Boundless Page 24

“Hey, did you hear that your friend Angela is hooking up with the PHE?” Wan Chen calls out to me.

Sigh. I so cannot wait until Tuesday.

As soon as I finish cleaning myself up, I call Angela. No answer.

“Angela Zerbino, don’t make me hunt you down, because I will,” I say into the phone. “Call. Me. Back.”

I’m busy, she texts a few minutes later. Chill. I’ll catch up with you later.

I wait an hour, then head down to second-floor A wing and knock on Angela’s door. Robin answers. “Oh, hey, Clara,” she says cheerfully. She’s wearing a blue-and-white zebra-print strapless polyester top over a short white mini; her hair is curled big and parted down the middle. She looks like she’s ready to hit the town, back in 1978 or so.

“I’m looking for Angela,” I tell her.

Robin shakes her head. “I haven’t seen her since this morning.” She looks around, then leans toward me and whispers conspiratorially. “She spent the night with Pierce.”

“Yeah, I heard,” I say, irritated. “You probably should stop with the rumor spreading, since you don’t know squat about Angela.”

Robin immediately flushes. “Sorry,” she says, and seems so genuinely ashamed of herself that I feel bad for putting the smackdown on her.

“You look like Farrah Fawcett,” I observe. She recovers somewhat and manages a smile.

“We’re all going over to a seventies party at the Kappa house tonight,” she explains. “Do you want to come?”

This is the party Thomas invited me to, and he’s going to be there, and if I show up he’ll probably think I’m interested. But then I think about my options: (a) staying in my room on a Saturday night slogging away on a paper about T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which will be impossible because I will be distracted because I can’t stop thinking about Dad and Tucker and Jeffrey and Angela and Pierce and Christian and my vision, and (b) … who am I kidding? No way I’m going to do that. I need to get out.

“Sure,” I say to Robin. “Let me find my platform shoes.”

7

RUM AND COKE

The party’s in full swing when I arrive with Robin, one Bee Gees song after another blasting out from the windows, strobe lights going back and forth in the living room, and I’m pretty sure I spot a disco ball over the dining room table.

This is going to be fun. And loud. And maybe exactly what I need.

“Hey, gorgeous!” says the frat boy who opens the door. “Where have you been all my life?”

He makes us put our keys into a huge pickle jar by the front door and introduces us to a guy in a Vegas-style white Elvis Presley costume who, should we wish to leave, will be the judge of whether or not we’re fit to drive.

“Nice outfit,” I tell him, although I’m not sure how it relates to the theme of the party, except that I think Elvis died in the seventies.

“Why, thank you. Thank you very much,” he drawls.

Somehow I knew he was going to say that.

Of course almost the first person I spot in there is Thomas, swaying under the disco ball, wearing a flowered satin button-down shirt that shows his spotty chest hair. He brightens when he sees me, waves me over. So I go.

“You changed your mind,” he says.

“Yep. So here I am,” I say. “Thanks for helping me out before.”

“You don’t look like you needed it,” he says, his eyes searching my face for the scratches and scrapes that were there last time he saw me, like two hours ago.

Whoops. I forgot about that.

“I told you it wasn’t bad,” I try to explain. “I have a few bumps and bruises on my legs is all, nothing serious. Nothing that a little makeup can’t hide.”

“You look great,” he says, his eyes now roaming down my body, stopping on my legs.

“Thanks,” I say, uncomfortable. It was hard to go full-blown seventies on such short notice, but fortunately Robin had a bright orange polyester halter dress as a backup to the blue zebra-print. It’s mildly itchy.

“Do you want to dance?” Thomas asks.

That’s when I discover that I don’t really know how to dance to disco. We get some laughs out of it, anyway, trying to do the John Travolta thing.

“So what’s your major?” he asks me, the college equivalent of “what’s your sign?”

“Biology,” I answer. I already know that his is physics.

“You want to be a biologist?”

“No,” I laugh. “I want to be a doctor.”

“Aha,” he says, like he’s figured out something important about me. “Did you know that over half of the incoming freshmen at this school consider themselves premed? But only like seven percent of them end up taking the MCAT.”

“I did not know that.” I must look tense, because Thomas laughs.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to depress you,” he says. “Let me get you a drink.”

I open my mouth to tell him that I’m not twenty-one, but of course he must know that. The only time I’ve ever had alcohol at a party was that summer with Tucker. Ava Peters’s house. He made me a rum and Coke.

“What’s your order?” Thomas asks me. “They have pretty much everything. I bet you’re a martini type of girl, am I right?”

“Uh, rum and Coke,” I say, because I know I was able to handle that okay that night without getting even a little tipsy. I want to be able to drive home.

“Rum and Coke it is,” he says, and away he goes to the kitchen.

I look around. Off in a back room I can hear people chanting somebody’s name. There’s another group around the dining room table, dipping stuff into fondue pots, and dancers going wild under the disco ball, people holding shouted conversations in corners, the occasional couple making out on the stairs and against the wall. I spot Amy on the couch in front of the TV, with a bunch of people playing some sort of drinking game that involves watching That Seventies Show. I wave, and she waves back enthusiastically.

Thomas returns with my drink.

“Cheers.” He knocks his plastic cup dully against mine. “To new adventures with new people.”

“To new adventures.” I take a big drink, which burns all the way down my throat and settles like a pool of lava in my stomach. I cough.

Thomas pats me on the back. “Uh-oh, are you a lightweight?”

“This is rum and Coke? Nothing else?” I ask.

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