XV - A New Esme
The feeling of riding on the back of a motorbike at, I don’t know, 50 miles per hour, totally in the hands of the crazy blonde bad boy driving it, down and around the streets of The River Front hotel is...
And though I say terrifying, it was also incredible. Which proves that I really am turning into a Crazy. It was surprisingly fun, and when the time was up Audrey took a second to get her balance back, brushing dark locks away from her face.
“Was that not brilliant?!” she squealed, and I smiled and nodded.
“Yeah, it was surprisingly fun - but you went way too fast, Maddox,” I accused. He grinned and shrugged, running his fingers through his hair.
“You loved it, Essie, and I also know you took advantage of hugging me from behind. Can’t deny it, can you?”
I scoffed, and Audrey did likewise.
“I think she can.”
“Yeah, shut up, or I’ll call you what Mason nicknamed you all the time.”
Sebastian snorted with laughter. “I know, it’s-”
Maddox shoved Sebastian before he had a chance to finish, and I smiled, looking to Audrey.
“Idiots,” she commented, “you two, quit it! I wanna check out the entertainment back at the River Front.”
And entertainment there was. A large hall was on the ground floor at the back, with a stage and large bar around the sides. The floor and bar stools were fairly busy with students around our age and adults, laughing and chatting amongst each other. Most of them were extros, but for some reason - with Audrey giggling and her arm linked with mine beside me, the boys jostling and sniggering behind us - it didn’t really bother me as much as it usually did. I actually started to feel like one myself.
“Hey, Audrey,” I started, as we were pouring ourselves Buck’s fizz at the bar. “Do you think it’s bad to be an extro?”
Audrey frowned slightly, looking up in interest. “What’s that?”
“You know. Extroverts. Popular students that always talk and joke loudly and distract people in class. Do irresponsible stuff outside of school. Even inside school, actually.”
“Don’t know. I don’t think so. If you’re not totally stupid and annoying. Showing off and screaming gets on my nerves. But those two aren’t totally like that,” she answered, nodding to the boys, “they’re alright, really. Like, Sebastian won’t drink alcohol.”
“I don’t know. He just doesn’t want to, I suppose.”
“Well, that’s not a bad thing. We’re not all eighteen yet anyway.”
She smiled and nodded. “And Maddox doesn’t like anything to do with smoking or drugs. He doesn’t drink much either. See, they’re both responsible, in their own ways.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, slightly surprised. “Yeah, I guess they are. I’ve got to say, this place isn’t as crowded as I expected it to be.”
“Yep. Hey, wait until you see the roof. We should go there! Come on.”
We finished the last of our drinks and Audrey grabbed Sebastian and Maddox, ushering them out and heading upstairs, showing the pass for our area.
The rooftop was absolutely amazing. There were small glass igloos with curved couches and pillows scattered about, where a few groups already sat in. Beyond that, there was the open area, with more long couches and chairs and bean bags, a large firepit in the centres.
“This is ours,” Audrey told me as she pulled me over to one. “Isn’t it cool! I’ve got marshmallows somewhere...”
“We can push you off the roof if you keep fussing, Audrey,” Sebastian told her with a grin, and she rolled her eyes at him.
“Same to you. Shut up and grab a seat.”
I sat down beside Audrey, Maddox and Sebastian opposite us, stretched out on a couch. The crackling glow of the fire highlighted our faces in the gradually darkening sky, and I smiled, watching the flames dance.
“This place is amazing.”
“Yeah, it’s nice to have a break from stuff,” Sebastian agreed, “and Maddox hasn’t blown anything up yet.”
Maddox scoffed and Audrey laughed. “Yeah, he should come with a hazard sign.”
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Maddox retorted, nodding at me, “Esme’s still alive.”
I laughed then, rolling my eyes. “Only just. I saw my life flash before me when I nearly hit a tree with your car yesterday.”
Sebastian roared with laughter, Audrey gasped in surprise.
“You made her drive a car? For the last time, Fast and Furious is a movie, not something to try to reenact!”
“C’mon, Audrey, let him dream,” Sebastian commented with a grin. “I do. I belong in those DC movies. Hey, Esme, you can be Harley, yeah?”
“Back off,” Maddox spoke up with a smirk, “go get your own Harley Quinn.”
“I’m nothing like Harley,” I spoke up, grabbing the marshmallow bag from Audrey, who’s face was pink from laughing.
“Sure you are,” Maddox told me with a smile, “just a little hair dye, and-”
“Just stop talking,” Audrey spluttered, picking up a kebab stick and pushing marshmallows on it, “leave poor Esme alone and have a marshmallow.”
“On more realistic terms,” Sebastian started, hovering his s’more over the fire, “Esme, what’re you doing tomorrow? Need to borrow a med pack just in case?”
Maddox rolled his eyes and threw a marshmallow at him. I smiled and shrugged.
“I don’t actually know. But I might take you up on that offer.”
“No you won’t,” Maddox told me with a smirk, “it won’t be overly physical anyway.”
“That’s not reassuring,” I responded, “I honestly don’t know how I’m not dead or even mildly injured yet.”
Maddox snorted with laughter. “I’m not some modern-day Jack the Ripper, Esme.”
Audrey raised her brows, and he threw a marshmallow at her too. “Don’t you give me that look, Audrey.”
“Okay okay,” I cut in with a grin, “I will admit, although he’s a total crazy idiot-”
“Excuse me?!” Maddox started to protest, but I shook my head impatiently and threw a marshmallow at him.
“Let me finish. Although he’s completely crazy, it’s actually been quite fun.”
“I’m sorry, quite?"
“Take it or leave it, Maddox,” Sebastian told him with a smirk.
“It’s been really fun. Yeah. But I feel still feel sorry for that waiter.”
“Waiter?” Audrey looked up, curiosity in her expression.
“Yeah - basically-”
“No, let me explain this properly,” Maddox interrupted, coming over to sit beside me and grabbing the marshmallow bag from me. “Okay, so there was this moron waiter at Manresa, and I taught Esme the classy trick of positive to negative reinforcement.”
Sebastian stared at him and then roared with laughter, Audrey’s eyes wide.
“You did what?!"
“It was so mean,” I told them, “first we were being all kind to him, and he gave us all extras and stuff - can I just mention that this guy made me flirt with him?!”
Sebastian laughed harder, and Audrey gasped.
“And may I just mention that he was a total jerk when he first came to us?” Maddox pointed out, shoving me with a smirk.
“Yeah, but just as he was being really nice, you turned on him and gave him a 10p tip!"
Sebastian fell to the floor, his face red with laughing, and Audrey started laughing too, going over to her brother and patting him on the back.
“You loved it, Esme!”
“You made me call him a Kennedy!”
“Stop, stop," Sebastian gasped, trying to suppress his laughter, “damn, Miss Esmerelda Taylor, you’re one of us now.”
I laughed, my brow raised. “I’m what?”
“That’s right,” Audrey said, leaning against Sebastian’s back, “you’re a new Esme.”
“I don’t think-”
“Oh come on,” Sebastian said with a boyish smirk, “you’re all carefree and fun and stuff now, right?”
I shrugged and thought about it, biting my lip. “Well... yeah, I suppose?”
“Oh, you’re still responsible and smart, because that’s you,” Audrey added with a smile, “but you are kind of a new Esme. And you’re totally my best friend. The other girls at my school are all annoying little bi-”
“We get it,” Sebastian interrupted her with a grin, “but yeah, you’re one of us. Isn’t that right, Maddox?”
Maddox smiled at me softly and nodded. I smiled back and a light blush dusted my cheeks as I glanced down.
“Yeah, I think you’re right.”