The Summer of Austin

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Chapter Six

“WHAT?” Lara called over the loud music.

The rest of the prom night went by uneventfully (thankfully). The group dug into the Rose Manor’s infamous banquet dinner. When the Rose Manor was operating as a regular restaurant, the food was to die for, but for some reason anytime they were hosting a large banquet, it was as if the head chefs took the day off. It had become a joke amongst anyone who had the pleasure of tasting the drastic difference between the two meals.

Lara felt herself become relaxed when Principal Runes didn’t approach her to kick her out of the valedictorian position like she feared, and she started to actually chat and laugh with her friends.

She tried to ignore Austin’s stares during dinner, but she consistently felt his gaze burning through her.

When the dance floor opened up, she was able to let loose and enjoy singing (AKA screaming) along to her favourite songs with her friends, and she even slow-danced with Adam.

As her fears disappeared and she started to live in the moment, she really was considering hanging out with him a little more at the afterparty.

After prom officially ended, the group had gone back to the limo and worked on finishing the booze that Parker had smuggled.

Once they arrived at the afterparty-- which was being hosted at one of the guys in their class’ second home, a huge farmhouse that had been converted to a mansion-- the guys and girls took turns getting changed in the limo (at which point Elle began to share her stash of liquor with only the girls).

Now Lara stood in the middle of the living room, trying to understand what the hell Adam was saying to her.

Adam leaned down to get closer to Lara’s ear.

“Do you want to go outside?” Adam asked. Lara nodded eagerly in response.

Adam loosely wrapped his hand around Lara’s waist as they tried to push through the mass gathering of people in the large living room.

Finally, after a couple of misfootings on Lara’s part, the two were able to make it outside.

They navigated through the front lawn, trying to find an area that wasn’t filled with kids barfing, making out, or smoking a joint. They finally found an empty area at the side of the property.

Adam pulled off his flannel jacket and laid it on the ground, and gestured for her to sit down on it.

“Much better,” Adam said with a half grin.

“Nice to finally hear you,” Lara chuckled.

The two of them laughed together. Once the laughter died down, they were left awkwardly staring at each other.

Adam nervously cleared his throat. “You look really pretty tonight. Um, not that you don’t usually look pretty I mean. I just… you don’t usually dress up that much so I just wasn’t expecting--”

“Adam,” Lara called, cutting off his aimless rambling. “I know what you mean,” she giggled. “You look very nice tonight too. As you usually do,” she added, blushing.

“I can’t believe we are done with Riverview,” Adam said. “I think I’m gonna miss you a little bit, Lar.”

“Just a little?” Lara teased, gently bumping his shoulder with her own.

“Maybe a bit more than a little,” Adam said, turning to look Lara in the eyes.

The two were left in silence again, but this time it felt more comfortable.

Lara felt her breath catch in her throat as Adam started to lean in towards her.

It wasn’t as if Lara hadn’t had her fair share of kisses, but Adam felt different. Lara had never kissed anyone who she had a close relationship with.

She willed her brain to stop overthinking the situation as her eyelashes fluttered to a close.

She could feel Adam’s breath against her lips when suddenly they heard footsteps coming from beside them.

“AUB? AUBREY? AU-- Oh shit!” The voice called when they noticed Adam and Lara sitting closely to each other.

Lara turned to see who the unwelcome interruption was, and was met by none other than Austin himself.

“Sorry, sorry,” Austin mumbled, trying to back out unnoticed, as if he hadn’t already ruined the moment. As Austin tried to move away from them, he tripped over a lone branch on the ground. Lara heard him swear under his breath.

Despite the difficulties he was having, Austin didn’t turn to look where he was going.

Instead, he spent his entire time maneuvering out of the area staring at Lara, occasionally darting his eyes towards Adam.

After what seemed like an eternity, Austin was out of eyeshot.

“That was weird,” Adam said, turning back to Lara.

Lara laughed uncomfortably.

“Where were we?” Adam began rubbing circles on Lara’s small hand with his strong thumb.

But the moment was gone for Lara.

She tried to focus on Adam and the potential of what was about to happen, but she couldn’t get Austin out of her head. From their weird encounter at prom, to what had just happened, all of the moments kept playing on repeat in Lara’s mind. Why was Austin Evans acting so weird around her all of a sudden?

“I need to pee,” she said abruptly.

Adam’s eyes moved from Lara’s lips up to her eyes. “What?”

“Sorry,” Lara said, quickly getting up. “I just need to go to the bathroom. Sorry,” she apologized again and ran off before Adam could follow her.

Lara burst through the large front doors, and pushed past people crowded in the foyer as she found her way to the bathroom. Thankfully, there wasn’t a line, so she quickly slipped into the bathroom and locked the door behind her, finally able to bask in solitude.

She turned on the tap and ran her hands under the cool water.

Lara looked at herself in the mirror as she tried to get her thoughts in order.

The mix of sweat, her tears from her previous panic attack, and just the overall long day had led to her makeup running. She quickly rubbed at the mascara under her eyes, trying to get rid of the raccoon look that she hoped Adam hadn’t seen in the dark.

She quickly fluffed out her hair and smoothed out her low-cut, white silk shirt that she had changed into.

She spent her time in the bathroom thinking of Adam-- and only Adam. Gearing up for what was about to happen between the two of them, she kept telling herself how excited she was.

But as she tried to picture Adam’s boyishly handsome face and his blonde hair, she found the features completely morphing. Adam’s hair was replaced by dark locks messily framing his face, which suddenly had become the chiseled one of Austin Evans.

Lara shook her head to get the image out.

Every girl has a crush on Austin, she thought to herself. This is normal.

She put some of the cold water coming from the tap on the back of her neck, and tried to focus on taking deep breaths.

After doing that for some time, Lara felt ready to go back to the party. She quickly did another once over of herself and her outfit. Knowing it wasn’t going to get any better than the state she was currently in, she decided that she may as well just get out now.

She quickly exited the room, not wanting to overthink her decision. She left so quickly that she barreled into the person waiting in line to use the bathroom next.

“Shit, sorry,” Lara stumbled, as she looked up at who she almost knocked over.

Of fucking course.

“Lara, hey! I wanted to talk to you.”

It was no other than Austin Evans who she had run into.

Lara started to walk off, trying to ignore him.

“Lara,” he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her towards him. “I wanted to talk to you,” he repeated, probably giving her the benefit of the doubt that she hadn’t heard him over the loud music.

“WHAT?” Lara yelled, playing right into that idea, although she heard him loud and clear. She gestured vaguely towards the front door. “I have to go,” she yelled over the music.

“Right, you seemed busy,” he said, following Lara as she tried to navigate her way out of the house.

It was obvious that Austin wasn’t going to give up.

“What do you want?” Lara asked, sighing as she turned back to look at him.

“I just wanted to check up on you,” Austin said, doing a quick once-over of her.

“I’m fine,” she said with a sigh, “can I go now?”

“Lara, come on. I mean like really talk.”

“Austin, I don’t understand why you are so interested in me all of a sudden.” Had Lara not been as drunk as she was, there was definitely no way she would be saying any of this. But she was running high on liquid courage, and had pretty much had it with Austin.

Austin didn’t have a chance to respond, as Aubrey appeared out of thin air next to Austin.

“BABE,” she obnoxiously screamed as she grabbed his arm. “I missed you,” she whined in his ear. She turned to look at Lara, still hanging off of Austin. “Oh my God, heeeeeeey Lara,” she feigned excitement toward her.

“Hi Aubrey,” Lara said, trying to not roll her eyes.

“What are you two talking about? Not my speech I guess,” Aubrey said, her eyes narrowing at Lara. “I noticed that you skipped out on it.”

“Oh, yeah,” Lara awkwardly stammered. “Um… I just got super hot. It was so stuffy in the room you know? I just didn’t want to disturb but I’m sure it was--”

Lara wasn’t able to finish her rambling, because it was at that moment that Aubrey decided to throw her drink at Lara.

“Oops!” She just said sheepishly. “Someone pushed me, sorry Lara!”

Aubrey could say whatever the hell she wanted, but Lara was watching her the whole time, and she knew damn well no one was near Aubrey.

Lara simply turned on her heel and dashed out of the house.

Of course Austin Evans followed her as well.

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