After detention on Friday, I went to Cambree's. As usual, her father wasn't home, and for the first time since school had started back, it was just us, and we weren't smothered by the presence of Taryn or Laurel. And ever since she'd apologized for getting me in trouble with the cigarette, she hadn't blown me off every chance she got.
As soon as we got to Cambree's house, she went straight to her father's liquor cabinet, pulling out a bottle of Bacardi, and poured two glasses.
I tried not to look so flabbergasted as I settled on the chair at the kitchen island. If I made a big deal of it, I was sure she would go back and make fun of me with Taryn and Laurel. Besides, I shouldn't have been surprised after what I'd seen her do at Ethan's Wednesday night.
"Won't your dad notice?" I asked instead, watching her take the first sip.
Cambree rolled her eyes. "Please. He's so busy trying to remember the bitch's name he's usually got waiting in the living room he doesn't have time to notice anything. My brother does this all the time and my father never notices." Cambree snorted a laugh. "Hell, he probably thinks he drank it himself."
She settled down across from me and took another drink. "So. Your birthday is only two weeks away. Any big plans?"
I was surprised that Cambree had managed to remember my birthday in the midst of her amazing new life. I shrugged. "None that I know of."
"Well, you're turning sixteen! We have to do something extravagant."
I hated feeling this way, but at this point, I didn't really know how I felt about Cambree being involved in my birthday plans. If I had my way, I would take myself, Cambree, Jenna, and Mandy and have a girls' day, then rent pizzas and movies and have everyone sleep over at my house. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't know things were changing. I thought about Andrew. About the things I was feeling for him now. Even I was changing. Maybe even he would like to be involved in my birthday plans.
"Maybe," I said thoughtfully.
"What about a party? I'm sure your mom would go for it."
Just as long as Laurel and Taryn don't end up there.
Cambree's iPhone vibrated and I could see the name registering on the front.
Speaking of the devil herself…
Cambree snatched up the phone with a smile and put the phone to her ear. "Laurel, what's up!"
I stood up and walked to the refrigerator to get myself a soda. We'd almost had a Laurel-free afternoon.
They only talked for a minute. When Cambree hung up she looked like a little kid that had just sucked down three Monsters and a pack of Pixie sticks. "There's a party tonight after the basketball game! We're so going."
I so didn't want to. "Who's having a party?"
"Kennedy Smith. She's nineteen. You don't know her."
I hated the way she'd dismissively waved her hand at me, like so suddenly she knew all about Kennedy.
"Andrew will be there, you have to go," Cambree said.
"Is that some sort of rule?" I asked, maybe a little more sarcastically than I'd meant.
"Sophia, come on. It'll be fun."
Sure it will. "Yeah. Sure. What time should I be ready?"
My mother was on the phone when I came home. With her job, sometimes work didn't end at 5:00 when she left her office. I could hear her voice, drifting from her home office as I made my way up the stairs to my room.
"Jonathon, don't forget what we talked about last week…"
I shut my bedroom door when I got inside, and went straight to my closet to choose something to wear to this party tonight. As I recalled, I'd done the party thing with Cambree, and I hadn't had fun. I would admit, some good did come from it. Andrew, that was. But I didn't really want to go to another one.
I was about to get into the shower when a knock came to my door.
"Come in," I called.
My mother opened the door. "Hey, honey. When did you get home?"
"Just now," I told her.
She saw me going through clothes. "What are you doing?"
It was then I realized that I had been busy making plans to go to this party with Cambree and I hadn't even asked, yet.
"Oh, uhm, sorry, I forgot. There's a party tonight. After the game. Everyone's going. Is it OK if I go?"
"Where is it?"
"Someone Cambree knows. I don't know her. Andrew will be there."
"Ok, just be home by eleven."
"Uhm, actually, I was sort of wondering if I could stay out until midnight."
My mother shook her head. "When you turn sixteen we'll talk about curfew extensions, Sophia."
"Well, that's only two weeks away," I said. "Maybe I could have an advance in my curfew extension. Like an advance in an allowance?"
My mother narrowed her eyes, like she was trying to figure me out. "The way your mind works, Sophia," she sighed, shaking her head. "It's unusual. But that was a nice try. I'll commend you on that one. Be home by eleven."
I shrugged. Oh well. At least I could tell Cambree I tried.
"Eleven?" Cambree pouted when I told her what time I had to be home. "I thought you said you were going to try and get twelve."
I didn't see why she cared. She'd be drunk by ten. And she'd already found someone to drive us all home. The plan was, as she'd told me, was for Ethan's friend, who'd been elected designated driver of the evening to drop me off at home, then to take Ethan and Cambree back to Ethan's, where they could be alone. I didn't know what plans they had after that. Then again, maybe I did. Cambree hadn't told me anything, but I was sure if she was rounding bases with Ethan, Laurel and Taryn would know before me. That was how things were nowadays.
"My mom said we'd talk about a curfew extension when I turned sixteen," I said.
We heard a horn blow from the front yard. Cambree rolled her eyes. "Come on. Our ride is here."
I sat up front with Ethan's friend so Cambree could sit in the back with Ethan. I realized this guy driving us to the party wasn't actually Ethan's friend. He was second string on the JV basketball team. A sophomore like me. His name was Garrett and I'd had a class with him last semester. It was pretty obvious the only reason he'd been invited to this party tonight was to be the designated driver.
I wondered if this was a thing. Did all the varsity hotshots pick up the less popular guys to drive them home when they got wasted?
We got there a little after 8:00. I texted Andrew, letting him know we'd arrived.
This girl, Kennedy, lived in a small house, too small for the amount of party goes, in my opinion, but this neighborhood didn't seem to be the type to complain. Half the neighbors seemed to be in on the party, too.
Cars lined the street, and some were even parked in yards. I got out of the car and could hear music thumping from Kennedy's house, along with a dog barking and police sirens.
I knew this neighborhood, but had no idea what we were doing here.
"Pagonia Heights?" I asked Cambree. "The cops are scared of this place. Cambree, what the hell are we doing here?"
"Relax," Cambree laughed, clutching Ethan's waist as they started walking down the street. The way she laughed was like an adult would laugh at something silly a child would do. I hated that.
God, please don't let me get shot.
I turned on my heel and followed her.
This wasn't like Taryn's party, I could tell right away. There were adults here. Like, adults my parents age.
We went inside. I was suffocated. All around me, all I could smell was smoke. Cigarette smoke, cigars, marijuana. There were beer bottles and beer cans all over the place. In the kitchen, a game of beer pong was going on. At the head of the table, I saw Andrew.
"Come on," Cambree said. I followed her and Ethan to the table. Her brother was there, too, with Laurel, Taryn, and Josh.
I watched as Andrew bounced a ping pong ball and it landed right in the cup. "Fuck yeah, baby!" he shouted. Then he took a drink. It was weird seeing him going frat-boy like this.
I knew he must have been one of the guys, like the star of the basketball team should have been, but I hadn't seen him drunk before. I was seeing it now.
Cambree laughed. "I guess they won."
Ethan found a seat at the table, pulling her into his lap, and Andrew caught me around the waist, pulling me into his.
"You came," he said happily. Then he kissed me, and all I could smell and taste was beer. It was disgusting, I had to say.
Next to us, some guy was rolling a joint. I gulped.
Andrew held his hand out, and the joint was placed in it. I was getting more uncomfortable the more I saw at this party. Andrew was smoking weed, again, and he was drunk. Cambree would be off on her own in a little while.
Alone wasn't the word for how I felt right now.
And then Andrew held the joint in front of me. I didn't do or say anything for a second, and then I realized, it was being offered to me.
And I considered it.
That same want came over me as Wednesday night, when we'd been making out. So maybe not the same exact kind of want, but the curiosity was on point. The same feeling of wanting to know what it felt like.
"It doesn't bite," he laughed. "Just try it."
I took it between my fingers, and I stared at it. I looked around, half expecting the partygoers to be staring at me, waiting to see if I'd do it. They couldn't care less. They were drunk, and going on with their game of beer pong without Andrew.
I could feel Andrew's hands on my shoulders, and he massaged them. "Baby, you're tense."
I thought about what he said. "It won't bite."
In that moment, I don't know what came over me. I didn't know if it was peer pressure, or sole curiosity. Maybe he was right. I did need to relax. But whatever it was, made me put that joint to my lips. And I took a deep drag.
"Hold it in," he said, taking it back. So I did, until I couldn't anymore. I coughed, and the smoke billowed from my mouth like I was a living chimney.
It took a minute to process, but I couldn't believe I had just broken my very first law. I had smoked weed.
My face was feeling warm, and I could feel my eyes water. But I didn't feel relaxed.
"One hit isn't going to do it," Andrew chuckled. He took a drag, and gave it back to me. I knew why I did it the first time, but I couldn't say why I did it the second.
Or the third, or the fourth.
My heart began to race, I could feel myself getting dizzy. I told Andrew. He chuckled. "You're OK, it's normal for your first time. It'll go away. Just relax."
So I did. About five minutes later, maybe longer, I couldn't tell, the dizziness subsided, my heart slowed down, and I was feeling better. I was feeling good.
No, I thought, sighing, as I looked at the clock, wishing I had more time until my curfew. Because I didn't just feel good. I felt great.