Dani: I'll be there.

Only moments later, the rest of the group agrees to go and I am surprised again as Kel sends me another private message.

Kel: Can I talk to you beforehand? I can pick you up.

I am tempted to ask what she wants to talk to me about, but I don't think I can handle anymore bad news right now so I reply with a simple yes.

~~~~

My doorbell rings at 2:30. Somehow, I have managed to heave myself out of bed and put on a respectably outfit - a usual button-up blouse and skirt with ballet flats. I shudder at the thought of myself in such a bold dress last night.

I open the door and Kel is standing there waiting, her arms folded with her hands tucked into the long sleeves of her denim jacket. She raises her eyebrows. ''Well you look about how I expected.''

My eyes automatically flick to the ground. ''And how's that?''

She laughs. ''Completely and utterly trashed. Come on, there's a bucket in the car if you need it.''

I'm surprised that she thought of me in that way before I remember that she saw me at the party. God knows what she saw me doing. I slide into the car and Kel starts the ignition. The car jolts forward a few times as she struggles with the clutch. My hands gravitate towards my stomach. ''Are you sure you can drive?''

As if on cue, she transitions into a relatively smooth start. ''No backseat driving, Chapman. Besides, I'm a much better driver than you are as a drinker.''

My face flushes. ''Was I really that bad?"

She smiles. ''Bad by your standards - no question. But in the grand scheme of things, you're far from the worst drunk teenager I've ever seen. Don't sweat it.''

I shake my head, sliding down in my seat. ''I can't believe that stuff is all over the internet now. God, what are people going to think of me?''

Kel seems to detect the fragile tremble in my voice. ''Hey, that's kind of what I wanted to talk to you about.''

This can't be good. I look up at her and brace myself for the worst. 

''Look, most people honestly won't give a shit. So what, you're usually a goody-two-shoes? Your best friend just died - cut yourself a break. People expect you to be having a hard time, and pretty much everyone else was just as drunk so why would they care?''

I blink, sure that the worst is still to come. ''If you thought everything was fine you wouldn't have asked to speak to me privately.''

She sighs. ''Well, not everything is fine, but most of it is. Zig and I saw you getting a bit crazy and dancing on tables or whatever, but honestly it made you a lot more fun to me. Usually you're little boring. Not, like, accountant boring but you kind of act like you've got this stick up your ass. No offence.''

It's difficult not to take offence, but my desire to know what's wrong is stronger than my desire to retort. ''Right. So tell me the non-fine part? Does Zig think I'm a loony or something now?''

She laughs. ''Nah, Zig was just a bit concerned. You probably don't remember, but he gave you a bottle of water and some chips to try and help you sober up.''

''Oh. That's nice of him. Was Mara there to see me too?''

''Nope, she had family plans. It was her abuela's birthday. Her grandma is Spanish.' Cam didn't go either, but he's not really the partying type - even less so than the rest of us.''

''Right. So what's the bad news?''

''You know how Cam chucked a hissy fit last time he saw you with Caitlyn because he thought you were fraternising with the enemy or some shit?''

I roll my eyes. ''Trust me, I remember all too well.''

She nods. ''Well, he saw those photos of you and chucked another hissy fit.''

I am close to speechless. ''Seriously? Is one tantrum not enough for the week?''

She chuckles. ''Apparently not.''

I can feel myself getting angry. ''It's none of his business what I do with my life. He should be grateful that I'm even helping him after the way he treats me!''

Kel doesn't seem at all offended by my digs at her friend. ''Hey, I never said I agreed with him. I probably shouldn't even be telling you this, but I thought you should probably be prepared since Cam can be an A+ drama queen at times.''

''No kidding. So, what exactly is so incriminating about me doing what plenty of people in our grade do on a very regular basis?''

''He said that you're not taking the investigation seriously enough. Basically he's going on about how you agreed to get information out of her and then got so drunk with her that you could have blown our cover, and you wouldn't remember any important details that she revealed anyway.''

''Right. And him throwing a tantrum about it instead of just moving on with is life is helping the situation how?''

She grimaces. ''Exactly - it's not. Look, I'm not gonna buy into his bullshit this time round. Cam is a great guy, don't get me wrong, but he tends to overreact to the tenth power. You don't have to take it - just give it to him straight and I'll back you up.''

I can't help but be surprised. ''So you trust me? Even though Cam doesn't.''

She shrugs nonchalantly. ''I dunno. I just feel like it's kinda weird to be putting all your trust in someone who you basically just met to help you out with some crazy murder investigation. Like, I'm one of his best friends so I'm all for it, I just think that you should be able to do what you want. If you want to help then that's cool. If you don't then whatever - no biggie. I know he means well, but I think he's just so fixated on finding out what happened to Lola that he forgets that there are other things in life that matter, like having some fun once in a while.''

''I think you've got that one right.''

She shakes her had sadly. ''Don't let him walk all over you, okay? But at the same time, maybe go easy. You might look like a soft breeze would blow you over, but I get the feeling that you're as tough as nails. Cam isn't so strong. I hate to say it but I think that one of these days we'll have to explain to him that finding answers about Lola won't bring her back.''

I remain silent, but Kel doesn't seem to expect a response. She pulls up in front of Cam's house after running up the gutter twice. Cam comes out of the house as we walk up the driveway. He waves. ''Hey, Kel.''

Then he sees me. I feel his eyes burn like lasers into my skin as he looks me up and down. He gives me a look that could kill an army, and makes a silent retreat back into the house.



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