Chapter 16

"I knew this was going to happen," Clementine muttered to herself. She was on her way back from the diner, having been nominated to go pick up food.

"Is it that bad having to spend time with me?" Julie asked, munching on a French fry.

"Kat is going to kill you for eating in her car," was Clementine's response. "And watch whose fries you're eating, or one of the guys will kill me."

Julie shrugged.

Snow started falling outside the car, which only increased Clementine's annoyance. She'd only had her license for a year, and a car for even less that. This was the first time she'd ever driven in the snow.

"I can't believe it's snowing! We have to go sledding!" her friend squealed, looking out the window.

"There's nothing on the ground," was the dry response Clementine gave, glad they were only a few minutes away from Shannon's house.

Once they were there, Julie got out and ran up the porch steps, leaving Clementine to drag the two bags of food inside. She sighed, got out of the car and glanced at her cell before sticking it in her pocket. She picked up the two brown paper bags and started up the porch steps. It was only 10. That meant at least two more hours until Damien called.

She stopped walking abruptly, the thought startling. Was she counting down until she talked to him? What the hell was wrong with her? She shook her head. No way. She wasn't going to answer the phone tonight. This was getting insane.

Clementine hurried inside, somehow managing to balance the two bags and open the front door. They were hanging out at Shannon's house while her parents were on vacation. Honestly, Clementine had never been a part of a coed sleepover before, but she saw these people all the time anyway at school. How bad could it be?

After handing out everyone's food, she collapsed on one of the big couches in Shannon's basement. Kat came over and sat next to her.

"For what it's worth, I really didn't think you were going to have to go to the diner."

Clementine shrugged. "It's ok. Thanks for letting me use your car."

"No problem. No one was going to go out there and rearrange the driveway to get you yours," she responded with a laugh. "Nothing happened, right?"

"Well, at the diner, I dropped the wad of cash I had into the ice right behind the counter. And on the way home, it started to snow. Oh, and Julie was eating French fries in your car."

Kat's eyes narrowed. "It's going to smell like fries now!"

"As opposed to pot? I'll never get your obsession with people not eating in your car," Clementine said with a shake of her head. "Where is everyone?"

"Getting ready to go. After they eat, that is. We're going on a smoke drive. Do you want to come?"

"You know my answer to that question."

Shrugging, Kat said, "It's always worth asking. Pot's really not that bad." After a moment, she said, "Have you spoken to Damien at all?"

Clementine studied her friend. She hated to admit weakness and tell her that they'd be talking every night, but she didn't know what to do. "If I tell you, are you going to be annoying about it?"


"Then yes. I've talked to him every night for-"

"I KNEW IT!" Kat cried, smacking her on the arm. "I knew it! You like him. I need to meet him! I want to see you two together. I'll bet he likes you too. How could he not? Why would he call you every night if he didn't?"

Clementine didn't bother to open her mouth; it was a moot point. Kat would just keep going until she ran out of steam. Finally, she got her chance and said, "I don't want to like him."

"That seems like it's going well for you."

"I need help, here, Kat!"

"Why? Is he a serial killer? What's the big deal?"

"No, he's not a serial killer. He's an alcoholic."

Laughing, Kat said, "Why do I get the feeling that in your mind that's somehow worse?"

"He doesn't like me. I don't want to talk to him anymore," Clementine said stubbornly. "I'm not going to."

At that point, music erupted from her jeans pocket. She pulled her cell phone out. It was Damien. She looked up to Kat, who was staring at her expectantly.

"Are you really not going to answer? And for no good reason other than you don't want to like someone?"

"You don't get it. I am a naive asshole. I'm a virgin for fuck's sake! I've literally kissed like one person and it wasn't even a real kiss—"

"You're nervous. You're overthinking and nervous for nothing. Relax. Have a drink. Answer the phone," Kat said, standing up. "I'm going to find the boys and get the show on the road." As she started walking away, she yelled over her shoulder, "You are not naïve, Clementine. You're too smart. That's your problem."

Clementine stared at the caller ID on her phone. She wanted to answer it. As she thought about it, the phone stopped ringing. The silence was deafening.

"Shit!" she cried. Then to herself, she said, "Fuck this. I'm going to get a drink. A lot of drinks. Then I'm going to call him back. Phones work both ways. Me talking to him doesn't mean we're going to have sex. I sound like I'm 12."

Popping the phone back in her pocket, she walked over to the bar at the other end of the basement. Sharon's parents kept it stocked, and didn't care if she drank as long as she wasn't driving. Clementine's parents on the other hand, would murder her if they knew she was drinking. Her stepfather was a police officer.

This explains why she was just staring blankly at the bottles, empty cup in hand, when Anthony came down the stairs.

"Hey, Clem, have you seen my shoes?"

She shook her head, reading some of the labels.

He walked up to the bar. "What are you doing?"

"Looking for something to drink. Got any recommendations?"

"How drunk do you want to be?"

"Drunk enough to call someone that you want to talk to, but are pretending to not want to talk to. Drunk enough to be able to be at ease with him, because he makes you really nervous. Drunk enough—"

Anthony held up a hand. "Got it. Let me see the cup."

She handed him the red plastic cup and stepped back. In less than a minute, there was a full cup in her hand.

"I can make you another one if you want, when we get back. I gotta go find my shoes," he wandered off, looking at the ground.

Clementine sipped the drink in her hand. It wasn't too strong. "What is this?"

Anthony's voice was muffled, since his head was under a couch. "Long Island Iced Tea."

"LONG ISLAND iced tea?" she repeated loudly.

He popped back up, two shoes in hands and a grin on his face. "Yeah. Long Island seems like a cool place, huh?"

Before she could an answer, he was up the stairs and gone.

She was going to kill Kat for telling him about Damien. So much for privacy. She downed some more of the drink. Time to get this phone call on with.