twenty-three

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As soon as I arrived to the party, I was surprised to be snatched away by Joel almost suddenly. It was a bit surprising, considering that I usually spent Joel's parties in the company of Indigo or Callie instead of him, but I knew I wouldn't have mentioned it with him.

He was supposed to be my best friend, so I wasn't supposed not to want to spend time with him. That would've surely been suspicious. For that reason, I chose to act like I was completely enjoying my time with him even though I definitely wasn't, deciding that it would've been the smartest way to behave for that night.

Thankfully, he didn't seem particularly interested in directly speaking to me, seeming to prefer to go around talking to people I'd only seen a few times, introducing me to the ones I just had to know, the names of which I promptly forgot after a couple of minutes. For some reason, I had a feeling that he didn't actually care about widening my circle of friends, but that his was a simple attempt to keep me under his gaze and make sure I wouldn't have run off to Harry, that he already knew was going to be present.

It was a reasonable attempt, considering that the last time Joel and I had seen each other he'd ended up accusing him of murder, bringing me to leave the party with him.

I still hadn't seen Harry that night, but I knew he would've come for sure - he'd never missed any of Joel's parties. Now I wondered if Joel kept inviting him just so he could keep an eye on him, or as a slight reminder that if he'd done something he wasn't supposed to do, he would've found out. It seemed to be a quite chilling manipulation method, and it was no wonder that Theo had ended up breaking under it.

At least an hour had gone by in that way, and I couldn't help but exponentially grow more and more nervous as each minute went by, scared that Joel would've ended up reading the truth in my eyes.

Earlier that day, Harry had reminded me to act as normally as possible, just like I used to act before, not seeming to be too put off but also not acting extremely friendly, as it would've ended up being suspicious, but I wasn't nearly as easy as he'd made it out to be. Joel had known me since forever, and it wasn't easy to put up an act good enough for him not to see right through it. It truly was terrifying to stand beside him, acting as I usually did, and at the same time wondering if he maybe hadn't already discovered the truth over half an hour before. I truly would've looked like a fool, if that was the case.

I almost wished I could've gone to the party with Harry, at that point. I'd asked him if doing the same thing we'd done when we'd gone to uni together would've been feasible that night, but he'd told me that it wouldn't have been in the slightest as I usually went with Indigo or Callie, and he usually arrived way later.

For that reason, he'd dropped me off at my house in the early afternoon, and I'd gotten ready and left with Indigo from there. The only good thing was that I'd managed to go with Indigo, instead of Callie. I still hadn't talked to her ever since I'd found out, but for some reason she scared me, way more than Joel. I couldn't exactly tell why, as Joel had done what he'd done. But Callie had seemed so sweet, so innocent, so unaware, that it was truly scary to realise she was the complete opposite.

I'd known her for a shorter time than I'd known Joel and Indigo and that, paired up with what I'd learnt about her, made me feel as if I didn't have the slightest idea of who she was. Callie was a mystery to me and, considering the situation we were in, that classified as scary. I couldn't help but feel as if she was way more perceptive than Joel, and would've told on me in the second she would've gotten a whiff that I actually knew the truth.

After a while Indigo too joined Joel and I, mostly to make sure I wouldn't have accidentally messed up the plan, and I was glad that I wasn't basically alone with him anymore. I could just hope that the rest of the night would've gone smoothly at that point, and, considering that it was already almost midnight, there pretty good chances of it happening. I couldn't wait to go back to my flat and hide away in the safety of my own room, away from the eyes of my supposed to be friends.

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