The shots have been lined up on a wooden dining table outdoor, and we are now about thirteen people gathered around it. Thirteen very different people. The table we are sitting by is placed in a back corner of the wide garden, and it leaves us with some sort of privacy - all thirteen of us. It leaves us with the chance to play a drinking game without drunk people interrupting. I am not sure how or why Juliane Summers and Anne-Sophie Maxwell (another cheerleader) decided to join us, but here they are, sitting in front of Anna and I with wide smiles and slightly faded eyes.
The drinking game that I was most against - but Anne-Sophie was most for - was of course the one we ended up playing. The famous and strong-going Never Have I Ever. I absolutely hate that game. Not because I have never done anything memorable, but because I have no interest in these people knowing about my (lack of) sexual adventures and other things that only concern me.
On the table our vodka bottle is placed along with a lot of other liquors, but first we are starting with the tequila shots. Everyone who has a seat, also has a filled shot in front of them.
Harry is sitting on the other side of the table, by Juliane’s side. It does not surprise me, but it does bother me. His green eyes look darker in the night, as they scan over the faces of the East Haven students. Most of them are from Jonathan Morgan and Eric Bailey’s friend group - which means that Anna and I are more than welcome to play along.
“I will start,” Bailey’s deep voice then says, and the chatter fades a little. His eyes rest on Anna for a short second, and I can feel her shift slightly beside me - but then he looks away, and turns to Harry.
“Never have I ever had sex with more than person on the same night?” His question is right on and he does not hesitate to let the words pass his lips. I have a feeling that Bailey already knows the answers, but still a smile of amusement creeps over his lips as Harry (I sink a bit back in my seat), Anne-Sophie and one other student takes their shot. Then it is Anne-Sophie’s turn, and she pours some whiskey into her now empty shot glass, before throwing a question in the air.
“Never have I ever cheated on someone.” She says. I feel uncomfortable and it does not help when Harry takes his second shot that night. Juliane Summers and Jonathan Morgan lets the strong liquor burn its way down their throats as well.
I can feel Anna’s gaze on me, but I fight not to glance at her. I do not want to meet her uncertain eyes in this moment.
It is now Harry’s turn. His eyes shift to me for a brief second. “Never have I ever had sex.” Even though he is no longer looking my way, I can feel the direction of his words and I clench my jaw and let the shot glass stand untouched on the wooden table. Anna raises her glass and grimaces as she swallows the tequila.
Truth is that Anna is a virgin, but in junior year we made a deal that if anyone asked, she was not. It had something to do with her wanting to seem as straight as possible, and once she had lied about it, there was no turning back. The lie lived on and I was not one to spoil.
It does not take me long to notice that I am the only one who does not drink, and it does not take long for anyone else either. Harry glances at my glass and then at my face. I swear that I can see a small smirk form on his lips.
“Well well Stewart,” Bailey says and shakes his head, “is there something I can do about that?”
I send him a smile, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
He cracks up in a wide grin. I am well aware that he was joking.
“Anyway, my turn.” Juliane’s voice rips me away from Eric’s laughing eyes. “Never have I ever dated Joseph Gonzalez,” her eyes are piercing mine - not in a mocking nor threatening way, but in a rather expecting, maybe even soft, way.
I raise the glass and down the tequila without as much as a grimace. Juliane smiles, “I had to get something in you.” I am not sure how to read it. I am not sure what she means by that. It does not sound like an insult, but she is not my friend and her behaviour makes me feel like I need to be on the edge of my seat.
“Thanks,” I mumble and reach out for the bottle of tequila a bit to my left. I have to refill. When I touch the bottle, my fingers brush something warmer than the glass and I fast look up. Harry has his hand closed around it, and is now looking directly at me. My fingertips are burning. He raises his eyebrows a little as I fast pull my hand back.
“Want some?” He asks casually, as if he did not feel the fire. Then it hits me: Maybe he didn’t. It is not so weird for a girl like me to be drawn to a guy like him. Someone who could provide a little excitement in this boring town.
“Please,” I say and push my shot glass across the table. He pours a bit of tequila in it and slowly slides it back over the wood.
The game continues, but my mind is only on the light touch of Harry’s hand. He throws me a long-lasting glance every time I have to drink - which only happens when everyone else has to do so too.