After School Club

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XVIII - Beth's Party

School went by painfully slow on Friday, the day of Beth’s party. Pretty much every class and Year 11 form was buzzing with gossip and chatter on the subject, talking of people coming from different schools, what they wanted to do, how it might go. Beth herself was surrounded by all of them, asking her questions excitedly. By the end of the school day, everyone was rushing home to get ready - there was so much noise and shoving around in the corridors and entrances, I’m surprised I noticed my phone buzzing in my pocket.

“Hey, Es! It’s Audrey. You want a lift?”

“Oh, sure,” I replied, pushing my way out of the block’s doors and walking towards the gate, “I mean, you don’t have to. Maddox will probably do it.”

“Don’t worry about that, I’ve already told him we’re getting ready together. I’m at the gate now, okay?"

Melissa ran up to me from behind with a smile as I ended the call, falling in step with me.

"Hi! You're still coming to Beth's party, aren't you? Because I don't think I want to go without you... if you decide you want to leave or anything, I'll come."

I smiled at her and nodded. "Sure. Thanks, Melissa. You going straight home?"

He shrugged and nodded. "I could do. But I can get changed at yours too if you like. Is Maddox giving you a lift home?"

"No, my friend Audrey is. She's from a different school. Still," I answered, dodging past students as we made it to the gate, "you can come and bring and your stuff over later if you like."

"Sure! I'm gonna go catch up with Carmen. See you later, Es."

Melissa ran off to find Carmen, and I went over to Audrey, who was leaning on the side of her car with a smile on her face. It widened when she saw me, and she immediately opened the door.

"Hey, Esme! Are you excited, or are you excited?!"

I grinned and got in, and she started up the engine, scanning the crowd of students leaving school. "Damn, you've got a load of people here. Do you know how many are going to Beth's tonight?"

"Just over fifty," I told her, as she backed out of the space and exited the school gates, "something like that, anyway. A good few forms were invited. Not including some others from different schools."

"Oh," Audrey said with a smirk, "that reminds me. Beth's older brother knows Sebastian, and so we're coming too!"

My eyes widened in surprise. "Really?"

"Yeah! So introduce me to your other friends when we're there, kay? This is gonna be awesome!"

Audrey pulled up outside mine, and the two of us entered and went upstairs. She bought up two bags with her, one containing her outfit - a short pleated pink skirt and a white top with faded rose graffiti in the centre, with white and rose gold platform trainers and a blue denim jacket with various patches. The other was crammed full of hair and makeup tools and kits. I laughed watching her dump them all on my bed, shaking back her dark hair and smiling proudly.

"Did you buy, like, a whole beauty store or something?" I laughed, and she grinned and rolled her eyes.

"Hey, if we're doing this, we're gonna do it right," she responded, sitting me down. "Mkay. This thing's at 7.30, so we get there at around 8.00, okay?"

I frowned slightly in confusion. "But-"

"Trust me, no one arrives right on time," Audrey assured me, "and it's only half-past three now. We've got ages. Got anything to kill time with?"

"Well, I've got that," I told her with a smile, switching my TV on and turning on the Play Station. Audrey gasped in astonishment, grabbing a controller.

"You lucky thing! Did your parents buy that for you?"

I shook my head and sighed, glancing at my window that gave a view of Maddox's house. Audrey followed my gaze, realisation dawning on her as she caught on.

"Girl, if that doesn't prove my point about you two," she said with a smirk, "I don't know what does."

Audrey and I spent the next few hours playing video games and chatting before we started getting ready for Beth's. Audrey brushed out my blonde locks and played around with it, the two of us sitting in front of the wall mirror in the hallway.

"You'd look good with hair half up and half down," she told me, and I shrugged and nodded.

"Sure. You're the beauty guru here."

"Damn right," she replied with a grin, tying up the top half of my hair in a ponytail and pulling down a few strands to frame my face. She carefully slid on the headband we bought yesterday and curled my hair with her tongs, before sighing and smiling at her work.

"Absolutely perfect," Audrey commented, her eyes sparkling," just a little hair spray to keep it that way and that's your hair down. Now go put on your dress and stuff, and I'll do your makeup."

I slipped on the dress and pulled on the tights, nibbling my lip a little nervously as I felt the material in my hands as I brushed it out. Audrey changed into hers and gasped, her eyes wide.

"Oh, Es! C'mere, let me show you how beautiful you look!"

I let her pull me back out into the hallway to the mirror, and I smiled at my reflection. "Yeah... wow, that actually looks amazing." I smiled and hugged her tightly. "Thanks so much, Audrey."

"Anytime," she said with a smile. The doorbell went off immediately after, and I went downstairs to answer it, revealing Melissa.

"Hi, Esme! Wow, you look beautiful! I love the dress!"

I smiled and let her in, closing the door behind her. "Thanks, Melissa. Hey, Audrey! This is Melissa, one of my best friends from school."

Audrey appeared from the top of the stairs, then broke out into a grin. "Melissa! Hi! Yeah, I know you - you're in the art club down the road."

Melissa nodded and smiled. "Yep. Nice outfit, Audrey. I'm just gonna go and change into mine. Carmen's going with Harley, apparently - and Leroy's taking Lavinia."

"You can get a lift with me," Audrey offered her as she went upstairs, "Es, Maddox texted to say he's, like, five minutes away."

I headed upstairs behind them, Audrey sitting me down and dusting my face with a light powder before dabbing at my eyes with light browns and handing me a mascara to do myself.

"You want eyeliner?"

I shook my head with a slight smile. "No, I'm good."

"Yeah, you look good like this. Okay, do you want lip balm or something bolder?"

"I've got lip balm," I told her, "thanks, Audrey. Melissa's in the bathroom. I'm gonna go and get ready. Is Sebastian going with you too?"

"He's going with some other boys. Five minutes, kay?" She smiled at me before going over to Melissa, leaving me to grab my jacket and picking up my phone and keys. I sat down on my bed, looking out the window to Maddox's house and sighing lightly. I got back up, past Audrey and Melissa in the bathroom to my dad's room. I entered after tapping the door lightly and sat down on the edge of the bed. Dad glanced at me, before looking back up at the ceiling.

"I'm going to a party," I told him with a smile, "Audrey picked out this. I'm actually looking forward to it. Do you like it?"

Dad's eyes shifted to me, and for a moment he gave a hint of a smile.

"Esme!" Audrey yelled from the other room. "Maddox and Sebastian are here! Let's go!"

I sighed, nerves starting to get to me a little.

"Esme," Dad murmured, making me jump as I heard his voice in what seemed like ages. "You'll be fine. You look perfect. You're date's lucky to have you."

I smiled at him, getting up. "Thanks, dad."

"Esme?!"

"I'm coming!" I left the room, still dazed from the fact my dad had responded to me properly. Audrey grinned at me and hugged me tightly.

"You're gonna have fun, trust me. I'll make sure of it."

Melissa nodded in agreement, grabbing my hand as Audrey opened the door. Maddox and Sebastian were outside leaning against Maddox's car. Sebastian wore a red T-shirt with a band logo in the centre, with a maroon hoodie and leather jacket with black denim jeans. Maddox had a white top on with denim jeans and a navy varsity jacket.

"What's up, nerds?" Sebastian said with a grin, and Audrey rolled her eyes, shoving him playfully. Maddox smirked, nodding at me.

"'Sup, Essie? You... you look great."

"Thanks," I said with a smile.

"Hey, why don't we just take one car? Makes more sense," Sebastian suggested, and soon we were all in Maddox's car, me Audrey and Melissa all squeezed in the back and joking around., driving to Beth's party.

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