Addicted for Now / Page 46

Page 46


“She’s a sex addict,” I remind him.

“Does correlation warrant causation in this instance?” Connor asks.

“English.”

“Does being a sex addict automatically make her untrustworthy?”

“I don’t know,” I say, “but I’ve spent more time seeing her with other guys than being with her, so I guess I can understand how it might be natural—for her—to just fall back into that.”

“To cheat,” Ryke clarifies.

I give him a glare. “Yeah,” I snap, “but if it happens, it happens, right?” Even the thought, though, devastates me.

“I don’t think it will,” Ryke says.

I jerk back in shock. He’s never been an advocate for Lily. “And why is that?”

“Because I think she loves you more than she loves sex. And you love her more than you love alcohol, but you two just haven’t let yourselves believe it yet.”

Maybe he’s right, but allowing myself to process that is harder than it seems.

Female servers start carrying out blue glowing bottles on the dance floor, flashlights held underneath the bottom to add the luminosity effect. They offer willing guys and girls straight shots. One of the servers stands in front of Rose and Daisy.

“They aren’t…” I say with furrowed brows. Do they know what they’re about to drink? I thought they wanted to get crazy-fun wasted, not “holy shit, what’s that” wasted. But they have to know what they’re drinking. Rose probably has the highest IQ in the club—not counting Connor. If I recognize the alcohol, she would too.

I watch Daisy nod excitedly, and my stomach tosses as she leans back against the bar. We’re going to have our work cut out for us tonight…

The server pours the liquid into her mouth, and Daisy spills not a drop. She licks her lips and motions to Rose. She goes next, without much prodding from Daisy. Maybe all the lights and music have warped her mind.

She finishes off the first shot, and surprisingly, she leans back for another.

One of my short-term goals is coming true. Rose Calloway is definitely going to be drunk tonight.

I’m not as happy about it as I thought I’d be.

“What kind of liquor is that?” Connor asks. My whole face falls. Wait, if Connor can’t tell…

“Look who doesn’t know something,” Ryke pipes in, capitalizing on Connor’s question.

“Types of liquor aren’t high on my priority list. But that’s sweet of you, Ryke, to think I know everything in the world.”

“Absinthe,” I tell Connor. “It’s blue absinthe.” How could he not know? If he doesn’t, then what’s the probability that Rose does?

As soon as the words leave my mouth, Connor is on his feet, and he can’t hide the concern on his face this time.

“You worried, Cobalt?” Ryke calls, but I can tell Connor’s sudden ruffled composure is making Ryke equally alarmed. Because Daisy is the other girl downing the liquor—and she doesn’t have a boyfriend here to look out for her. But she does have me.

Even so, my eyes latch onto Lily more, hoping she doesn’t join her sisters if she doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into.

“Absinthe contains thujone,” Connor tells him.

“So you don’t know what it looks like, but you know what chemicals are in it,” Ryke says.

“It’s usually green, and it’s also banned in the United States because thujone has hallucinogenic properties.”

“Yeah,” I say, rising to grab his arm to stop him. Rose has to know, I keep telling myself. She wouldn’t drink something foreign to her. “I’m sure Rose knows what’s in it.”

His concern doesn’t waver. “The bottle isn’t labeled.”

What? I look back down to the girls, where Daisy is taking another shot of absinthe. The bottle glows from the light underneath it, and sure enough—there’s no label on the slender glass.

They don’t know it’s absinthe.

Shit.

{ 30 }

LILY CALLOWAY

Daisy steps forward for another shot, and she stumbles a little. I do not want her to be sick tonight. I put my hand on her shoulder and wave no to the server. “We’re good here.”

Daisy doesn’t fight me on the decision. When the server saunters away, I snatch Rose’s arm, and she wobbles in her four-inch heels.

My eyes bug.

I’ve only seen Rose break her stride once. Her heel caught in a metal grate in New York, and she burned those shoes afterwards to rid herself of bad joojoo. I think if Connor knew that she’s truly superstitious, he’d tease her for a solid century.

Melissa sidles next to me, and I must be giving off a distressed look because she says, “Your sisters are sloshed.” Announcing the obvious does not help.

The music changes into the theme song from Superman and it totally disorients me. I whip around, and impersonators on the stage are now dressed as various superheroes. Superman and Captain America stand on the tall balcony, a spotlight shining on them.

People start trying to edge closer to the stage, and someone bumps me from behind, almost losing my grip on Rose. “Watch it, buddy,” I snap at him, but it really loses its effect when my focus is on the superheroes. It’s my catnip.

The tempo starts to rise, and as the crescendo hits, Superman and Captain America leap from the balcony and fly to the square bar only feet from us.

Bullshit.

Cap cannot fly.

I’m so angry that they made Captain America have a superpower he really doesn’t possess that I don’t see the incoming body from my right. His arm rams my side so hard that I teeter, and Rose’s heels slide out from under her. She completely falls, dragging me with her. We’re both on the ground before I can make sense of anything else.

My bony hip digs into the hard concrete floor, and my skirt soaks in sticky alcohol. I don’t even want to think about what else could exist down here. I sit up and lose sight of Rose. Has she risen to her feet? But that’s unlikely considering she could barely stand on her heels.

My heart thuds. “Rose!” I call. The bodies cage me in, and I suddenly fear being stepped on and squashed like a little bug. But more than that, I fear the same thing happening to my inebriated sister. Before I make a move, two pairs of hands slide underneath my armpits and lift me right off the ground like I weigh as much as a bag of apples.

It has to be a guy.

A guy is touching me.

Abort. Abort. My mind has flashing signs, picturing some flirtation on his part as soon as I turn around. He helped me up, after all. I’m sure he’ll expect the damsel in distress to kiss him for his chivalry.

I contemplate running off, but he spins me around and places his hands on my cheeks. I jerk away on impulse.

“Lil.”

“Lo.” I take a breath of relief and willingly slide into his arms, my heart practically beating out of my chest. When my thoughts realign, I pull away quickly. “Where’s Rose?”

As soon as I say the words, confetti bursts from cannons, blocking my vision and coating the floor in slick paper. I take a step and slip again, Lo reaches out and catches me before I fall to the floor.

His arms are tucked behind my back, and the music pumps and streamers fly. I feel like it’s midnight on New Year’s Eve. He stares deep into my eyes, and he says, “Did you drink anything?”

I shake my head. I wouldn’t. Because then I wouldn’t be able to do this. I lean forward and kiss him on the lips. He pulls me into his body and lifts my back completely straight, swept up in the way our tongues dance together. But I retract first.

Even though I love Lo, even though I’d like nothing more than to kiss him—my sisters are lost somewhere. And I need to find them.

Lo sees the panic in my eyes again, and he gives me a look like I won’t let anything happen to them. I believe him. Now, more than ever, I believe that he’s here for me.

He grabs my hand and leads me through the congested area that’s teaming with bodies. “They’re really drunk,” I tell Lo over the music.

His cheekbones sharpen.

“What?” My pulse speeds. “What is it?”

He tugs me in front of him, his hands on my shoulders as we move, and he lowers his head so that his lips brush my ear. “They were drinking absinthe.”

What?! I don’t think the server mentioned what was in the glowing bottles. Rose would never be crazy enough to drink absinthe, something that’s too crazy for America.

On Halloween, Lo’s eighteenth birthday, we took a plane to Amsterdam just to buy a bottle. He claimed he wanted to get drunk with a green fairy, thinking he’d hallucinate. He ended up passing out within the hour, leaving me to watch over him in our hotel room.

I go into sister-mode and walk faster, my eyes open and alert for any signs of my effervescent blonde sister and my fashionable brunette one.

We find Rose first.

By a high table littered with empty cups and bottles, Connor holds her tight around the waist while she presses two firm hands on his shoulders, unsteady in her heels. He whispers in her ear, probably trying to convince her to take them off.

But a tiger would birth a baby lama sooner than Rose would be barefoot in a dirty club.

We approach them, and I hold onto Lo like a kid clutching the wall in a skating rink. “Is she okay?” I ask.

“I’m just fine, thank you,” Rose says. “But we need to contact the staff and have this mess cleaned up. The floor is filthy.” She motions to the floor that’s covered in sticky liquor and now little strips of confetti. Her nose crinkles at the table nearest her. The staff already starts sweeping streamers so that people don’t slip. “Ah, right on time.” She sways with a loopy smile, and then she stumbles without even taking a step. Connor rights her back up.

Lo can’t stop grinning.

“What’s so funny?” I ask.

“For once, that’s not me.”

I can’t help but smile too.

“Don’t…patronize me, Loren!” Rose points her finger at him. “I’m calling my lawyers. Have you arrested for…” She hiccups. “…public indecency.”

“I’m pretty decent right now, actually,” Lo says, still smirking.

“How about we call it an early night?” Connor asks, his hands firmly on her hips. She doesn’t even seem to care. In fact, she leans back into him. This is probably the closest they’ve ever been, and yet it looks so natural.

“Yes, we have to tuck you into bed,” she tells him.

“No, darling, I’ll be tucking you into bed.”

She lets out a puff of air. “I’m perfectly fine. Look.” She holds out one hand and it shakes like she’s on crack. “Steady as rock.”

Connor looks to us. “I’m taking her to the car.”

“Connor Cobalt,” Rose says with a cluck of her tongue. “Is that a made up name?”

He sweeps his arm underneath her back and then, in one motion, lifts her effortlessly into his arms.

She plants her hand onto his chest, her eyes going wide. “Whoa. We need to tell the manager to slow down the carousel.”


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