Then You Look At Me

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Liquors & Chasers

Have you ever felt alone? Do you still believe in love?~Miguel.

Chapter Theme Song: 'Do You' by Miguel.

°°

Rainey

“Zip me up.” Riley whirls her back to me, and I enclose my fingers around the slim zipper and pull it up. She faces the large mirror hanging on my wardrobe, beaming brightly at her appearance.

“Ooh, this dress is nice.”

I smile, tilting my head as I attempt to get my earring in. “You can have it.”

She stares at me with slack jaws. “Really?”

“Yeah.” I shrug. “It looks better on you.”

Her bleach-white teeth display in an angelic smile before she angles her body to have a better inspection of the black dress that clings to her slender, svelte figure.

“Thanks, Rain.”

Riley is like a sister I was supposed to have, but something went wrong and we somehow ended up separating into two different wombs. The only difference is our appearance.

Riley has a flawlessly bronzed complexion, and her midnight black eyebrows complement her dark short hair. Her lips are plump, and she has a film star nose that people would pay millions to get. Her physical attributes are an obvious contrast to my shoulder-length brown hair with a tip of gold lining a few strands, my puffy lips, and my deep amber eyes.

“Have you heard from your Dad?” Riley queries, while carefully sweeping the black eyeliner beneath her eyes.

I shrug. “We spoke last night. He’s not in the country right now. He got a deal in Dubai.”

“Oh.” She compresses her lips, a sympathetic expression surfacing her features.

My father’s busy schedule does not allow us to time to hang out much or to have those priceless father-daughter bonding moments. However, he makes it his duty to spend time with me on my birthdays and holidays.

I don’t blame him for having little to no leisure time. If My mother hadn’t separated our family like this, I would see him more often. Now he only comes around when Jeff isn’t over, and Jeffrey stays here often these days.

I’d choose to live with him instead of my Mom any day, but he’s hardly home, and he hates the idea of me being there alone when he’s on the job.

“Your dress is nice.” Riley grins, attempting to brighten the sullen atmosphere.

“You think?” I glare over my attire. The black dress is simple; a modest V-cut at the neck being the only design. However, despite my efforts to stay unostentatious, my curvaceous hip is enough to draw attention. I consider wearing jeans, but Riley is already grabbing her jacket off the bed.

“Are you ready?”

I nod. “Yeah, let me get my shoes on.”

I hunch down to slip my black leather ankle boots on before we leave my room to head downstairs.

Jeff is lounging back on the couch, holding a bottle of beer while he watches the game on TV.

The sound of our footsteps prompts his head around in our direction. He scrutinizes our attire and his brows furrow. “Where are you girls going?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Riley chuckles. “We are going to a party.”

Disapproval crinkles in his eyes and he glares at me, his jaws tightening. “I don’t think your Mom would approve of that, Rainey.”

“My mom couldn’t care less about me. You should already know that. Goodnight.”

I move toward the door and Riley follows behind, waving menacingly at Jeff whose eyes are furious as he watches us leave.

°°

The party is booming. Drunk and sweaty adolescents are at every corner of the three-story house while the stereo blasts, reminding me that I should have taken a packet of Advil. This music is enough to give me a pounding headache.

The house is huge; it’s obvious Tate’s family has good money. But what do I expect? He attends Crosshill after all.

Riley and I stand in the outdoor kitchen near the deck of the pool, drinking beer and watching some drunken girls make complete asses of themselves.

I am chuckling at one girl who is climbing on top of the kitchen’s island when there’s a sudden painful tramp to my feet.

“Ow.” I wince. A chuckling Olivia and her friend Lisa lead me to realize that it was intentional.

“Sorry,” Olivia swings me a close-lipped smile. “You shouldn’t have been standing in the way.”

I narrow my eyes, my mouth setting in a hard line as they giggle their way past me.

Count to ten Rainey. Count to ten.

Riley casually puts her foot in their path and Olivia trips over it, falling headway against the floor in a loud thud. I snort, covering my mouth while the entire kitchen cracks up in laughter.

Riley gasps in mock remorse but I know my best friend well enough to know that it was intentional.

“Sorry,” She presses a palm against her chest. “You shouldn’t have been walking in the way. These boots are just so problematic. I should probably put a caution sign on them.”

I chuckle softly and Olivia grunts as Lisa reaches down to help her friend. The laughing faces are too much for her to handle so she pulls herself up and offers us a stern glare before she stomps her way out of the kitchen.

I giggle at Riley, who is innocently taking a sip of her liquor. “You’re a rebel.”

“She deserves it. Plus, her heels are fake as hell.”

I laugh. “How did you even see that?”

“I got the eyes for good stuff.”

I smile at her, just before my eyes drift out to the pool deck. Instantly, I recognize someone.

Ansel.

He’s standing alone, his sinewy figure positioned to the pool. He gazes down at the sparkling blue with his hands jammed inside the pockets of his jeans. I can tell from behind that he’s wearing his glasses and the black T-shirt he sports so effortlessly tantalizing clings to his perfect body structure.

‘Nerds’ aren’t supposed to be this sexy!

As usual, it mystifies me how his character can be so unreadable. I didn’t take him as a party guy.

“I see that.” Riley wiggles her eyebrows, tracking her eyes to my point of focus. “Who’s he?”

My cheeks pink and I look away. “Just a guy in my Math class.”

Her eyes go comically wide. "The guy in your Math class?”

I nod and she raises a brow, a smirk rising at the corner of her lips. “Oh. He’s hot.”

I watch him in bewitchment as he pulls his cellphone from his pockets, oblivious to the two pairs of creepy staring eyes. He’s always alone, minding his own business and he appears to be so contented with his own company.

I have to admit; not needing anyone but yourself is a unique attractiveness.

Riley nudges my shoulder. “Wanna go say hi?”

I shoot a glare to her. Is she serious?

She frowns. “Come on, you guys share the same Math class.”

“Yeah but that does not make us friends.”

“Yeah but he sits right behind you. You’re almost desk-buddies. It’s common courtesy to say hi.”

I sigh. Riley is like the devil tempting the saint to sin.

Not offering a response, I pull my gaze back in his direction. He’s not standing there anymore to my secret disappointment. My eyes dart around the deck, but I see no sign of him. He sure moves fast.

“Darn it. He’s gone.” Riley frowns. “I told you we should have said hi.”

I roll my eyes. “It’s not like we’re friends or something.”

“Yeah, I know that, but he’s cute. Admit it.”

I shrug and she squints her eyes, poking me in the ribcage. I grimace.

“Admit that he’s cute.”

I sigh. “Yeah. Yeah, he’s cute.”

“What’s his name?”

“Ansel.” His name sounds so fresh and foreign on my lips and I have to admit that I kind of like how the letters roll off my tongue.

“His name is nice.” She grins.

“Yeah and he seems nice too. We spoke at lunch today.”

“Woah, you didn’t tell me that. About what?”

“Our literature text for the term; To Kill a Mockingbird. He seems to like reading. Well, that’s the most accurate factor I’ve observed so far. I mean he’s so unbothered and mysterious. I can’t tell if he wants to be a nerd or the ‘bad guy’ type, you know?”

“Uh, Rainey?”

“You know, I have great discernment skills, but I just can’t understand his character. And that is rare as shit for someone like me. One second I feel like I have him all figured out and then the next, he does something so contradictive to my conclusive hypothesis. He appears like a well-behaved guy but he’s way too hot to be one of those guys who bury their head in a book all day or collect creepy spiders for their bug collection and-”

Riley pokes me again and I make a face. “Ow. Okay, why’d you do that?”

“Because...” She leans over to my ear, using her palm to guard the side of her mouth. “He’s right behind us.”

“Jeezus. You’re lying.”

I glance behind me and Ansel’s there. If I am seeing correctly, a small smirk is tugging at the corner of his lips as he pours punch in a red party cup. The proximity confirms that he probably heard every word that just left my lips but then, the blazing stereo and high-pitched laughter of kids all around us would make it likely impossible for him to have heard us.

My face runs crimson as I return my gaze ahead. Riley is pursing her lips while casually staring at her boots until Ansel steps past us, carrying two red cups, as he returns to the pool deck.

“God. How did he even get behind me?”

Riley laughs. “I have no idea. He’s like a horror movie. A cute horror movie.”

“Do you think he heard us?”

“I don’t think so. I know so.”

I droop my eyelids at her, and she grins. “I’m just messing with you. The party is way too loud for him to have heard us. Unless he has some superpowers or something.”

I nod. “Yeah, that’s true.”

She bounces me with her elbow, pointing her head in his direction. “Look.”

Ansel is now extending one of the cups to someone, then a girl with long wavy hair comes on the scene. From where I stand, I can tell she has a perfect hour-glass figure and her face is round and quite pretty. She accepts the drink with a pearly smile, and he chuckles when she says something to him.

“Who’s that?” Riley’s voice is inquisitively low.

“I have no idea...”

“Well. It appears Ansel has a girlfriend.” She sighs, disappointment carving her face. “How unfortunate.”

I look away, shifting in my stance. “It’s whatever. It’s not like I like him or something...”

“Woah, you made it!” A voice comes from beside us and both Riley and I tear our gazes away from Ansel and the anonymous girl.

Tate throws me a dashing smile beneath the dim lights of his kitchen. He looks alright; he’s wearing a blue V-neck shirt with black jeans and as usual, his hair is unkempt.

“I see you couldn’t resist coming.” He smiles, then wets his lips in the corniest way possible.

“Yeah. My house was lame so.” I give a half-smile, shrugging my shoulders.

“Is that it or you just couldn’t stop thinking about me?”

“Well, I had to force her so it turns out that you may not be so irresistible after all,” Riley mutters.

Tate brings his eyes to her, a smile pulling at his lips. “I didn’t know you took a friend, Rain. The more, the merrier, yeah?”

“I’m her sister.” Riley states.

Riley tells everyone that we are sisters, and I honestly don’t mind at all. With our names being so similar and our personalities almost the same, it is quite believable.

I smile, “Yeah, this is my sister Riley and Riley, this is Tod.”

“Tate.” He corrects.

“Tate. He’s the one who invited me tonight.”

“Pleasure doing business with ’ya.” Riley takes his hand in hers, then she gapes as she glares over his palm, twisting it in different angles to have a better inspection. She looks genuinely intrigued as poor Tate gawks at her in confusion.

“Your hand is way too small for a guy’s, how do you even masturbate?”

I chuckle.

This girl is crazy.

Tate smiles smugly, lust shimmering in his eyes. “Well, wouldn’t you like to know. I can show you.”

“Ew. No,” She grimaces, pulling her hand back. “I would like to keep my eyesight for as long as I can.”

He laughs, then he says something to her, but my concentration has already shifted to Ansel, who is laughing along with the girl he gave the drink to earlier. Whoever she is, he sure smiles bright for her. Not that it’s my business or anything.

“Rainey,” Tate grabs my attention with a snap of his fingers.

I look at him, blinking my eyes. “Yes?”

“I’m gonna get some drinks for you guys, I’ll be right back.”

“Sure.” I nod.

He nips away and Riley bounces me on the shoulder when he’s out of sight. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

I steal a glance in Ansel’s direction but they’re not there anymore.

Wow. this guy moves at the speed of light. Is he ‘The Flash’ or something?

Tate returns with two cups of beer in no time and Riley and I take one each.

“That’s a very expensive liquor right there,” he quips, “drink every single drop.”

I roll my eyes. I hate when people flaunt their riches. It makes me sick.

I am about to raise the cup to my lips, but Riley’s unladylike behavior interrupts my movements as she wrinkles her nose over the cup, sniffing the liquor.

“What are you doing?” I ask, gawking at her.

She shakes her head, priming her lips as she looks up to stare Tate dead in the eyes. “What the fuck you put in this?”

His eyes squint, and he appears genuinely ignorant and so am I.

“What do you mean by that?”

“What’s up with you Riley?” I glare at her.

“He put something in the drinks. I know when a drink has been tampered with, I mean look at the small bubbles on top.”

I peer inside the cup while Tate laughs nervously.

“That’s because it is freshly poured from the bottle. What on earth are you trying to say? Pft, tampered? Are you crazy, what do you take me for? Do you think I’m some psychotic freak?”

She gives him a dirty look while I crinkle my nose over the cup in efforts of identifying its contents.

“If you didn’t tamper with it, then drink it.” She sizes up to him.

He scratches his neck, averting his gaze away. “I already had enough.”

I study his uneasy expression. His hesitation is the only confirmation I need. “No, she’s right. If you didn’t slip something inside our drinks, then drink it.”

He glares at us both for a while. “Are you girls serious?”

We nod in sync, staring at him.

“Okay, okay, I will drink it. Geeze, what do you girls take me for?”

He grabs the cup from Riley’s grasp and gulps it down in a swift go. It scorches his throat and he scrunches his face up, flashing his head. “Damn, that’s strong.”

“Mmm. And this one too.” I hand him mine and awe transform his features as he glares at me.

“Go ahead, drink the ‘expensive’ liquor.” I gesture to the cup, and he sighs, raising the container to his head and downing the alcohol in a fast go. We watch him while he beats his chest, sticking his red tongue out.

“Gah, that’s strong as hell.” He clears his throat, but his face has not returned to normal. “Happy?”

“Oh, we are,” I respond.

“You girls watch too many Lifetime Movies, you think the world is out to get you...”

Riley looks at me, and I shake my head.

Tate stands there, jerking his legs while ruffling his hair. “Yeah...this party is lit...”

His voice is slightly slurred, and if I am seeing correctly, he looks jittery.

Riley smirks, crossing her arms. “You okay?”

“Yeah, of course.”

His eyes appear bloodshot. I can tell the drink is already affecting him. I resist the urge to laugh, as Riley and I exchange glances of amusement. He blinks his eyes, flashing his head. “I’ll see you girls in a bit.”

He scurries away while Riley laughs at his unsteady wobbling out of the kitchen area. “Wanker.”

I giggle, grabbing two cups from a guy carrying alcohol on a tray. “This wasn’t drugged right?”

The guy looks at me in what appears to be confusion, and I just give him a wave of dismissal. “Nevermind.”

The party goes on and I see no sign of Ansel and his damsel. Riley has already drunk five cups and she is now on to her sixth when I pull the alcohol from her grasp. “You’re not pig-riding on my back when you start seeing five of everything.”

She scowls. “Give it back.”

“Nope.” I bring the cup to my lips instead while she whines and attempts to grab hold of it. I can hold my liquor far better than she can.

Suddenly, the music cuts off, and a whistling sound pulls our attention to kids chasing toward the exit of the house.

“What’s going on?” My forehead wrinkles.

“Everyone out now!” A guy exclaims. He’s shirtless with just a tie hanging loosely around his neck like one of those exotic strippers. “The police! The police are here!”

“Oh shit, I can’t get caught by them. Riley, come on. We have to go!” I grab her by the arm while she’s scratching her head as if her partially tipsy brain does not understand the severity of the situation.

I follow a few scuttling kids as they dash through the back gate of the house, and Riley almost trips over her own feet as I pull her along with me.

“Slow down dude~” she whines, struggling to keep up with my hasty sprinting.

“Riley, you know I can’t be caught by the cops. I am on freaking probation!”

“But I’m tired~”

“Stop right there!” A stern masculine voice comes from behind us, and my heart almost comes through my mouth when I discover that a fat cop is on to us.

“Shit!” I increase my speed, but Riley finally trips over her clumsiness and falls headway against the ground, my hand ripping from hers.

“Shit! Riley!”

“Go on!” She yelps dramatically as if we are filming this detrimental scene in a movie. “Leave without me, remember me in your heart!”

I gesture toward her, but fat cop is already pulling her slender body up off the ground with a sigh. “Alright, you’re coming with me. You’re obviously under the influence of alcohol.”

I freeze in my stance as he folds her hands behind her.

“Go, Rainey!” She exhorts.

She knows I can’t get caught by the cops. They already have a stamp on my file so another offense and, I’ll be on my way to a youth rehabilitation center. But I can’t leave my friend behind; it’s not of my nature. Riley always sticks by me; it’s only right that I reciprocate the loyalty.

I take a step forward but halt my movements when someone approaches the policeman from behind. Recognition dawns on my features when Ansel throws a black garbage bag over the cop’s head. The policeman is caught off guard as he tugs at the shiny plastic, but Ansel spins him in circles before flipping him over onto his back against the ground.

My lips part in disbelief as the policeman groans in pain, unable to move from the blow to his spine.

How did he even manage such a weighty man? ‘Nerds’ aren’t supposed to be this good at martial arts!

Ansel whips his bouncy hair from his eyes then pushes his glasses up firmly onto his face as his body heaves in breaths.

Riley gapes at him with slack jaws and I am frozen as I stare at the strange creature in front of me.

“Damn, thanks Clark Kent. That was hot as hell.” She mutters in awe.

A whistle interrupts the astonishing moment, and a cop runs to the aid of his comrade.

Ansel grabs onto Riley’s hand, then mine and pulls us along with him away from the scene. Though it’s not the opportune time to admire someone, I take a moment to take notice of his flawlessly smooth face under the dim streetlights.

A car speeds up and comes to a screeching halt at our feet. The window rolls down to reveal a guy. “Get in motherfuckers!”

Ansel opens the back door quickly and I hesitate, looking between him and the unknown person behind the wheels.

“I won’t kidnap you,” Ansel asserts.

Riley groans. “Just get in the car, please Rainey. I don’t want to sleep in a cell tonight.”

I swallow and hop in hastily and she jumps in right after. Ansel gets into the front seat and the car speeds away.

“Wow, fuck that was awesome!” The guy who’s driving grins, reaching over to his dashboard and grabbing a cigarette. “That party must have been freaking lit, huh?!”

Riley and I are shifting curious eyes between the two boys that look exactly alike.

“A cop shows up at a house party only if it’s booming!” He chuckles, taking both hands off his steering wheel to light his joint.

“Sorry, but are you guys twins?” Riley’s curiosity gets the better of her.

“No, we’re not. He’s my younger brother; Alex.” Ansel answers.

Younger brother? They look the same age.

“How old is he?” Riley questions.

Ansel winds his window down as he grimaces at his brother’s smoking. “Sixteen.”

Alex gapes. “Dude, you just put my age out there like that. He’s lying, I am twenty-three.”

I make a face. “Are you?”

“No, he’s not,” Ansel looks over at him. “Is that the lie you use to bribe older women to pay your tuition fees?”

“Pft, what? No way, I pay my tuition. Ladies, I pay for all my stuff. I work mechanic part-time. Our parents don’t spoon-feed me like they do Ansel.”

I take note of the statement while Ansel visibly rolls his eyes.

A figure darts into the street and the car comes to a quick screeching halt. Riley and I almost go flying through the windshield, and Ansel grabs onto his seatbelt.

“Holy fudge!” Alex curses, his eyes wide.

“What is that?” Riley pushes her hair back as a buck-naked boy sprints across the road like a madman. A few cops are chasing after him while repeatedly blowing their whistles. It takes a few seconds of squinting my eyes and scrutinizing the nude figure to realize who it is.

“Isn’t that Tate? What the freaking hell?!” Riley cracks up in laughter.

Alex lays a hand on his forehead, blowing his cheeks out. “Can someone tell me why I just saw that guy’s dick and balls? I’m scarred for life.”

“I guess someone did put something in the drinks after all.” Ansel comments.

I pause from my laughter to bring curious eyes to gaze at him. “How did you know that?”

Alex steps on the gas again while Ansel shrugs. “Let’s just say I am very observant.”

“God, I’m gonna throw up.” Riley beats her chest.

“No, no honey. Don’t throw up in my baby, I just had this fixed last week!” Alex begs, taking a hit of his cigarette.

Riley shifts to the edge of her seat. “Give me some of that.”

He glances at her, then back at the road. “You serious?”

“Yes. It’ll make me feel better.”

“Okay, knock yourself out.” He stretches the joint to her and she smiles brightly while taking it from him.

Smoking makes her so happy.

“You are way too open-minded,” I tell her, and she smiles after inhaling the drug. She hands it back to Alex who takes a hit right after. I pretend it isn’t weird that they put their lips on the same thing a second ago despite knowing each other for approximately fifteen minutes.

Ansel fans the smoke of his brother’s cigarette away, just before he glances at me through his side mirror. Our eyes connect, and I look away awkwardly.

“So where are you girls heading?” Alex asks, turning at an intersection.

“I live at Crossview Close,” I state.

“Oh, awesome we live nearby there. Do you live in the top scheme or the bottom one?”

Crossview Close is separated into two schemes. Scheme one consists of the wealthy and well, scheme two is the not-so-wealthy section. I hate disclosing my monetary status. People treat me differently when they discover that my parents have money.

“The top.,” I mutter.

Alex’s eyes go wide and Ansel looks at me from his mirror once again.

“That’s like the wealthy section. You’re a rich girl, aren’t you?” Alex smiles.

I look out the window.

A rich unhappy girl.

I can feel Ansel’s orbs watching me from his mirror, but I keep my eyes on the passing trees to avoid exchanging eye contact. I get a weird feeling in my stomach whenever we do.

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