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   Chapter 6 Alcoholics go to Meetings, Drunks go to Parties

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 19732

Updated: 2018-01-09 13:19


"Me? I go wherever the wind blows...and wherever the whiskey shots are half price."

~Nicki Elson

~~~

"That'll be five dollars."

Josh dug into the pocket of his swim trunks and pulled out some bills, while I grabbed the two smoothies from the counter. He handed the money over to the cashier, grabbing two straws and placing his other hand on the small of my back. He led me across the little shop until we reached our signature corner table.

"Come here, you love birds, " Lina squealed. I smiled at her attempt of acceptance and tried to ignore the eye roll that Cora gave me. I slid into the round table next to Park, shoving him lightly down the cushioned seat to make room for Josh.

"Watch it, asscrack, " he remarked with a smirk.

"Move, you fatass, " I replied. Josh handed me a thick pink straw and I pounded it on the table until it split through the top of the wrapper.

"Let me guess, " Park started, lifting a sculpted eyebrow, "strawberry mango?"

I grinned and shoved the straw into the orange mixture, sucking down the cool smoothy.

"So predictable, " Park said, shaking his head. "I'm disappointed." I shoved his shoulder and laughed. I glanced around the table at the rest of the crew – my brother, James, who had made a rare appearance with my "young" group of friends to hang with Park, Cora, Lina, Lina's boyfriend Scott, two girls from the cheer squad whom I didn't know by name, and Josh. This was the first time I'd been in the same room as these new cheerleaders and knew they were only hanging out with our group to get closer to either Josh or Park, two star members of the football team.

This was our usual Wednesday night hangout spot – Peaches and Creamery, the all-things-sweets shop off the main downtown strip. It stood near the small boardwalk of the lake, making it a huge summertime attraction. Albeit the cold weather, my friends and I – and whoever wished to join – gathered at the shop even during the winter to hang out, do homework, talk about the dramatic life of being a teen, etc. Now that it was starting to get warmer, the small building was slowly getting busier and busier every week.

It always smelled of sugar and milk, so sweet it seemed like you could lick the air and taste vanilla. Decked out with plush, neon colored booths and barstools, Peaches and Creamery was the opposite of Fran's – all modern. Without a doubt, they sold the best smoothies in a thousand mile radius.

I figured it was a good a time as any to mention the party.

I attempted one of those formal wedding announcements, where you clink a knife on a wineglass, but my finger didn't have the same effect as I tapped it on the side of my plastic smoothie cup, oddly enough, so I settled for a, "Yo, guys!"

Immediately, all the heads at the table faced me. I cleared my throat and gathered my most authoritative voice and said, "If you've got plans this Friday, cancel them. We're going to a party."

Park, the ever-loving party-goer, whooped in delight, James muttered something about plans with Ashley, Cora wiggled her eyebrows, and Lina squealed.

"I'm so in, " Cora said. "And I plan on breaking my How-Many-Guys-Can-I-Make-out-with-Tonight record."

Park groaned, "God, I did not want to hear that. Sis, cool it."

I laughed and turned to Josh to see his reaction. He was facing one of the cheerleaders, engrossed in what looked like a serious conversation. My interest was piqued and I bit my lip, studying the girl. Upon first glance, she looked like the traditional Hollywood cheerleader – perfectly curled blonde hair, manicured nails, and fake lashes.

Jealously lit like a glimmering flame and I couldn't help but drape an arm around Josh's shoulders, sitting so close to his leg I was almost in his lap. He turned to me, eyes surprised for a moment before a casual smirk slid across his face. "What's up, babe?"

"So?" I asked. "Are you in?"

He smiled. "A party with you? Wouldn't miss it."

A warm feeling spread through my chest. The blonde scowled and turned away. I felt triumphant until Josh turned to the two cheerleaders. "Natalie, Jen - wanna come?"

So her name was Natalie. She grinned widely, showing a perfect row of sparkly whites, "I can't wait to beat you at beer pong, Josh!"

"That's unlikely, " he said, laughing.

Why did I feel like we were competing? Josh was mine, and the prissy little blonde knew it. I frowned and turned away.

"One beer in and that girl'll be wasted on her ass, " Park whispered, knocking me lightly with his shoulder. "Cheer up."

I smiled faintly and sipped my smoothie.

<<>>

"Well how slutty do you want to look?"

Cora turned in her full length bedroom mirror, examining different angles of the short black dress she was wearing. It was skin tight and left little to the imagination, but was very appropriate if she was to kiss every boy at the party.

I rolled my eyes from my position on the bed, thinking of her goal. Cora had never been one for long term relationships. She was too distant, too confident in herself that it almost turned into an insecurity. She'd told me once, drunk and crying, that if she gave enough little pieces of herself to everyone, she could finally be empty - that if she had nothing left to offer she would no longer be desirable. I had asked her why she wanted to be empty and she'd responded with, "if I don't have anything, there's nothing left for people to take away."

There was much that could be said about Cora's relationship with her father.

"Sky, what are you wearing?" Lina asked, interrupting my train of thought.

I looked down at my outfit, a flannel and black skinny jeans. Not a very risky choice, but it wasn't like I was trying to impress anyone. "Um, this?"

Lina and Cora gave each other a side glance.

"Babe, you're hot, " Cora stated. "You can totally pull of that look, but, well, tonight is may

e hair was bouncing like a beacon, and I itched to tear it off her head.

"Boo-ya!" Josh screamed sluggishly, his eyes drooping from too much alcohol. I considered telling him to slow down. He sank another ball into one of the last three cups on the opposing side. He was playing against a girl. She had dark hair and a chest so large they could have played beer pong on her breasts. I glanced at Josh, who wasn't even trying to hide his ogling. Natalie slid her arm around his waist, noticing it too and getting possessive of what wasn't hers.

I pushed out of the crowd, flushed with fresh anger. Alcohol sounded really good, but I pushed it from my thoughts. Glancing about the room, I tried to spot a vibrant redhead or flirty blonde. Where were Lina and Cora? I hadn't seen them since we'd arrived.

Or Park, for that matter.

Or Oliver.

I'd almost forgotten him. It had been nearly an hour and there was no sign of the annoying boy that was haunting my thoughts. Why had he been so persistent that I come to the party if he wasn't even going to be present?

I slid into a corner of the room near the fridge where I could observe everyone in case one of my friends happened to appear. Taking out my phone, I sent my both of my friends messages asking where they were.

And then, much to my dismay, I finally gave in and texted a certain boy back.

Me: I'm here.

I sent the message, not sure of what else to say. "Where are you?" sounded like I cared too much.

My phone buzzed instantly.

Oliver: I know.

I paused and reread the text. He knew? He knew and he hadn't stopped to say "hi, " or "hey, " or "found you?" I had assumed the only reason he'd gotten me to come to the party was so he could bug me, and... and I didn't know.

Why had he wanted me to come to this party?

I moved to open the fridge, trying to ignore all the questions that came with simply knowing Oliver. While the party was raging on without me, I was exploring the contents of the kitchen. For a house of the size and of such impeccable taste, the refrigerator sure held only mediocre items on its shelves. I was sliding the milk across the top shelf when someone spoke, a soft "hey, " that scared me to such an extend that my arm jerked. My hand knocked the milk. I watched in slow motion as it began to tumble towards the kitchen floor, surprise gluing me to the spot. Hands reached out and caught the milk carton before it could explode into a white pool on the polished wood.

"Jesus, knock the whole house down, why don't you."

Oliver placed the milk back on it's designated shelf in the refrigerator and allowed the door to close. My heart fluttered.

"Jesus, " I copied, harsher than I intended, "scare the crap out of me, why don't you."

He blinked. "I don't know if you remember, but I did. Just now. Like four seconds ago."

I shoved past him. "Great. Check that off your bucket list." I started heading out of the kitchen. Outside - I needed to go outside.

A hand grabbed my arm and whirled me around. I was face to face with Oliver, his green eyes bright even in the dimly lit room. He pulled my arm lightly, and I tumbled even closer to him - so close I could feel the body heat radiating from his chest.

"Let's start over, " Oliver whispered. People were flooding the crowded room, but somehow, it felt like we were the only two people in the house. "Let's make a new introduction."

I nodded nimbly.

Oliver leaned impossibly closer, our noses centimeters apart.

And then he spoke, in a husky, rumbling voice, "Hello, Skylar, it's nice to see you again."

I shuddered as soon as he said my name. "Hello, " I choked back. "Likewise."

He laughed, and the vibration of it thrummed against my body. He looked as if he knew exactly what he was doing to me. His green eyes sparkled, his hand was still holding mine, and his lips looked ever so kissable as he spoke.

"Welcome to the party."

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