Chapter Twenty-Two

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The tropical song of my phone alarm travels through the warm breeze. All of a sudden, I'm no longer dreaming of deep dimples and guitar solos, but lying in a hammock in the Bahamas listening to a Caribbean tune winding around the glamorous island. Out here on this white-sand beach, surrounded by tranquil vibes, there are no complicated boys or deceitful family members. I want to stay forever. Even more so when I spot a shirtless boy with curly hair and a charming smile walk toward me with a Sex on The Beach drink.

Unfortunately, the delightful scene my dream-mind conjured fades away. I desperately reach out to grapple on and hold onto the serenity flowing through my body, but I end up falling into reality. I wake up a little bit more; I am light-headed, but my head is pounding. The morning light blazing through the thin curtains isn't helping either. I move to get up and use the bathroom, but when I try to lift my arm, someone or something keeps me in place.

Uh-oh. Memories of doing several shots and dancing with Declan race through my head. My mind is racing and a million emotions flood through me. Even though I am sure we innocently danced to a few songs amidst our friend group, I never have control when I drink. Sleeping with Blue last week should be testament. Alarmed, I pray it's not him or any other guy and sit up, I snap my eyes open and turn around... to find Riley with her mouth wide open, her body bent at an odd angle. Wait... is she even breathing? Paranoid, I check her pulse and sigh in relief. She's alive and reeks of vodka and vomit. To make sure she doesn't throw up in her sleep, I turn her body to the side and brush her hair out of her face.

I look around the clean room and for a moment I'm bewildered, thinking we were kidnapped and are being held captive, but then my pounding head clears, and I remember we went to Declan's party. By the looks of this unfamiliar room, we didn't leave. I wonder who got piss-drunk first; her or me? Knowing my track record, I have my bet placed on me.

I get up and head for the bathroom across the hall, recalling the night before. After getting our nails done at the salon, we headed back to the dorms and spent the rest of the day picking out what to wear for the party. Well, it was actually just her, I'd decided on a simple blouse and minimal makeup. But that was before she pulled out a tiny gold sequin skater dress she'd bought for me as a birthday gift. I was hesitant at first because of the daring plunging neckline, but she looked really excited about it and I can't lie, it was gorgeous. Anyways, flash forward a couple hours to the party, and everyone was doing shots and singing happy birthday to me. Finn even got me a birthday cake with edible ballet décor. I had a wonderful time spending time with my friends. Aside from the dreadful hangover, the party was a complete success. I can't thank Declan and Riley enough for throwing it. Especially Declan, he let us use his studio apartment I'm very jealous of.

I wash my face, erasing the streaking mascara and eyeliner, and rinse out my mouth using Listerine. My head hurts so badly, I wobble on my way out of spacious bathroom and into the kitchen. There are at least thirty people passed out on the floor and leather couches. I can hardly see the polished hardwood floor under plastic cups and trash. It's going to take a lot more than the five guys cleaning up Stepping over sleeping bodies and beer cans, I take a bottled water from the fridge and gulp it all down in five seconds flat. I've never felt more parched in my entire life. I uncap another bottle and drink it down about halfway, before I hear someone talking to me.

"Thirsty much?"

I turn around and find Declan entering the kitchen, a broom and trash bags in his hands. He leans the broom on the wall then sweeps a row of plastic cups on the center kitchen island into the one of the trash bags.

"One of the horrible side effects of drinking, but I'll survive," I say in a strained voice. "Do you have any Advil?"

"Yeah, here you go." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pill bottle. "Always gotta be prepared for the hangover. Especially when you're a light weight."

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