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My drink is finally empty, and I remain firm in my decision not to drink any more. Charlotte, on the other hand, hasn’t listened to the same advice. She has downed at least three other vodka cocktails and is now looking a little green. After settling in with the others, we had a good evening. A few guys had come over to chat with Charlotte, Jenny and Claudia. I wasn’t sure if they were from our year or people who Louise’s brother had invited.
It’s a little after 10:30 p.m. and I need to venture inside to find the loo and grab a glass of water. “Hey, I’m heading inside. Does anyone want a drink? Aside from Charlotte, that is?”
“Hey, no fair. I’m… fine.”
“Sure. I think you need the water more than I do. Come on.” I ease her from her chair, and we head back in.
The noise from the house had escalated since we arrived. There are people everywhere. A hot wave engulfs us as we open the back door and try to push through the crowd. It’s insane. People are crammed in and spilling out of the front door. My sensible head sees disaster written all over this.
“Come on. I need to find the bathroom before we get you some water.” We reverse our roles as I keep hold of Charlotte who has started to sway. I look around the hallway and try to spot the bathroom. There are only a few people on the stairs, so I start in that direction, but I stop. As I look up, Jake stands at the top of the stairs, leaning against the side bannister. Louise is draped over him. I have the perfect view of both of them.
I take a gulp of air and hold it in my chest, determined the balloon of air will protect my heart from breaking. Jake’s hand is holding her bum, pulling her into him. I don’t think she could be plastered any closer. Her hands stroke his chest. She’s all over him and not being at all subtle about it. I take it all in in a blink. I see the sly look in Louise’s eyes and the hard set of Jake’s jaw. My eyes flutter to clear the tears forming, but I can’t tear them away.
As if he can feel me watching, Jake turns his head and stares straight at me. His eyes, devoid of all emotion or warmth, hold mine. The little lost boy from my memory is nowhere to be seen. His eyes aren’t mischievous or playful. They are harsh and cold and my stomach crashes to the floor. My heart misses a few beats.
We stare, locked in each other’s sights. My eyes focus on Jake, and I can’t break free. He turns his head to Louise, and with his eyes locked on mine, licks the side of her face before he claims her mouth and kisses her deeply.
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