Everything about this party is loud.

Should be loud.

But in my head it sounds cloudy. Stifled. Muted. Like it's happening next door and I'm hearing it through the walls.

The air's thick. Or maybe it just feels thick. And smokey. It smells skunky-sweet. Like cigarettes and weed and too much cologne and sweat and spilled gin. It sticks to the skin and I feel light on it. I'm seeing with my eyes closed and it's like a dream. Filmy.

I can't find anyone, though I know I've seen these kids before. Jenna's house is almost familiar. I've only been here a handful of times but it's so big, hard to learn quickly, especially when I'm used to being ushered straight to her room and back out again.

The wood on the floor feels cold under my feet, startling since I'm surrounded by hot and heavy air. I run my fingers along the wall and round a corner when I get to it. It leads to the kitchen, and that's where I find Evan. Or maybe, that's where he finds me.

Even the kitchen's full. Countertops are covered with spilled food and empty bottles. There's a girl sitting in the sink, a shirtless boy between her dangling legs, leaning over and trying to press into her. They're kissing, sloppy and wet and grunting and fuck-hot-dirty. It leaves a warmth in the pit of my stomach that's kind of nauseating. I grab a cold light beer to cool it down.

I'm popping open the can, listening to the quiet hiss as the CO2 escapes, when I see him.


He's facing the far wall, staring at the patterns on the tiles that line it. He looks out of his element, maybe out of it altogether. His shirt is unbuttoned and his under-tee is all wrinkled and stained. His clipped hair is wild-ruffled-stiff and maybe he got lost on the way to someplace else.

The couple in the sink make a noise, a groan that bubbles up from deep in someone's throat, and I suppose that catches his attention. When he turns, his movements are slow, delayed, but fluid. I press the can to my lips and silently watch.

Evan walks towards them, stopping when he's just behind them. I clench my jaw when his fingertips slide down the knotty spine of the panting boy. He doesn't seem to notice Evan, maybe he thinks it's his girl's hands. His hips jerk forward, crashing into the cupboard door under the skin.

Evan doesn't stop there.

With a look of wonderment in his eyes, he moves to their side, almost ghostly in the way he moves. He runs his nose along the girl's arm, her wrist wresting on her guy's shoulder, and when he reaches the soft space of her elbow, he kisses it. But maybe kissing is too strong to describe what he does. He rubs his lips against her, right there, and I think I see her hands curl into fists.

He's getting too close. Acting beyond strange. I know he must be high, on something much stronger than what I've hit, and I should probably stop him before he goes too far. But there's something morbid in me, something that wants to see him go too far. What he's doing, it's pumping fire-hot blood into my chest and all through my veins. I can hear it roaring in my ears and it's making me dizzy, but I don't want it to stop. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

There's just a tiny space between Evan's body and there's. His face is really close to where theirs join and I wonder where they are; where their minds are flowing so far away or so into each other that they can't feel him so close. Evan's watching, I think, the way their lips move together and how the sweat drips from his body onto hers, how their mouths open and shiny-wet tongues slide forward and touch, how they breathe into each other. It's actually kind of gross but something else too.

Evan looks entranced. Like he's being sucked in. He raises his hand and points his finger at them, at least, that's what I think he's doing. But then he keeps moving his hand forward and then his finger is touching their joined mouths.

My eyes go wide and I'm so freaked out and psyched up and spinning-crazy with the possibility of more excitement, that I almost don't step in. I know he's more than pushing, he's shoving, and they're going to notice soon and who knows what will happen next, but I can't make myself move or act. I'm glued, sipping the beer that's warmed and deserted it's purpose, and I want more. More of this. More of their touching and his touching and whatever can possibly come next.

But then there's a loud crash and everyone turns their head toward it, towards me. I knocked over a bottle of something potent, the smell quickly rising and reminding me of rubbing alcohol or paint thinner. There's glass shattered all over the floor and my feet are wet and now I really can't move.

Sink-girl asks if I'm okay. She's balancing on the ledge now, arms and legs wrapped around her boy and they're both so perfect-pink-flushed with ripe and swollen lips and lazy
eyes. I'm fine, of course. I say as much and look over to Evan. He's staring at the pieces of glass at my feet like they're something wonderful and precious. That look leaves an ache in my chest I can't explain.

The girl whispers something in the guy's ear, something that makes him smile shiny-bright and turn to kiss her some more. She giggles hard before slanting her lips over his and gripping her fingers in his hair.

I'm stuck 'cause I don't want to do something stupid like cut my feet and Evan's acting like he'll find serious answers in the refractions the glass pieces gives off, and I feel a little hopeless and a lot trapped. I feel like I'll panic soon. I have no choice but to try to reach him, so I call out to him soft, and it takes a moment but then he's looking at me like I'm brand new.

"Can you help?" I ask. "I don't have any shoes and there's glass..."

I wait while he thinks about it, while his brain catches up and he figures things out. When he does, he stomps over to me, walking on glass, unafraid 'cause he's wearing thick-soled kicks. He spins when we're standing nearly toes to toes, and crouches down in front of me. I wrap my arms around his neck and wrap my legs around his waist, and together we make our way out of the kitchen.

Evan stops at the wide, winding ballroom stairs that leads to the upper part of the Morgan's suite, but he doesn't put me down. Instead her rubs his thumb at the crinkled skin of my knee. He pushes his head back so that our cheeks brush. He reaches back and tugs at my curled hair, letting his fingers slide through to the ends. I make a noise and wiggle a little, letting him know I want down, and after a moment, he let's me go.

I stand on the step above him, lean against the railing, and watch him watch me. His gaze is solemn, but maybe expressionless. Like his mind is elsewhere but maybe wherever that is isn't very important. When he snaps out of it, he reaches for me and touches the front of my dress. I'm surprised when he kneels and presses his face to my stomach.

His fingertips are moving across my legs, running up and down my thighs, so lightly, and almost tickling. So soft, he says. His hands keep moving up, taking my dress with them, brushing against my panties and then exposing them. It feels nice. Strange and different and distantly embarrassing, but nice. I feel good all over and everywhere but nowhere specific and I start feeling a little like my body's too small to contain me.

When his cheek brushes back and forth against my stomach, his skin so silky-smooth against mine, I have to push him off and take us someplace safe. I don't know what we're doing but I know we shouldn't be doing it here, for everyone and anyone to see.