The music ended, replace by something more rhythmic. The boys dragged Matthew into their circle of nonsense to everyone else around them. Karen leaned on Nancy’s shoulder when the latter crossed her arms over her chest, watching the boys laughing out loud.
“So romantic,” Nancy laughed, a small smile on her lips.
“Did they really kiss?” Karen added, looking straight ahead.
“You are so funny,” Julie replied with a sigh.
Her friends laughed when Julie returned to her seat. They went to join her, repeating that there was love. The young girl blushed. She hid her face while her two best friends were laughing. She asked them to stop their childish game. Karen told her that the rumor was officially verified.
“I never thought he would be able to do so,” Nancy said, laughing.
“He finally succeeded!” Karen threw happily, applauding. “But what will happen with their story?”
“Leave me alone, please.”
But she blushed a little too much to her own taste. Christopher came to ask them to come and dance with them. Karen and Nancy looked forward to follow him. Julie pretended an urge to go to the bathroom. They nodded and went away with Christopher. The young girl gave a deep sigh of relief. She went to the toilet. Along the way, she met Matthew. He seemed embarrassed by the look she gave him. He looked down at the ground.
“You… you weren’t dancing with the others?”
Her voice betrayed certain unease. She didn’t know how she should act with him.
She nodded before entering the bathroom. She was about to leave the cabin when she heard a girl laugh. Then the door swung open, letting Dominique and Rachel in. They were still talking. The conversation seemed to revolve around a boy in particular. Julie remained silent and attentive to learn more, curious.
“How can you manage to stand him?” Dominique launched, outraged. “He follows you everywhere!”
“Oh come on! It’s too obvious that he loves you!”
Rachel mumbled something that Julie was unable to understand. Except that now she knew who the two shrews were talking about. Christopher… She listened. Dominique sighed deeply before saying that his parents’ bank account was very interesting. However, Rachel said nothing. Hmm… Very interesting. I would have thought she would have approved. The conversation wasn’t finished.
“”He’s really nice. I swear! I might be able to enjoy it if we were at the cottage with them…”
“Ah! Me and nature… I don’t think so.”
“I know. Me neither, but it could be an opportunity to get a little closer to him…”
“He might give you a lot of gifts.”
“There’s not just money, you know.”
“Are you kidding? Don’t tell me it might be something between you two!”
“But you don’t know him very well, I can see.”
Dominique gave a little grunt before saying she would have like Maxim’ parents to be full of cash like Christopher’s. At least she would have received a big compensation. Rachel asked her if she soon would stop using him. Dominique broke a cynical laugh.
“And then what? This guy would be nothing without me!”
“What? You won’t dump him?”
Dominique sighed deeply.
“Well, I was convinced that we would be crowned tonight, but since this is not the case… And he’ll spend the entire week with his group of rednecks as his friends. I would at least have peace without him around!”
“But he loves you. That doesn’t count?”
“So what? Where do you go with that?”
“You’re very lucky.”
“He became more annoying every day.”
“So dump him. It’ll relieve you both.”
“I’d rather die! Did you notice that recently he changed?”
“What do you mean?”
“He looks a bit too much at the other girls, if you know what I mean.”
“So what? He’s not the only one to do that. Why do you care, anyway? You find him annoying!”
Her friend gave a contemptuous grunt before answering:
“I think he looks at Julie Crowe a bit too much and I don’t why.”
“Julie? This girl looks like nothing!”
“I know! But he’s different with her. I don’t like it. And they’ll be together in the same cottage for a week…”
“They will not be alone.”
“I’ll have to talk to him seriously before his departure. I must give him a good reason to only look at me.”
“Why not break up with him? That way you really can do whatever you want…”
“I’m already doing what I want!”
“And you should not! Maxim is a great guy with whom you play with. You should not do that. One day, you’re going to pay.”
“Can you tell me what’s wrong with you?”
“You’re using everyone around you! Maxim is awesome and his friends are great!”
“I would perfectly be able to bear her if she became my friend. And Christopher…”
Dominique cried in exasperation.
“Say one more word and I’ll vomit! You horribly changed, too. Can you explain?”
There was the creaking of the door of the bathroom and a group of girls entered. Rachel simply replied that people have the right to change opinion. The two girls got out under the loud voices of the group still in the bathroom to check out their makeup. Julie waited a few seconds before leaving the cabin like it was alright. She washed her hands. She looked up at the mirror. I look like nothing… Discouraged, she left the room to join her friends. She met Maxim on her way. He called her out, grabbing her wrist.
“Is everything all right?” he asked, smiling at her.
She simply nodded, trying to smile reassuringly. He asked her if she had seen Dominique. He was looking for her for a while. What should she tell him? She didn’t know her whereabouts since she left the bathroom. She shouldn’t be very far. She told him that his girlfriend was with Rachel the last time she had seen her. He thanked her. She kept two extra seconds to ask him hesitantly a question.
“Why are you dating her? You could probably find a much better girl. So why her?”
He shook his head.
“Nobody can understand.”
“That’s why I’m asking you.”
He sighed, looking down.
“Well, it’s… it’s much more complicated than you might think.”
She nodded, understanding the message. He didn’t want to discuss about it with her now. Except he didn’t mention love or something else like that. She wished him good luck in his research and was about to go away when he called her out again. He asked if he could also ask a rather personal question. She raised her eyebrows, curious to know what he wanted to ask her. And he took no detour to talk to her.
“Is it serious between you and Matthew? I saw you kissing and…”
If he didn’t want to discuss his love life with her, why would she? She just shrugged before walking away. She felt a little guilty because she hadn’t told him anything about Dominique. Would she have done it since he was her friend? His friends didn’t like Dominique and he knew it without actually doing anything about it. He was big enough to take care of business by himself.
And a kiss doesn’t mean anything.
She had enough with her own problems without having to deal with everyone else. She was heading to her table when Christopher passer her and held out his hand. She took it absently and he twirled her on herself before doing the same with Karen and Nancy. Slowly, hands slipped around her waist and lips deposited a soft kiss on her right cheek. She slightly smiled, leaning against his chest. They danced a little, pressed against each other. Matthew took her hand to make her turn. When she was again in his arms, she whispered in his ear:
“Thank you for the lovely evening.”
She could see him blush. He quickly looked away. She watched him for a moment without saying anything. He was very attractive, even when he was embarrassed. She went to him and kissed him tenderly. He kissed her back. She still felt good in his arms. Except that he was his friend. Perhaps he wanted to stop it there. The young girl didn’t want to think about it, shaking her head to clear it of all her questions. Philippe lifted Karen and turned on himself. Christopher grabbed the two crowns before they crashed to the ground.
They all danced for a few hours then go to Philip for the private after-prom. His parents had a huge fire at the rear of the house and disappeared, leaving them to have fun without supervision. In the kitchen, a large table stood in the middle of the room with several bowls of chips and other stuffs. Philip put the music on and said that the party could begin. Ties and bowties disappeared along with high heels. They danced a little more lasciviously, nobody to tell them what to do. Dominique and Rachel were also there.
Julie took refuge somewhere to rest her feet a little and watch her friends having fun. She felt very tired and began to think she had to go back. Except that Philip had worked very hard to get this little private party. She therefore had to stay a little longer. Joel asked them to review the list of things to take to the cottage so nothing will be forgotten. They agreed and drew up a new approximate list of everything they might need. Then they confirmed the time and place of rendezvous the next day. Once it was done, the party could continue.
Philip seemed much more relaxed, glued against Karen and kissing her at every opportunity. Near the fire, Joel and Nancy were quietly talking with Julie who had joined them. Matthew came to sit close to her. He hesitated a long time before venturing to his arm around her shoulders. Without leaving her friend from her gaze, Julie leaned against him as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Joel told them a really funny story that happened while attending another school. Slowly, Julie lost herself in her thoughts, looking at her friend. Nancy looked at the young man with such attention. She seemed really happy. Julie never had this kind of attention from a guy. The part-time job became an impediment or friends illustrated a frequent source of conflict. Or a sudden move… She still felt good in Matthew’s arms, but she wondered if her beautiful fairy tale would turn into a pumpkin soon.
Nancy decided that their chat must ended there and to return dancing. She took Joel’s hand and led him to the few who were already dancing. Julie could see Christopher discuss a little further with Rachel. They seemed to have a real conversation. Matthew took her hand. She turned to him, frowning. He seemed a little troubled.
“You… you’re still having fun?” he asked nervously.
She nodded, a smile on her lips. She returned the question, but his answer wasn’t very convincing. She could see a strange light in his eyes that she was unable to decode. He forced himself to smile. Finally he heaved a deep sigh, apologizing. She asked him if everything was okay, but he refused to answer. So she just kissed him tenderly.
She fell on her bed, a huge smile on her lips. Julie had just returned. She was the first to leave the party while it was very late. She wished them all a good night and confirmed the time of rendezvous the next day. And she kissed Matthew one last time before she left. She had a very pleasant evening with her friends. But she was now asking herself the same question Maxim asked her earlier. Did it mean something? She felt something for him? The more she thought about it, more questions raced through her head.
The young girl stood up painfully. Her ears were still buzzing because of the music. She released her hair from many pins and changed. She slipped under the sheets, but sleep was slow in coming. She closed her eyes anyway, imagining a lot of things. Her first dance in Matthew’s arms, their first kiss…
She fell asleep.