THIRTEEN

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Lana and Nathan arrived when the party was in full swing— not a second too early or too late. It was safe to say that their entrance was just as eye catching as Jade and Wesley's had been, and in their stunning Hollywood glamour getup, they looked like the Queen and King everyone seemed to claim they were.

By the time they'd arrived, Wesley and Jade had made themselves scarce in the corner. Not exactly hiding, but avoiding conflict as long as possible— I mean, why would you make yourself available to drama if you could do something to avoid that kind of negative publicity?

Jackson had found me again at this point, and we'd gone to stand with Connor and Eileen, who had arrived ten minutes before Lana and Nathan.

I'd never met Eileen before, but she was really lovely, with bushy brown hair and curves I'd kill for. She looked beautiful in a burnt orange dress that complimented her skin tone and dark hair. And from the way Connor kept eyeing her, it was so obvious they were madly in love with each other.

It. Was. Adorable.

We were tucked away behind the kitchen island, sheltered by a number of people, as Lana and Nathan flocked the crowd. They took compliments like gifts, and schmoozed their way through the people. I could hear talk of the proposal clickbait— it had clearly gotten around. I still couldn't believe it had been my idea, and it had reached so many people. Who knew I had that kind of power in my imagination?

After about ten minutes or so, Lana finally ventured off to join a few girls on the dancefloor, while Nathan slowly made his way over to where the drinks were. A few guys came to chat with him, and before long he was deep in conversation and slowly sipping through his first drink.

I narrowed my eyes. He was right where I needed him to be— away from Lana and near the alcohol. All I needed now was a way to get some hard shots in him, and fast.

"Do you think you can help me?" I asked the other three, explaining my idea to them. They listened, and then nodded. Eileen looked excited even, and she carried that enthusiasm with her as she strode to the kitchen island and sang out.

"Who's ready for shots?"

A few cheers erupted, and Eileen shot me a sly smile. Connor appeared at her side, and the two of them went through the liquor cabinet, dishing out the hardest stuff they could find. They started pouring the liquid into tiny glasses and lining them up. A few eager people reached for them but Eileen swatted their hands away.

"Hey! We're all doing it together!" she insisted. When she had finally counted out enough, Eileen dragged me over and handed me one.

Okay. Just one, I thought, deciding I could use a little liquid courage anyway.

But no more than one, or else I'll be useless in getting what I needed from Nathan.

I looked over to make sure he was grabbing a shot glass, and hid my satisfied smile when I saw one in his hands.

"Bottoms up!" Connor cheered, and we all flung the liquor down our throats.

***

It all started half an hour later, when my head was starting to feel woozy.

Whatever Connor and Eileen had put in those shots had been heavy, and I wasn't a big drinker as it was. I could have sworn I'd only had one... but when I checked my phone again, two whole hours had passed and I didn't remember what I'd been doing for most of it.

Somehow, I managed to remember the task at hand— and I spotted Nathan across the room, alone at last. He was scrolling absently through his phone, looking disinterested in the rest of the party. So, I seized the opportunity and went over to him.

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