"Okay girls, which one do you want?" asks Karen, smoothing down her voluptuous brunette wig. She said it makes her look vampiric and exotic. I think she looks like a white Tina Turner. I roll my eyes and sip my punch. I hate punch. But it has vodka in it, a lot of vodka, in fact the punch is mostly vodka, so who cares?
"Um, which one has the girlfriend?" Daisy – with a name as sweet as Daisy, it seems entirely inappropriate that she is wearing the skimpiest costume of all of us. I think she's supposed to be a firewoman, or a fire hydrant, or just on fire. There's so little fabric it's hard to tell.
"Mike," says JeeJee, real name Jee Sun Park but no one except her family calls her that, arms folded and with a look on her face that makes it seem like she hates everyone in the room. But I'm pretty sure the hatred is aimed at her mother.
"Oh? I thought they broke up?"
"They didn't," I say.
"Mandy, no! Are you sure? He's my favorite. I was going to try again" says Karen, wistfully gazing into the dancing crowd at Dallas. Apparently she thinks he's Mike. I decide not to correct her. It wouldn't matter anyway.
"Yes I'm sure. Dallas told me in Chem Lab."
"Wait, Dallas is in your Chem Lab? I thought Lucas was your partner?"
"He is, but apparently he's busy doing something or other during fourth period every Wednesday so Dallas fills in."
"God I'd kill to have a triplet. Or even a twin. I'd make her take all my Spanish classes," says Daisy, fanning herself with her red builder's safety hat. It added a further dimension of confusion to her outfit.
"They're so lucky they're identical. Thank god they're gorgeous. Could you imagine if they were ugly? That would be, like, three times the possibility of having the bad luck of seeing their ugly mug around school. Whereas because they're beautiful, we are three times more likely to be lucky and gaze upon their glorious faces during the day. And tonight, I am going to make one of them mine."
"Karen, you can't tell them apart." JeeJee says, looking doubtful.
"So what? They're all gorgaliscious. I want to date one of them before I graduate, I don't care which one. Although I'd prefer Mike," Karen says, still eyeing up Dallas. She really can't tell them apart.
"Karen! That's like, racist or something."
"Dear, sweet, crazy Daisy. Sometimes I don't know how you function in life," I say, stroking her hypnotizing blonde hair. And it's real, not a wig like Karen's hair, therefore I am unbelievably jealous. "What about you JeeJee? Who are you going to try to ensnare?"
JeeJee gives me a look which could melt eyeballs. "None of them, clearly."
"JeeJee, it's not the bad," Daisy says comfortingly, "You look so cute!"
"I'm in a onesie!" JeeJee points out aggressively, her fists of fury clamped tightly under her armpits as if otherwise they might rip the offending costume from her body. "A green onesie! Which is supposedly a dragon but looks more like a lizard! This is not cute, this is social suicide."
"Then you should have worn something sexy underneath and just taken the damn thing off in the car on the way over," says Karen, dismissively rolling her eyes. She was never one for empathizing with other peoples' pain.
"Thought of that. So did my mother. She checked on my costume periodically throughout the hour before you arrived to make sure I wasn't wearing anything underneath and packed my bag for me so I couldn't bring the other costume I'd planned to bring."
"But a onesie?" Daisy asks, trying to be delicate.
"Apparently it's the only thing I can wear which does not bring shame on my entire family. Including all my ancestors who are still apparently seriously pissed at me for getting a C in Geography last year."
"Wow… Korean families are scary."
"But your mum makes the best dukkbokki I know so please don't alienate her and just embrace the onesie," I say, wrapping my arm around JeeJee's stiff shoulders. She doesn't shrug me off, but I get the feeling she is not all that happy with my encouragement from the look she shoots my way for a second time that night.
"Back to the issue at hand. JeeJee is ruled out because her costume is hideous. We're ruling out Mike because he has a girlfriend, and don't give me that look Amanda, I know my reputation precedes me but usually the hot guy with the girlfriend doesn't have two identical brothers who can be used as substitutes, and Mike conveniently does, so I won't go after him this time."
"You are despicable," I say, but not unkindly. Sure, I don't exactly approve of Karen going after guys who have girlfriends, but as she says, they can always say no, and Karen never continues to pursue a guy who means it. Unfortunately they usually don't.
"Love ya too. Which one do you want?"
"I am very much opting out of this tournament," I say, downing the final dregs of my vodka… erm, punch.
"Whatever loser, Daisy it's you and me, which is perfect because there's two of them left. Which one do you want? Or I'll flip a coin."
I don't stay to find out who they'll be pursuing. It's Halloween, a night that should be limited to candy and innocent trick or treating, but is instead usually filled with fights and debauchery now that we are eighteen and not eight, so their plans will either end in sex or tears. Or maybe both. I'd deal with it on the drive home when JeeJee, our designated driver for fear of her mother's wrath if she came home even slightly tipsy, takes us home still fuming in silence about her costume, and generally being of no help at all to deal with two emotional girls. Right now all I want is another vodka. Punch! I want another cup of punch. Got to practice for when my parents inevitably ask about the party.
As I make my way to the kitchen, I ponder on how Karen never ceases to amuse me. It's easy to hate her, and many do, but it's also as easy to love her. The school has a love/hate relationship with her, and she has a love/hate relationship with school. She'd been in trouble a fair few times for fighting, usually with other girls who saw her looking too intently at their boyfriends, as well as for doing more than looking. But because she is virtually fearless she is also surprisingly well liked for her antics such as organizing a mass streaking event at one of our football games during half time and locking herself in the school radio station during an apparently boring free study session and regaling us with tales she'd overheard in the teacher's lounge when she'd been made to sit and wait outside for a punishment for some other misdemeanor.
Associating with Karen on a regular basis means many things. It means that Daisy looks and sounds incredibly sweet and usually escapes the name calling phenomenon that is so common in High School, even when her skirt more realistically resembles a belt. For JeeJee it means she can be as brittle and sarcastic as she wants without seeming like a crazy person, because her crazy tends to pale in comparison to Karen's – although her friendship with Karen is a take-to-your-grave secret from her mother. For me, it's the means with which I pass the days through school until I reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing okay, no one is particularly mean to me unless Karen has seriously pissed someone off and so often they get mad at me by extension, my grades are fine although there is room for improvement and I have the potential for better if only I apply myself according to most of my teachers and my parents. I guess it's just easier to see the bullshit and the unbearable self-involvement of pretty much the whole student body when you watch as many clichéd movies as I do and have an older brother and sister who have escaped the uniformity of our school to college and have amazing self-aware friends who actually know that there is more to life than High School. Ooh, vodka! There you are.
I ignore the little clear plastic cups and grab a large solo cup and scoop in some "punch." There are four bodies in the kitchen, all of which say hi to me but I'm already out the door with a backward wave. It's not that I don't like parties, particularly ones that enable underage drinking, but Halloween on the whole turns ordinary people into a whole lot of Ridiculous, which is why my outfit is so understated. Karen and Daisy were severely disappointed. JeeJee was jealous, I think.
Through the mad crush of people, I spot Karen brushing a hand down Lucas' arm and laughing at something he's saying. I have to wonder whether she chose Lucas, won him in a coin toss, or thinks he's Dallas. But she seems pretty happy. I can just about make out Dallas who is still in the throngs of dancers with no Daisy in sight, so either Daisy has struck out or maybe she can't tell the triplets apart either and has gone off in search of Mike.
The triplets, or The Triplets as is their formal title, are very similar not only in their identical looks but in their personalities, which I guess makes it harder to tell them apart. All three are big flirts, and yes, amazingly gorgeous, and all three have figured out the best haircut which suits them is slightly floppy but still short, and as they are identical it so marvelously suits all three of them that they've all kept their hair the same way. All three are sporty, but Lucas plays football, while Dallas and Mike split their time between the track and basketball teams. All of this combined has made them incredibly popular, and incredibly arrogant at times. But I like Lucas, who is a great Lab partner for most of the week, and Dallas is alright too when he joins me on Wednesdays, although he is significantly less helpful since he found out I was aware of their doppelganger act which was only intended to secure attendance in the first place. They fooled Mr. Grayson, but they never fooled me. I don't really know Mike, but I give him a lot of credit for holding onto his girlfriend for more than five months despite Karen's failed attempt to lead him astray a few weeks into the relationship.
I'd left the living room and circled to the back of the house where an open door led to some decking and an expansive backyard which had also been taken over by the partygoers. Someone was yelling at a guy with a cigarette on the other side of the door about leaving it open and noise disturbance fines. It could be the host of the party, who I don't know, although if the police are called I think perhaps they may be in more trouble about the underage drinkers than the noise pollution. The possible-host shuts the door and stalks off, only for it to be opened again by an amorous couple clearly looking to find a patch of grass outside on which to fondle each other publicly. I follow them outside but find a section of decking which no one is occupying and fit my legs through the wide wooden bars to look out over the garden, which I'm sure is very pretty in the daylight but is mostly hidden in the darkness.
"My my, if it isn't my favorite Lab partner."
I should have been pre-warned about the legs coming to stand next to me but the vodka has impaired some of my otherwise stellar senses and I don't notice until they are beside me. I look up and take a sip from my cup.
"It's Lucas, actually. How much have you had to drink?"
"A lot, but not nearly enough to confuse you guys." I could feel the smirk radiating from his body... if smirks could do that.
"Well, clearly 'a lot' is too much, because I'm definitely Lucas."
"And you're definitely lying. Is there a point to this game?" Dallas didn't answer me, but bent down at the knees and took my cup and downed some of its contents. "Hey! That's mine, get your own."
"But just knowing that we've shared a drink from the same cup makes me shiver with excitement, what about you?" he asks in a low voice, leaning forward, eyes darkening.
"You saying creepy shit like that gives me the shivers," I reply, grabbing back my cup and taking a good gulp in case he tries to steal it from me again. He throws his head back in laughter, setting him off balance and he lands with an ungraceful bump on his backside. "Serves you right."
"Come on Amanda, how can you always tell it's me? Can't take your eyes off me?"
"Mhmm, yep, that must be it. I've studied every inch of your face during Lab when you illegally impersonate your brother and know every freckle so intimately I can no longer confuse the three of you."
"I don't have freckles."
"Oh, that's right, it's Lucas I can't take my eyes off, silly me." Dallas nudges me with his hand and I hide my smirk in my cup.
"You may not confuse us, but your friend Karen thought I was Mike just now," he says.
"That's entirely probable. I do apologize. It must have been traumatic for you."
"No offence but your friend kinda freaks me out." I glance at him sideways and see he's grimacing, which is not an unusual expression to have when someone thinks of Karen.
"None taken, she always freaks me out and I'm even privy to the explanations she gives for the things she does."
Dallas chuckles. "Right." He takes the cup from my hands for another mouthful, but this time I don't protest. A light breeze brushes my hair, although it barely does anything for Dallas whose hair is kind of plastered to his forehead.
"Weren't you having fun inside?"
"Sure, but it's fucking hot in there. Came out to get a lungful of fresh air and stumbled upon you."
"What are you supposed to be anyway?" Dallas stops with the cup at his full lips and stares incredulously at me.
"So, like, totes serious right now."
Dallas puts down the cup and pulls a white hood over his head, saying in an exaggeratedly lower voice, "One, stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent. Two, hide in plain sight. Three, never compromise the Brotherhood."
"Ku Klux Klan?"
"What?! No! Jesus. Uh…" he lowers his voice again, "my name is Desmond Miles, and I am an Assassin."
"Desmond Miles? Who's that? Is he in a movie? Robin Hood?" Dallas sighs.
"Ever heard of Assassin's Creed?"
"Maybe, is it a good movie?" Dallas rolls his eyes and puts down the hood, folding his hands in front of his knees.
"Nevermind. What are you supposed to be?"
I fish around in my pockets until I find my costume's accessory and point it at Dallas. He just looks confused.
"You're a witch?"
"What? What kind of witch have you ever seen with a wand like this?"
"I've never seen anything with a wand like that." I press the button on the device which makes it issue a slightly higher than ordinary buzzing sound and a light flashes on at the end. There is no change in his expression.
"Oh come on, buzzing device with a light?"
"I have red hair…"
"You always have red hair."
"Which makes this a more accurate costume of…" Dallas makes no effort to respond, simply staring at me with a look of amusement on his face. "Amy Pond. I'm Amy Pond." This apparently means nothing to him. "From Doctor Who? Only the best sci-fi series other than Firefly? Except it was not outrageously cancelled before its prime?"
"You're freaking adorable. No idea what you're going on about." Dallas runs a hand through his damp hair.
"Whatever. If you had any taste you'd know this is an awesome outfit," I say, putting my plastic sonic screwdriver back in my pocket.
"You're wearing your normal clothes waving a light up vibrator at me. At least I'm wearing what can actually be classified as a 'costume'," he says, pulling on his cape.
"So little imagination."
"I think you'll find my imagination extends to other more desirable things," Dallas says suggestively, winking at me and sliding over until we're bumping hips and I can feel the heat emanating through his costume. He must have been boiling inside in that thing.
"If you could get out of that get up in less than thirty seconds in order to act upon one of those desirable things you are imagining then I'd probably be so impressed I'd even be inclined to join you in the activity you're dreaming of."
Dallas clamps his hand over his heart.
"Don't give me promises like that or I'll ravish you right here, right now, on the deck in front of all these people."
"I'm in character."
He hands me my cup but I don't drink from it. I can feel the buzz from the alcohol and it makes me sway a little, so I rest my head on Dallas' padded shoulder. We both seem to have run out of things to say as neither of us speaks. Squeals of laughter and squeals of… other things drift over to us from the backyard. The door behind us is open again and the music is loud and clear, although through my alcoholic haze I can't tell which R&B song is playing. It's often hard to tell when I'm sober as well. It takes me a second to realize someone is stroking my hair.
"Are you trying to send me to sleep?" Dallas laughs deep in his throat.
"Believe me, that is not what I'm trying to do."
"Oh, so you're trying to seduce me."
"What? Ugly thing like you? Never."
"Fair enough. Just so you know, I can only be seduced through chocolate and serenasion."
"The act of serenading. Serenasion."
"Ah, serenasion." His hand continues combing through my hair and I stifle a yawn. What a party-pooper. I probably need to find Karen. She's almost certainly already in the act of some mischief somewhere that would amuse me. But I'm so comfortable it's hard to find the effort to move. "You're not really going to sleep are you?" he asks.
"Keep stroking my hair and I will." When he stops I'm very sorry that I mentioned anything.
"Come on." Dallas stands without sending my flying and pulls on my hands.
"Inside, you're going to dance." I use my dead weight technique to prevent him from lifting me.
"I don't want to. Tired. It's too hot in there."
"Amanda I can lift things a lot heavier than you. If you don't come willingly then I'll carry you inside."
"Because you need to dance. I want to get hot and heavy with you and I can't do it when there's a pleasant breeze outside. Now get up." I'm too busy chortling over 'pleasant breeze' to prevent him from lifting me into a standing position and then he's leading me by the hand back into the party. The music was loud through the door to the decking but it's noticeably louder in the living room. Tinnitus-inducingly loud. Someone hands me a cup of something but before I can think of drinking it Dallas takes it out of my hands and palms it off to someone else. Once we're amongst the crowd of dancers he turns me away and brings my hips back into his. I know this kind of dancing, in fact I'm pretty good at it, and the alcohol certainly helps. It's hot, really hot, and it's even hotter to have Dallas pressed up against my back, but I close my eyes, unable to concentrate on the lyrics to the song we're dancing to but feeling the beat as strongly as I feel Dallas' hands on my hips. Occasionally I'm hit in the arm by his half cape thing and he seems to grow as annoyed with it as me because I'm close enough to hear the velcro tear as he rips it from around his neck and chucks it somewhere into the crowd. I laugh and raise my hands above my head, grinding even closer to Dallas.
I barely notice the slight change in tempo as the songs shift from one to the next. More people are dancing and the space between everyone gets slimmer and slimmer. As it gets harder to move, Dallas grips my shoulder and turns me around to face him. My hands reach around his neck and he places one leg between mine, and we're half grinding, half swaying. I can feel my shirt is sticking to my back with sweat, and I'm thankful I decided on shorts instead of the jeans I'd been originally planning to wear. The beat still throbs around us and I feel Dallas' lips at my neck. I must be sweating there as well with all my hair but he just brushes it out of the way with his fingers and brands my skin with kisses. The alcohol had dulled my senses but now his lips are setting them on fire. My foreheads drops to his shoulder and I bite my lower lip. I'm in sensory overload, there's no other way to describe it. In my head I see his face grinning at me as I try to ignore him, carrying out some experiment or other to make sure that we get a good grade, and by 'we' I mean his brother Lucas and I. All the while Dallas tries to distract me with personal questions and draws on my hand with his pen if I keep it still long enough. Present Dallas is drawing nonsensical patterns on my back where my shirt has ridden up to reveal an expanse of skin. I'm highly aware of every movement and stroke. I'd like to do the same to him except he's wearing a monstrosity of a costume and there's no access to his skin, so I run my hands through his hair instead, which is soaking with sweat. Under any other circumstance I would find this completely gross, but I need to touch him. We move our heads back simultaneously to crash our mouths together. Our lips tear at each other fiercely, leaving me no room to think. We're both fighting to get closer, to get deeper, and I'm prioritizing that over oxygen. Our tongues play games while his hands roam ever more dangerously around my body. If I was sober, would I care? Maybe not. And no one is watching, all too involved in their own partners. Dallas is intoxicating, more so than vodka, and much headier. I can't get enough, and apparently neither can he.
I think that he has found some semblance of restraint that I was unable to fathom up when he pulls completely away from me, but he has clamped my hand in his and is dragging me through the crowd, forcefully removing people from his path if they don't willingly jump aside, and I almost giggle, but it doesn't seem like the appropriate response, so I don't. There are stairs beneath our feet, and then a door is opened, Dallas is barking at a couple who have already claimed the room as their own, but back down in the face of one of the Triplets, and shut the door behind them. He finds a chair and wedges it underneath the handle, and then he's approaching me. We've lost nothing of our fire in the space between the living room and the bedroom.
"We don't have to if you don't want it," Dallas says through kisses, but my hands have already grabbed onto his costume and I'm tugging him towards the bed. I pull at him, managing to rip away his belt but the rest of his outfit is a mystery to me as to how it's put together. He seems to have forgotten as well. "Fuck! Fuck fuck!" I can't help the laugh that escapes me, and he stops struggling. And then we're both laughing so hard it's difficult to stand up and we lean on each other.
"You're costume really sucks."
"It was an amazing idea at the time. Now I see a flaw."
"Flaw, singular? Try plural."
"May I remind you that I at least put some effort into this party? Yours isn't even a real costume!"
"Mine takes a total of four seconds to take off. What's wrong with it?"
"… Fuck. Get me out of this thing." It's not easy, but we find the buttons and zippers that hold the costume together and take them apart piece by piece. His mouth hardly ever leaves mine which makes the process a whole lot slower and more difficult, but eventually we get there and he's left standing in a tank and boxer shorts. My shirt is next and I'm thankful to be rid of it. It is so much cooler without it on, and Dallas seems in a hurry to keep cooling me down as he makes quick work of my shorts. When he lifts me I hook my legs around his back and he carries me onto the bed. As his lips return to my neck I drag my hands over the muscles in his shoulders and down his stomach. His sharp intake of breath lets me know I've found a sensitive area, and his lips reach eagerly for mine.
His tongue distracts me so that I barely notice him lower my bra straps until I feel his warm, slightly calloused fingers slide under the wire of my bra. My toes stretch and curl and I wrap my arms around his neck, taking his tongue in deeper. It's not just me moaning, it's him too, and I feel shivers radiating from my body. I rip my mouth from his and find his neck, nipping gently and kissing to sooth. "Amanda," he whispers in my ear, causing more shivers and I want to pull him closer, but his elbow in the bed prevents me from bringing him down. I'm highly aware of when his hand drifts down my ribs to my stomach and edges against the lace of my panties – thank god I'm wearing my pretty underwear today.
"Amanda," he says again, except I hear a slight hesitation in his voice, which worries me, and suddenly I'm feeling rather exposed. "How drunk are you right now?"
I'm not sure whether another girl might be offended by this question, but I'm not. Instead I try to sort out what of the fog that surrounds me is caused by the alcohol and what is caused by lust. It's only a few seconds before I can see the difference between the hazy glow of the alcohol I felt earlier on the deck outside and the hot and heady hunger that burns through my body now.
"Really not much."
"You're sure you're not going to hate me? And start screaming at me for taking advantage of you while you were in a vulnerable state? And then I'm going to have to pretend that I'm Lucas and blame it all on him?" His eyes are twinkling, but I can see there is concern lurking underneath.
"Dallas. If you don't touch me right this second, I'm going to scream at you anyway."
He grins. "Yes ma'am."
The party is still very much going on downstairs, and a couple times people have tried the door to the room we're in but have failed to get past the almighty wedged chair mechanism. My skin has finally cooled enough to the point where I'm not uncomfortable being in Dallas' arms. It's reassuring to know that he's not a love-'em and get-up-get-dressed-get-out kind of guy, seeing as we've been lying in bed for probably about twenty minutes at a rough guess. Neither of us are moving except for our breathing, and I'm starting to wonder if he's trying to think of a good excuse to leave, when he eventually speaks.
"No offence, because that was completely awesome, but I think you can do better."
He really should have seen my punch coming. He's no longer holding me, and is instead curled up in a ball trying to regain the breath I knocked out of him.
"How can I not take offence to that, exactly?" I'm trying to drag the sheet with which I'm covering my body off the bed in order to hunt down my clothes, but he's got it in a death grip. He pants a few times and then uncurls to clamp his hands on my arms.
"That came out completely wrong. I'm so sorry."
"I'm gonna make you even more sorry if you don't let go."
"Not happening. I'm killing two birds with one stone. I'm stopping you from attacking my genitals which I know are next on your list of targets, and I'm stopping you from leaving which would be really really bad right now before you let me explain."
I wish my glare was as effective as JeeJee's. Then I'd have the satisfaction of seeing Dallas whither and crumble before me and I could make my escape. As it is I have to sit, shooting metaphorical and apparently ineffectual daggers at him.
"I meant to say something along the lines of you were fucking fantastic," he said, coming to kneel as near me as he dared while keeping a strong grip on my arms, "that you were amazing, and I would like another opportunity sometime in the near future for us to do that again. Preferably tomorrow. After I take you out for dinner. And a movie. And buy you a car as an apology."
The daggers were more like toothpicks now, but I still stared at him warily.
"You are a complete asshole."
He winced. "Yep, you're so right. I'm a total fucktard. And I should let you go so you can slap me. Or punch me again. Although I'd rather you didn't 'cause I still feel a bit winded. But if you think that would be best then by all means go ahead. I'm letting go now… this is me letting go, so that you may hit me… unless you don't feel like it, which would be great… okay…"
His arms fall to his sides, and when I don't move, he looks hopeful. When I lean towards him, he looks less so.
"I want a Mitsubishi Lancer. 2006. In blue." There's relief, and a smile. His hands reach for me again, pulling me into his body.
"Thank fuck. You got it... although it might take me a few years to work out the money."
A/N: Fastest update EVER in the history of me being on this site. I think... I'm pretty sure. And this one is Halloween inspired, tis the season!
I actually paired Amanda with Lucas in my first draft, but I just couldn't make it work. He was a massive flirt, but still too nicey nice underneath it all for her. So I had her sit on the decking and wait to see who naturally came through the door, and it was Dallas! Sometimes these characters really have a mind of their own.
Thanks for sticking with me guys! I really appreciate the love you've sent my way. It's so great to get back into writing again, although I really need to learn how to write these things earlier in the day so I don't keep staying up till 5am finishing them. I'll have to get up in a few hours. Oh well. If you check back later today and find the version is slightly different, it's because I've reread it the light of day and thought "what were you thinking, woman!" So don't freak out. You're not going mad.
To all my lovely readers, Happy Halloween for the 31st! And Happy Bonfire/Guy Fawkes Night for the 5th for any British readers!