Chapter One

Dan's high as a fucking kite again. I can see him from the table I'm sitting at, a half-dozen bodies plastering me into the railing overlooking the dance floor below. But he's not so much dancing as taking pills from outstretched hands and occasionally throwing in a wobbly moonwalk. Stupid kid. And meanwhile the ice in his drink up here has totally melted. Not that he couldn't scam another twenty off some hapless guy.

I already know I have a tab paid up at the bar that could keep me going for the rest of the night. Some of our friends are the kind of guys who think buying your own drinks is a sign of independence and self-respect. I'd rather not have to carry around anything more than cab fare, so I'm perfectly happy to drink what gets put in front of me. It's a personal thing. Much like the fact that any number of the patrons in this place would love to have the guy next to me pawing at them, whereas I want his hand off my fucking dick five minutes ago.

I'm not a GQ model. I can see myself in the mirror on the wall behind the tables, lit up by stupid purple zigzag lights, and I look fine. Good, even. I dyed my hair black two weeks ago and it makes my eyes look darker, and that makes me look older. Which is fucking great, considering I always thought I looked fifteen with blonde hair. And I'm not. I'm twenty-two. But I'm short and skinny as hell because this month all the clubs we go to were, I don't know, sponsored by coke. And I'm way too pale, and constantly have dark shadows under my eyes. So forgive me if I don't buy for a second that Mr. All-American on my right here can't keep his hands off me. But apparently that's what he wants me to believe. I keep smacking him away and he just goes right back to trying to coax the zipper of my jeans down. Christ. You'd think we fuck every night. Apparently in public.

"Hey, Josh." Dan's there suddenly, elbowing me in the ribs and sitting down right between me and jock boy. Dan and his great timing. He gives me one of his full-out angelic grins, which means he knows exactly what he'd abandoned me to and now what he's saving me from, and pulls his abandoned drink towards him. "This mine? You been drinking it? Ewww, it's like five drops of vodka and a cup of water. I need a new one. Hey Robbie! You going to the bar? Bring me something new!" That's Dan in thirty seconds. His eyes are all fever-bright and his cheeks are flushed, and even if it wasn't for that his babbling makes it obvious he's way too high. I should take him home. Only I haven't finished my drink either.

"Nice moves down there." I nod to the railing. Then I nearly spill my drink all over myself when Dan shoves me hard again.

"Shut up, I wasn't dancing, I was scoring." He holds a tiny blue pill up and I lunge for it. Last thing Dan needs is another hit. I have bongs less glassy than his eyes are right now. He manages to get it into his mouth just before I grab his hand, though, and sticks his tongue out with half the slightly dissolved pill left on it. For me. I don't really need any more, either, but it's not like I'm going to just spit it out, and I definitely can't let Dan take the whole thing.

And kissing Dan is second nature by now anyway. He holds my face in place while he transfers the pill into my mouth, then leans against me and starts running his hand absently back and forth across my chest. Dan loves being touched, and somewhere along the way he worked out the fact that if he touches someone first they'll usually do it back. So I comb my fingers through his hair. Other guys usually lose it when he starts doing stuff like this. Like watching lesbians for gay guys, I guess. But this time I notice that the jock guy is staring at us with his hands fisted all white-knuckled. Oh-kay.

Dan notices too. Dan's mouthy as shit when he's had one too many pills. "What, did you think he was gonna go home with you?" He laughs and I reflexively pull on him, try to bring him away from the guy, only that half a pill must've hit me like a ton of bricks because I yank on him way too roughly and we both tumble against the railing behind me. Even through the drug haze I feel the ache in my spine.

"He's really high," I say, by way of explanation. My words come out all fuzzy and stupid. So it's not like I can really talk. Dan is giggling. Jock guy looks like he's about to say something, and probably something his mother wouldn't like to hear, but then someone taps him on the shoulder and Dan and I make our escape. Clumsy, laughing and falling into each other, but an escape nonetheless. I'm laughing too hard to talk for no reason at all, and it takes a couple of minutes once we've gotten outside and I've lit a cigarette before I can smack him across the back of the head.

"Dumbass, coulda gotten killed." I'm trying to scold him but I keep snorting with laughter. "Think that guy was crazy."

"Shouldn't have been—like—sitting on his cock," Dan gasps. He's purple. I feel like kissing him again. Only—no, what.

"Wasn't sitting on him," I bark indignantly. "Just—seen him before." I don't think that's actually relevant, oops. Nn fuck I'm so wasted. We gotta get a cab. I don't know where my money is.

"I'm so high," Dan whines, stumbling into me despite the fact that he's standing still. I gasp out loud till I realize he's not actually reading my mind. But he does, sometimes. Dan's like the closest thing I ever had to a soul mate and Ilike hima lot. I mean, I really like him. Well. Obviously, or he wouldn't have been crashing at my place, kidnapping my laptop to stalk youtube, a week after I met him. We met in this club, actually. Like six months ago. This is kind of like our anniversary now that I think of it.

"Is six months diamonds or paper?" I ask him, laughing helplessly at my own stupid joke. Dan's looking around for a cab though. I don't think he hears me. Just as well, because he'd remind me this isn't an anniversary, this is what we'd done to celebrate my book deal. I wrote a book. And then I sold it, which was awesome, and now I've written and sold another one. I just found out. So we came here. Not that Dan and I really need an excuse to party, ever. We've actually been celebrating my book deal for three days. It's just more fun when you've got a proper reason, and anyway, people'll buy you twice as many drinks if they think you're celebrating something that could potentially make them the friend of a celebrity.

The thing I never tell them, though, is that I'm definitely not going to end up a celebrity. My first book was shit and this one's even worse. It's about my past, which is only the most self-pitying, attention-seeking thing you could ever do. Well, I changed the names. And I veiled some stuff, kind of. But still.

Dan's somehow managed to flag a cab down while I've been standing around monologuing like a stoned moron. When I turn around to climb in after him the sun's rising off to the east, this orange and pink blob of color rising up towards the darker clouds overhead. It's pretty. I stop halfway into the cab and stare, but Dan yanks hard on my arm and pulls me in. Meter's running already. He starts singing 'Holiday' along with the radio while we're pulling away.

I slump against the window and smile, exhausted. Great night. They always are.


Last night was fucking horrible. I spend so many afternoons-after swearing that I'll never use again, it's almost miraculous that I still find myself doing the shit every other night. I've spent the last hour and a half puking up everything I've eaten all week. Dan's still in bed. Dan always stays in bed till I'm done being sick and miserable on the bathroom floor, because then he gets Hangover Assistance from me, getting him glasses of water and Tylenol. Like I'm his mother. Wish I was seventeen.

Then again, no I don't. Seventeen sucked. Apparently it doesn't for Dan, but then, why would it when you've got a fake ID and don't see your parents? Wish I'd had that kind of luck at his age. Even with a fake ID I would've gotten turned away. Sucks being 5'7", too. Dan's tall. I come up to about his nose. I might still be a little drunk after all, with my thoughts running on like this. Then again I downed like a fucking fifth of the rum we leave in my bathroom for just such occasions. But I'm not puking anymore.

Somewhere in the apartment a toilet flushes. The water starts running just when I'm putting the coffee on, and Dan turns up fifteen minutes later with bloodshot eyes and hair wet from the shower. I feel fine by now. I tuck my hands further around my steaming mug of coffee and annoy him with the cheeriest smile I can muster.

"Morning, sunshine."

"It's two o'clock," he mutters. Dan can either be the most freakishly hyper person you've ever seen when he first gets up, or like this. It's weird. "My head hurts."

"That's what you get for taking that last pill." I pause to sip. "And forcing half on me. I felt like shit too. I left the Bailey's on the counter, put some in a coffee."

"I don't even want to think about drinking right now," Dan groans. He does, though, and both of us wince reflexively when he flips the TV on the kitchen counter on as he passes. Dan likes watching the Food Network when he's hungover. On the other hand, seeing food when I feel like shit makes me want to vomit, and I always want to watch Anderson Cooper talk about people suffering way more than I am. It's a constant point of contention between us. But he did put Advil and a bottle of water on my bedside table before he went to sleep this morning, so I guess I'll let it go this morning.

"I'm gonna go shower." I yawn, draining my coffee cup and getting up to stick it in the sink. "Did you check the messages last night? I think Hannah was supposed to call yesterday and let me know what's been lined up for the publicity stuff."

Dan's dug into the box of Lucky Charms he'd left sitting on the table a couple of days ago. Now he's staring at the TV, open-mouthed, with a dried marshmallow stuck to the corner of his mouth. Charming. "Nuh-uh," he mumbles around the cereal.

The light on the machine is blinking ominously. No doubt there's dozens of fabulous messages I really want to hear. No doubt.

I leave it for now. "Tell Hannah I'll get back to her if she calls," I instruct Dan, who doesn't even pretend to be listening to me. He's probably heard me say that too many times this week. I guess maybe I should actually do some work today.

Whatever. First I have some bar scum to shower off.