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Page 19


Every part of my life except for that night with Caulter.

"Then what is it?" she asks.

"Nothing." I can't tell her what happened with Caulter. I remind myself that nothing of consequence happened with him anyway. Nothing that bears repeating anyway.

Rose raises her eyebrows. "Get out of the house," she orders. "Go do something with your friends. Jo called the home phone number, said she's been texting you and you haven't answered."

Jo is one of my childhood friends, one I see every summer when I come home. My father hates her, mostly because she's not "one of us," which really means she goes to public school. He once grounded me for two weeks for hanging out with her a couple years ago, until Mona suggested it might be seen as elitist if it got around that his daughter was ditching a childhood friends because of the friend's blue-collar background. I've been avoiding her because she'll want to know all the juicy details about my new family, and I just don't feel like dishing gossip. "I'll call her."

Rose hands me the phone and walks out of the kitchen. "I have laundry to do. Go have fun. Get some sun. Be a normal kid."

"I'm not a kid anymore, Rose," I call to her retreating back. "I'm an adult now. I have been for a month."

"Go be a kid," she yells. "You can be an adult when your father gets here."

I scroll down the call history, looking for Jo's number. Screw being an adult. So far, the only thing good about turning eighteen has been, well, that night with Caulter.

"You're seriously going to New Hampshire for the summer? That's even worse than...where the hell is that school you go to?" Dane asks, his forearms sliding across the top of the table. I can barely hear him above the clamor of the piece of shit rock band at the dive bar in North Hollywood that Seth insisted on hitting up so we could "pick up skanks." As if there weren't enough skanks in Malibu.

"Connecticut," I answer absently, but he can't hear me. I'm trying to get into it here. The Caulter from two months ago would be into it, getting drunk and high and banging some girl whose name I was never going to learn, let alone remember. Shit, this Caulter is practically a fucking monk. It's now been two weeks since I've seen any action. Not that I haven't tried. I left the park after kissing Katherine frustrated and aggravated and horny as hell, and not about to give her the damn satisfaction of showing up at her father's place. So I wound up jerking off in a hotel room and watching TV. Fucking awesome.

"Dude," Seth says. "New Hampshire?"

"Yeah, I'm going back to New Hampshire for the summer," I say. "Trust fund."

"Your fucking mother," Seth yells. He shakes his head, takes another shot from the bottle at the table, and fills my shot glass with liquor. My head feels cloudy, and I pause for a minute, thinking about waking up tomorrow feeling energetic, not hung-over in the bed of some chick I picked up at a dive bar in North Hollywood. But I take it anyway, tipping my head back and letting the alcohol numb the thoughts running through my head.

"She wants to be the First Lady," I yell.

"Fuck yeah," Dane says, beside me. His eyes are bloodshot and his pupils are dilated. "Sucking some Presidential cock."

"Shut up." I stand up. "That's my mother you're talking about. I don't need to hear that shit." I push through the crowd of people in the bar and head toward the bathroom. I came back to Malibu for a couple days to get the hell away from the East Coast, from Senator Douchebag and the wannabe First Lady, but now I just want to get away from my idiot friends. Getting wasted and stoned with them is starting to feel like such high school bullshit. I should have just gone back to my mother's place in Manhattan.

When I get back, a group of girls wearing sorority t-shirts is at the table, two of them hanging on Dane and Seth as they take shots from the bottle. Dane looks up at me. "Party at your place," he says.

One of the girls, her hair ombre, black at the roots and bleached at the tips, slides her arm into mine. Her heavy makeup makes her look older than a college student, and she smells like a damn brewery. She presses her tits up against my arm. Normally I'd be inclined to let her suck my dick in the back of the bar, but right now I'm just repulsed, and I push her away, shaking my head. "Not tonight."

Seth puts his hands up in the air. "What the fuck, man?"

I don't even answer. I suddenly feel sober, even though I've had four shots. I also feel pathetic in here, surrounded by my lame friends in this shithole bar, my boots sticking to the floor that feels like it has ten fucking years of filth caked on it, listening to the worst band in the world play covers of shitty songs. "Later," I yell, knowing they won't bother to come after me as I go. They're too busy chasing pussy and getting trashed.

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