10 - O N E - E I G H T Y

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"So you've never gotten drunk? Not once?" Travis inquires as we sit around the recently-made fire, which glows bright orange on all of our faces, making us look like jack o'lanterns.

I roll my eyes and remind him, "I don't drink, remember?" Call me a goodie-goodie, but I've only tasted liquor once. It was cheap vodka, needless to say. "Besides, I'm underage."

He scoffs. "Age smage. Ever been to a party? You know, where people get wasted and start—"

"Travis." I flick my eyes at Emmie, who seems to be intently listening to our conversation as she sits slumped on a log.

"It's not like it matters anymore," he says, poking at the fire with a hefty stick. Sparks fly up and I'm quick to dodge them before they land on my skin. I shoot him a look like Watch what you're doing, but I don't think he catches it. "Standards and morals don't exist anymore if you haven't noticed," Travis continues.

I couldn't disagree with him more. If anything, they matter more now than ever before. It weeds out the strong versus the weak. "Absolutely they do," I justify. "That's what keeps us sane. Without moral and values we'd all be...eating each other. Clearly, they still count."

As usual, Travis rolls his eyes because I'm right. "Give me the whiskey," he orders. I sigh and snatch up the whiskey bottle at my feet and pass it to him. "Hey Emmie, you want some?"

"Travis!" I scold him, and swat his arm, knocking the glass bottle to the ground again.

He chuckles to himself as he picks it up. "Joking, Ror. Simmer down. Sheesh." He shakes his head as if to shake off my craziness, and my urge to punch him grows. Still, I couldn't help but hear the nickname he branded me with. Ror. No one has ever called me that before. And I'm not sure what to say about it, if anything. Do I pretend it never happened or do I acknowledge it?

Travis studies the whiskey for a moment before unscrewing the cap and taking a swig. Once it enters his mouth, he sprays it onto the fire like a fountain, giving slight fuel to the flames. "Damn!" he shouts. "It's been a while, and this shit is strong. Here, try it." He laughs as he pushes the liquor at me, but I cringe away from it, seeing no interest after his spontaneous reaction.

"No way. It looks awful."

"Nah, it just takes a few sips," he rationalizes, and takes another drink. "See? Already better."

Pursing my lips, I grab the neck of the bottle and gradually tip it back, watching the amber liquid trickle down toward my tongue. When it reaches my mouth, my eyes water instantaneously; there's definitely a kick to it. Unlike Travis though, I keep it all in and swallow.

"That was wimpy," he comments.

I glare at him and decide that I'm going to prove myself, so I take another sip—more like an unintentional gulp—and find myself unable to fully down it. I cough a little and push the bottle back at him.

"Don't inhale it," Travis warns as my spasms ease.

"Okay, Mr. Know It All. Let's see you do it. At least I keep the liquor down," I brag.

"Pfft. No problem." He washes down another hit and then a third to show off. An arrogant smile crosses his lips but I know he's kidding. "There. Beat that."

Interested in the challenge and revitalizing my taste buds again, I reach for the bottle and take in my third drink. I shudder, but feel invigorated. Rejuvenated. Fresh. "Easy," I say and set it down.

"It sure is nice to drink something other than water," Travis admits as he leans back in the chair and stares up at the night.

I sigh. We better make this moment count because it may be our last chance at having the privilege to do it. "So, what's the occasion? It's obviously not my birthday."

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