Playing Cupid

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Chapter 5 : In The Party

We get to my house before the boys do and Nikki pulls me to my room with the same energy from earlier.

"Slow down, we're 10 minutes early," I say out of breath. "Also your driving could've gotten us killed so I don't really appreciate that." I exaggerate in a nerdy tone.

"You're alive now aren't you?" She counters.

Barely

She squeals as she opens the door to my walk-in closet and races to sit down on the circular couch in the middle.

"God, I love your house." She moans.

My family wasn't always wealthy. My dad was a budding business analyst but after the CFO of the first company he worked for was sued for embezzlement, he struggled to find a job after, due credibility concerns despite him not knowing anything about the act. It was also difficult for my mom to help financially since someone had to look after all of us.

My dad then set out on his own to execute his plan of starting a digital marketing company which ended up being a huge success. It was a long process of trial and error but it worked out well for our family.

"I love it too," I smile.

She gets up to admire my clothes, running her fingers through them. She whips out a familiar blue dress and waves it at me.

"Wasn't this the dress you wore to homecoming during freshman year?" She asks.

"I wanted to make an impression," I laugh, snatching the dress out of her hands and putting it back on the rack.

"You sure did," Nikki wiggles her brows. "So what should we wear?" She asks.

"We? You can't borrow any of my dresses." I say blankly.

"Funny," She says going through my rack of dresses.

"Should I just pull up wearing a hoodie and sweatpants?"

"Don't try to be quirky, we're wearing dresses and that's final."

I watch her try to pick out our outfits and I start getting second thoughts. I used to love going to parties, but now I wasn't sure how to put myself out there again.

"I don't know, if I even want to go anymore," I admit truthfully, sitting on the couch. Nikki sighs and sits next to me. She pauses a little for effect.

"Remember our first party as freshmen?" She brings up.

"The one where Tara puked all over the couch?" I scrunch my face.

"Gross, but do you remember why you even wanted to go to the party in the first place?" She asks.

"Liam invited us and I had the biggest crush," I answer quietly.

"And before we left you told me you were scared to go and your mom heard?"

"Yeah,"

"Do you remember what she said to you?"

I take a minute to think about it, reliving the memory in my head.

"Don't ever be afraid to take a leap of faith; Regret is worse than rejection." I recall word for word what she advised me that night and I plaster on a weak smile at the memory.

"You've gone through a lot this past year, and you're scared the world is going to spit you back out." She looks at me. "Everyone has that fear, but it's your decision if you want to live the rest of your life asking what if." She pats my shoulder.

"When have you become so wise?" I laugh, wiping the tears forming in the corners of my eyes. She squeezes my arm in a comforting way. "Let's go, pick out a dress." I smile and bounce off the sofa.

"That's my girl," Nikki says proudly.

We pick out our dresses and dash to the living room, trying to make it to her house in time. As soon as we get to the living room, the boys emerge out.

"Jade have you seen my remote car? I want to bring it to Kennedy's." Jeremy tugs my hand.

"Check your room again," I tell him. "Also Jace, I already packed your book for your sleepover at Hudson's."

"I'm sleeping over Hudson's?"

"Yeah didn't you tell James last week you wanted to?" I point at James.

"Wait, both Jeremy and I are going to sleepovers?" He asks. "You're both going to a party aren't you?" Jace connects the dots. I look over to James who was signalling me to deal with it.

"10 bucks," I offer.

"20," He counters.

"15, last offer."

"Deal," Jace and I shake on it.

"Jade, we're going to be late." Nikki pressures me.

"James drop them off, I'll text you the address. I'll see you at Ace's." I plead.

"Why me?"

"Because Jace can't drive yet," I retort. Nikki grabs me by the hand and we speed off to her house.

Camille arrives 10 minutes later and pulls out her outfit.

"Wait, we're wearing dresses?" She puts her skirt down.

"You can borrow any of mine," Nikki offers.

Camille goes through her closet and finds one that she likes. She holds up a purple strapless dress that compliments her hair perfectly.

"What are you guys wearing?" Camille quizzes and I point at the dresses hanging on the door knob.

"The nude one's mine and Jade's wearing the white one." Nikki clears up, applying foundation.

Doing hair and makeup as a group was one of the things I enjoyed most about going to parties, second to getting blackout drunk. I draw on my winged eyeliner and put on hoops to complete my look.

"Okay ladies, we have 10 minutes before we have to go." Nikki claps. I unravel the curlers from my hair, to give it more shape.

I excuse myself to the bathroom and hop into my dress. It was a one shoulder dress, exposing my whole right arm while the other was covered in a white sleeve. I look at my reflection and I haven't felt this pretty in ages. My mind starts flying and I start to get nervous. I just pray nothing bad goes down at the party and I ease my breathing.

"Can you guys help me with the zipper?" I ask, going back into the room.

"Woah," Camille comments.

"Does it look bad?" I panic.

"Jade, you look hot."

***

"You girls enjoy yourselves!" Rhea yells out as we walk out the door. We get into the car and take a couple more selfies.

"We're going to have fun tonight," Camille squeals. "Onward to Villa Grande," She announces like a pirate, pointing forward as Nikki drives.

"Ace lives in Villa Grande?" I choke on my water.

Villa Grande was for the richest of the rich. It was a closed gate community where even some celebrities and important people in society lived. My house was big but nothing in comparison to those in Villa Grande.

"What do you think his family does for a living," Nikki wonders.

"Drug cartel," Camille jokes and we all whip our heads back.

"I'm just kidding," She throws her hands up in surrender.

Nikki shakes her head and switches the radio on. Wannabe by the Spice Girls starts playing and we all cheer.

We scream out the chorus together in tune, dancing with our own distinct moves. The three of us collapse in laughter and I feel like I'm in a movie. I haven't had this much fun in such a long time and the party hasn't even started yet. The music doesn't stop and neither do we, up until the golden gates of Villa Grande captivates our attention.

The car slows down and we talk to the security guard, seated inside the guard house.

"Hi ma'am, we're here for a party." Camille tells her.

"Address and identification please."

We all fish out our driver's licenses and hand it over.

"It's 30 Villa Grande, Cedar Drive ma'am." Nikki answers.

"Ah yes, Mr. Wilde. Take a left turn after the first roundabout." She informs us, giving back our licenses.

"Thank you so much," I nod and the gates open.

"Check this place out," I say in awe, spotting a huge fountain planted at the center of the roundabout.

"Are you sure we have the right address?" Nikki asks in amazement.

We reach his house and my jaw drops. There was a stunning water display out front and the steps to his front door lit up. Camille and I drag our feet out the car as Nikki drives to the nearest parking area. We take in the view in front of us and it feels so surreal.

"This is not a house. This is a castle!" Camille gasps. "Quick, pinch me."

We carefully step inside and it was even more stunning than the facade. A crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling providing light to the paintings that coated the walls.

"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," I quote, admiring the interior.

"Glad you guys could make it," Ace greets, wearing a white shirt that hugged his toned body.

He nods at Camille and walks over to give me a hug.

"Jade, wow. You look amazing. That dress is just," He compliments me and I shy away.

"Where is everyone?" Camille asks, looking around.

"I kinda hear music," I observe.

"We're only in the foyer, party's inside." He chuckles and beckons us further in.

We follow him and I swear the whole school was present and partying inside. There was a long snack table on the side of the room and loud music boomed. People scattered all the way outside the balcony, which overlooked the gigantic pool.

"Your house is insane," I tell him.

"It's pretty modest," He shrugs.

"Quit playing," I smack his arm.

"Seriously though, you look amazing," He says, not breaking eye contact.

My stomach does a flip and I feel the heat rise to my cheeks.

"Who'd you invite?" I change the subject before I fully turn into putty.

"Not that many actually, but you know word gets around fast," He shrugs.

I look around and I recognize a couple familiar faces among the cluster of people.

"Can I get you a drink,"

"Yes, please"

He comes back with two red cups and hands me one.

"You're not going to try and roofie me are you?" I tease. He raises a brow and I slap his forearm.

"Not funny, Ace." I whine.

I inspect the drink again and downed the whole cup. I contort a face while as I feel it go down my throat.

"Woah, slow down." Ace barked.

"Can you show me the way to the bathroom?" I request.

"It went down that fast?" He asks in disbelief.

"No, I'm just clearing my bladder now so I can drink more later." I laugh, tapping my finger onto the side of my head.

He gives me directions and the frames displayed by the top of the staircase pique my interest. I notice that there were few to none photos of his dad. Most of them only featured him with his mom and younger sister. His sister resembled their mother and looked about the same age as Jace. I hear footsteps from the bottom of the stairs, and I stop snooping.

I finish my trip and proceed down the lengthy flight of stairs. I grab two shots from the liquor table and search for Ace amongst the crowd. I pinpoint him near the snack table from across the table I was standing from, but see a short blonde engaged in conversation with him.

She's laughing hysterically at everything's he's saying, batting her eyelashes every now and then. He casually laughs back, unsure how to react. Nikki hugs him one last time before strutting off flirtatiously.

"I'm not drunk enough for this," I tell myself and down both shots. Ace sees me and starts making his way towards me but I stomp off towards the balcony. I was acting crazy, there was no way to describe how I was feeling. My head was going to explode.

"Care for a sip?" A sweet voice offers me a cup.

I normally wouldn't take anything from strangers but I was in dire need of a drink. I take the cup and put on a polite smile.

"Sorry, you just look heated and I've been holding this drink for my friend for a while now," She explains. "I'm Elisha, by the way." She beams.

"It's okay, I really needed this." I say before consuming about half the cup. "I'm Jade," I wipe my mouth.

"Damn, you must be really going through something. Everything okay?" She makes a face and tilts her head.

"Nope," I drink the rest of the contents.

"Where's my drink at?" Someone asks, coming up to us.

"This is Talius. Half gay, half alcoholic." She jokes and he smacks Elisha's head.

"I'm Jade," I introduce myself. "Sorry about your drink, come let's grab more!" I cheer, leading the way for both of them.

"Is she okay?" I hear Talius whisper to Elisha.

We make our way to the liquor table and I pour out booze for all of us. I see James walk past and I crouch down.

"Who are you hiding from?" Elisha asks.

"My brother," I whisper.

He passes us and I jump back up, downing another shot.

"Girl, take it easy." Talius says, downing his own.

"Yeah," Elisha agrees, sucking on a lemon wedge.

"Hypocrites," I tease.

We take a couple more shots before they both get up to grab food for all of us to share, leaving me alone. Ace approaches me, catching me off guard.

"Are you mad at me? You've been avoiding me all night." He asks.

"I'm not mad, Ace." I respond emotionless.

Elisa and Talius return with a bowl of chips and they both greet him.

"You guys know each other?" I ask.

"No shit, we're at his party aren't we?" Talius fires.

Elisha rolls her eyes at him, "Yeah, we know him from Liberty,"

"Oh,"

"Do you guys mind if I take her away for a little bit?" They both shake their heads.

"I'm not going with you," I huff, crossing my arms. He looks at me with pleading eyes.

"Okay, fine." I give in. "Hold on," I take one last shot before taking his hand.

He ushers me onto the makeshift dance floor. My vision starts to become blurry and my senses heighten. My confidence skyrockets. He spins me around and I start laughing boisterously. The music slows at the right moment and I wrap my arms around his neck, swaying to the melody.

"So, Nikki..." I trail off.

"What about her?" We continue to rock, our bodies in synch.

"Nothing," I mumble and look down.

He slides his hand around my waist and pulls me closer. He leans into my ear, "You're the most beautiful girl in this room." His voice was husky, sending shivers down my spine. He smirks, knowing exactly what he's doing.

"You like my dress?" I spin around to give him a full view. The liquid courage kicks in and I retaliate, standing on my tiptoes to reach his ear. "It would look better off me," I breathe.

He stares at me wide eyed and chokes. I laugh as he tries to contain himself.

His smug demeanor resurfaces and he dips me. He pulls me back up and his lips graze my jaw, positioning them next to my ear. "Don't make me test your theory out,"

I shake my head smiling. I pull his head towards me, leaning in. He does the same but I swerve to his ear. I lick my lips, "Try me."

"God, Jade. Don't do this to me," He grunts. "I would never want to take advantage of you." He pushes the hair away from my face with his thumb. "Let's talk when your sober," Ace rubs my check before disappearing into the crowd.

Without his towering figure, I unsteadily wobble back to the table, telling myself it would be my last shot. I could hear my heart racing.

It takes me a while but I manage to clump my way through the crowd. I collapse onto my knees right before I reach the table and someone helps me up.

My head was spinning, I couldn't recognize anyone anymore. I had a delayed perception on everything that was happening.

"Jade..."

"Jade!" His voice catches my attention the second time.

"Huh? Yeah, I'm fine." I slur.

"It's me, Liam." He says loudly.

"Liam?" I face him, I think.

"Do you need to sit down? You can barely walk. Here let m-" He tries to put my arm around his shoulder so he could carry my weight.

I was drunk, not stupid.

"Don't touch me," I voice out coldly.

"Jade, I never got to apologize to you personally." He starts. It was insane that he would even think I'd hear him out at a party especially at this state.

"Now's not the time," I try to clear my head but I feel so dizzy.

"Jade, please just hear out. This has been eating me up." He begs.

"I don't care, Liam." I spit. I turn the other direction and attempted to walk away gracefully.

"Please," He grabs my arm, making me face him. My head spins even more and I am on the cusp of puking all over him.

"What do you want Liam? You cheated on me remember? Sorry that I don't give a shit about your feelings right now because you never thought about mine." I snap, nauseated.

"You never gave me the chance to explain," He reasons.

"Okay, go on then, explain!" I challenge.

"It was just a misunderstanding, I-I Jade, I didn't," He stutters and I just laugh.

"Pathetic," I face the other direction and he grabs my shoulder harder than the first time.

"Liam stop, it hurts." I say, trying to swat his arm off.

"You never even saw it happen."

"Give me one good reason why Camille would lie to me." I exclaim which only angers him.

You're a straight up bitch," He spits, pushing his thumb harshly down my shoulder.

"Liam," I yelp out in pain. I try to push him off but I wasn't strong enough.

"Get off her," Ace growls from behind. He lets go of me and his fingers leave a red mark on my shoulder.

Ace shoves him and Liam does the same. Punches were thrown and they both grab each other by the collar.

"Stop," I say weakly and try to get in between them.

"Get out of my house," Ace threatens. Liam flips him off and walks away.

"Are you hurt?" Ace rushes to me but my mind doesn't formulate the question. I close my eyes to stop everything from spinning.

"Ace," I manage to breathe out before everything turned black.

***

My eyes flutter open and I feel like I've been hit by a truck. Everything ached. I look around the room and the interior is foreign, nothing seemed familiar.

My hand touches something fluffy and I squeak. I slowly turn the other direction and the cutest golden retriever looks back up at me. I struggle to sit upright and notice I wasn't in the same clothes I wore last night.

My eyes widen as I try to recall everything that happened.

Oh, no

"Good morning sunshine,"

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