Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 69

Page 69


“What the hell, Lindsey?” Arden said by way of greeting. “Whatever happened to you being scared straight and not trying any sort of drugs until college? Remember that?”

“Hey, look,” muttered one of the guys in the cage. “Mom is back.”

“I wasn’t really smoking it,” Lindsey said quickly. “This is Jamie’s. Oh, right: Arden, meet Jamie.”

The girl with the uncomfortable-looking nose ring stuck out her palm and said, without a trace of a smile, “Pleasure.”

They shook, Jamie almost crushing Arden’s hand in her own. Arden extracted her hand and pulled it into her chest for safety. She didn’t give a shit who Jamie was, or who technically had ownership of that joint in Lindsey’s hand, because none of that made up for Lindsey’s complete inability to keep a promise, or to think about how her actions might affect anybody other than herself. “Peter needs to go,” she said to Lindsey.

“Okay,” said Lindsey. She didn’t move.

“So, let’s go,” Arden said, exasperated.

“You can go ahead,” Lindsey said. “I’ll just stay here.”

Arden’s laugh came out as a loud snort. Jamie raised her eyebrow. “Don’t be silly, Lindsey,” Arden said. “We’re going.”

Lindsey shrugged. “I’m not ready yet.”

“Why not?”

“Because. I’m having fun here.”

“You girls can totally stay here if you want,” Peter offered. “I’ll just see you around, Arden, ’kay?”

He made a move toward the cage door, and Arden felt a desperate contraction in her chest. If they stayed here and Peter left, then this would be where it ended. She would have driven three hundred miles and called every bookstore in New York City for this, only what she’d gotten already and not one bit more, and it would be over. Peter would walk out of her life and on to his next adventure, and she would go home with nothing.

It reminded her of that party almost two months ago, at Matt Washington’s house, the night she first discovered Peter. How she’d gone out expecting everything to change and come home exactly the same.

She wasn’t going to let that happen again.

“No,” she said to Peter, “we want to go with you.” She grabbed Lindsey’s hand and pulled. “Come on, Linds.”

Lindsey leaned her weight back against the couch, her hand limp in Arden’s. “I told you already,” she said, “I’m not ready to leave yet. Just go without me, if it’s so important to you to follow Peter.”

Arden cast her eyes toward Peter and blushed. “I’m not following him…”

“You know what I mean. If you want to go, go. I’m staying here.”

“That’s not an option, Lindsey. I’m not leaving you alone with a bunch of strangers—no offense,” she added to the cluster of onlookers.

“Why not?” Lindsey said. “I can take care of myself.”

“Oh, please.” The words were out before Arden had even considered them. But even if she had thought it through, she would have said the same thing—surely Lindsey must know that she was completely unfit to take care of herself. Surely this could not come as news to her. The joint in her hand, the physical proof of her failed promise, was just driving home this truth that they both already knew.

But Lindsey acted like this was all some big surprise. “What do you mean, ‘oh, please’?” she demanded, standing up. “What makes you think I can’t stay here by myself?”

“Because, what if something happens?”

“Something … like what?” Lindsey threw her arms out. “Like I talk to some nice people and make some friends and have a beer?”

“Lindsey, you’re embarrassing yourself. Stop making this into a whole big deal, and just come with me.”

“Stop telling me what to do,” Lindsey said.

Arden’s eyes widened.

“You always act like you know what’s best for me. I’m sick of it. I told you I don’t want to go. So how about you stop making this into a whole big deal and just let me do what I want.”

“Oh, because things always go so well for you when you just do what you want?” Arden retorted.

“Sure,” Lindsey said. “Things go fine.”

“Right, I bet it does feel that way to you, because you just do whatever you want and you don’t think about the consequences. Because I get all the consequences, Lindsey.”

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