“Okay,” I mimicked and quickly changed the subject. “So my dad isn’t due home for three more months. What trouble should I dare to stir up? Do you think I should actually break curfew while he’s gone?” I continued to sort out my clothes.
“I still can’t believe your dad is leaving you alone for three months.”
“He knows that it’s ridiculous to make me stay with my grandma, start a new school and then move back here when he gets home at Christmas. It’s my senior year. It’s important. He understands.” My grandma always stayed with me while my dad was away, but her sister wasn’t well and needed constant help. I was on my own this time.
“Yeah, well your grandma is only like two hours away anyway, so I’m sure she’ll pop in here and there.” K.C. pointed out. “Should we possibly risk having a party?”
She knew I was a worrywart, so her tone was cautious. My parents raised me to think for myself but to use common sense. Far too often had K.C. been disappointed by my lack of “devil may care” attitude. “That way, you wouldn’t be breaking curfew! Because you’d…be…home,” she quickly reasoned.
My chest tightened at the thought of an unauthorized party, but I had to admit, it was still something I wanted to do at some point.
“I guess it is a rite of passage for all teenagers, having a party while the parents are away,” I admitted but swallowed hard when I remembered that I only had one parent. Although my mom had passed away eight years ago, it still hurt every day. I glanced over to our last family picture sitting on my bedside table. We were at a White Sox game, and my parents were each kissing one of my cheeks, my lips scrunched up like a fish.
K.C. patted me on the back. “We’ll go slowly with you. We can start stretching the rules before we break them. How about having a guy over before you have a huge crowd?” She grabbed a black silk top I’d bought in Paris and held it up.
“Yeah, somehow I think my dad would find one guy more threatening that a houseful of teenage partiers. And I do break rules sometimes. I’m guilty of speeding and jaywalking and…” My voice trailed off as my lips pulled up into a grin. K.C. and I could be adventurous, but it was never of much interest to me to lose my father’s trust. Normally, I didn’t even bend rules. I respected him too much.
“Yeah, okay, Mother Theresa,” K.C. muttered dismissively as she began flipping through some photos I’d taken during my year away. “So can you speak French fluently now?”
“I know some useful words for you.” I deadpanned. She grabbed a pillow from my bed and flung it at me without looking away from the pictures in her hand. After three years of devoted friendship, we could exchange harmless insults as easily as clothes.
Walking into my private bathroom, I called out, “So, can you stay for dinner? We can do pizza.”
“Tonight I have to be home, actually,” she shouted back. “Liam is coming over for dinner. My mom is getting a little anxious about our relationship and wants to see him more.” She enunciated “relationship” as if there was a double meaning.
Liam and K.C. had been dating for two years, and they’d been ha**ng s*x for a while. Her mom no doubt suspected that their “relationship” had progressed.
“Uh oh, is Sergeant Carter on to you two?” I grunted while shoving my now empty suitcase under my bed. I called K.C.’s mom ‘Sergeant Carter’ due to her authoritarian mothering. K.C. had little privacy and was expected to report on everything. However, it only made her want to keep her secrets more.
“I’m sure. She found my nightie and went ballistic.” K.C. stood up and grabbed her purse off the bed.
“I would’ve loved to see you talk your way out of that one.” I shut off my bedroom light and followed her down the stairs.
“If my parents were like your dad, then maybe I wouldn’t be so nervous about telling them things,” K.C. mumbled.
I was pretty sure I would never tell my dad about my first time, whenever it happened.
“Well, we can hook up tomorrow or whenever. As long as it’s before school starts.”
“Absolutely, tomorrow.” She gave me a tight hug. “I need to go get myself cleaned up before dinner. I’ll see you later,” And she rushed out the door.
“Goddammit!” I bellowed up to my bedroom ceiling, now illuminated by the arrival of another partygoer.
DÃ©jÃ vu struck me as the house next door roared with music and voices. I’d blissfully forgotten about Jared’s raucous parties. The constant vibrations of engines revving and girls screaming—out of pleasure, I hoped—filled the air for the last two hours and was still going strong. My muscles tensed at every new noise.
I glanced, again, at the clock on my bedside table, willing it to stop ticking away the minutes. It was after midnight, and I had to wake up in five hours to meet up with my running club for their weekly workout. I had to wake up I thought, and that was providing I could get to sleep in the first place.
And that wasn’t going to happen without an intervention.
Isn’t it about time you fought back? K.C.’s words buzzed through my head.
There was almost no chance that Jared would turn down the music if I asked, but the diplomat in me thought it was worth a shot. The “old Tate” would’ve lain in here awake all night, too intimidated by her bully to ask him to turn down his music. Now, bodily fatigue and weariness had chipped away my patience.