THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

hey barbie, heh, can i call you barbara?

Pandora was pounding on the door, telling me that we were beyond fashionably late, but I paid her little mind. Staring at my reflection in the mirror of my new friend's bathroom, little was revealed about the small town in Upstate New York I'd just moved to. Really, there was only a clue to where I was going-from my outfit and make-up, both a little more flamboyant than I'd usually don. I was used to parties back in the city. I'd convinced myself that this one would be a hicktown tragedy compared to my best friend's sweet sixteen.

"Co-"

Pandora nearly punched me as I exited the bathroom, her fist positioned mid-air, ready to strike the door again. I blinked, surprised, and then the girl with the long brown hair dropped her hand. She snapped up straight like a pole, scrunching up her face. "You take so long. All the good stuff is going to be gone."

"I'm not drinking."

She looked at me in a way that said, Yeah, okay. "Right. Well. I am. So, we leave now." She walked down the stairs with a certain beat in her step, giving her this strange sort of childish grace. Pandora looked back at me when she reached the bottom. "Damien left already, so I'm driving. That means we'll be sleeping over."

I wanted to tell her that my father wouldn't allow that, but Pandora didn't seem to listen much. She talked, and she did things her way. It's not that I wasn't used to this type of personality-it's just that the traits were never so glaringly obvious in a human that I'd ever met. Her honesty was nice though.

The drive to the famed Sarava Baptiste's house was longer than I expected, but long enough to bring suspense. When Pandora stopped in front of the sizable home, she blinked at my hesitation. "What?"

"He won't mind... right?"

This is when she laughed. "Cora, if he doesn't want you to be here, you'll know it." With that cryptic answer, she exited the car, starting off towards the white house and it's pillars. I followed a second later, my legs eating up the distance as the density of people between us got thicker. Eventually I'd grabbed her hand and she had led me straight through the dance floor. We ended up in the kitchen, where a smaller group lazily leaned against the marble counters, holding their red cups with disinterest. Pandora ran and embraced her boyfriend, who greeted me with kindness and little gusto. Though, in the week that I'd know Damien, it was as enthusiastic as he ever got. How the energetic Pandora had managed to ensnare him was one of those mysteries of life.

Turning around in Damien's arms, Pandora smiled. "Hey everyone, this is Cora. She's from the city, so I guess I don't have to tell you to treat her nice."
I cracked a smile even though her joke wasn't funny. "Hi."

They appraise me with the scrutiny I expected, and from what I'd learned of my week in the small town, these were the people you wanted to meet. Here I was, trying to penetrate the social bubble these few had put together. I understood it. Back in the city, this is what would've happened in my town, at my party, with my friends. Common protocol. Pandora had deemed me worthy to be her friend, and now it was time for the rest to cast in their votes. My eyes flickered, for the briefest moment, to the one who could cast the veto and override their decisions. The host of this party.

Interrupting the sudden silence that had come over the kitchen were giggles, followed by a boy with a girl on each arm. The kitchen erupted with greetings, clap-ups and smiles. He looked around at what I could only assume was his clique, before his eyes settled on me. A smile broke out and he approached me. Out of instinct I backed up, and did so until I hit the edge of the counter. Popping my personal bubble, he leaned in. "You're new." He said it in a way that had a bit of a leer-it made me uneasy, but I tried not to show it.

"That I am."

"What's your name, cutie?"

"Benoit, stop it." The command came from Sarava, who had a girl wrapped around him. For some reason she frowned when he called the boy off of me. Benoit receded with a sigh. When I glanced to Pandora, she looked pleasantly surprised, wide eyed with a bit of a smirk. She met my gaze, and somehow it said you're in.She danced out of Damien's grip, or, rather just detangled herself from him. He didn't seem to mind, but he kept an eye on her.

"Okay, so you know Damien," she started. Pointing to an Asian boy staring into his cup, "that's Ken. He's a meanie, but you'll get used to it." Ken flicked his eyes up to me, then took a swig of what I assumed to be beer. Gesturing to another male, "this is Manny." Manny waved. "Benoit's the creeper." Benoit made a short sound of protest, before grunting. Both he, Sarava, and the girl Sarava had been carrying around had relocated to the island. When Pandora pointed to them, I wondered why she was even introducing us. "And that's Sarava and his girlfriend Laura."

Blink. Feeble wave. My voice was a little quiet. The introduction had been overwhelming, after all. "Hey."

They all nodded towards me, some giving me grunts of approval or just not caring. I noticed the lack of females in the group. It was something curious, something I'd have to think about later. Now, though, Pandora had proclaimed she wanted to dance. The boys looked to Sarava, who shrugged. Content with his response, each boy grabbed a girl and walked out to the living room. Manny grabbed my wrist, leaving me to look up with alarm. He perked an eyebrow. "Do you want Benoit to catch instead? You can dance, and he's a fool on the floor."

For a second I didn't know what to say, so I paused, then collected my words. "How do you know I dance?"

His eyes lingered only for a second. "It's the way you walk." Then he pulled me to the floor. Turning me towards him, I felt his gaze, I felt him move. He stared straight into me, and I didn't like it. His heavy brow and penetrating brown eyes were enough to affect me. I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but something made me turn around and close my eyes. With my back to him, we both used each other as vehicles, moving on and off each other, letting the beat of the bass become the beat of our hearts, thrumming through us as it shifted the ground. I don't know how long we danced, but I knew three songs had went by. It was just something that happened. I could be so easily pulled down by a beat, but something could easily bring me out, like the hands that lightly touched my waist. My eyes flew open, and I met the grayish green ones of the host. Looking behind me, Manny had disappeared into the crowd, Sarava his fluid replacement. He didn't say anything as he danced; he just pulled me closer, a little more intimately than my last partner had. Not sure what to do, not really wanting to pull back, I took my new companion, but I couldn't use him like Manny. Manny didn't care who was in the lead, or that I'd turned away from him. Sarava kept a firm hand on me, held eye contact steadfastly, and while his gaze wasn't as intimidating as Manny's, there was something I also couldn't identify. I searched for a song, and then another, but I couldn't read him.

So I spoke. Softly, just loud enough for him to hear over the music, I said, "don't you have a girlfriend?"

"She lets me dance with other girls. I let her dance with other guys." His response, matter-of-fact, simple, had an underlying message.

Smiling slowly, I put my arms around his neck, which brought us closer. I'd just grabbed the shovel that was ready to dig me into a ditch. "If I was here, I wouldn't let that happen."

I don't know how he heard me over whatever song was playing, but he chuckled. I couldn't hear it, but I felt the rumble in his chest and I saw the laughter on his face. "Why is that, Cora Kaywood?"

Oh, he knew my last name. I acted like that wasn't odd, and it wasn't completely. The town wasn't huge, after all. Even in my old school you could find information about the new kid by second period. My big brown's viewed Sarava through mascara coated lashes. "Because your hand is a little too low. Maybe you should fix that."

"Don't really feel like it." He was staring at my lips, and for it only took me a moment to figure out what he was about to do. Then he did it, lips descending on mine in an open, warm kiss. I felt myself giving back just as much as I received, and then, like a tease, I pulled back with a giggle. Then I detached myself from him. He grabbed for me, but I'd become and expert at maneuvering crowds. I spotted Manny and Ken as I made my way outside, both with their respective females.

The fresh air hit me like a well received storm after a drought. I breathed it in, then smiled. My phone buzzed for a moment, so I retrieved it from my pocket, reading the text from Pandora.

SAW U AND SARAVA. LAURA IS GOING TO BE SO PISSED. I LUV U.

I snorted, then quickly looked around to see if anyone had noticed. There was a couple making out on the other side of the deck, but I figured they were too immersed with each other to notice my impolite mannerism. Pandora had never made it secret that she hated Laura, not in the week I'd known her. She did constantly complain about her. Until now, I didn't think it was because Laura was the only girl besides her. It made a girl wonder. I texted her back.

WHERE ARE YOU?

It took a few moments, but the door slid open and I saw the pretty girl walk towards me. She snatched my hand and dragged me to the far corner of the backyard, away from listening ears.

"This is exciting!" She exclaimed, bouncing up and down.

"What is?"

"You and Sarava, of course!" She cursed herself for the volume of her statement, then repeated it in a whisper.

I perked an eyebrow. "There is no me and Sarava. It was just a kiss. He has Laura."

Pandora instantly scrunched her face up and frowned. "She's been cheating on him. I was just waiting for someone to come along to take her place so I didn't have to worry about the bitties all over him."

"Uh..."

"If he knew, then he'd just be like whatever, because he cheats on her too. But if he has someone to leave her for..."

"I just met him, Pandora. Plus, it was only one kiss."

She sighed and stomped her foot. "Listen to me! I didn't just bring you here, he asked me too. That's why Benoit approached you like a creeper, you know. Because he knew Sarava was interested in you. They've got this weird sibling rivalry. Haven't you noticed they have the same eyes and skin tone and just about everything, but Sarava's got more angles going on?"

I stepped back, as she'd taken a step and popped my personal space bubble. "I don't really pay that much attention to people I've just met, especially since Benoit was all in my face-"

"You have to admit that he's cute, though," she suddenly said. Her eyes shone against the far porch light. Her make-up had run a little, but now wasn't the time to tell her.

"Benoit or Sarava?"

"Sarava!"

"Well, yeah."

"Then why not?"

I bit my lip, folding my arms and turning around from here. "I don't know. I just met these people. I just broke up with my boyfriend back in New York-"

"Oh, come on."

"We'd been going out for six months!"

"Oh, six months is nothing. I've been with Damien way longer."

She wasn't going to see my reasoning, so I just agreed with her. "Okay. Find. Yes, he's cute. But really, I don't even know him."

"That's why you're here. To get to know him. Ever tried a one night stand?"

"Well, yeah-"

"Then why are you freaking out?"

I frowned at her. "You're freaking out. I'm not freaking out. Plus, random sex is different from a relationship. That involves commitment and-"

"Pandora, why did you run off?" I shut my mouth the moment Damien walked up. He looked suspicious, but said nothing of it.

"I went to find Cora," she said sweetly, taking his hand. He looked down at their contact, then at her.

"Yeah, okay," he said slowly, eyes going from me, then dragging over her. He leaned down and kissed her softly, then looked at me. "Sarava's looking for you. What did you do?"

My heart jumped just a little, but I kept my expression still. "I didn't do anything."

"Well, you better go. Sarava hates having to look for people."

"Uh, alright." I took one step then glanced at Pandora. She nodded for me to go, and I did. Walking into the house, I felt the music and the heat and it locked itself inside my body. Exhaling, I began looking for Sarava. He didn't seem like the waiting type. I threaded through the living room, spotting Laura quite close with some guy in my Chemistry class. As I looked, I saw members of the gang, all in different rooms. I only had enough courage to approach Manny and ask for Sarava. He'd simply pointed towards the spiral staircase, which I followed. Surprisingly, it led me up to the roof. It tilted, making it hard to walk, but I caught myself when I stumbled. Sarava materialized, coming up behind me. He was like a rock, keeping my steady. I looked over my shoulder at him.

"How long have you been up here?"

"Ten minutes, maybe."

He led me to a spot, where a blanket had been put down. From up here I could see the sphere that Sarava lived in. His house was surrounded by a circle of trees, and all I could see were maples and pines for miles. I'd though Pandora had lived on the outskirts of town until I came up here. Looking up-all stars. I wished I could identify constellations, because I'd be up there all night.

"Cora?"

I looked away from the scenery and to Sarava. "Yeah?"

"I brought the blanket out for you."

My lips parted for a moment, before I inhaled and slowly walked over to him. I sat on the blanket. Glancing at Sarava, I caught him staring.

"Yeah?"

"I asked Pandora to bring you here."

Closing my eyes, I nodded. "She told me."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"But what about Laura?" I don't really know if I cared about her, or if I felt guilty. I just wanted to know what whatever was about to happen was going to mean.

"She's cheating on me." He didn't sound sad about it.

"Pandora said you didn't know."

"Pandora doesn't know everything."

"She said you're cheating on her too."

He barked a laugh, one strong enough for those in the backyard to look around for the source. They didn't see us. He smiled at me. "Some relationship, right?"

I didn't answer. I just stared out, trying to find something more than trees. After some silence, he tapped me on the shoulder. He was close, too close, but I didn't see anything suspicious in his eyes.

"I don't know you yet, but I think I'm going to like you, Cora."

Oh?


Author's Note: Funny story, I had just finished editing this when my internet decided to stop working... so this is unedited. Sorry, guys. I'm lazy.