Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two

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“No worries, I know you have a lot on your mind.” Brandon gave my shoulder a squeeze and didn’t let go. He turned toward Ray and Thia. “Ladies, I think this one here could use a drink.”
“Yes!” Ray said, holding up her own beer dripping with condensation. Thia looked at it lovingly. Like it was an old friend she missed dearly. I tried not to laugh, hiding my smile behind my hand. “I’ll show you where the coolers are,” Ray said, hooking her arm with mine. She led me away from Brandon who offered to help Thia back up the steps into the house to find Bear.
Ray showed me where the coolers were against her house in the back. There was a crowd of people in all forms of sitting, standing, and leaning, around the bonfire in the backyard. The smell of cigarette smoke and weed hovered in the still night air. Ray reached into one of the coolers and twisted off the top of a beer, she handed it to me.
I took a sip of the bubbly liquid, scanning the crowd before me. I told myself I wasn’t looking for HIM, but I knew it was a lie. I would also have been lying to myself if I said that the tight high waisted black pencil skirt I was wearing that hugged my hips and ass wasn’t for him. Neither was the fitted blue polka dotted tank top with the heart shaped bra cups that pushed my cleavage up to unbelievable limits. Neither was the hour I spent curling my hair into perfect barrel curls and trimming my bangs to fall just right off to the side. Or the bright red on my lips or the dab of perfume behind my ears.
So even if it WAS for him. It was for me too.
It had been a long time since I’d dressed in the pin-up style that I loved so much, but the second my foot hit the ground on Logan’s Beach soil I felt a need to wear the clothes I loved to feel more connected to the place I loved. I rarely wore jewelry but I’d slipped on my grandmother's tiny diamond engagement ring that my grandpa had given to her when he proposed and she’d given to me when I was still just a kid and couldn’t appreciate it like I did now. I’m glad my dad had it tucked away in a safety deposit box and given it to me as a gift after I completed rehab, because there was no doubt if I’d had it earlier that I would have pawned it at some point during what I started to refer to in my head as THE DARK YEARS.
I didn’t spot Preppy but I instantly recognized Billy, the chef who cooked the crab Preppy and I had caught. It wasn’t hard to spot him, it’s not like I could miss him. He was almost seven feet tall, standing at least a head taller than most of the crowd and the bulk of his body was massive. The jean overalls he wore without a shirt underneath wasn’t exactly an outfit that blended in either. He stood at the very back of the crowd, a mason jar to his lips.
I tapped my foot to the Kane Brown song playing over the speaker perched on the bottom step of the back porch and pretended like I was relaxing when in reality I felt like my airway was tightening, cutting off my ability to breath with each passing second.
King came over to us, tipped his head to acknowledge me, and grabbed her by hand, dragging her off without saying a word.
Very caveman, I thought.
Very fucking hot.
Thia found Bear because I spotted them standing by the bonfire where King had pushed his way to the front, pulling Ray behind him but I didn’t see Brandon anywhere.
Suddenly I felt an awareness course through my body. It hit me so hard my nipples tightened under my shirt. I knew exactly who I was going to see when I turned around toward where I felt the pull rippling through the air. I held my breath. I knew he’d be there.
But I wasn’t prepared for how I felt when I saw him.
Sweaty palms. Rapidly beating heart. A feeling of excitement and panic all at the same time.
It was just like when I started using heroin. Right before I plunged the needle in my arm there was a feeling almost as good as the high itself.
The anticipation. The fear.
I knew deep inside that it didn’t matter how prepared I was to see him, because I’d never be prepared for the way Preppy made me feel.
The second I spotted him in the crowd I knew that this wasn’t going to be some sort of warm and fuzzy reunion.
No, it was a fucking relapse.

PREPPY “Not this fucking guy again!” a high pitched feminine voice behind me shouted, a girl of blonde hair flashed in front of my eyes but I didn’t need to see her face to know who the source of that annoying voice was.
I turn around and I’m face to face with Rage. Literally the only living person on the planet who knows how to push every button I have by just existing. Also, she was the only hot chick on the planet who might as well not have a vagina because there was nothing about her that myself or little Preppy liked. NOTHING. “Oh my shit! Who invited Suzie Home-Killer to the party?” I asked outlaid. “Don’t you have puppies to off or something, Rage? Should I hide the coyote so you don’t stake it in the heart for shits and giggles?”
She pointed at me with her beer bottle. “For your information that fucking coyote loves me and so does Thia so behave yourself if you know how to. Oh, and I’m glad to see you ditched the ugly bow tie,” she said, pointing to the collar of my t-shirt. “It was a dead trend.”
I pursed my lips. “That’s funny, especially when I’m pretty sure everyone you’ve ever met becomes a dead trend at some point.”
She cocked her head to the side. “Well then I wouldn’t stand too close if I were you,” she said, taking a step forward.
I took a step toward her in challenge. “Doesn’t bother me. Haven’t you heard? I’ve already been dead.”
She laughed and if you didn’t know she was Satan anyone else would take it as a genuine laugh like I’d just told a funny joke. “That’s right, I forgot to ask you,” she made a show of clearing her throat. “Hey loser, do anything fucking stupid lately? You know, like getting captured and tortured? I mean, for the record I’m glad you’re back from the dead by the way, if anything just so I can make fun of you for being stupid enough to get killed in the first place.”
I scoffed. “Oh yeah? You think getting killed is stupid? I’m not the one who throws a fucking temper tantrum and all of a sudden a city block falls to the streets.”
Rage rolled her eyes. “OMG it was like two buildings at the most.”She paused. “That time.” She smiles in a sly way that tells me that she’s still proud of the work she’s done.