Magic of the Moonlight
THREE - party with a werewolf
I can't believe we are actually doing this," Ivy said when I got into her mom's Lexus SUV and we drove off to pick up Brandon and take him to Abby's party. I was excited to be seeing Brandon in public even though we still weren't open about our relationship. And I thought it would be good for both of us to have a little fun since we had about two weeks until his father was coming in from Europe.
"Doesn't it make you feel good, doing something nice for someone else?"
"Kind of. But I don't want to get in the habit of this," she said with a smile.
"We'll be the talk of the party."
"Well, it will be awesome to have the Legend's Run werewolf at the party." She didn't know that she was speaking the truth. "Maybe he'll even wear the costume," she said hopefully.
"It wasn't even his," I said defensively.
"How can you be so sure?" she asked.
I wanted to tell her it was Nash who had hidden inside the costume, but if it got back to him that I'd told her, he would surely tell her he'd seen me in the woods with Brandon.
"I just know . . ." I said.
"Always sticking up for people," Ivy said. "That's why you rock."
Ivy began driving us through the west side of Legend's Run. "What if a killer jumps out of the woods?" she asked suddenly.
She wasn't used to being in desolate areas, and I was only somewhat used to it because I'd been visiting Brandon the last few months. But Ivy was freaked out by the lack of traffic and population.
"Do you think we'll make it out of here alive?"
"Yes," I reassured her.
"What if we get a flat tire? And our cell phones don't work? No one will know we're in trouble and some psycho - "
"Calm down," I said.
"You have to admit, it's totally creepy back here. Like some horror flick. Why didn't we bring Jake with us?"
I could see why she thought it was frightening, with shadows casting spooky images off of the trees and road. It could make one's imagination race. But I enjoyed the peace the country brought and felt calmed by the quiet.
"It's not that much farther," I said. I was anxious to get to his house, too, but for different reasons.
"Why would anyone want to live back here?" she asked. "There aren't any lights. And there's nothing to do."
"Some people like wide-open spaces and nature," I said. "There is so much to do. Hike, canoe, camp. You might even like it."
"There isn't a mall," she said with a laugh. "Enough said."
Finally we turned onto Brandon's street, and I pointed to the private drive sign a few yards away.
She pulled into his driveway and drove down the long, tree-lined road. "Where is this leading us to?" Ivy asked. "I know it's not a country club."
"Just keep going," I said.
It didn't take long before his grandparents' house was in view.
"It's so cute and tiny," she said when we got close.
Ivy parked the car in front of the main house, and the Lexus's lights shone on the guesthouse.
"Who lives back there?" she said. "Some madman?"
I wasn't going to tell her that was Brandon's guesthouse, nor was I going to admit to her how I knew it.
Brandon's grandparents' husky began barking like mad in the window.
"Do we have to go in?" she asked. "I'm afraid to get out of the car."
Just then someone was standing by Ivy's window.
She screamed a bloodcurdling scream, causing me to scream, too.
"What's wrong?" I said, my heart almost busting out of my chest. Then I caught my breath and noticed a familiar smile. "It's just Brandon."
She lowered her window. "You almost scared me to death!" she said.
Even in the darkness, Brandon was gorgeous. His eyes matched the color of his bright blue shirt. It was hard for me not to stare and even harder for me not to kiss him.
"I appreciate you picking me up," Brandon said, hopping into the backseat. "This is very cool of you."
"Well, it is the least we can do," Ivy said, "after you found Abby's dog and all."
"Man, I'll be the luckiest guy there," he said. "Showing up with the two most beautiful girls in school."
Ivy's face flushed. She was flattered by his attention and politeness. Jake and Dylan spent most of their time goofing off in front of their girlfriends.
"This part of town is really interesting," Ivy said, suddenly in flirt mode. "I've always thought it was charming."
What? I thought. The compliments had gone to her head.
"It might be easier if you turn around," he said. "Saves you backing up."
"Ah," she said. "Good idea."
She drove forward and turned around in front of Brandon's guesthouse. The lights illuminated part of the huge backyard.
"This is all yours?" she asked.
"My grandparents'," he replied.
The lot was bigger than hers, and she was impressed.
Then we spotted the Jeep, which was parked off to the side.
"That was a shame someone vandalized your Jeep," she said, now concerned. "But it looks like you got it all off."
"Yes," he said. "I did have some help."
I nervously tucked my hair behind my ear.
"So . . . how do you like it here in Legend's Run?" I asked as Ivy finished making her U-turn and began down the drive.
"It's been okay."
"You don't seem to have a lot of friends," Ivy said.
"I have the one I need," he said. Now my face flushed.
"That skater chick, Hayley?" she asked. "She's your girlfriend?"
"No, she's not," he said.
"Do you have a girlfriend?" she asked, looking in the rearview mirror.
"I'd like to think so."
"Then who is she?" Ivy pried. "Do we know her?"
"Yes, I think you do."
"You must tell!" Ivy said, excited to get the goods on any gossip she could, no matter what side of town it was coming from.
"Do you miss Miller's Glen?" I asked, changing the subject.
Ivy snarled, and I could tell she was let down by not getting the latest scoop.
"I'm starting to like it here," he said.
"Well, if you haven't noticed, this town is really cliquey," Ivy said as if she wasn't part of making that happen. "I don't know why, but that's the way it's always been. Too bad, really."
We parked outside Abby's house. There was already a line of cars, including Nash's Beemer. I wasn't sure how he'd respond to Brandon being at the party, but with Ivy bringing him, I figured he wouldn't make a scene.
Abby opened the door, and we were immediately greeted by Pumpkin. She raced up to Brandon, who petted her like she was his own.
Abby gave Ivy and me a quick hug.
"Hi, Brandon," she said. "Come on in."
Abby struggled, trying to pull Pumpkin by her collar so she wouldn't continue to jump on Brandon.
"It looks like she missed you," Abby said.
It took a little bit of time for Pumpkin to calm down. Abby was trying to wrangle her in when Brandon locked gazes with the dog.
Pumpkin relaxed by his side. Then Brandon petted her again.
"You have a way with dogs," Abby said.
We hovered in the two-story, open foyer. Abby's father's office was on one side and a grand dining room was on the other. Their furniture was too expensive to sit on, and the house looked like a model home.
Jake and Dylan and a few others who were lingering in the foyer were obviously shocked to see Brandon in our company.
"What's he doing here?" Jake mumbled to Ivy. "And why did you and Celeste pick him up?"
"Abby wanted to invite him to pay him back for finding Pumpkin," she said.
Dylan wasn't pleased, either. He took Abby by the arm and whispered something I couldn't hear.
"It's okay," she said, brushing him off. "It's just a party."
"Come on in, guys," she said. "Do you want a drink, Brandon?"
Abby was being a great hostess. We followed her through the kitchen.
"Hey, Wolfie," Jake said as we passed by. Ivy pinched his elbow.
"Knock it off," she said sternly.
I was proud to see my friends sticking up for Brandon.
Abby led the way into the main room, with Pumpkin at Brandon's heels. A bunch of students were already drinking, talking, and having a good time. All eyes were on us as the partygoers were surprised to see an outsider like Brandon at Abby's party.
Abby handed us sodas and we stood around awkwardly. It didn't take long for Ivy to hang with Jake while Abby attended to her party.
Brandon and I were left to hang out with each other. Normally I would have been excited, but since he wasn't my established boyfriend, I couldn't be cozy with him like my friends and the rest of the couples were being.
"Where's Nash?" Ivy asked, her arms draped on Jake as they hung out on the couch.
"I think he's out back," he replied.
I'd been hoping Nash would have been there when we first arrived with Ivy. Then he would have seen the three of us girls together with Brandon, and it would have been less jarring. The way it was now, it looked like I'd brought Brandon. And though I didn't mind that, I didn't want to shove it in Nash's face, since it really wasn't why Brandon was here.
Brandon and I hung together. I wanted so badly to lean against him, hold his hand, snuggle up to him. He was so close to me, I could smell the fabric softener on his clothes and the cologne on his skin. It made for a heavenly mix; the scent was driving me crazy.
A cool burst of air flowed through the house as Nash came in from outside. He had a huge grin on his face until he saw me standing with Brandon. Then his smile turned to a spiteful frown.
He smelled like cigarette smoke. Nash didn't approve of smoking, so I was curious whose company he'd been in.
"Well, if it isn't the Wolfman," Nash said.
The group of partygoers looked to see Brandon's reaction.
"Nash - " Abby said suddenly, coming in from the kitchen. "I thought we lost you."
"I was just getting some air and I come back to find - "
"I invited Brandon to the party," she said.
"Yes, he saved Pumpkin so I wanted to invite him." Abby spoke low but forcefully.
Pumpkin was still at Brandon's side.
"By the looks of it you'd think Pumpkin was his dog," Dylan said. We watched as Brandon petted Pumpkin.
"So you two are still seeing each other?" Nash whispered to me. I could hear the jealousy in his voice. I didn't want to upset him, but it wasn't like Nash had been so in love with me when we were dating. He acted a lot different now that we weren't. Nash put his arm around me. I quickly wiggled out. "Do Ivy and Abby know about him and you?" he whispered again. "And what I saw?"
"Shh!" I said softly. "No one knows."
Abby pulled Pumpkin away from Brandon as the dog continued to want to be in his company. She opened the back door to let Pumpkin out and Heidi Rosen and a few other girls came in from outside. They all smelled like smoke. It was apparent Nash hadn't missed me that much.
The way Heidi and the girls looked at us told me that our plan may have backfired. Bringing Brandon didn't ensure him new popularity. It only ensured him being more ostracized than before.
We weren't being affectionate, but since no one was including Brandon in their conversation and I wanted to spend time with him, I stayed near him. But it was impossible to get any alone time with Brandon now that Nash was inside. Nash followed us around, surveyed every move Brandon and I made, and tried to stand between us whenever possible. Ivy and Abby were both absorbed in their own missions - Ivy enjoying Jake, and Abby enjoying being a hostess, so I couldn't hang out with them and not be tempted to show my affection for Brandon.
"So are you taking Brandon home, too?" Jake asked Ivy. "I don't like you bringing other guys to parties. It looks bad. But I definitely don't want you taking other guys home from parties."
"We'll drive him home," Nash said.
"Yes," Dylan confirmed. "We can have a chat with our new friend."
My mind raced, and the images were horrible. And though our boyfriends weren't violent, nothing good was to come of them taking him home.
"No - I will make sure he gets home," I said.
"But you don't have a car," Abby noted.
"It's only right, since we brought him," I said.
"Now we are fighting over him," Ivy gushed.
"I can make my own decisions," Brandon said.
"I don't think it's a good idea for you to be driven home by our girlfriends," said Nash.
"Your girlfriends?" Brandon pressed. "Do you mean Celeste?"
Nash knew exactly what Brandon meant.
"Guys, let's cool it," I said.
"I can call a cab," Brandon offered. "In fact, I'll call one now." He reached in his pocket and pulled out his phone.
"A cab?" Nash said. "I don't think they drive to the Westside. They might get shot."
"That's it," I said. "I'll take you home."
"You don't even have a car." Ivy repeated Abby's remark.
"We can walk to my house from here. Then I can drive Brandon back. He's our guest, and I'm not going to let him be treated like this."
"Let's calm down," Abby said. "This is a party, guys."
"I think it's getting ugly," I said. "We aren't having a good time, Abby. I'm sorry, but some of your guests don't know how to behave."
"Dylan, do something," Abby pressed.
Her boyfriend raised his hand as if to stop us. "Don't let the door hit you on the way out," he teased. Abby tossed a sofa pillow at him.
Ivy got up. "I don't want to drive back to the Westside now," she said to me. "We just got here. I'll try to cool the guys down."
"Don't worry," I said. "You stay. I'll take him back."
"But you'll be all alone with him," she told me.
"I'll be okay. There's nothing at all to worry about. You saw - he's very polite."
"Now I feel really bad. He was really polite and we brought him to a party where the guys were awful. This was supposed to be fun, not like school."
"I know," Abby whined. "I wanted to be a good hostess."
"Don't worry," I reassured her, giving her a hug. "You were."
"I'm sorry, Brandon," Abby apologized. "I really wish you'd both stay."
"That's okay," Brandon said. "I appreciate the invite."
"At least Pumpkin was nice to him," I said, shrugging my shoulders.
"I don't want you to go so soon." Ivy pouted.
I wasn't coming out and proclaiming my love for Brandon to them, but I hoped my actions said something. Even if I didn't have such strong romantic feelings for him, I'd still have stuck up for him. I didn't like to see my friends treating someone so badly. Nash and the guys were acting up, and it was inappropriate behavior.
Nash was fuming. I was leaving the party with another guy - a Westsider. And to make it worse, there wasn't anything he could do about it.
"Please call me when you get there," Ivy directed. "Promise?"
"Of course," I said as I headed to the front door.
Ivy was always motherly to me, from that first day I'd met her on the bus. She liked to take care of me. It was one of her most endearing qualities.
"Sorry about that," I said when I caught up to Brandon. He was waiting at the lamppost by the walk in the front yard.
"Nash is just fighting for you. I can't blame him."
"You are too kind," I said. I pulled the collar of my coat up to cover my blushing cheeks.
"People are really going to talk now," he said, "with you taking me home."
"Let them. I think I've been waiting for it. But I'm more concerned about the repercussions for you."
"Well, if Nash does tell them what he saw . . ." he lamented.
"Then I'll tell them he's joking."
We started walking in the direction of my house.
"Well, anyway," he began, "I think I'm getting used to it."
"Are you?" I asked. It hurt me deep inside to know that Brandon was becoming accustomed to the negative treatment by my friends, their boyfriends, and other students at school. "How can you?"
"I just focus on you."
"That's so sweet." I linked my arm with his and squeezed him. "But it must be hard. You don't deserve to be treated the way you are. Our school is so cliquey."
"I think they all are," he said.
"Was it like that in Miller's Glen?"
"So you were teased there, too?"
Instead of answering, Brandon wrapped his arm around my shoulder. I felt warm in his embrace. However, when he was a werewolf, he really emanated heat.
"So now we have the rest of the night together," he said. "Just us."
"Yes, just us."
"What would you like to do?" he asked as we walked out of Abby's community and down the sidewalk toward my subdivision. "See a movie?"
There was so much I wanted to do with Brandon. See a movie, shop at the mall, watch a game. All the things I was used to doing I wanted to experience with him.
We continued to stroll, huddling closely together, when we turned the corner to my community.
"Would you like to come inside?" I asked. I'd rarely invited Nash inside my house. Since his house was so large and mine more modest, I always felt like he might think he was dating down. Even though Brandon's grandparents had acres of land and vast woods surrounding his home, he didn't seem to be the type to be bothered by such things. And even if Nash didn't come out and say anything, I felt self-conscious. But with Brandon, I felt like material status didn't matter. I could hear Champ inside barking as we walked up the sidewalk.
"Sure. That sounds awesome."
My parents had gone out for the night to dinner and a movie, so they wouldn't be home for a while. I thought it was a good opportunity to be alone with Brandon, without the usual parental annoyances.
Brandon followed me inside and was greeted enthusiastically by Champ, who wagged his tail and panted in excitement. As I began to close the door behind us, I noticed a car driving down the street. It was Nash's BMW. I quickly shut the door and heard him drive away.
I removed my coat and scarf and took Brandon's as well. I wanted to be the perfect hostess. I hung his coat in the hall closet instead of leaving it on the banister, as I tended to do with mine.
Brandon seemed eager to explore the house and poked his head around our entryway. Champ followed him as if he were his owner.
"You want the official tour?" I asked.
"I think it will take half a minute," I said with a nervous chuckle.
"No - your house is really cool."
"Well, it's not like Abby's. Or Nash's."
"Why should it be?"
Brandon was right. A burst of energy raced through me with his warm compliment.
"Here's our dining room," I said, leading him around. I couldn't help but have an extra bounce in my step. Champ was still glued to Brandon. I had to drag him outside to give Brandon room to breathe. "This is our kitchen and family room. And the bedrooms are upstairs."
As we both stood in my kitchen, I was nervous. Even though I'd been over to Brandon's home many times, I felt awkward. After all, he had his own guesthouse, a hilltop that went on for days, and his own skating rink.
I obsessively tucked my hair behind my ear and kept on wriggling in my stance.
"As you can see, it's not a castle like Nash's and Abby's."
"I think this house is great. It has character, like you."
His smile melted me, and he took my hands. "I've been waiting to do this all night."
I'd been waiting, too, since I first saw him get into Ivy's SUV. He drew me into him and kissed me long and with such passion I had to lean against the island so as not to faint.
Here I was standing in my kitchen kissing Brandon Maddox. It was so far from anything that I'd ever imagined happening.
"We can hang out here," I said. I switched on the TV. "Maybe there's a movie on. What would you like to watch?"
"Aren't you going to show me your room?" he asked.
"It's a total mess. I wasn't expecting you to come over."
"I know. I just thought it would be nice to see where you hang out. Then we can come back and watch TV."
I led him up the stairs, where a few of our family pictures lined the wall. I blushed as we passed one of me as a baby. "I hate that one."
"No - it's cute."
"It's so dumb. I barely had any hair."
"Well, you could be like me - and a few nights a month have too much."
We both laughed.
It was weird. I felt so buzzed having Brandon in my house alone with me. And to think that he was also a werewolf - an attractive one - made me feel even more freaked out.
"Wow - " he said. "This is cool."
My room was painted light blue with dark blue curtains. We hadn't redone my room in years, and now I wasn't sure if I wished I had. I had a dusty porcelain horse collection, stacks of worn books on shelves, and my laptop computer on my hand-me-down desk.
I noticed a pink bra resting on my hamper. I raced over to it, hoping he wouldn't notice it before I retrieved it. I felt embarrassed as I lifted the lid and quickly threw it inside.
"So, do you want to go back downstairs now?" I asked.
"No, this is awesome." He wandered around my room, examining my pictures and figurines.
His jersey was still on my nightstand. I had shown it to him to prove he had taken it off the first time he'd turned but hadn't given it back. Since he hadn't asked for it to be returned, I kept it on my nightstand. I'd never admit it to him, but sometimes I even held it when I slept.
"You still have my shirt," he said.
"I was hoping you wouldn't see that."
He reached out to me and took my hands, then pulled me into him. I felt like he was going to kiss me - right here in my room. Here, where I'd dreamed about him so many nights and written his name a dozen times in every one of my notebooks.
Brandon wasn't a star running back, but he might as well have been. He was all muscle; I felt small and dainty in his presence.
He cupped my face in his warm hands and drew me in and kissed me.
"Now are you ready to go downstairs?" he asked.
"Uh . . . not yet." I leaned in for another kiss when I heard the sound of the garage door opening.
"My parents are here!" I said. "They weren't supposed to be back this soon!"
He laughed at how flustered I'd become. "I guess your dad might get upset if he came home and found me in your bedroom."
"Good thing it's not a full moon - or we'd really be in trouble," I said.
My older sister, Juliette, had guys in her room all the time when she lived at home. But I didn't have the reputation my sister had and was hoping to avoid one.
Brandon and I raced downstairs. The TV was switched on to QVC - not the sort of show two seventeen-year-olds were usually engrossed in on a Friday night. It screamed, We were making out!
I quickly turned it to a movie channel when the mudroom door opened.
"What are you doing home?" my mom asked when she entered the family room. Then she noticed Brandon sitting next to me. "Oh, hi," she said. "I didn't know you had company."
Brandon rose and extended his hand to my parents.
"This is Brandon," I said. "Brandon, these are my parents."
My dad gave Brandon a firm handshake. He seemed surprised to see a boy in our house.
"I thought you were at Abby's party," my mom said.
"We were, but Brandon needed a ride home so we stopped off here to get my car. And we decided to watch TV for a little bit."
"The movie we wanted to see was sold out," my dad said, "so we're going to have to wait to see it tomorrow."
"That's nice," I said, not knowing what to say.
"Well, don't let us keep you," my mom said.
My dad continued to hover.
"Uh . . . that's okay. I was just about to take Brandon home," I said.
"No - you two can watch TV," my mom offered.
"It's getting late," I said as we headed for our coats.
I didn't feel like letting my parents embarrass me with their get-to-know-you banter, so I whisked Brandon out the front door.
When we got into the car, I switched on the radio. As I was flipping stations, "Fly Me to the Moon" was playing on an oldies hits station.
"That's our song!" I said.
Brandon and I sang along with Frank Sinatra, trying to remember all the words and the correct pitches and cracking up at ourselves. When the song was over, my gut was in pain from all the laughing.
I had just parked in front of his guesthouse when Ivy called.
"Where are you?" she asked. I could hear the sounds of partygoers in the background.
"I'm dropping Brandon off."
"Now? But you left ages ago. I was hoping you'd come back to the party."
"It took a little longer than I thought," I said, holding the phone away from Brandon.
"I was worried about you. You didn't call me."
"I'm sorry I didn't go with you. I guess I should have, but I wanted - "
"Don't worry about it, really," I said. I was thankful my friend had remained at the party. If not, I wouldn't have had time with Brandon at my house or now alone in my car.
"What was it like driving him by yourself? Did he make a move?" she teased. I was dying to say we'd kissed only a short time ago. I signaled to Brandon, who was doing his best to be patient while I talked.
"Stop," I said. "Let me call you back when I get home. I don't want to drive and talk."
I hung up and turned toward Brandon. It was dark, but the moonlight shone brightly on his gorgeous features.
"I'm really sorry about the party," I said to Brandon. "It didn't go as planned."
"I don't mind," he said. "I got to be with you. See your room. Meet your parents. And get a kiss."
I blushed and we got out of the car. As we stood outside his guesthouse, he put his hands in his pockets and looked down at me.
"That was really nice of you to stick up for me in front of your friends," he said. "You are always doing that."
"I feel bad because I haven't told Ivy and Abby about us yet. You know I want to."
"But we agree why you shouldn't. It's not because I'm from the Westside. It because I'm a - "
"Well, hopefully we can have that fixed soon. It won't be long until your father comes here."
"Yes, and then we can finally be together."
"In the hallways," I said.
". . . and at lunch," he added.
". . . and everywhere," I confirmed.
We lingered for a moment, lost in romantic thought, and then he pulled me in and kissed me.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" he asked.
"I was going to go to the game with Ivy and Abby. But I'd rather be with you."
"Maybe you should spend some time with them," he said, wrapping me in his arms. "Since you left tonight - they might be mad?"
"But I'd really rather be with you." I felt so warm and cozy in his embrace.
He leaned in and kissed me again. Heat rose throughout my body; I didn't want to be anywhere but on the other side of his lips. Then his dog began to bark, and a light came on in the main house's bedroom window and our moment was broken.
"Call me when you get home," he said, walking me to my car. "I want to make sure you're all right."
I had two guardians - Ivy and Brandon. Two polar opposites, but both my best friends.
The following day, I awoke early. I had spring fever. I was so ecstatic about being with Brandon that I couldn't contain myself. Not through sleep, studying, or talking on the phone. Midday, I met Ivy and Abby at Hotspots for coffee. I chose a tall decaf latte because I was already hyped up on Brandon.
"So what happened when you took him home?" Abby asked eagerly.
"Nothing really." But the memory of kissing Brandon brought a huge smile to my face.
"Did he make any moves on you?" Abby asked.
"He said he had a girlfriend," Ivy said.
"He did?" Abby asked.
"Yes." Ivy was proud to have info that Abby wasn't privy to yet. "And he also said we know her. I still think it's that skater chick."
"Really?" Abby said. "He doesn't hang out with anyone at school."
"But she sits at his table," Ivy said.
"Not next to him," Abby challenged.
"Whoever she is," Ivy said, "I wouldn't want to be her."
My smile drooped. My best friend's comment stung. My stomach felt hollow, and pouring a latte into it wasn't going to make it feel better.
"Why not?" I said defensively. "There's nothing wrong with him. He was nice to you."
"Isn't she sweet, still taking pity on the needy?" Ivy asked.
"Why would you feel bad for his girlfriend?" I challenged her. "Everyone deserves love."
"You would think so," Ivy said with a grin.
"They do," I proclaimed. "And it's not right to keep judging people just because they live on the opposite side of town." I would have told my friend right there and then that I was the one who was in love with Brandon Maddox and it was me who he was referring to as the girlfriend that she knew. But as I gazed into her blue eyes, I recalled the intense gray of Brandon's werewolf eyes, and I knew that this wasn't about me being self-righteous but about him being safe.
"Relax," Ivy said. "I didn't mean to start an argument. I just feel bad because that girl obviously doesn't think enough of him to sit by him at lunch. That's all. I would think you'd agree with that."
I did agree. Brandon's girlfriend should sit with him, but since I was the one dating him and we had so many obstacles in our way, we didn't spend our lunch bell together. But again, I couldn't tell them all that.
"When you drove him home," Abby began, "didn't you ask him who she was?"
"Uh . . . no."
"You need to be nosier!" Ivy scolded. "Abby and I will find out."
"Maybe it's not our business," I said. "If he wanted us and the whole school to know, he'd be sitting with her, too."
"We'll get to the bottom of it," Ivy said. "No one is going to have a secret in this school without us knowing about it!" My friends giggled wildly.
"What happened at the party?" I asked, changing the subject. "What did I miss?"
"Nothing major," Abby said. "Jake lost his keys. Heidi Rosen spilled her drink on her skintight dress. Dylan broke my mom's Las Vegas snow globe. The usual party stuff."
"Have you talked to Nash since you left?" Ivy asked.
"No . . . not yet," I answered.
"He was really fuming," Ivy said. "He tried to hide it, but I could tell. He even left, saying he was going out to get some more drinks, but I sensed it was really to follow you."
"I think I saw him," I confessed.
"Yes, that was smart of you to take Brandon home," Ivy said. "It made Nash even crazier about you."
"But that's not why I did it."
"Well, either way, it worked," she told me.
"I hope you don't mind I didn't drive him back," Ivy said. "I wanted to stay at the party."
"No worries," I said.
"But I was hoping you'd come back," Ivy said.
"Yes, me too," Abby agreed.
"So nothing juicy happened?" I asked.
"I think Heidi wants to get back together with Nash," Abby said.
"I thought we weren't going to tell her," Ivy snapped.
"I know, but he doesn't like Heidi, so what's the difference?"
"It's okay," I said. "Maybe they are meant for each other."
"No way!" Ivy snapped again. "She's a tramp. And she's not you."
"And if you're not with Nash," Abby began, "then who are you meant for?"
I didn't answer. But I saw the image of Brandon staring down at me outside his guesthouse.
"If you don't know," Ivy asked, "then who does?"
I shrugged my shoulders.
"I know someone who will know," Abby said.
"Who?" Ivy and I asked in unison.
"Dr. Meadows," Abby said confidently. "She knows all."