|The last time I orchestrated a sleepover was over four years ago, before my parents were killed. My starry-eyed, smaller framed self was ecstatic to have friends stay the night the summer right before eighth grade. I remember feeling so happy and grownup as I planned out my ideal girls night. We swam under the moonlight, roasted hot dogs and s’mores, and played hours of truth or dare.
Our pre-teen activities were paired with the typical juvenile conversations: favorite tv shows, boy crushes, and hypothetical events. I imagine our discussions won’t be much different tonight, with the exception of actual experience to add.
Even though I’m sweating from setting everything up, I grab a few more blankets from the hall closet in an attempt to make the floor setup more comfortable. As I fluff the over-sized pillows propped up on the living room floor, I hear the doorbell ring. My heart jumps a little in excitement. I quickly light a champagne scented candle before rushing to the door.
“Hey,” I say cheerful, popping my head out. “Come in. Sam should be here soon.”
Once I open the door wider for Lexi and Jordan to come inside, my eyes do a double take. Lexi’s petite frame is dressed for a night out, wearing a plaid skirt, with fishnet tights and black combat boots. I glance to Jordan and see nothing but long legs at first. Her black dress is really short, amplifying her height.
“You both look really dressed up for a girls night in,” I suggest, resting my hands in the pouch of my gray sweatshirt.
“Oh…we were told the plans had changed,” Lexi explains.
Jordan adjusts the duffle bag on her shoulder and confirms Lexi’s statement. “Sam messaged us about an hour ago. She mentioned some new club and said dress to impress.”
“She did?” I ask with an incredulous gasp.
“Yep,” Lexi agrees, peeking towards the living room.
My frown is impossible to conceal. Not only am I speechless and confused, I’m slightly embarrassed as well. Why would Sam change everything last minute and not bother to tell me? And a club? That doesn’t sound like her.
Lexi walks closer to the living room, stopping at the archway. “Wow, Ally this set up looks amazing,” she says, her voice pitched extra high.
Jordan and I follow her into the room.
“Gorgeous,” Jordan says, admiring everything with her big brown eyes. “I love the pink and gray theme.”
“Thanks.” I blush. “I wanted it to be cozy. The pink pillows and twinkling lights are actually Sam’s.”
“Honestly, I was fine with staying in,” Lexi admits, tossing her crimson hair.
“Me too,” Jordan confesses, tugging on her dress. “I’d much rather be in pajamas than this. Let’s talk to Sam when she gets here…” Jordan reaches for the box on the coffee table. “For The Girls! I’ve been wanting to play this game.”
My lips curl up as she examines the new card game.
“We have to play this,” she adds enthusiastic.
I lean against the edge of the couch and agree. “Yeah, it looks fun. I also have tons of food for us,” I explain. “We definitely won’t go hungry.”
“Then it’s settled,” Lexi states mater of fact. “We’re staying in.”
Jordan and I nod in agreement, but I’m still unsure. I need to see where Sam’s head is at. Find out why she suddenly wants to go out? It’s strange, but I’m actually anxious for her arrival.
When Sam finally does show up, her appearance is not what I expect. Her coral pink dress with cinched sides is not surprising, but the fact that her hair and makeup are messy—as if she just rolled out of bed—is very uncharacteristic.
“You’re here,” I say happily from the makeshift bed on the ground.
Sam doesn’t make eye contact with me. Instead, her eyes flutter around the room as if she’s spacing out. “This is so beautiful,” she says slow and mesmerized. “It’s like a dream.”
There’s something odd about her smile and tone. Even her walk is unusually slow, despite her injured leg that still models the blue boot. I keep my eyes glued to her as she takes a seat on one of the white sofa’s—the one I pushed against the wall earlier to make more room. Hanging over her shoulder is a small black purse. She clutches it tightly against her ribs.
Feeling ambivalent, I cuddle a pillow and wait for my best friend to speak. But she has nothing to say. None of us do, and for a moment, the room is awkwardly silent.
I’m unsure of how to approach the sudden altered agenda. Especially since I wasn’t informed of the changes. Lexi and Jordan are clearly hesitant as well. However, Sam seems to be in her own little world as she merrily twirls a strand of her strawberry-blonde hair, drifting her gaze around the room absentmindedly. It’s not like her to not be so quiet and distracted.
“What are you thinking about, Sam?” I ask, hoping to get her talking.
She doesn’t answer. Doesn’t even acknowledge my question. I quickly glance behind me at Lexi and Jordan on the couch and notice they have an identical look: confusion mixed with concern.
Besides the obvious abnormalities—smeared eye makeup and disheveled hair—there’s something noticeably off about Sam. But I don’t know what it is. Is she high? Drunk maybe? Neither are expected from my best friend, under any circumstances.
“Sam, did you walk here?” I ask, curious. I can’t picture her trekking even one block in that boot. Not after seeing her struggle a few feet in it…”Sam,” I try again, only louder this time.
“No,” she finally answers, nodding her head. “Bryce dropped me off.” The cold undertone in her voice worries me.
“Oh, were you just at his house?” I ask nonchalant.
Her voice perks up, but it almost sounds forced. “Yeah, we hung out for a bit. He’s having a poker thing tonight.”
“Hey, do you have a picture of him?” Lexi cuts in. “I haven’t been able to find him on social media.”
“That’s because he’s not on it,” Sam explains, pulling her phone from her purse. She holds up her cell, displaying a picture of the two them cheek to cheek, appearing adorable as ever. I reach for Sam’s phone and pass it to Lexi so she can get a better look.
It’s still strange to me that Bryce doesn’t have a social media account. I imagine someone with his self-assured nature and strong work ethic would want to use social media to their advantage. But he obviously has a reason for being invisible, so to speak, and I wish I knew what it was.
“He’s really hot,” Lexi says, her eyebrows raised. “Does he have a brother?”
I giggle inwardly. The thought of Lexi and Garret paired up is highly amusing.
“He’s taken,” Sam answers, “besides, he doesn’t look anything like Bryce.”
“He’s still cute though,” I add, sticking up for my new friend and coworker. “But yeah, he’s got a girlfriend.”
“Bryce is very handsome,” Jordan inputs, sweetly, handing me back the cell phone.
I nod and smile.
As I walk on my knees to hand the phone to Sam, I get a better glimpse of her face. Her eyes are rimmed red as if she’s been crying.
“Is everything OK with you?” I whisper.
Sam shrugs her shoulders with a vacant expression, casting her eyes to her French tipped nails. And that’s all it takes for me to sit on the couch next to her, determined to decipher her inconclusive mood.
“Talk to me,” I suggest, touching her arm. “I know something’s wrong.”
She finally makes eye contact with me, holding it for a moment and showing me her glassy, bloodshot eyes. Tears begin to develop as she clears her throat.
“Bryce and I had an argument,” she admits. “But I really don’t want to talk about it.”
I turn to Lexi and Jordan, eager to ask them for some privacy. “Can you give us a few minutes?”
“Sure,” Jordan answers.
“Thanks,” I say with a small smile, watching them stand to their feet. “Help yourself to food in the kitchen.”
Sam swipes her hand across her face, wiping away a few tears. “It’s really not a big deal.” She sniffles.
“Trust me, it is,” I say, curling my knee under my leg. “You came in all smiley and off-centered—almost like you were buzzed. Then you were dazed. And now you’re upset and crying. That’s not nothing.”
Her lower lip pouts. “I know.”
The tight hold Sam has on her purse is released as she tucks her hair behind her ears, partially revealing the top of a cough syrup bottle.
I reach into her bag and pull it out. I’m surprised to see Bryce’s name on the label. “Why is this in your purse?”
In haste, Sam takes the prescription back, then sighs in loud dejection. “It’s not mine,” she answers.
“Obviously. But why do you have it?”
“Because… after our argument, I locked myself in Bryce’s bathroom. I don’t know why, but I rummaged through his medicine cabinet. I decided to drink some of the cough syrup I found…it made me feel a better so I kept it.”
It doesn’t make sense to me—Sam resorting to swigs of cough medicine to get a buzz. Their argument must’ve been pretty heated... And with that thought, my brain comes to a terrible conclusion.
“Be honest with me,” I say in a pressing manner. “Did Bryce hurt you?”
“Of course not,” she says adamantly. “Why would you ask me that?”
I exhale a sigh of relief, rolling up my sleeves in the process. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you…But Sam, you’re drinking cough syrup. I can’t help but be concerned.”
“It’s not like I’m getting high on drugs.”
“It’s a prescription, which means it probably has codeine. Too much of any opioid can kill you.”
Being a girlfriend to a narcotics detective taught me a few things. Christian refused to talk about work, but he had no problem educating me on the dangers of drugs, both legal and illegal.
“Here,” she says, handing me the bottle of cough syrup. “I didn’t realize it was that dangerous.”
I set the bottle in my lap. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”
“Yes, and I will, but right now all I want to do is shut out my thoughts and have some fun.”
Her response leaves me with more questions and a knot in the pit of my stomach. But I know now is not the time to pressure her for answers. I know exactly what she needs. A rejuvenating girls night, and I’m going to give it to her.
“Well… What do you want to do first?” I ask, my leg bouncing off the edge of the sofa. “We can eat and watch a movie. Play a game. I also have a huge selection of face masks just for you.”
“That all sounds great, but there’s a new club I really want to be at tonight. Their playing nothing but 80’s music.”
“Really? You’d rather go to a sweaty crowded place of strangers than hang out here with your friends?”
She touches the top of my hand. “It’ll be fun, I promise.”
“Since when are you into 80’s music?”
“Ayden introduced me. He loved 80’s movies, too. Remember?” Her chin slowly drops to her chest, and I barely hear her mumble the next few words. “He would’ve turned nineteen today.”
My heart sinks. I forgot today was Ayden’s birthday. Suddenly all the emotions of my best friend make sense. She’s missing Ayden fiercely.
“I guess we could check it out,” I suggest. “I’ll go talk to Lexi and Jordan.”
“And I’ll go upstairs and find you something to wear,” she insists.
I sigh in resignation, shooting her a look of regret. “Of course you will.”
For the first time tonight, Sam smiles with genuine contentment, showcasing her remarkable beauty. “You won’t be sorry,” she says.
I want to believe her, but I have my doubts. Still, that little giggle of hers on the way out of the room brings a warm smile to my face, giving me a sliver of hope.
Looking more put together, Sam escorts me down the entry way stairs, beaming with pride. I’m feeling half naked in a skimpy red dress. The flattering crisscross straps in the back might have convinced me to try it on, but I can’t believe I’m agreeing to go out in public in it. I just hope Kelly doesn’t mind that we went through her closet.
“You are going to turn so many heads tonight,” Lexi says, opening her jaw in surprise.
“Not my intention, but thanks.” I do beautiful in the dress, so much so that I’m bummed Ryan isn’t here to see me in it.
“Just remember, you already have two boyfriends.” Sam teases. “Let’s not complicate things further.”
Her playful dig generates a chuckle from me. The fact that she can joke around after crying earlier gives me hope that everything is going to be all right with her. Specifically her night out at Club Rad. Which I can only assume was originally supposed to be a special night with Ayden. I’m tempted to ask her, but I’m also afraid to bring up his name.
“Lexi, do you mind driving,” I ask. “I’m not the best driver at night.”
“Yeah, no problem,” she says, pulling a set of keys from her purse. “Let’s do this.”
Club Rad isn’t exactly situated in the best part of town. Even though the business is brand new, the area is rough and dirty. Trash lines the gutters, sketchy people talk to themselves while roaming the sidewalks and low ride vehicles cruise around, whistling as girls walk by. The ominous atmosphere makes my skin crawl.
The club parking lot is already full, so Lexi pulls into the gas station down the street. As the four of us trek in our practical shoes, I keep a close eye on our surroundings. I’m trying to be more observant and cautious, especially after Christian pointed out my lack of concern for my safety the other night. His protective mind would probably curse right now if he knew where I was…
I push that thought aside and focus on getting the four of us safely inside the building. It’s a warmer night than most, but a cool breeze has picked up, urging all of us to move quicker. Our steps halter as soon as we turn the corner of the building.
“Oh, wow,” Jordan says, addressing the incredibly long line.
“There’s no way we’re getting inside any time soon,” Lexi adds.
“I’m sorry, you guys,” Sam groans, slumping her shoulders in despair. “I didn’t think it would be this hard to get in.”
I take a moment to think, contemplating our options as if we actually have more than one. In my mind, there’s only one way we’re getting in, and the thought of executing that plan is making my heart rate accelerate. But I have to try. For Sam.
“We’re getting in,” I insist, hiking my dress up, revealing more of my body than I feel comfortable with. “Follow me and have your ID’s ready.”
“Wait—what are you going to do?” Jordan asks, her voice etched with worry.
“Just follow my lead,” I explain.
On the way to the front of the line, we pass about fifty people. Most of the crowd appears in their early twenties, but I see a few that are around my parents age—well, the age they would’ve been if they were still alive. It’s the youngest people in line—the ones under twenty—that glare at us in annoyance, mumbling words in an aggravating tone just loud enough for us to hear. Lexi flips a few of them off, eliciting a snicker or two from me.
Just pretend like you don’t belong in the line,” I whisper. “Pretend you’re someone important.”
Sam shoots me a troubled look—one I know all too well. She thinks I’m crazy. Maybe I am. The truth is, I’m determined. Nothing is going to stop me from lifting the spirits of my best friend.
There’s something intimidating about a man with bulging arm muscles and a shiny bald head. As I approach the bouncer, I search his body with my amateur eyes, hoping to find something to compliment.
Once he completes a top to bottom scan of me, I reach my hand out to greet him.
“Hi, there,” I say with confidence. “I really love your compass tattoo.”
“Thank you,” he says keeping a straight face.
“Steven… Can I help you with something?”
“I really hope so,” I answer, tracing a finger slowly across my collar bone. “We have a friend emergency and we need your help.”
Steven cocks a brow. “What kind of emergency?”
“A bloody one.” I frown. “You see, our friend Ashley has menorrhagia and right now she is inside one of the bathroom stalls of this amazing club, dealing with the heaviest menstrual bleeding of her life. So if you could please let us inside to assist her, we’d be so grateful, as would she.”
“Should I call ambulance?” He asks, pulling his cell from his jean pocket.
“No,” I quickly say. “That’s not necessary. I promise it’s nothing the four of us can’t handle.
Steven looks off in the distance as he speaks. “I can let one of you go inside. That’s it.”
“The thing is, we all have a special job to do,” I explain, making the words up as I go. “This gorgeous red head right here…” I turn and place my hand on Lexi’s arm. “Is an expert at first aide. She will get the bleeding under control. And this tall beauty…” I tap Jordan’s shoulder. “Is a talented scrubber. That bloody floor will be spotless before you know it. And Sam…” I wrap my arm around her. “Is a skilled counselor. She will calm all the anxiety out of our friend.”
“Yeah,” Sam agrees, positioning herself at my side. “Think of us as the period squad.”
It’s takes everything in me not to laugh at Sam’s notion. I can tell she regrets opening her mouth by the blush that is developing on her cheeks. Jordan appears flushed from the entire conversation, and Lexi looks prepared to plant a hand to her face.
The skeptical gaze manifesting from Steven is quickly diminishing my hope of getting inside.
“What about you? What’s your special skill?” he asks, curious.
“Oh…I…umm.” My words stammer as I stare up at the big, burly bouncer, his dark eyes giving off a domineering demeanor. “Underwear,” I finally mumble.
“I’m sorry—what?” He presses.
Before I clarify my answer, I debate whether I should embarrass myself further with this ridiculous story.
“I’m giving her my underwear,” I continue. “Ashley had to throw hers away, and I wore an extra pair for her just in case.”
Steven cracks a smile, and it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that would believe the words coming out of my mouth at this point.
“You’re telling me, you have two pairs of panties on right now?”
I nod my head and then pray he doesn’t ask me to prove it.
Rubbing his smooth head, Steven appears undecided about to say or do. I worry he’s losing patience with us so I decide to do something impulsive.
With spirited haste, I yank my black thong off and dangle it in front of me. “See…extra pair for our friend.”
“Nice,” Steven admits, ogling the lower half of my body.
If he asks me to bend over, we’re screwed.
“How old are you?” He questions me.
“Eighteen.” I swallow, stuffing my underwear in my purse. “All of us are eighteen.”
He pulls a marker from the pocket of his shirt. “I’m gonna need to see prove.”
“Of our ages?” I ask, hesitant.
“Yes. Your ID’s.”
I sigh in relief, then quickly grab my license from my purse. After checking our ID’s, Steven draws a large black X on the top of all our hands.
“Does this mean we can go in?” Sam asks, clasping her arms against her chest.
He smiles sweetly at her. “It does. Take good care of your friend.”
“We will,” Sam vows, taking Lexi’s arm and heading for the entrance.
I know there’s not a chance bouncer Steve fell for our ill-conceived narrative. But for whatever reason, he’s allowing us inside, and I’m grateful.
“Hang on…” Steve says, halting my departure with a gleam in his eye. “Never lose that spunk, OK?”
“Spunk?” I ask, confused.
“Yeah. That courage and determination. It’s badass.”
I walk away smiling, trying my best not to laugh at his interpretation of me. “Thanks. Stay safe.”
Once I’m inside the building, I immediately tense up. I feel a sense of panic as the flashing neon lights and blaring music over stimulate my senses. I’m clearly out of my comfort zone here. Sam seems to be enjoying it though—she can’t stop smiling.
I follow her down a short set of stairs, giving us all a better view of the lively place. Mobs of people can be seen in every direction. To my right is a huge lounge section. Several booths with black leather seats and glass tables inhabit the area. To my immediate left is the oval bar—the one area I plan to avoid. Directly in front of me is a great room with a color changing dance floor. Tall, neon tables are sporadically placed throughout the area. I see every color of the rainbow, yet somehow the entire building is dim and full of shadows.
We score an empty table in the corner of the dance floor and make a half circle around it. My eyes quickly gravitate front and center towards the energetic DJ. Her high rise pony is stacked with a rainbow of scrunchies. In an animated voice, she makes a quick announcement of some kind, but I can’t make it out. My ears are still adjusting to the volume of the music and the persistent roar of voices.
“I’m going to find the bathroom,” I say in Sam’s ear.
“To find Ashely?” She teases.
I shake my head and give her a half-hearted smile. “To put these back on,” I explain, pulling my underwear partially out of my purse.
“Just do it right here,” Sam insists. “No one will notice.”
I glance around the area and not one person makes eye contact with me. Most people are preoccupied by the hardcore dancing and singing in the middle of the floor. I guess it’s no different than taking them off, I tell myself.
I take a deep breath, then slip my thong over my ankles, quickly pulling them up, and then wiggling a bit once they reach my hips.
Once I stand upright, I detect a gaze out of the corner of my eye. I turn my head and see an attractive guy with brown fluffy hair smiling at me. I blush and look away, embarrassed that he saw me. I nudge Sam to tell her, but she’s busy explaining her favorite 80’s song to Lexi and Jordan.
A moment later, I’m approached by the same guy. His silver rings and chains make a bold fashion statement against his black T-shirt. But it’s the tattoos covering his arms that really draw my attention. Especially the intricate dragon on his left forearm.
“Hey there, beautiful,” he begins in a gravelly tone. His deep voice reminds me a little of Christian’s. But I get the sense he’s nothing like him. The lust in his eyes is explicit and shameless, sending an unsettling feeling to my stomach. “Let me buy you a drink,” he continues.
“Sorry, I’m not interested,” I say kindly.
“I love when girls play hard to get,” he admits, cracking his knuckles.
“Well, you’re wasting your time,” I inform him.
Sam joins me at the hip, suddenly aware of my dicey situation, but it doesn’t stop the guy from hitting on me.
“Come on, give me a chance,” he presses. “I know you secretly want a piece of this.” Moving one step too close, he checks out my small chest, a devilish grin on his face.
“Dude, back off,” Sam hisses. “She’s taken. Her boyfriend is a cop, so don’t even look her away again or you’ll regret it.”
“Whatever, your loss,” he says, backing away with one hand up, eventually turning his equipped body around.
I’m relieved once he’s out of sight. The guy is nice to look at, but I have no desire to mingle with a horny stranger. Besides, Sam’s right—I’m taken.
But hearing her imply Christian and I are still in a relationship, is tough for me. I get why she lied—a cop sounds intimidating—but the fact that’s it’s no longer true makes my heart ache a little too much.
“Dang Sam, you’re on top of it tonight,” I praise. “That was a great scare tactic.”
“No one is messing with us,” she claims with conviction.
I lift my hand, offering her a high five. “That’s right!”
A slower song begins to play, relaxing my nerves enough to unveil my cringe dance movements. I smile at Sam with appraising eyes, reaching my arm out to her in a longing fashion. Practicing her fake act of surprise charade, Sam takes my hand as if she’s the luckiest girl in the world. Once we are safely away from the table, I twirl her around, and she laughs infectiously.
Lexi and Jordan start making suggestive comments to be silly, and it only encourages us to be more over the top with our performance. Some might think we’re a couple as we hold hands and dance closely, but it doesn’t matter to me. I love Sam as much as I love Ryan. They are my family.
Same lays her head on my shoulder as I listen to the lyrics of the song. “Listen to your heart, when he’s calling for you. Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do. I don’t know where you’re going, and I don’t know why. Listen to your heart, before you tell him goodbye.”
The powerful words hit me in a negative light, reminding me that I acted impulsively in my relationship with Christian. I didn’t listen to my heart before I said goodbye to him. I just pushed my feelings down and hoped they would disappear overtime. But I realize now, being with Ryan hasn’t changed how I feel about Christian at all. In fact, I think I love him even more.
It’s not long before the DJ switches to a faster paced song, purposely manipulating the track with unique audio sounds and effects. The room gets louder and more energetic as the song about Gloria builds.
The four of us start to really loosen up on the dance floor, finally letting go of our insecurities. With a carefree attitude, I’m able to enjoy the thrill of an adult environment. I love the sense of freedom it brings.
Everyone continues to shout “Gloria,” and I can’t help but join in. At this point, we’re just jumping up and down, but it’s still so much fun to be participating. I don’t know who Gloria is, but apparently she had voices in her head.
After a few more upbeat songs, Lexi and Jordan volunteer to get us all Shirley Temple’s. Sam and I return to our table, exhausted and sweaty.
“I think your phone is buzzing,” I say, pointing at her purse.
She checks it briefly, dropping it back in her bag before I can catch a glimpse.
“Unknown number,” she says conveniently.
I have to swallow my question as a guy with dark beautiful skin approaches Sam. He opens his red jacket to reveal a naked, chiseled set of abs. “Hey Snowflake, do you like Chocolate cake?” He asks.
“Not tonight.” She blushes.
“Maybe next time.” He smiles and walks away, leaving a trail of his cedar scented cologne.
“That was a beautiful man,” I say.
“Yes, and so was the guy that hit on you,” she fires backs, catching me off guard.
“I know we didn’t come here to meet guys, but you can still get a number or two. It definitely wouldn’t bother me any.”
“I’m boycotting all men for the time being.”
“OK, please tell me what happened between you and Bryce?” My voice pleads with her. “Just give me the short version.”
She sighs as if she’s about to cave. But before I can press her further, our friends return with drinks in each hand, both of them grinning from ear to ear.
“What did we miss?” Sam asks curious.
“The closer you get to the bar, the crazier the conversations,” Lexi explains. “One guy asked another guy if he ever banged a chicken before. Then he went into extreme detail on how to do it and how awesome it was.”
“Eww,” Sam mutters.
“Double eww,” I add.
Lexi laughs at our disgusted faces.
“You had to be there,” Jordan adds. “Oh, and people were passing out drugs right in front of us. They didn’t even to try to hide it.”
I force a throaty, manly voice. “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”
“What?” Jordan asks, bemused.
“Star Wars quote,” I explain. “Don’t hate on me. I have nerdy brothers.” I take a quick sip of my drink and lean in. “But seriously—we do need to be vigilant.”
“And we will,” Sam implies. “I want to make a toast…” She raises her cup in the air and waits for us to follow suit. “To Ally…” she continues. “For going commando so we could all have the night of our lives.”
“Yes!” Lexi cheers.
“To friendship!” Jordan adds.
Our glasses clank together, then we all take a sip and giggle, spilling on ourselves.
The song, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” comes on, prompting Lexi to steal Jordan away from the table and start dancing. I can tell Sam is ready to jump in on the fun, but I grab her attention with my own toast.
“To surviving our first week at Probe Research,” I say lifting my glass.
“Yep and possibly my last,” Sam says freely, tapping her glass to mine.
“Wait—what?” I ask.
“We’re not talking about any of that now. Tonight is about having fun.” She walks backwards from me, a smile building on her lips. “Get your butt out here and dance with me!”
The dancing turns nasty. At least that’s my personal opinion to Sam as I point out the grinding and inappropriate touching. People are making out all around us, and I know it’s the alcohol finally doing it’s thing. The public display of sexual behavior is an eye opening experience. I’ve quickly learned drunkenness is not attractive when you’re sober.
I talk loudly in Sam’s ear, using my hand to muffle some of the noise, “I need to use the bathroom for real this time. I’ll be right back.”
She nods her head and says something in return, but the music is so deafening I can’t make it out.
On my search for the bathrooms, I check my cell phone. My eyes grow wide in surprise. Five missed calls! As I examine my phone to see who’s been trying to reach me, it starts singing.
“Hello?” I ask.
“Hey, is Sam with you?”
I’m shocked to hear Bryce’s voice. “Yeah. Why?” I ask, plugging one of my ears with my finger.
Bryce doesn’t answer right away—it’s as if he’s trying to listen first.
“Is that Bon Jovi?” He asks.
“Yeah. Living on a prayer. Do you know it?”
“Yes, doesn’t everyone.”
I’m reminded that he has ten years on me, greatly increasing his exposure to music, among other things.
“Where are you?” He asks.
I hear his question, but pretend otherwise. My intuition is on high alert after seeing Sam upset. I doubt she’d want me to reveal our whereabouts.
“I can’t hear you very well right now,” I say talking loudly into the phone. “Let’s talk later.”
“Ally—wait,” he says urgent. “I need to know that Sam’s alright.”
The deep concern in Bryce’s voice is swaying my course of action. The protective side of me wants to hang up on him, but my more sensitive side wants to hear what he has to say.
“She’s good,” I answer honest. “She’s happy and all smiles as we speak.”
“I’ve been trying to call her all night. Can you put her on the phone for me, please?”
His voice has never sounded so different—so desperate. It’s actually hurting my heart a little.
“Hold on.” I sigh.
I head back to Sam, even though I’m in desperate need of a bathroom. On my way, a few people sway into me, almost taking me down. They don’t even acknowledge my presence. The lack of coordination and human decency is putting me on edge.
At the start of the dance floor, a group of girls rudely barge past me, knocking my phone to the ground. As I bend over to grab it, I’m met with a warm body. Strong hands cling to my hips as the unknown body thrusts their pelvis into my backside. I quickly push their hands away, but lose my balance in the process and fall to the ground.
I’m frozen for a moment, overwhelmed and shocked to the core. It’s terrifying to be surrounded by drunk, dancing bodies that are either unaware or unconcerned by someone at their feet.
I can feel the thud of my heart beat as I debate on moving safely from my position. Surprisingly, a large hand with calluses reaches down to me. I can’t see a face, but I know it’s a man by the size. In desperation, I grab it and hope there’s someone kind and descent on the other end…