The Upside of Unrequited Page 40

There’s a desk at the back of the room that’s been totally overtaken with little glass bottles and half-full liters of Coke and orange juice. And there’s Will, pouring Sprite into a red cup, his red hair perfectly tousled. His eyes light up when he sees us walking toward him.

“You guys made it!” He grabs my hand. “Molly, let me make you a drink. What do you want?”

“Um.”

“There’s vodka, Jack, rum, and gin, I think?”

I hesitate. “I guess rum?”

He pours a rum and Coke and hands it to me, and I realize with a start that Mina and Cassie are gone. They’ve been absorbed into the crowd. There’s someone waiting to pour a drink, so Will and I step to the side, in front of a futon. My legs are heavy with nerves, and I kind of want to sit, but people aren’t really sitting. I guess you’re not supposed to.

Okay, so being alone with Will is making it very hard to keep my cool. Maybe it’s just Abby getting into my head, but there’s this prickling sense of possibility. It feels like something could happen between us—something other than me blushing a lot and drinking a rum and Coke with record-breaking slowness.

“I can’t handle this music,” Will says.

“Who is this?”

“I don’t know. Maroon 5. That Adam guy.”

“Ah, yes. That Adam guy.”

Will grins at me. That’s the other thing about Will. He makes you feel like you’re the only person in focus. Like everyone else is just background noise. I’m pretty sure it’s not personal. Probably every girl who enters his orbit feels this way, at least for a moment. Still, I can see how people get swept up in him.

It’s just so hard to believe this is my reality right now. I’m at a party in Bethesda, and my sister has vanished, and now I’m alone with a very cute boy. Well, not alone. But we might as well be. I think his calf is touching mine. I wonder if people watching me right at this moment think I’m part of a couple. With Will. That’s sort of thrilling.

But I can’t shake the thought that I could be at Medieval Madness right now with Reid. Like there’s some alternate universe Molly drinking from a flagon right this second—and yes, it just occurred to me that flagon rhymes with dragon. And yes, I really want to text Reid to tell him. But I probably shouldn’t text Reid when I’m standing with Will.

“You must be hot,” Will says, startling me.

He means my jacket, but I blush anyway.

“I don’t know if there’s a place to put my jacket,” I say.

“I’ll take it.” He sets his drink on a coffee table.

“You don’t have to do that.”

“No, I’ve got it. I’ll find a spot for it.”

I unbutton it, feeling strangely like I’m in a movie. Undressing.

“I like your dress,” he says when I hand the jacket to him. “I love it.”

“Thanks.” I can’t even look at him.

“So, I’ll be right back.”

I nod. But as soon as he leaves, I feel a hundred times more self-conscious. I sip my drink faster, my other arm curling across my body. It occurs to me that Will could peek at the tag of my jacket and see my size. Which makes my heart jump so high in my throat that I almost run after him.

But suddenly, someone’s beside me. A random boy. “Hey, want to hear something crazy?” the boy says, as if we’ve known each other for years. I’ve never seen him before in my life. He’s pretty cute—kind of athletic looking, with super-short brown hair.

“Okay,” I say.

“So, like, we’re in this little town,” he says. “Like, in England. And there’s this big stone wall next to the street. Like, just this big-ass wall. And so we’re pretty fucked up at the time, and my dude Jones has to pee.”

I don’t know who Jones is or why I should care about his bodily functions. But maybe this is how parties work. Maybe there’s some kind of drunk etiquette I don’t know about.

“So he pees on the wall, but then . . .” He sips his drink again, and then says, “Shit.”

“What?”

“I’m gonna need a refill. You want something?”

And I don’t know how any of this works, but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to let strange guys fill my drink.

“I’m fine?” It comes out sounding like a question. I hate that.

“No worries,” he says. “So like—well, I gotta tell you this part. There were these giant fucking—”

“Hey.”

I look up. And Will’s back.

“Hey, man,” says the guy.

Will narrows his eyes at him.

“Oh, are you guys, like, together?”

“Yes,” Will says quickly.

My heart almost stops.

“Oh, okay, cool. That’s cool,” the guy says. “Okay, well, have a good night.” He chugs the last of his drink and starts to leave—but then he turns back to face me, suddenly. “Okay, I just gotta say it.” The guy touches my arm. “You are fucking gorgeous for a big girl.”

I freeze.

“It’s a compliment!”

I look at him. “Fuck you.”

I’ve never said that before. At least not out loud. It feels kind of amazing. My heart pounds wildly.

“Whoa. Okay. Not trying to . . . whatever.” He tilts his hands up defensively. And as he drifts back into the crowd, I hear him mutter, “Fat bitch.”

Will looks at me. “Okay, that was the hottest fuck you moment I’ve ever witnessed.”

“Um. Thanks.”

“Do you even know that guy?”

“Nope.”

“Wow. Just a random dickhole.”

“I guess.”

I can’t think straight. I can’t think of anything other than the fact that Will said we were together. And I know he was just trying to get rid of the random guy. But still.

He sinks backward onto the futon, patting the cushion beside him. I sit and tug my skirt down closer to my knees.

My heart won’t stop pounding. I take a tiny sip of my drink.

He leans back, eyes flicking toward me, and he opens his mouth like he’s about to speak. But I cut him off with a question. And I almost don’t realize I’m asking it until it tumbles from my mouth. “Why did you tell him we were together?”

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