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Sugar Plum Isabella Starling, Jenika Snow 2022/8/5 16:59:13

“He’s not Bastian,” I muttered more to myself than to her, making my friend groan out loud. “What?” I was defensive now. I shrugged. “I can’t help it. All the other guys are just little boys compared to him.”

“I know what you mean,” Rosie murmured wistfully, making me shoot a curious glance in her direction. “But we both need a distraction, so let’s just have a good time tonight and focus on Bastian again tomorrow, okay?”

I reluctantly agreed, and she poured another ladleful of punch into my cup. We made our way to the main room, and I sipped on my drink quietly while Rosie chatted with a girl from our class. Sure enough, I saw Sean in the corner of the room. He waved at me with a sly smile playing on his lips, and while I waved back, I had no intention of spending the evening in his company. It only served as a bitter reminder of the man I couldn’t have.

“Are you going to mope all night?” Rosie teased me a few minutes later. “Come on, try to relax at least a little bit.”

“I am relaxed.” I downed another glass of punch, muttering the next few words. “I just wish I was somewhere else.”

I didn’t want to upset Rosie, but I also really didn’t want to be there. And the punch was barely having an effect on me. I was stone-cold sober and even more painfully aware of Bastian’s absence, so I decided to go for a cranberry vodka for my next drink. The first sip revealed I’d mixed too strong a drink, and I grimaced at the glass. At least it would make me forget.

That was my first mistake, trying to forget.

Over the next few hours, the party got wilder and wilder. Rosie stayed by my side, even though I tried to convince her I was fine, but by then I was slurring my words and I could tell she wasn’t buying it. Sean kept looking over at me with an amused expression, and I felt more out of place at a party with people my age than I ever did around Dad and Bastian, who were twice my age. The vodka cranberries became progressively less bitter and more delicious as I emptied glass after glass. By midnight, I was drunk. And not the kind of drunk I had been the other two times I’d had a couple too many.

“I just had a brilliant idea!” Rosie shrieked, coming back to sit by me with another drink and a toothy grin that spoke of mischief.

“What is it?” I gulped down the juice, giving her a suspicious look. That drink didn’t taste like vodka at all, and I suspected she’d kept the booze out to make me sober up a bit. I was grateful she was watching out for me, but I wanted a distraction. I needed to forget about Bastian.

She gave me a sneaky grin as she got on the couch next to me. The party was in full force around us. There were two kegs, someone doing a headstand on one of them, a game of strip poker happening in the kitchen, and all kinds of debauchery upstairs, and yet, all I could think about was the man I could never have.

“You got Bastian’s number?” Rosie asked me as she folded her legs under her, snuggling up to me.

“We’re going to text him.” Rosie rummaged in my clutch until she pulled out my phone, a devious smile on her face as her fingers raced over the screen.

“Rosie, no!” I giggled, but my heart still pounded at the thought. Texting Bastian in the middle of the night was not a good idea at all… but I was too tipsy to care and too desperate not to want it. If there was even the slightest chance of him replying, of talking to him, I was going to take it. “Oh my gosh, what are you texting him?”

“Something that will get his attention.” She fired off the text and triumphantly handed me the phone. “There. Bet you anything he replies within minutes.”

I started giggling, and a couple seconds into it, Rosie joined in too until we were both folded over on the couch, laughing our hearts out. I almost missed my phone ringing on my lap, but when I felt it vibrating, I jumped up and down with excitement. “He’s calling me, Rosie! He’s actually calling me!”

“Well, what are you waiting for? Pick up, woman.”

I took a deep breath before finally answering the call with a breathy “Hello.” I could barely hear Bastian over the sound of the music in the living room, unable to make out his words. I pressed a hand over the phone and made my way out of the room, onto the lawn. “What? I can’t hear you.”