Abi smacked her forehead. “Yes. I mean, no! I mean—you’re coming, but no big reveal.”
Cora knew better than to press that issue. The last thing they needed was excitement that Abi’s mom couldn’t handle.
They weaved through the narrow hallways toward their geometry class, Cora in the lead, until she stopped so suddenly that Abi ran into her.
“Cora! Are you okay?” Abi steadied herself but froze when she saw Cora’s face.
Her eyes were wide. Fearful.
“What is it? What happened?” Abi glanced up and down, making sure there was no blood or bones sticking out or—
Cora’s shocked face grew into an evil grin, one perfectly groomed eyebrow rising. “I just thought of a brilliant idea!”
“Really? Here’s a good idea: don’t give people heart attacks.” Abi turned and took her seat at the back of the class, knowing Cora would be in hot pursuit.
“Homework time for the party! It’s perfect. You get to feel all warm and fuzzy because you’re helping me get better grades, and I get to be the amazing friend who helped her bestie celebrate a freaking huge accomplishment.”
Their teacher went through roll call, and Abi pretended to wait patiently for her name, avoiding Cora’s gaze.
Maybe this was the perfect excuse. If she got caught, it wouldn’t be as bad as just going out for the hell of it. She was doing it for a cause.
Abi rolled her eyes. What was she thinking? A cop wouldn’t take “homework time” as an excuse if she got caught.
“Jesse will be there the whole time. Nothing bad will happen with him there.” Cora leaned into Abi and whispered, “I know I talk a lot of shit, but these parties aren’t crazy. No cops are ever called. They’re as tame as can be.”
The glint in Cora’s eyes suggested otherwise.
Turning to their teacher, Abi ignored the occasional texts and pokes she got from Cora. Deep down, she had already made up her mind.
Abi didn’t want to admit to her friend there were other reasons she was hesitant: she had never had anything stronger than sweet liqueur before. Cora would likely shove a shot of some awful liquor in her face, and what if she threw up? In front of a bunch of people? Her palms grew clammy at the thought.
And what if she was a complete lightweight and got drunk too fast and made a fool out of herself? She was only fifteen, wasn’t that too young for all of this?
These were the same thoughts she’d had a hundred times before, but they didn’t quell that fire in her gut. She deserved to celebrate. To reward herself for reaching this milestone.
To hell with it.
Once their teacher had her back to them, Abi whispered, “How much homework time are we talking about here?”
Cora perked up, rotating to face Abi in her seat and struggling to keep her voice down. “A week!”
“Two. And you’ll do the extra credit in Mr. Regan’s class.” Her heart thumped as she ended the sentence, like she was already doing something she shouldn’t.
“Ugh, fine. Deal?”
“Deal.” This time, she didn’t hold back her smile.
When the bell rang, they walked out of class arm in arm, but to Abi, it felt more like skipping.
“You seriously couldn’t have agreed to a better party. Jesse said there’s going to be a bunch of college students from Massachusetts for that big hockey game in Camden.”
Abi’s hesitance returned. College students? That meant they would be at least three years older, probably more if they were on a traveling hockey team.
“We’re going to have to find you something to wear, though.”
“What’s wrong with this?” She stopped and Cora whipped around to give her a you-must-be-joking look.
“Um, because my grandma dresses better than you and she’s dead.”
Abi laughed at the morbid comparison.
Cora squeezed Abi’s arm and she returned the squeeze. The day had just begun.
The rest of her life had just begun.