Chapter Thirteen

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I REUNITED WITH SAM, my second drink of the night in one hand. Thankfully, on my way back, Luc was nowhere to be seen.

"She lives!" Sam threw her arms up, startling Spartacus in the way. "Long time no see."

I handed her the bowl and she dug in eagerly. I'd lost my appetite after the confrontation with Luc. 

"It's a tough journey beyond the living room. Lots of traffic, too."

"I see you found the booze."

I took a sip. "I sure did."

The warm liquid burned down my throat and heated my stomach. Most of the party had moved to the backyard. The living room became the calm area where people chattered, played cards or Just Dance. I looked at my watch for the time. It's only been an hour and a half since the party started, and we hadn't done much yet. Heeled boots strutted our way, and I lifted my gaze to Emma.

"What are you guys doing sulking on the stairs? Do you not know how to party?"

"No," I answered, and looked over at Sam. "Do you?"

She giggled. Emma huffed and grabbed an arm of each, pulling us up. As tiny as she was, she had strength. 

"Come on, girls. Let's live for a moment."

She dragged us to the yard where the music was louder than ever. All I saw was a sea of arms and legs tangled together, grooving to the beat. Jen gestured wildly at us to join her, cheeks ruddy and hair dischevelled. Emma, never letting my hand go, drew and yanked me until we delved into the mass and I had no choice but to merge with the crowd. 

It was strange and awkward at first. I didn't know how I could look as confident as everyone else. I loosened up after my third or fourth drink, then got the hang of it. My hips swayed and my head bobbed as I laughed, a little woozy. It allowed me to forget everything that bothered me, occupying my muscles instead.

My head was throbbing and fuzzy. Time distorted, and suddenly jumping up and down like a broken spring was so much fun. We danced together-- all four of us--for God knows how long amidst the throng, bodies colliding. But then I'd drank to the point where my balance became questionable. My feet hurt and my face was warm. 

I found a little corner to take a break, sitting on the cool grass and digging my fingers into the fresh blades, I emptied the remaining contents of my last cup. As I stared at the twinkling stars in the sky, my mind went to places it shouldn't have. My hand absentmindedly toyed with the pocket knife I pulled out from my jacket. 

If I was crazy, as Luc presumed, then it wouldn't be an issue if I walked home tonight, right? It was late enough to try it... Before I knew it, I stood up and reached the hallway, hobbling up the stairs. I wondered which outcome I preferred while I clumsily changed back into my own clothes-- imagining things or proving myself right?

Reluctantly, I hoped Luc was right. At least I could deal with it, because the alternative outcome would have me dead or seriously injured at best. I loved being right, but I wouldn't die before admitting I was wrong. I sneaked through the front door unseen and nearly tripped over my own feet. Maybe I should have had one less drink, but it was too late. I ambled out into the road, squinting through the darkness and clasping the pocket knife.

▲▲▲

I should not have done this. 

This was the dumbest idea in the history of ideas. What had been in my drink? I was oh so wasted. That booze had to be strong. I was floating, cold, sore and really thirsty. I couldn't see a thing, stranded in the damn woods again. Splendid. Rubbing my face down, I groaned. There was obviously nothing out there or else it would have jumped at me over the last hour I'd been waiting for a sign.

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