The Unexpected Everything(9)

By: Morgan Matson

“Okay, Type A,” Toby said as she zipped up her makeup bag. I rolled my eyes at her in the mirror before Toby flipped the visor back up. “What?” she asked, shooting me a grin. “It’s from your name. That’s all.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, raising an eyebrow at her, but not disputing that it was true. So what if I liked to be in control of things? Someone had to be, after all. We piled out of the van, and I looked around, reorienting myself.

“Whose house is this again?” Toby asked. She straightened the skirt she’d changed into on the drive—I had heard the debate about what to wear, but she’d ignored my shouted-through-the-blanket opinions, even though I knew exactly what clothes she was talking about without being able to see them.

“Kevin Castillo’s,” I said immediately. It was the first question I’d asked when Palmer had started telling me the plan. I’d been to parties at his house before, which always made me feel a little better. In a new house, I was always looking for exits and escape routes, in case they became suddenly necessary.

“Which means it’s going to be good,” Palmer said, raising an eyebrow at me. “Remember the party he had in March?”

“Vaguely,” I said, starting to smile, recalling an hours-long quarters game and all of us ending up at the diner at four a.m., ordering plates of fries and laughing too loud.

“Where’s the house?” Bri asked, and I pointed down the street.

“That way,” I said.

Palmer nodded. “Like half a mile.” Toby sighed and reached down to take off her wedges, but didn’t complain. All of us knew the drill. And tonight, especially, not getting caught was crucial.

I’d been to only one party where it had happened. It was freshman year, and it was only the second real high school party I’d ever been to, and I was still thrilled and excited to be there. We were only there because Palmer’s brother Josh, who was a senior, had been invited. He’d agreed to let us come if he could disavow all knowledge of us if anyone got mad that freshmen were there. I was drinking a beer from a red Solo cup, like an idiot—I hadn’t yet learned any of the tricks I’d later need to employ at parties—when the red and blue lights streamed in through the living room window, bathing everyone in color. For a second the entire party seemed to freeze, but then everyone was in motion, running in a hundred directions, for cars or hiding places, just trying not to get caught. The excitement of being at a senior’s party had been eclipsed utterly by a wave of fear so all encompassing I started shaking. If I were caught at a party, drinking underage, it would be very, very bad for my father.

I hadn’t gotten caught—I’d been yanked out of harm’s way at the last moment. But that close call had been more than enough to scare me. My friends knew now that I wouldn’t go to a party that looked like a target, and I had all sorts of techniques for staying under the radar once we got to the party. And even now, as we walked in a single-file line along the side of the road, I could feel myself on high alert, looking around to make sure there weren’t too many cars parked along the road, nobody looking too long at us, nothing that might give us away. I didn’t even want to think what it would do to the story if, on today of all days, I was caught at a party. It would be like pouring gasoline on a forest fire.

We’d been walking in silence for a few moments when Toby cleared her throat. “Guys,” she said, her tone grave. “At the party tonight, something has to happen. This is when the curse gets broken. Because I refuse to spend another summer without a boyfriend.”

“I’ll be your wingwoman,” Palmer volunteered immediately. “We can totally make this happen.”

“No,” Toby said firmly. “You’re fired from ever being my wingwoman again. Last time you tried, everyone asked you out, and Tom got really mad at me.”

Palmer opened her mouth to protest this, and I just shook my head. “Toby has a point, P.”

“It’s not your fault you’re a blonde,” Bri added. I laughed as Palmer’s expression turned from disgruntled to embarrassed. Palmer was beautiful, though she seemed to have absolutely no understanding of this fact. She had long, thick blond hair that would be four shades lighter by the end of the summer. She was a head shorter than me, and whip-thin, with the ability to eat us all under the table, and she seemed to laugh more than most people. You wanted to spend more time with Palmer the second you met her.

“I’ll take over wingwoman duties,” I said. “What do you want me to look for? Are you still into the floppy-haired thing?”

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