#Chapter 1: The Party
It was the night of my coming-of-age party. I was most of all excited for one thing: tonight, Justin would finally announce that he was my boyfriend.
Justin and I had been seeing each other for a couple of months now, but we had kept things under wraps so far. Frankly, I would have preferred to make our relationship public right away — he was one of the most handsome and popular guys on campus, and was on the hockey team — but he insisted that we wait until the right time.
“I want to save announcing our relationship for a special night, baby,” he had told me. I had been asking when he would make our relationship public for a while, but maybe he was right; it was best to wait until a special time. That meant that he really loved me, right?
As I stood in front of the mirror and admired myself, I felt confident that Justin would announce our relationship tonight. I picked out special lingerie, which I wore under my outfit now, because I was certain that we would finally have sex for the first time. I was ready to lose my virginity.
Aside from the lingerie, which was a sexy red set that I picked out at the mall a couple days before the party, I was wearing a short, tight skirt that showed off my thighs, a pink crop top, and heels. I wore red lipstick and black eyeliner, too. I felt a bit awkward wearing an outfit like this, as I usually dressed in jeans and hoodies; but my roommates, Jessica and Lori, insisted that I dress up for the party.
The only thing that I kept the same about myself tonight was my hair, which was black with bangs and two long braids. I always wore my hair like this and never liked it any other way. Some people said it was childish, but I thought it was cute and practical.
“You look so hot, Nina!” Jessica said as I came out of the room. “The guys are gonna be all over you!”
I didn’t say anything about Justin. Even my own roommates didn’t know about our relationship.
Lori looked at her phone and took another swig of her beer. “Everyone should be here any minute,” she said in her low, sultry voice. Lori was the quintessential “goth girl” on campus, which was a stark contrast from Jessica’s bubbly nature and my studious attitude. Somehow, though, we were all best friends.
Just then, the door burst open with the first guests arriving. The group of guys and girls flooded in carrying cases of beers and whooping and hollering, excited for the party. With a grin, Jessica cranked up the music and started greeting people while I stood awkwardly in the middle of the room. Lori walked over to the couch and sat down, scrolling on her phone; she really only ever came to parties for the alcohol and the weed.
Soon enough, the suite was full of people. The LED lights flashed red, green, and blue while the music played loudly, and the guests started getting drunk and playing games. The main attraction seemed to be the beer pong table, where the boys competed like their lives depended on it, but people also hung out around the seating area, played drinking games, and smoked on the balcony.
A while into the party, Justin finally arrived. I got excited, but instead of coming over to me and greeting me, he simply made a beeline for the beer pong table and joined the game.
During a lull in the game, I sent Justin a text: “Well? Are we gonna announce it?”
I watched from the corner as he pulled out his phone, read the text, then pocketed his phone again. He looked at me and subtly shrugged, then returned to his game as though he didn’t even know me.
“Are you okay?” Jessica said, coming over to me with an extra beer in her hand for me.
I shrugged and finished off the last of my beer. “I’m just not much of a partier, that’s all,” I said.
Jessica pursed her lips and handed me the other beer. “You just need a little liquid courage, that’s all!” she said, clinking her bottle with mine and taking a big swig.
I looked down at my beer and frowned. Jessica was right, but beer wasn’t going to cut it — not with how Justin was treating me tonight.
“How about vodka?” I said. Jessica’s eyes lit up and she turned around to face the group, cupping her hands around her mouth to shout.
“Hey everyone!” she shouted. “The birthday girl wants shots!”
By my seventh shot, however, I started to feel woozy and felt like I was going to throw up. I stumbled down the hall to the bathroom and made it to the toilet just in time.
When I was done throwing up, I stood up and made my way over to the sink, where I splashed some cold water on my face and took some deep breaths to sober myself up. I looked at my smudged makeup and my messy hair in the mirror, trying not to cry as I thought about Justin. Why was he treating me like this? Just a few days ago, we were making out behind the hockey arena and now he was acting like he didn’t even know me. Was he just nervous about announcing our relationship, or was it something else?
Taking another deep breath and wiping the tears off of my face, I straightened up and decided to go talk to Justin.
When I left the bathroom, however, he wasn’t anywhere to be found.
“Hey, have you seen Justin?” I asked a guest. She just shrugged her shoulders and pointed toward my bedroom. Maybe he just went inside to be alone for a minute, which would give us some time to talk.
I made my way over to my room, weaving drunkenly through the crowd.
When I opened the door, however, I wished that I had just stayed away.
Justin was in my bed, but he wasn’t alone. He was with another girl. I recognized her immediately from her platinum blonde hair and thin body — it was Lisa, the cheerleading captain. They were tangled together in my bed, Justin’s pants pulled down and Lisa’s panties on the floor as they had sex in my bed.
“What the fuck!” I screamed.
The party went silent, aside from the music, which someone quickly shut off.
Justin and Lisa sat up in my bed; Justin looked even more drunk and high than before, but immediately jumped up when he saw me and yanked his pants up.
“Nina, it’s not what it looks like,” he said, stumbling toward me while Lisa simply stood up with a smirk and pulled her panties on, smoothing down her skirt. She strutted out of the room and bumped me with her shoulder on the way out as I continued to stare at Justin in shock and disbelief.
Justin stammered as he tried to explain himself. “I’m so sorry, I-”
“Justin…” I interrupted, my voice shaking. “We. Are. Done.”
Without another word, I turned away and stormed out of the suite with Jessica and Lori calling after me.
I walked out of the dorms into the cool spring air, turning this way and that for a bit before deciding to make my way toward town. I walked for a while, fuming the entire time and muttering to myself, until I finally made it to a local bar.
I nodded gratefully as the bartender poured me a glass of rum and coke, and I sipped it miserably while he disappeared into the kitchen.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see that I had several missed calls and “Where are you?!?” texts from Jessica and Lori, but I ignored them and tossed my phone down on the bar, taking a big swig of my drink and cursing to myself.
“Yeah, I hate my phone, too,” a male voice said from beside me. I looked over to see a guy pulling up a barstool a couple seats down. He was wearing a red flannel shirt and had curly brown hair, and a sharp jawline. He was muscular, too.
“I hate everything right now,” I said, swirling my drink around in my glass with my straw.
The boy looked at me, and just then, I came to a shocking realization: this was Enzo, Justin’s hockey captain, the star of the school, every girl’s dream boy.
And he was sitting next to me, in this quiet dive bar, talking to me.
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