
I stuck in a sharp breath, recognizing the smooth baritone voice of the person who spoke instantly. Having heard it in the school hallways over the years more times than I care to count.
Let's just say I've heard it one too many times.
"I'm fine," I murmur, and stand back up to my full height, pushing up my black-framed glasses that were slipping off the bridge of my nose, as I do.
I look over at the person who rescued me.
He's our small-town golden boy. You know that one who everyone loves and he can do no wrong in their eyes?
Yeah, that's him.
I will admit he's very good looking, like so good looking he could be an Abercrombie and Fitch model. While I can't say I have ever spoken to him, but I have starred before, not in a creepy stalker way, though. Just when we had the same classes waiting for the teacher to start the lesson, his booming laughter would float across the room to me and draw my attention to him. Square face and sharp jawline, with a shadow of stubble, sandy blonde hair that barley touches his shoulder with a slight curl at the ends, straight nose, full downward-turned lips, and hooded blue-green eyes. He's tall, towering over me at six-three, broad shoulders that are built from hours of baseball practice. His fitted navy blue t-shirt hides what we all know to be a very lean but muscular abdomen.
He was the most popular guy in our school. He's got the looks, money, talent, and charm that put him at the very top. Either guy's wanted to be him or be his friend, or a mixture of both. The girls were all dying to have his attention solely on them, even for a brief moment.
They all wanted to date him, but he never did go out with any of them, despite how much they begged.
He was never out right rude to them when they started to get a little desperate with their begging. He would just calmly tell them no, but how much he appreciated that they thought he was worthy enough of their feelings.
That only made them want him more.
"Good. Do you maybe want to get some fresh air? Or maybe some water?" Cage's hand hovers in the air between us, hesitant. Then he reaches forward, pushing my hair out my face, not letting his touch linger.
"Make mine a double," I try to laugh, but it falls flat.
"You got it, Aurora."
A look of surprise flashes across my face. I wasn't expecting him to know my name. Especially since I basically lived in the shadows all of high school, I was never one who liked to be the center of attention the way Molly and Nora do.
"What's with the surprised look on your face? Weren't expecting me to get water for you?" Cage asks, head tilted to the side, and the beginning of a smile playing at his lips.
"No," I hesitate, then continue. "I just didn't know you knew my name."
"I've always known your name. I even said hi to you a few times in the hallway. You would ignore me every time, so eventually I just stopped."
I rack my brain trying to remember him ever speaking to me, but come up short. I feel like I would remember him talking to me. He must have me confused with someone else. That's the only logical excuse I can think of. I shrug those thoughts away and follow behind him when he heads to the kitchen.
He grabs me a red solo cup off the stack then examines it. For what?
I don't know.
He must decide it's fine because he fills it up with water from an unopened bottle. I take a small sip when he hands it to me. The water helps cool me down and soothes my scratchy throat from talking loud enough to be heard over the music that bleeds into the kitchen from the living room, despite the walls separating the spaces.
"You want to go out back where it's less crowded? It's kind of loud in here, and I don't know about you, but this music is giving me a headache."
I nod my head, and once again, I follow him.