The Summer of Austin

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Chapter Eight

Lara woke up to the end of the world.

The sun was blazing through her windows, where she had forgotten to pull down the blinds before she had gone to sleep. Her doorbell was chiming loudly in unison with her phone vibrating on her bedside table.

All of these factors contributed to the instant throbbing that she felt the second she gained consciousness.

When had the sun become so bright? And why was everything so loud?

Then it hit Lara.

She was hungover.

She let out a loud groan as she grabbed the spare pillow next to her and threw it over her face, trying to use it as a makeshift shield from the world.

The doorbell kept chiming and her phone kept buzzing, despite how hard Lara willed them to shut up. She realized she had no chance of silence until she dealt with whatever was disturbing her much needed sleep.

Lara unwillingly took the pillow off her face and heaved herself out of her cozy cocoon.

She grabbed for her phone as she started to make her way downstairs. Trying to ignore the dizzy feeling that came as soon as she got up, she checked her phone to see all the messages and calls she missed after her quick getaway from the party.

As she texted Elle and Freya that she would call them in a couple minutes to give them an update, she got a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Before she had gone to bed, she hastily removed her makeup, but she saw that she didn’t do a great job. She had a semi-circle of black underneath her eyes from where last night’s mascara was still caked on to her face. Her hair was matted from where she slept on it, and her skin had taken a sickly white shade. Despite how unfortunate she may have looked, she somehow managed to feel even worse.

If this is what happens after drinking, I’m never doing that again, she thought to herself as she turned away from her reflection and padded down the stairs to the front door.

She was shocked when she opened the heavy wood door to Adam standing in front of her. Her shock quickly turned to panic when she recalled what she had just seen in the mirror. “Oh! Hey,” she stammered, quickly trying to fix up her hair.

“Hey, sorry,” he sheepishly grinned. “I texted you, but I was just in the area so I figured I would come by to pick up my stuff.”

“Right, right,” Lara absentmindedly said as she motioned for him to come inside. As she turned away from him to close the door she quickly wiped at her leftover mascara.

After the limo had dropped them off at the afterparty, it had driven back to Lara’s house, where everyone’s dresses and suits were left inside for her friends to pick up. She completely forgot that everyone would be coming by to grab their stuff. If she had remembered, she definitely would’ve at least tried to comb her hair.

“Sorry, I totally forgot. Last night got hectic. I think I’m hungover,” she started rambling as she led Adam to the laundry room, where she had guessed her mom would’ve put everyone’s belongings.

“Yeah, about last night,” Adam began.

Lara turned to look at him, hoping she looked slightly better than what she did when she first woke up.


Her night came rushing back. Lara had forgotten about what was about to happen with her and Adam, and how she had basically ditched him to go home.

“Adam, I really was having a good time with you. But then I ran into Aubrey and she was being a total bitch, as usual, and threw her drink at me, and I was just so upset, and also sticky, and I just needed to go home and…” Lara trailed off as she realized she was rambling again.

“Lara,” he laughed, “it’s fine. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I hope I didn’t scare you off.”

“Oh, no. No, definitely not,” she said, feeling her cheeks heat up.

“Good,” he smiled. “So,” he started, taking a step closer to her, bridging the gap between them. “Would you want to maybe continue where we left off? Maybe we can go out to dinner or something?”

Lara looked up at him, feeling her breath catch in her throat. “Um… yeah, of course,” she forced the words out, hoping she didn’t sound too choked up.

Her and Adam had been friends for such a long time, but something had shifted. She had never seen him be this confident before, and getting so close to him last night had her feeling shy all of a sudden. She was interested in this new light that she was seeing Adam in.

“Cool,” he said, reaching to put a stray piece of her hair back into place.

The two of them looked at each other in silence, and she could see him slowly leaning towards her.

Oh my God, is it going to happen now? I haven’t even brushed my teeth! I’m not ready for this to happen now! Lara was quietly freaking out in her head, but she still forced herself to follow his lead.

As Lara’s eyes fluttered shut and her heartbeat skyrocketed, the doorbell rang.

Lara couldn’t tell if she was relieved or disappointed as their moment was ruined-- yet again-- and the two burst out of the bubble that they had found themselves in.

Lara heard Adam curse under his breath as he took a step back from her, bringing back the distance that he had just so recently closed.

“Green Acres?” He asked.


“Why are you wearing a Green Acres sweatshirt? I thought your dad was a member at Rose Manor?” He motioned to her sweatshirt.

Lara realized that she had never changed out of the sweatshirt that Austin lent her.


The memory of them talking endlessly in his car came back to her. How easy it was. How strange it was that Austin had even taken an interest in her, but how it was even stranger that the two of them had gotten along so well when they finally spoke.

The doorbell rang again, the person on the other end becoming impatient.

“Oh, uh,” she started walking towards the door, trying to come up with an idea on the fly. “I found it at a thrift shop, it just looked really cozy.”

Adam seemed to buy the lie as he didn’t ask her any follow up questions.

Lara opened the door, suddenly grateful for the distraction as her mind kept rushing back to her night with Austin.

Lara’s two best friends were waiting on the other side of the door. Elle squealed upon seeing her friend.

“We missed you!” She was jumping up and down, looking as if she had just gotten back from a spa day with how well-rested she looked. Her clear skin was seemingly glowing, with no eye bags in sight, and her hair looked soft and silky. The amount of energy she had as she continued to jump made Lara think she must have chugged a bunch of energy drinks before she came over.

Freya on the other hand was looking more like Lara. She closed her eyes and clutched the bridge of her nose with one hand, while she grabbed Elle’s arm with her other.

“That is enough,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Freya woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” she said cheerily as she let herself in, with Freya slowly trailing behind her.

As she walked into the entryway, she took notice of Adam. “Oh, hey Adam. Are we interrupting something?” She asked Lara, raising her eyebrows at her friend.

Lara hesitated, caught off guard. Were they interrupting something? Did she even want there to be a “something”?

Thankfully, Adam made up for Lara’s awkward stalling. “I was actually just heading out. Just came back to grab my stuff and check up on Ms. Houdini,” he said, as he went back to the laundry room to pick up his suit.

“Sorry about leaving, again,” Lara called out to Adam and her friends. The projection made Lara immediately regret her decision to not just wait for Adam to come back into the same room as her head immediately started to pound. Freya also winced as she settled herself down to a seated position on the floor, leaning her head against the wall.

Elle waved off her apology. “Just give us all the details,” she said, excited to hear the story that Lara promised them over text.

Adam came back holding the garment bag over his shoulder, a cute, cheeky smile plastered on his boyishly handsome face. “No problem, Lara.”

As he went in for a hug, he whispered into her ear, “you can just make it up to me on our date.” When they pulled away from the hug, Lara could feel her face flush, causing Adam to wink at her in response.

While she really did enjoy this new, confident side of Adam that she hadn’t seen in their years of friendship, Lara just couldn’t shake the image of Austin from her mind.

She wasn’t sure why she couldn’t let it go. Despite the random interest that Austin had taken in her, and the fun night that they ended up having, it didn’t matter. At the end of the day, Austin Evans still had a girlfriend.

The same girl who made it her mission to make Lara’s life a living hell. And Austin didn’t even care enough to notice until a couple of hours ago, which said a lot about how much he cared about Lara, even platonically.

And anything more than a friendship? Completely out of the question.

Lara wasn’t the kind of girl who would steal someone’s boyfriend to begin with. But going after Aubrey’s boyfriend? That would be a death wish.

Realistically, there was no point in this moral dilemma. Austin had been nice to her for a total of four hours, that didn’t mean that he wanted to be friends with her, let alone want to leave Aubrey to date her. He was just being decent.

Lara felt stupid for thinking that it could have been anything deeper than that.

“What was that?” Elle teased as she closed the door behind Adam, knocking Lara out of her thoughts.

“Oh, um,” Lara felt herself flush as she stammered over her words. “Long story, let’s get cozy.” Lara motioned for her friends to follow her down to the basement where they spread out across the couch, allowing for Freya and Lara to try and stop the room from spinning as they lay down.

Lara struggled to ignore her headache as she told her friends about her night with Adam, and how he had come over this morning with a newfound burst of confidence.

Elle started squealing, while Freya managed a weak thumbs up from her spot on the couch.

“You and Adam would be so cute together,” Elle said, practically bouncing in her spot, which made the whole couch shake, resulting in a groan from Freya in response.

Lara nodded in response, forcing a smile on her face.

She wasn’t sure if she should tell her friends about the whole Austin thing. She already realized that her quick thought about any kind of fling with Austin was completely out of the question. Did her friends really need to know that Austin had decided to be a decent human and drive her home? They would probably just get over-excited and spiral thinking that it meant more than it really did, exactly like Lara had done a couple minutes ago.

Yeah, she thought to herself, I’ll keep this one to myself.

She did tell her friends about what had happened with Aubrey, leaving out all the details of Austin.

The two friends stared back at her, jaws dropped.

“And you’re sure it wasn’t an accident?” Freya said.

Freya tended to be the most levelheaded of the group, and tried to turn her two friends away from making dire conclusions. She knew Aubrey was evil, but this was too much.

“I may have been drunk, but I know that there was no one there.”

Elle scoffed in disbelief. “Why is she such a miserable bitch? Really, what is her problem?”

Lara decided it would be a good idea to de-escalate the situation. She had already dealt with her own mental turmoil last night, plus going back and forth with Austin, and frankly, she was just tired of it.

“She’s crazy, but whatever,” she said, moving her hand as if she was able to physically push the conversation out of the room. She turned to Freya. “I want to hear what you got up to.”

Freya’s cheeks flushed as she tried to stop the wide grin from covering her entire face.

“Well?” Lara excitedly prompted.

“We kissed,” she squealed. “A lot.” The other girls started screaming as well. “And we have a date planned for the weekend.”

Freya couldn’t stop smiling as Elle got up and performed an impromptu victory dance, with Lara doing a halfhearted version from her place on the couch, careful to move slowly so she wouldn’t vomit.

“Frey, this is huge,” Lara exclaimed.

“Freya’s got a booooooyfriend,” Elle chanted.

“Stop,” Freya said, but the girls could tell that she loved it.

Freya had liked Luke the second she laid eyes on him in freshman year math class. The crush was unrequited for a while, but only because Freya had been too scared to ever speak to him. When Freya was paired with him for a group project in sophomore year history class, Freya finally spoke to him for the first time, making Luke aware of her existence. It was obvious that the two of them had hit it off, but the relationship stayed in the “Friends Who Obviously Like Each Other But Just Flirt Intensely Instead Of Doing Anything More” stage for the next couple of years.

Who knew that all they would have needed to push them to the next stage was the magic of prom, mixed with a shit ton of alcohol?

“I’m seriously so happy for you,” Lara said as they calmed down after another round of giggles and squeals.

Freya smiled as she grabbed Lara’s hand. It was obvious that she was so happy she didn’t even know what else to say.

Attention was never Freya’s favourite thing, so she turned to Elle. “What about you? You made out with Matt Roker! How was that?”

“I made out with Matt Roker?” Elle said, genuinely confused. “What the fuck, when?”

Freya and Lara broke out into laughs. Elle did too, in between trying to piece together when this mysterious make out had occurred, which just made them laugh harder.

“Guys,” she whined.

This was what their party recaps typically sounded like.

Lara wasn’t very big on partying, and came up with excuses to not show up to them. Something about the crowds and mass number of people got to her. Meanwhile, Freya did not often drink, but she would go to parties. The main reason Freya even had to show up was because someone had to watch over Elle.

When it came to drinking, Elle’s tiny frame made her get drunk very easily. Thankfully, she was a very pleasant and friendly drunk. Probably a bit too friendly, as Freya always had to update her on who she ended up making out with the night before.

As Freya recapped what had happened, Lara looked at her friends happily.

At that moment, she was so thrilled that the trio was going to stick together and go to university together. These two girls were some of the most important people in Lara’s life.

She joined back in the conversation, and continued to talk and laugh, despite the nagging headache. Because at the end of the day, she knew the headache would go away, and she wouldn’t let anything come between these moments with her friends, especially something temporary.

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