Want to bet my mother is about to have a meltdown?

I’m sure it’s after nine. She should be home, flushing out any calories she consumed today, and finishing up step five of her skincare regimen instead of waiting for me at the dress shop right now.

I’m so late.

Confetti flies in the air, and I reach down, grabbing three more rolled-up T-shirts out of the bucket as the parade float bounces and sways under us. 

“More shirts!” I yell over to Krisjen to restock.

The crowd cheers on both sides of the street, and I jump down off the step, stopping at the edge as I hold my hand to my ear.

Come on. Let me hear it!

“Ah!” little girls scream.

“Hi, Clay!” tiny, six-year-old Manda Cabot squeals at me like I’m a Disney princess. “Hi!”

She waves at me as her twin sister, Stella, holds up her hands, ready to catch.

A comfortable breeze blows through the palms lining Augustine Avenue, grazing my bare legs in my jean shorts as the potted pink lantanas hang on the street lamps lining the road and fill the air with their scent.

Just your typical balmy, Florida winter evening.  

“We want a shirt!” Stella cries.

I shoot my arm up in the air, my white T-shirt with the word BIG shining in bold silver letters. 

I smile, shouting, “You wanna be a Little?”

“Yeah!” they cry out.

“Then I need to hear it!” I move my feet, doing a little dance move. “Omega Chi Kappa! Come on!”

“Omega Chi Kappa!” they shout. “Omega Chi Kappa!”

“I can’t hear you!”

“Omega Chi Kappa!” they scream so loud their baby teeth damn-near shake.  

Oh my God. So adorbs. I hope I have daughters. 

I throw them both an underhand toss and resume dancing to the music as the truck pulls us at a crawl, our float in the middle of a long line of floats, all celebrating the annual Founder’s Day.  

“See you in a few years!” I tell them. “Be good and study!”

“Yeah, we only take the best!” Amy Chandler shouts next me.

Followed by Krisjen’s chirp at my other side, “Be best!”

I snort, turning around to grab some more shirts. Balloons dance in the air along the sidewalks, and I toss some more bundles, the tingles in my head helping me play my part as I dance our choreographed little number in sync with Krisjen to “Swish, Swish”.

The rest of our girls walk in front of or alongside the float, dancing along with us in the street, and every eye on us makes the hair on my arms rise. The attention always feels good. Rolling my hips, arching my back, and shaking my body, I know one thing for sure. I’m good at this.

Our sorority is the biggest in any high school in the state, and while it’s service and academic-based, because that’s what gets us into college, we’re popular for other reasons. We look good doing what we do.

Whether it’s washing cars to raise money for cat saliva research, hosting the football team’s annual pancake breakfast, or helping clean Angelica Hearst’s house and do her laundry, because she just had baby number four from daddy number four and she’s overwhelmed—bless her heart—we get it done Instagram-style. 

Krisjen and I falter in our steps, laughing as we grab some more shirts and toss them to our future little sisters out there in the crowd.

“You see how drunk they are?” Krisjen says under her breath.

I follow her gaze, seeing her boyfriend, Milo Price, smiley and sweaty in his backwards baseball cap and flushed cheeks, which is his tell that he’d had beer tonight.

Callum Ames stands next to him, grinning with his arms folded over his chest, watching me like something that’s already his.

Maybe. I’ll look good on his arm at the debutante ball, nevertheless.  

I swipe my water bottle out from underneath the papier-mâché clown fish and take a swig, the burn already intoxicating as it courses down my throat. Just the taste eases my nerves.

“I’m going to kill him,” Krisjen gripes.

“Wait until after the ball,” I tell her. “You need a date.”

Taking the bottle out of my hands, she throws back a swallow as I grab her shirts and toss them to waiting hands.

Music and laughter surround us, the confetti gun shoots another bomb into the air—blue, pink, silver, and gold—fluttering like snow.

“God, that stuff is good.” She hands me the bottle back. “Goes down like water.”

“As long as you don’t drink sixty-four ounces of this a day, got it?” I down another swallow and cap my new favorite brand of vodka, disguised in my Evian bottle.  

She scrunches up her face in a smile, her apple cheeks perfect and her long, chestnut hair in a messy bun on the top of her head. “What would I do without you?”

I chuckle. “The only thing any of us need is a little love…” I lean in, whispering, “from the right bottle.”

She laughs, and we both hop down from the float, leaving Amy to man it, while we join the girls in the last chorus of the dance.

My head floats a few feet above my neck, the ‘help’ we just drank giving me just the right buzz that I’d sweat off in twenty minutes, but enough to put a spring in my step.

I’m so late. This parade is taking so much longer than I’d hoped, and Lavinia’s will close soon. I dance faster as if that’ll speed up the vehicles in front of us. 

Callum and Milo follow, Callum’s dark blonde hair blowing in the breeze as I step and tease him with my eyes. Little girls cheer us on, looking up at me like I’m something special, while a couple guys hover close together, staring at me and whispering between them.

I move in ways our facilitator will certainly hear about on Monday, but I don’t care. I rub in their face something they’ll never get.

Because even at twelve, strutting down a pageant stage in a bikini, I knew what my power was. There’s never been any confusion. 

“We love you, Clay!” some of my classmates scream as I lead the group and finish the dance.

I close my eyes, soaking up all the phone cameras recording us and the pictures that would survive of Clay Collins long after I’m gone. Images that will show who I am far louder than I can ever say in words.

Homecoming Queen.

Prom Queen.

Omega Chi sweetheart, and something nice to look at.

That’s me.

I open my eyes, immediately seeing myself in the window of a parked car at the curb. I bring up my hand, pushing the lock of blonde hair back in place.

We all have to be something, I guess. 


“Are you sure you have to go?” Krisjen says from the back seat of Callum’s Mustang. “Have you even slept the past twenty-four hours?”

I climb out of the passenger side seat, and shoot her a look as Milo sits next to her, hanging his arm around her.

I slept last night. Minus a couple hours to finish readying the float.

I close the door and lean on the convertible, meeting Callum’s blue eyes in the driver’s seat. “Get her home safe?” I ask.

God knows, Milo’s too dumb to do it.

“Maybe,” he taunts.

“Then maybe I’ll think about letting you take me to the lighthouse party.” I swing my bag over my shoulder and dig inside, pulling out a wipe to clean the sparkly Greek letters off my cheeks.

He sits there, that confident gleam in his eyes like everyone wants to be near him, and he’ll wait for me to realize that. 

“Come here,” he says.

Slowly, I lean in, giving him ninety, so he only has to give me ten and still look like the man. He kisses me, coming in again and again, his wet tongue grazing my bottom lip before he pulls back.

Holding back, so I’ll beg for more.

“You were amazing tonight, babe,” Milo slurs, squeezing Krisjen. “You both were.”

I hold Callum’s eyes as I stand upright again. “Thank you for coming.”

“I think they liked it,” he says. “You dancing for me.”

Yeah, okay. I smile, backing away toward the dress shop.

He shifts the car into gear, takes off, and I spin around, wiping off my mouth.

I hate kissing. Wet and slobbery tongue like a damn slug flopping around my mouth.

I pull open the door to Lavinia’s on the Avenue and stroll in, tossing the wipe out on the sidewalk behind me.

The streets of St. Carmen still buzz with foot traffic, cafés, and local hot spots swarming with people enjoying a quiet night with friends al fresco. The parade ended more than an hour ago, and even though it took us that long to get our gear cleaned up and Amy’s father to get the float clear of the gridlock, I’m still not done for the day.

I walk into the boutique, gowns displayed on mannequins as I cross the white carpet and pass the reception desk, my mother sitting in the lounge area.

She spots me. “Talk tomorrow,” she says into her phone. 

“I’m here now,” I tell her, knowing she’s going to whine.  

“I’ve been waiting over an hour.” She rises from the white-cushioned, high-back chair and sticks her phone into her handbag. “Call next time.”

I chuckle under my breath as I keep walking and she follows. “Like I can control how fast the parade moves,” I mumble.  

Her chunky gold and pearl bracelet jingles as she enters the dressing area behind me, and I set my bag down next to the chair near the floor-length mirrors. I glance at her in the reflection, noticing my gold necklace draped across her tanned chest, visible in her flowing, deep V-neck blouse.

Coiffed golden hair, perfectly tailored black slacks that hug her three-spinning-classes-a-week ass, and squeaky clean, right down to her trimmed cuticles. My mother’s body hasn’t seen a carb other than champagne in at least twelve years. Pretty sure it’s in cryo-freeze at this point, simply relying on eggs and hair spray to animate.

In ten minutes, I’m on the riser in front of the mirror and wearing the debutante gown my mother had designed for me.

“Oh, Lavinia,” she says, holding her hands to her cheeks as she circles me. “You’ve outdone yourself. It’s exquisite. I love it. The detail…”

I look away from my image in the mirror, clenching my jaw as hard as I can to contain myself.

My mother rushes up to me as the older lady remains back, taking in her work and looking for any final fixes.

“Clay?” My mom urges me. “What do you think?”

I look down at her, struggling to keep my emotions from bubbling up my throat. I fold my lips between my teeth, about to burst. She doesn’t care what I think. She wants me to lie. 

“It’s, um…” I choke on the words, a snort escaping. “It’s so beautiful. I’m speechless.”

And I can’t do it anymore. Laughter pours out of me as I take in the big, fat hoop skirt monstrosity in the mirror that makes me look like Scarlett fucking O’Hara, complete with puffed sleeves and some dumbass ruffle around the waist. I’m tempted to look for the stains of Lavinia’s tears of laughter all over the dress as she sewed this bullshit.

I hunch over, my stomach tight as I try to rein it in.

My mother glares at me.

“I’m sorry,” I gasp, fanning myself. “My emotions are running wild. I’ve waited so long for this.” I plant my hand to my heart, recovering. “Lavinia, can you bring me some gloves and a pearl necklace? I need the whole picture. I’m so excited. Thank you.”

The corners of her eyes crinkle with a tight smile, but she nods, quickly leaving the room to fetch the accessories.

It’s not technically her fault. My mother approved the design.

The two of us alone, my mother steps up on the riser in front of me and twists the bodice, jerking it until it’s straight.

“I thought for sure I’d look like a cupcake,” I tell her, trying to catch her eyes. “Now, I almost wish I could say that I looked like a cupcake. You know that white stuff that spills out of a heroin addict’s mouth when they’re overdosing? That’s what I look like.”

She meets my eyes, her blue slightly paler than mine as she continues to yank at the dress. “You chose your homecoming gown,” she points out. “And you’ll choose your prom dress. The debutante ball is mine.”

I knew I should’ve gotten this over with two years ago when she wanted me to.

My body jerks as she situates the dress on me, and I stare over her shoulder and into the mirror. The back of her blonde head can easily be me in twenty years.

“You won’t be able to tell me from everyone else,” I say, coming as close as I can to begging her.

Every other debutante will be wearing white, and while the fabric is rather pretty on mine—lacy with pearl accents—the design is embarrassing. All the debutante dresses reek of Stepford.

“That’s kind of the point,” my mom says. “Tradition. Solidarity. Community. Unity. You’re coming out as a member of society, and a society functions on standards.” She smooths her hands down the fabric, pressing out any wrinkles. “You need to learn that rocking the boat puts everyone on board in danger.”

But that’s what boats are built for. 

I sigh, not sure why I decided to let her have this one. I get my way because my mother picks her battles, and any battle with me that lasts more than three minutes is too much effort.

I could fight her on it. Maybe I still will. 

“Do you need a Valium or something?” she asks.

I laugh under my breath and look away. Gigi Collins, everyone. Chairwoman, socialite, and school board president.  

She puffs my sleeves, and then presses a hand to my stomach. “Hmm.”


She purses her lips and walks around me, inspecting. “I was going to have her take it down to a four, but a six is already a squeeze, isn’t it?”

Heat spreads down my skin, and I clench my jaw.

Her phone rings from her bag on the chair, and she heads for it, waving me off. “We’ll leave it, I guess.”

Picking up her bag, she digs out her phone and answers it, walking past me and leaving the room.

I rub my eyes, listening to her chatter out in the waiting area about whether or not we should have a crêpe station for my school’s Easter brunch in two months.

Looking up, I stare at my huge skirt in the mirror, bored with this entire look that’ll live forever and come back to haunt the shit out of me in years to come.

I don’t want my daughter to laugh when she sees pictures.

I lift up the skirt, cringing at the white stockings and fugly satin heels, and then I spin, taking in the back of my gown and the obnoxious corset lacing that should really be buttons instead.

God, I should’ve taken that Valium. Why the hell do I want to make her happy when she’s out to hurt my feelings like this?

But I know why. In a few months, I’ll be off to college. Away from everything. Graduating. Gone.

Everyone will be leaving. Everyone…

Standing straight and tall, I face the mirrors again, but then a door slams shut somewhere in the shop, and I freeze.

It wasn’t the front door. That door has a bell over it. This was the rear one—heavy and thick—the click of the latch so loud I can hear it from here.

My heart beats faster, and in a moment, her eyes on my back warm my skin.


I look up, meeting Olivia Jaeger’s eyes as she leans against the archway leading into the dressing room, staring at me.

And all of a sudden, my skin is too hot.  

She holds canvas bags stuffed with tulle and ribbon, her aviators sitting on top of her head as she clearly struggles to hold back her amusement.

Her shift ended over an hour ago. I thought she was gone for the night.

“Come here,” I tell her.

 She loses the bags and comes around my front, facing me. I gaze down at my classmate, my teammate, and the only thing I ever look forward to anymore.   

“Pin the hem,” I order her. “It’s still dragging, so bring it up another quarter of an inch.”

Hands on her hips, she hesitates like it’s a choice, and then drops to her knees, pulling a pin off the cushion secured to her wrist.

But before she grabs the dress, I pull it away from her. “Wash your hands first.”

I shake my head as she shoots me a look. I mean, really. If she’s learned anything crossing the tracks into St. Carmen every day to attend one of the most prestigious schools in the state the past three-and-a-half years, it should be some common sense. They certainly teach that at Marymount.

Rising, she walks over to the round table and pulls a wipe out of the package, cleaning her fingers. The Jaegers were born with grease under their nails, so better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to mowing the lawns and trimming the hedges of St. Carmen, her brothers also partially own a dump of a restaurant in their neck of the woods, sell drugs, fix cars and motorcycles, and dabble in loan-sharking.

Okay, maybe the ‘sell drugs’ part is only a rumor. The whole family is sketchy, though. Especially with the power they wield as the unofficial patrons of Sanoa Bay, their hidden little community in the swamps.

Tryst Six, they’re called. There are six siblings, but I have no idea where the Tryst part comes from. They even have an adorable little logo. Insert eye roll.   

Approaching me again, she drops down, blowing the lock of hair that came loose from her ponytail out of her face, and folds the hem, pinning it up.

The hair falls back in her face, and my fingers tap my leg, fighting the urge to move the lock behind her ear for her.

“Hurry up,” I tell her.

I tip my head back and smooth my own hair into a fist high on the top of my head, twirling it into a bun and holding it there. I check myself in the mirror.

Her fingers tug gently at the fabric as she moves to the next spot, and my heart beats harder, every pore on my body cooling with a sudden sweat.

I let my eyes fall again, watching her at my feet.

Her jean shorts. The dusky olive skin of her toned legs glowing in the light of the chandelier. I trail my gaze over her messy jet-black ponytail and the red tint of her lips as she bites the bottom one, concentrating on her task. Her black-and-white-checkered flannel flaps open, and I pause at the low V of her gray T-shirt underneath as it dips between the smooth, poreless skin of her chest.

I tip my chin up, looking in the mirror again. Is she even wearing a bra, for Christ’s sake?

She lifts up my skirt to just past my ankles and steals a peek. “You should lose the stockings,” she tells me, going back to pinning. “And the shoes, too, for that matter.”

I turn a little, jutting out my shoulder and trying to decide if the dress looks better with my hair up or down. “Imagine what the world would have to come to for me to take fashion advice from a white trash, rug-sucking, swamp rat like you,” I reply.

Her black leather, calf-high boots are kind of cute and all, but I’m pretty sure everything she’s wearing is whatever she could scrounge up from someone’s hand-me-downs.

I feel her eyes on me, and I look down, seeing a little gleam in her eye. Kind of amused, but mostly a warning that she’s making a mental note of all the shit I say to her for a rainy day.

I’m shakin’, Liv. Really, I am. 

“If I take off the stockings,” I explain. “I won’t be properly dressed. The women in my world are ladies, Olivia.”

“You’ll feel it on your legs, though.” She looks back down to her task. “It’ll change how you carry yourself.”

“What will? The sticky, noxious sweat of Florida in springtime on my naked thighs?”

The debutante ball is in May. The humidity will be a nightmare, despite the air-conditioned banquet hall hosting it. Like she knows anything. 

“Afraid I might be right?” she taunts.

I roll my eyes. Please. The only thing I’m afraid of is wasting time.

But I stand there, letting my hair fall down my back again, and watch her. I’m not sure why, but I kick off my heel and set the ball of my foot on her knee.

Prove it, then.

Tipping her head back, she looks up at me, her honey-brown eyes unblinking.

“I can’t bend over in this dress,” I tell her.

Fisting the skirt in my hands, I start to pull it up, past my knees, and up my thighs to where the garter secures the stockings.

She holds my gaze for another moment, and then she reaches up, unfastening the clips.

Her fingertips brush the skin on the inside of my leg, and my flesh pebbles, chills breaking out everywhere. I draw in a sharp breath, and she darts her eyes up to mine, as still as me.

“I don’t have all day,” I chide, trying to hide my reaction.

Her chest rises and falls slowly, and then she peels the stocking down my leg and off my foot, followed by the other one, both of my shoes laying strewn on the floor with the nylons.

Walking to a nearby shelf, she scans the heels and grabs a pair, pointing to the chair near the mirror.

Indulging her, I step off the riser and have a seat as she plops down on the floor and searches for my right foot under the dress.

I hike up the skirt again as she slips the heel on, almost amused that she refuses to look. I know she wants to. My legs are one of my best attributes. She’s looked at them before. 

It’s amazing she’s endured me as captain of the lacrosse team this year, especially when she’s probably the better player, and I haven’t made anything easy on her.

But that’s how it is. Effort, focus, hard work…they mean very little when you’re lucky like me. Saints don’t mix with swamp trash, and while Reva Coomer may be the coach, I’m the leader. Everyone follows me.

I gaze at her as she straps the heels on me, the tiny mole on her face, between her ear and the hollow of her cheek, bringing out the gold in her skin. I’ve never noticed that before.

She puts my foot back down, and I draw in a breath, standing up and heading back to the riser again. The dress rubs against the sensitive skin of my legs, now bare, and it’s as if every inch of my body is alive and aware of itself.

Almost like I’m naked in my bed, only feeling the sheets. 

Holding up my skirt, I look in the mirror, the gold heels with the thin, jeweled straps making my skin glow, and I fight not to smile, because they feel and look worlds better than the other shoes.


“They don’t go with the dress,” I tell her.

But I’m hardly surprised she’s so bad at this, given the shit she wears.

I reach around my back, trying to untie the corset.

“You’re right,” she says. “You need a new dress now.”

I almost snort. Well, we agree on that.

Unable to reach the laces, because the corset is too tight for me to move, I twist around, planting my hands on my hips. 

“Unlace it.”

She steps up, pulling the bow and loosening the corset, so I can push it down and off my body.

“Tell Lavinia to call me when the alterations are done,” I instruct, “and tell her to take it down a size.”

“It fits you perfectly.”

“To a four, please,” I snip as I pick the dress up off the floor. “And remove this flower.” I grab the one at the center of the bodice. “Are we repurposing wedding dresses from 1982 or something?”

But she’s not paying attention. She stands back and stares at me, and when she turns and checks my reflection in the mirror, I follow her gaze.

The simple hoop skirt wraps around me, thin and absent of bows and ruffles and lace, while the strapless white bustier hugs my breasts almost too tightly and covers my stomach, leaving an inch of skin between that and my skirt.

If it weren’t obvious that they were undergarments, they might be kind of hot.

“I could make it for you,” she says. “But better.”

She moves in, placing a hand on my tummy, and I ignore the skip in my heart.

“Maybe a little see-through here with some embroidery,” she explains, “piece them together, and add some layering to give it dimension. Tighten up the bodice with some light and subtle gold and pink accents to complement the shoes…”

I envision it in my head as we look at me in the mirror.

For some reason, I have no doubt she’ll pull it off if I let her, and I’d even love it.

If I let her.

She turns her eyes on me again, standing in front of me and looking up and down my attire. “We can keep it this same shade of white. It’s a perfect color, really.” She meets my eyes, looking at me dead-on. “You won’t even see the cum stain when he drunk-ejacs all over you in the back seat of the car after the ball,” she says.

The ever-present knot in my stomach pulls tighter, and I hold her gaze, unfaltering. Excuse me?

“Because ladies in your world don’t talk about those things.” A smile curls the corner of her mouth as she inches in, whispering, “You just go home in tears and do things with a pulsating showerhead that God didn’t intend for sweet, little southern girls to do, right?”

My blood runs ice cold, and I grit my teeth, the heat of her breath an inch away, falling across my lips as I curl my fingers into fists.

“Try it tonight,” she says, staring at my mouth. “You might like it.”

She snatches the dress out of my hand, and I suck in a breath as I watch her not miss a beat as she steps backward off the riser and leaves.

God, I hate her. I watch her disappear, no comeback or witty response spilling out of my mouth before she’s gone, and I’m left standing there and feeling stupid.

Drunk-ejacs… Is she serious? I don’t even have a detachable showerhead.

I raise my eyes to the mirror again, the excitement I want to feel for the ball or the prom or anything coming out as nothing but a hard beat in my chest that makes me sick instead. And it’s almost like she knows that. Like she knows something’s wrong.

Liv Jaeger has been a bloody nuisance since the day I met her, but sometimes I’m not even sure what bugs me so much about her. She stays in her lane, doesn’t she?

But I love pushing her. I love it like nothing else.

Tearing off the undergarments and kicking them to the side, I dig in my bag for the Valium and tap out two pills into my hand. Throwing my head back, I pop them into my mouth and dry swallow before quickly dressing.

I have to get out of here.

Pulling my gray hoodie out of my bag, I slip it on and take my gear, creeping out to the lobby. My mom stands out front on the sidewalk, conversing rather robustly on the phone still. Someone must not be down with the whole crêpe idea, I guess.

I sneak out through the back, pushing through the alley door and don’t see Lavinia or Liv as I make my escape.

Pulling out my Evian bottle, I finish off the rest of the vodka, tossing it into a dumpster as I pass.

I hate her. The ball will be special. I’ll have fun. This is who I am.

I’m lucky.   

I inhale, filling my lungs as I pull my hood up and put my head down, moving through the dark streets. I turn off my phone, so my mom can’t track me, and tuck my hands in my center pocket.

I cross Bainbridge Park, spotting a couple of guys loitering by the bathrooms. The skateboarder who sells smack nods to me, and I nod back, passing him. I head down the hill to Edward Street.

Stopping in front of the large, cream-colored stucco house decorated like a cottage, I look around and see the empty, dim street, lit only by lamplight. No cars drive through the neighborhood. All the families inside their homes.

Pulling my hood lower, I sneak around the side of the house, see the basement light on, and squat down, pushing open one of the windows, slipping inside before I’m spotted.

I step down, the freezers cooling the room, making chills break out across my legs, and my nostrils instantly sting at the scent of the cleaning liquids used in here regularly.

I rub my thumb over the small tattoo on the inside of my finger, feeling like I’m exhaling for the first time all day. It’s weird how that smell has become a comfort. Thanks to fantastic ventilation and industrial strength deodorizers, I wouldn’t even know there was a ‘decomp’ in the cooler right now if I hadn’t been here when he arrived a couple days ago.

I walk over to the table at the end of the row, feeling my heart start to hammer in my chest. A girl lays on the slab, her mid-section covered with a sheet, and the puncture mark from embalming sits right below the rope burn around her neck. I’d read about her online today. Figured she’d be here by now.

Her wet, red hair mats to her head, and I grip the side of the table, brushing her fingers. Her nails are covered in chipped pink nail polish that looks like a cheap brand you get at the grocery store.

“Did you know her?” I hear someone ask.

I don’t have to turn around to recognize Sylvia Gates’ voice. Owner of Wind House, the only funeral home in town.

I gaze at the girl’s neck, swallowing the image of the moment she slipped the rope around it.

And what most likely drove her to it.

“She went to public school.” I force my voice firm. “But I’ve seen her around town.”

She’s almost my age—a year younger, I think. Did Liv know her?

Mrs. Gates walks around the other side of the table, clean scrubs on. “You don’t have to be here, Clay.”

She’s worried I’ll get triggered, and then she’ll have to explain to my parents why she lets me sneak in here at least once a week.

Fuck it. I don’t want to be home, so… I pull off my hood and tie my hair back into a ponytail, ready to work as I draw in a deep breath and exhale.

I’ll have to fix the nail polish. I’d love to change it altogether, but if she has it on, she must’ve liked it, so I suppose I should honor her style. I’m sure I have something as equally hideous in my collection from when I was twelve that I can use.

I push up my sleeves and get to work, feeling my heart calm down again as I busy myself. But my thoughts still linger on her. What would Olivia Jaeger say if she saw me now?

Maybe it would be the one time she couldn’t say anything.

Sometimes I feel like I want her to know me. Sometimes I don’t want her to know anything but me.

And other times, I’m glad she doesn’t have a clue.