Chapter 7: You Call This a Party?

Getting ready to go out took me surprisingly little time. I showered and shaved before I applied a small amount of cologne, and pulled on a plain white t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I pulled on a button down shirt, leaving it hanging open. I left it open and shoved my feet into my favorite doc martins.

I folded my wet hair into a pony-tail at the base of my neck and stepped out of my bedroom.

Thomas was standing awkwardly in the living room. He looked like an eight year old boy whose mother had dressed him for his first birthday party at Chucky Cheese. He had on a pressed and ironed blue dress shirt, complete with a navy blue tie and a suit jacket. He had jeans on underneath and a pair of converse sneakers.

He had to be kidding.

“Dude, that’s what you’re wearing? Seriously?”

He frowned. “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s Friday night, and you’re going out. For once in your life you have an excuse not to wear a tie, and you’re wearing one?” I laughed.

He frowned down at his clothing. “So what should I wear?”

“Just loose the tie.”

He loosened the knot and slid the fabric from around his neck. He dropped it on the table.

“Well, it’s a start. You should undo some buttons or something, so you don’t look like a total square.”

He was already wrenching loose a few buttons. He still had the suit jacket on, but it was much better.

“I’ve never been invited to one of these things before. I’m pretty sure I’m going to look like a complete idiot anyway.”

“No, you’re not. Just be cool.” It was easier said than done. Even I knew that. I had come clean to Thomas about my past struggles the night before. I knew I could trust him, there was just something about him that told me that.

I glanced at my watch. It was five minutes to ten. Perfect timing. “Are you ready to go?”

“Am I?” He asked worriedly.

“Don’t worry about it. Have a drink, and have a good time.”

“Right. I just hope there are no lockers around for them to shove me into…” He mumbled.

“They won’t bug you. And if they do, I’ll take care of them.” I swore.

Thomas nodded.

I opened the door and as soon as I stepped into the hall, I heard the music. Thomas followed a step behind. I slowed and waited for him. I pushed him through a door that was propped open into a room crawling with people. A keg had been set up on the counter with a few stacks of red beer cups.

“Thomas, come here.” I said quickly. He followed me to the keg.

I poured two glasses of beer and held one out for him.

“No thanks.” He said quickly.

“Dude, just take it. It’s a fitting in technique.” I said to him. “You don’t have to drink it. Just walk around carrying it, pretend to drink it. People will think you’re drinking and having a good time. They’ll think you’re trying to loosen up and be more relaxed with you. If you appear as though you’re not drinking, people will think you’re weird for not drinking.”

He nodded, holding the cup awkwardly. “What about you? Should you be drinking if….”

I shrugged. “I’m in the same boat you are. I’m just trying to blend in.”

He nodded.

I caught a flash of someone I recognized and was gravitated toward her.

“Blend in.” I told Thomas over my shoulder. “Don’t talk about school!”

He nodded.

I weaved through the bodies, and once I was out of Thomas’ line of sight, I took a sip of my beer. It was terrible, cheap stuff. But after almost five days with only a few random drags off of cigarettes, I was desperate for a fix of anything. One beer wouldn’t kill me.

I lost sight of the person who I’d been trying to find, and instead, turned in a circle, surveying the people littered around the room.

Suddenly I heard her. “You made it! I knew you’d come!”

I turned to see Olivia, standing a few feet away from me. She was wearing a beautiful cream colored dress that hung to her mid thigh. It appeared vintage with small brown flowers decorating the bottom hem of her dress. She had on black leggings and a pair of staggering heels. Her hair was styled straight, hanging down to her waist. She was breathtakingly beautiful. The most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life.

She took a step toward me and stumbled sloppily, I caught her in my arms before she crashed into me.

“Whoops, are you okay?” I asked.

“I’m great.” She grinned hugely. She threw her arms around my neck and hugged me, pressing herself tightly to me. She giggled on my shoulder.

Her usual, delightful fruity smell was replaced by the pungent stench of alcohol. She was drunk.

“Olivia…” I began slowly.

She giggled again, pulling back from my arms. She wavered on her feet. “I’m drunk!” She announced.

“I can see that.” I mused.

“I’ve never been drunk before. I’ve never even had a beer before. I like it. It’s fun! I feel free!” She laughed again.

“Wow, are you ever loaded…” I mused.

“Oh, there’s Gabs. I’ve got to go. Stick around, and save a dance for me.” She grinned hugely.

I nodded, and watched her go. I’d been to parties before. I was no rookie to these kinds of things. I knew I probably shouldn’t leave a girl on her first bad drunken experience on her own, but people were beginning to flood into the small dorm so quickly, I completely lost her.

I wandered aimlessly through the groups of people. I realized that one of the sofas had been shoved against a wall to make room. Several people had made a small, make shift dance floor, though the couples were merely grinding and swaying to the music and hardly dancing at all.

I discovered Thomas standing in the living room, leaning against the wall. He looked incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. I moved toward him, squeezing through the bodies.

“Still alive?” I asked him.

He nodded. “Some drunk girl keeps calling me Charlie.”

I laughed, probably a little harder than I should have. “Well, depending on how drunk she is you might get lucky.”

He raised one eyebrow. “I doubt that.”

“Well, find a pretty girl and go up and talk to her. Play it cool and you might just meet someone. That would loosen you up a bit.”

“Girls don’t talk to me. Not unless their big football player boyfriends are stuffing me in a locker or shoving me in a garbage can.”

“Then this is a good chance for them to get to know you. Mingle. Move around a bit.” I clapped him on the shoulder and turned.

I immediately noticed someone I sort of recognized. “Gabby.” I said, grabbing her arm lightly.

She turned around suddenly, her eyes quickly drifting between Thomas and myself. “Uh, hi.” She breathed. She also smelled strongly of alcohol.

God, I missed it. I missed the ability to get completely shit-faced without knowing that it was going to end in one monster of a hang over and knowing that the moment I woke up the next morning my parents were going to kill me.

“Anyway, have you seen Liv? I was supposed to meet her a few minutes ago to check in and I haven’t found her.” Gabby glanced around the room.

I didn’t trust any of these people. I’d already met two of the football players and if they could pick on someone as harmless as Thomas, then they couldn’t be trusted as far as I could throw them.

“You know what? I’ll help you look.” I offered.

“Thanks.” She agreed.

I moved back into the crowd of people. The layout of the dorm was the same as ours; I found my way around easily. I checked the bathroom and both bedrooms; and aside from a couple getting hot and heavy in one of the rooms, I couldn’t find Olivia.

I did find Gabby; who’s face was being sucked off by a huge guy in a football jersey.

I slipped outside into the hall. I glanced back and forth down the hall, before I turned left and walked to the end of the hall. I passed our dorm, and kept going. At the end of the hall, there was a huge plate glass window. I’d never been down this way before. I didn’t really have a reason to before now.

I thought for a moment that maybe Olivia had gone back to her dorm.

At the end of the hall, the hall way curved. It led to a small common room.

I clicked on the light and found Olivia.

“Hey, Olivia?” I asked softly.

She had been sitting on the sofa in the dark.

“Hey, Isaac!” She cried loudly.

“Hey…” I began slowly. “How come you’re out here…”

“It was too loud in there. Too hot. I needed air.” She admitted.

“Okay, you know Gabby is looking for you.” I began. “You should get back to your roommate…”

“Are you kidding? She’s probably hooking up somewhere. I bet she took the quarterback to our dorm about half an hour ago. I’ll tell you a secret. She’s kind of a slut.” She got up from the sofa and moved toward me.

“Okay. It’s late. You shouldn’t be by yourself anyway…”

She moved closer to me, reaching for my hand. She put her other hand on my side.

“What are you doing?” I frowned.

“Dance with me.” She said, moving closer to me.

I frowned down at her. “There’s no music playing.” I pointed out the obvious.

“So?”

I sighed. “You’re drunk and you really should get back to your dorm.”

She sighed, and plopped down on the sofa again. “You know Gabby makes fun of me for this.”

“For what?” I frowned.

“For liking you. I felt like there was going to be some thing different about you. I knew you weren’t going to be like every other guy at this stupid school. I thought if I got to know you a little better you might see that I’m not like everyone else here too…. But you’ve got ten feet of personal space around you. I keep trying to get to know you and you keep backing away.” She sighed.

I didn’t say anything. I glanced back at the door. There was a clock on the wall above it that read nearly eleven at night.

I sighed. It was well passed curfew. There was no way Olivia would be able to get back to her dorm without swiping her key. It was after curfew and if she had to go down to the front desk to be let in, it would go on her permanent record, and she would face disciplinary action.

I turned back to Olivia, and she was slumped to the side. She was passed out cold.

I dropped my face into my hands. I couldn’t leave her here. I knew what happened to girls who passed out at parties.

I stood up and removed my student card from my pocket. I bent carefully over Olivia and slipped my arm beneath her knees. My other arm moved around her back gently.

I lifted her thin frame into my arms; I carried her down the hall and carefully opened our door.

I had every intention of laying her on the sofa, but I knew if she slept there and Thomas discovered her, he would immediately know something was up. I carried her into my bedroom.

I had forgotten to make my bed, which seemed to be to my favor now. I laid her on the sheets and carefully removed her shoes. I placed them neatly on the floor.

I pulled a blanket over her, and grabbed the other pillow. I took it with me to the sofa, and set up camp there.

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