“Well,” he said, holding up the box in his hand, “I have to drop by this party in Lakeview and give a friend of mine these car parts I found at the salvage yard.”
“A party and car parts?” I said. “Don’t hurt yourself, now.”
“I’ll try not to.”
I smiled at him, digging my own keys out of my pocket.
“You want to ride along?”
I was sort of surprised that he asked me. And even more surprised how quickly I answered, no hesitation, as if this had been what I’d been planning to do all along. “Sure.”
The party was big and in full swing by the time we pulled up twenty minutes later. As we walked up to the front door, dodging people grouped along the driveway and front lawn, I was, as always, aware of the fact that we were being stared at. Or that Wes was. He hardly seemed to notice, but I wondered how he’d ever gotten used to it.
Once inside, I’d barely crossed the threshold when someone grabbed my arm. Someone in a denim miniskirt, cowboy boots, and a hot pink bustier. One guess.
“Oh, my God,” Kristy hissed in my ear, yanking me sideways to the bottom of the stairs. “I knew it! What are you doing? Macy, you’d better start talking. Now.”
Wes had stopped in the middle of the foyer and was looking around for me. When he finally spotted me and saw I was with Kristy, he mouthed he’d be right back, then disappeared down the hallway past a clump of cheerleaders, who watched him go with wistful expressions. Not that I could focus on this, as Kristy was about to break my arm.
“Will you stop?” I asked her, wrenching myself out of her grip. “I think you sprained something.”
“I can’t believe,” she said indignantly, not even hearing this, “that you and Wes are out on a date and you didn’t even tell me. What does this say about our friendship? Where is the trust, Macy?”
I felt someone bump my other side and looked over to see Monica, a bottled water in one hand, looking out at the crowd in the living room with a bored expression.
“Did you see who Macy is with?” Kristy said to her.
“Mmm-hmm,” Monica said.
“I am not with him,” I said, rubbing my elbow. “He needed to drop something off, I was over there helping Bert get ready for the Armageddon social, and he just—”
“Oh, shit!” Kristy put a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide. “I forgot about the social. God, please tell me he didn’t wear that polka-dot shirt.”
“He didn’t,” I told her, and she visibly relaxed. “Stripes.”
I nodded. “The blue one.”
“Good.” She took a sip of the beer she was holding, then pointed a finger at me. “Now, let’s get back to you and Wes. Do you swear there’s nothing going on?”
“God, calm down,” I said. She was still looking at me, as if this was not an acceptable answer. I added, “I swear.”
“All right then,” she said, nodding toward the dining room, where I could see a bunch of guys gathered around the table. “Prove it.”
“Prove it?” I said, but she was already dragging me down into the foyer, across the living room, and into the dining room, plopping me down in a chair, and perching herself on the arm. Monica, true to form, arrived about thirty seconds later, looking winded. Not that Kristy seemed to notice. Clearly she was on a mission.
“Macy,” she said, gesturing down the table to a heavyset guy in a baseball cap, another in an orange shirt, and, at the end, a hippie-looking type with blue eyes and a ponytail, “this is John, Donald, and Philip.”
“Hi,” I said, and they all said hello in return.
“Macy’s currently sort of between relationships,” Kristy explained, “and I am trying, trying, to show her that there is a whole world of possibilities out there.”
Everyone was looking at me, and I felt my face redden. I wondered when Wes was coming back.
“These guys,” Kristy continued, gesturing around the table, “are totally undateable. But they’re really nice.”
“The fact that we’re undateable, however,” John, the one in the baseball hat, said to me, “did not stop her from dating all of us.”
“That’s how I know!” she said, and they all laughed. Donald handed her a quarter and she bounced, missing, and drank. “Look,” she said to me, “I’m going to go do a preliminary sweep. When I come back, I’ll walk you through and introduce you to some prospects. Okay?”
“Kristy,” I said, but she was already walking away, patting John on the head as she passed him.
“Your turn,” he said, nodding at me.
I picked up the quarter. While I’d seen this game played before, I’d never tried it myself. I bounced the quarter like Kristy had, and it landed in the cup with a splash, which was good. I thought. “What happens now?” I asked Philip.
He swallowed. “You pick someone to drink.”
I looked around the table, then pointed at John, who raised his cup, toasting me.
“Your turn again,” Philip said.
“Oh.” I bounced the quarter again: again, it went in.
“Watch out!” Donald said. “She’s on fire!”
Just barely: with my third bounce, I missed. Philip indicated that I should drink, which I did, and pushed the quarter on to John. “Oh well,” I said. “It was fun while it lasted.” He made it, of course, and pointed at me.
“Bottoms up,” he said, so I drank again.
And again. And again. The next twenty minutes or so passed quickly—or at least it seemed that way—as I missed just about every bounce I took and was picked to drink whenever anyone else landed one in. Dateable or not, these guys were ruthless. Which meant that by the time Wes slid into the seat beside me, things were seeming a little fuzzy. To say the least.
“Hey,” he said. “Thought you were lost.”
“Not lost,” I told him. “Kidnapped. And now, a colossal failure at quarters. Did you find your friend?”
He shook his head. “He’s not here. You about ready to go?”
“Beyond ready,” I said. “In fact, I think I’m a little—”
“Macy.” I turned around to see Kristy, hands on hips, looking determined. “It’s time to do this.”
“Do what?” Wes asked, and I was wondering the same thing, having totally forgotten our earlier conversation. Not that it mattered, as she already had me on my feet, stumbling slightly, and was dragging me full force into the kitchen. Oh, right, I thought. Prospects.