Chapter 33

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      THE REST OF the evening, up until the party they'd decided to have tonight, had not surprisingly consisted of Selena ignoring me while giving Ryder strange looks for his lack of attention on her—no doubt she'd known he'd been in love with her for years—Tyler cuddling with Dakota, and all of us joking around over dumb shit.

      Ryder hadn't said a word about it, but I'd still been reeling from the incident in the bathroom by the time we all finished buying drinks for the party. In other words, it'd been on my mind all day.

      When the party finally came, I knew this one was gong to be different. I didn't know how, or why, but I just knew something was going to happen. It was this foreboding feeling in my gut that wouldn't go away, no matter what I told myself.

      It didn't happen immediately. If anything, it was more of a chain of reactions that started with me showing up at the party in the first place.

      At the beginning of it.

      It had been a terrible idea, I knew, but Ryder had managed to talk me into it by telling me not to be so worried about what other people will think. He'd said that the dumb, drunken teenagers from our school and other schools would be the best place to start letting people see me—the real me.

      "It'll be okay," he'd whispered to me as we stepped in the door, shivers running up and down my spine at his hand on my lower back gently guiding me.

      I nodded and mentally cursed myself for still letting him get to me. "I hope so."

      "It will," he scolded me, leaving no room for argument. I huffed in irritation, and wasn't surprised in the slightest when he rolled his eyes at me.

      Tyler had stayed home after we all set up and sent the rest of us away so he could have some time with Dakota, not that any of us were surprised. It was close to nine-thirty now, and Jay had insisted on showing up 'fashionably late'.

      At seeing the three boys, some people cheered and came over to shake hands and pat backs in greeting. A few girls came over to hug Selena and catch up from their childhood and all the time they'd missed while apart.

      I felt a little left out, but didn't mind so much as I just headed straight over to the kitchen. And, I guess you could say that was the second chain reaction of things going wrong.

      I got a drink.

      It's not like I'd never drank before; if I said as much, I'd be lying through my teeth. Or through the beer bottle at my lips, I suppose, but I digress. The mistake with taking a drink was that, when all the other chain reactions started happening, I kept taking drinks.

      The third chain reaction had to be my drunken nerves on six beers, which led me to search for Tyler around ten o'clock. When I couldn't find him, I came to the assumption he'd probably left to go host or spend more time with Dakota.

      Fourth had to be by my ninth beer, when I'd gone looking for Jay. I don't know why I'd been so adamant on finding him, but realized later on when I was sober that it's a good thing I didn't find him. After the situation with Ryder getting me riled up this morning, finding Jay when we were no doubt both wasted would have ended terribly.

      Fifth and sixth happened pretty close together, right on my thirteenth and second to last beer of the night. I couldn't stand on my own feet and felt sick to my stomach, which led to me rushing upstairs and to the bathroom, and in turn led to me braking somebody's nose after he tried to grope me at the top of the stairs. Needless to say, I was bent over the toilet spewing beer and my lunch for a while.

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