His lips rise as she swings her legs and inspects the style of his buttons. I watch him carry her through the exit, just to make sure she’s safely out.
When she leaves, I spin around again, scanning all the girls, but none are blonde or tall enough to be my youngest sister. “Where’s Daisy?” I ask Lo. The last time I remember seeing her was before the superheroes took to the stage and hypnotized me.
He searches the club with a narrowed gaze. “I don’t see her.”
I spot Ryke by the bar, discussing something with Melissa.
And this one time, I do wish Melissa wasn’t here to distract Ryke from Daisy. Because he would have kept an eye on my sister during that confetti madness and the rush of people pushing to the stage. But instead, he was busy placating his somewhat-girlfriend. Just like we told him to.
This is our fault.
I am frantic with horrible feelings. I push my way ahead to Ryke, and Lo braces me with a hand on my waist so I don’t slip again.
“Hey,” Ryke says, turning to us when we arrive. His eyes flit around us really quickly. “Where’s Daisy?”
“We were going to ask if you saw her,” I say, more frightened now. He didn’t even go looking for Daisy as soon as he came down from the balcony. That would be a Ryke thing to do. Did we really scare him off that much? I bite my nails. We made a person who is so deeply caring become uncaring. How is that possible?! I am freaking out. Just a little. “I thought that you would know where she was.” My high-pitched voice causes his face to break.
And then he turns his attention to Lo. “You said you were going to get Daisy.”
Lo rubs the back of his head. “Lil fell on the ground. Everything was crazy…”
“Fuck,” Ryke curses, the word harsh on his lips. His muscles tighten.
Lo keeps rubbing his neck in anxiety.
“It’s okay,” I tell Lo before he’s assaulted by guilt. “No one is to blame.” We’ll find her. Hopefully.
And before we can go search for Daisy, Melissa chimes in, her expression sour. “She’s probably running around here somewhere. I’m sure you and Lo can find her yourselves.”
No, we need Ryke. Lo will be worried about me falling on my ass so much that his attention will be split. I need someone who’s focused solely on finding her. And I’m too short to see much of anything in the crowd.
“Come on,” Melissa says, tugging Ryke towards the stage to dance.
He scowls darkly. “If you’re not going to help, you can go to the car.”
Melissa drops her hands. “Are you serious?”
“I’m not leaving a sixteen-year-old drunk girl in a f**king club!” he shouts at her like she’s not listening.
“They can take care of her! She’s not your sister or your responsibility, Ryke!”
“You don’t know me,” he sneers. “You don’t f**king get it.”
She steps into his face. “I didn’t come here to babysit!”
“Fuck you,” she snarls. Then she storms off, pushing through the mass of people with ease.
My heart is about to spring from my chest with every second we lose. “Let’s go.”
“Wait.” Ryke looks between Lo and me. “If I help, this is it. You two can’t be hounding me about her anymore. You can’t have it both f**king ways. I’m either ignoring her or I’m her friend. That’s it.”
“You’re her friend!” I exclaim, practically throwing my hands up in the air. I don’t want to waste any more time. “Okay, let’s go, please!”
Ryke doesn’t move. His eyes pin to Lo, waiting for his answer. I am tossing daggers into his eyes. I don’t have time for this. Daisy may not have time for this. I picture her drunk in the bathroom being gang raped by other people high on the green (or in this case blue) fairy. I shouldn’t have lost her. I should have kept her tethered to my arm.
“Lo!” I yell.
“Fine,” he says. “Fine.”
Ryke revives like someone struck him with a hot torch. He moves faster than I could have ever imagined. He slams bodies out of his way, on a mission from hell. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I chant each time he makes a new path for us.
“Don’t let go of my hand!” Lo shouts over the music, his fingers intertwined in mine.
We wind through the people, following Ryke to the bathrooms where a long line swerves. He walks towards the men’s bathroom and ignores the angry stares as he passes the line.
“Hey!” a guy shouts. “I’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes!”
Ryke glares. “I’m not pissing; I’m looking for someone.” He reaches the door, and the guy grabs him by the arm. Ryke literally throws his body weight at him, just to push him off. The guy topples backwards, giving Ryke enough time to open the door and disappear inside.
“I’m going to look in the girl’s bathroom,” I tell Lo, leaving him in the hallway. The girls stare with hot anger, their lips upturning snidely. My explanation blows over just about as easily as Ryke’s, but no one physically assaults me.
When I make it inside, the line extends here, the girls crammed in a row, waiting for an open stall. “Daisy!” I shout, checking each face. No, no, no. I peek beneath the stalls, searching for her gold sandals.
No, no, no.
I run back outside at the same time that Ryke exits the bathroom—without Daisy on his arm. He doesn’t hesitate or stop. He guides us to a long narrow hallway that appears reserved for staff.
“We should check outside,” Lo tells him. “She may have found the exit.”
“I want to be sure she’s not here,” Ryke says.
A door ends the hallway. And it’s literally marked employees only. Lo grabs Ryke’s arm before he rushes inside.
“We’re going to be thrown out of the club, and then we’re never going to find her.”
And they both look down at me. I realize I squeaked, a petrified sound escaping.
“You two stay out here then,” Ryke says. “I’ll go in. If someone throws me out, then you run down the f**king hallway and disappear in the crowd.”
“Fine.” But I hear Lo mutter, “I’m going to have to bail my brother out of Mexican jail.”
Ryke turns the knob, and he peeks inside a little. His chest rises in a strong inhale, and he motions for us to come inside with him.
We trust Ryke enough to listen, heading through the doorway. And then we stop.
The door clicks shut behind us.
We must be in some sort of break room. Red couches fill the large space, a television and pinball machine on one side. Graffiti—or really nauseating neon-colored artwork—is sprayed on the walls.
The room is empty except for one blonde girl who has her feet on the couch cushions. She bounces a little and slaps the graffiti image of a window on the wall.
I’m just really, really glad no one is in this room. And that all of her clothes are on.
Ryke nears my sister. “Daisy,” he says slowly.
She glances over her shoulder and smiles weakly. “Hi, Ryke.” She points to the painted window. “Did you know this window doesn’t work?” She tries to grab at the picture. “It won’t open.”
“How are you feeling?” he asks.
She plops on the couch and touches her head like she’s spinning. “Well…” She swallows hard. “I learned that the blue stuff was absinthe…so…I think I might be high.”
“Yeah…” She blinks a couple times, trying to force open her heavy eyes. “And that door…that door was not the exit.” A spike of fear breaches her voice. She knows she’s not completely coherent and she was all alone.
My fearless, daring sister is afraid.
Because this was not her choosing.
I’m about to go to her, but I stop. Ryke has already reached the couch, and when her gaze trains on him fully, her face begins to break in slow, liberating relief.
“Hey,” he says, gauging her state.
“Hey.” Her eyes fill with tears.
“Dais, it’s okay. You’re okay.” He brings her to her feet, and her legs quake.
She nods repeatedly, trying to believe it herself.
Lo lets out a breath. “It’s weird,” he says softly. “I thought Rose was going to be the one like this.”
I frown. “What do you mean?”
“Terrified,” he clarifies, “of not being in control.”
Daisy is naturally wild, but I don’t think she was expecting to be this drunk. I don’t think she wanted it, and that was a different kind of unknown than jumping off a cliff or house or plane.
Ryke cups her face. “Hey, you’re safe, Dais.”
She nods again, biting her bottom lip to stop it from trembling.
And then Ryke shifts uneasily. “You didn’t run into anyone before you got here, did you?” Oh my God, he doesn’t think…no one touched her, did they? I am going to throw up with worry.
She shakes her head, a couple tears falling. “I don’t know.” She rubs her face before anymore tears slide down.
Ryke is more concerned than I’ve seen him in a while, and that includes when Lo was puking on the side of the road.
Daisy stares at her hand as though it leads to a magical portal. “I think…I think I’m high,” she repeats what has already been said.
“Fuck,” Ryke curses under his breath. He gently leads her to where we stand. She looks up, and her face brightens a little when she sees me. “Lily. Lo.”
I hug her instantly, and she clutches onto me, her hand disappearing in my hair. “Whoa!” She shrieks and jerks backs into Ryke’s chest.
“What?” My eyes widen.
“What’s wrong with your face?” Daisy asks, panicked. “Ryke, something’s wrong with her face.”
“You’re high,” he reminds her.
“The sooner we get out of here the better,” Lo says.
Daisy breathes heavily. “I can’t feel my feet.”
“Great,” Lo says, a nervous hand combing through his hair.
“Anything else you can’t feel?” Ryke asks.
She runs her tongue slowly over her upper lip before saying, “My face.”
Ryke rests a hand on Daisy’s spine. “Daisy, look at me.”
She can’t find the source of his voice. “Ryke?” He’s standing right in front of her.
He pinches her chin and turns her face so she meets his eyes. “I’m going to pick you up, okay?”
He lifts her in his arms—one on her back, the other underneath her knees.
And she clutches his shirt. “Don’t leave me,” she whispers. “I can’t find the exit…”
“I have you,” he assures her.
We navigate our way out of the club, and I constantly glance back at Daisy to make sure she’s okay and not ill. She buries her face in Ryke’s chest, and when we pass the threshold of the club, safe on the sidewalk and out of the hazy atmosphere, we can talk more freely.