Love True

[ for the gaming competition ] LOVE TRUE ; the virtual game that's taken the world by storm, and all the hopeful romantics out there who've never found the one. After Juliet's humiliating break up with her boyfriend, all she wants is to find someone who truly loves her. Does it really matter if it's all a lie?

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3. Drag

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

The lights pull to me, a magnetic allure that drags my feet forward and sets my eyes on fire. I want to be there, with the people, leaning into hot, silk-draped bodies and moving with the crowd. I want to taste the sweet, sweet poison that they're giving out for free: I want to drain my glass in the first few minutes and then feel my sanity unravel. 

I want to dance with Ben, and feel his hands knot in my hair and his breathe, ice cool, slide down my neck like a droplet of water. I want to dance, feel the surge of breathe glide through me. In, out. In, out. Out, out, out. You never feel more alive than when you're with everyone else: lives rolling in sync with other each other. Singing the same, rhythmic, thumping song that ties our runaway hearts together. 

Charlotte drapes her long arm across my shoulder, and I pull a half grin in her direction. I'd think it was entertaining, if it weren't for the fact she's only doing it so Ben can't. From behind her blonde-brown hair, I see him roll his black eyes, and gesture for me to push her away, so we can go inside together. 

"See you later, alligator," I say slyly, untangling myself from my best friend's vice-like grasp. 

Charlotte takes my hand, almost like she's ready to grovel and beg. What for, I have yet to find out. "Jules- come on. I don't know anyone in there. Walk in with me."

I tilt my head, kind of like a predator seizing up helpless pray. "You remember our first party, Charlotte?" I say smoothly. "Back when me and you had hit rock bottom?" I slip out of her grip, and walk away slowly, step by step like some kind of dance. "We didn't have any friends back then, either. But look where we are now."

"We had each other. There's a difference."

I roll my eyes, irritated. "Stop it, Charlotte. You're only at this party because I invited you. If you don't like it, then get the fuck out."

She flinches at the swear, like she's only ever seen the word written down and never out loud. Her mouth droops, and she flags behind, still desperate to walk in through the door and join the fun, but wary because she's a pup in a wolf pack. I'll find her in an hour or so, and hopefully she'll have a grin wiping away that pitiful look. 

Ben has a dangerous smile on his face as he watches me finish the conversation, before planting the whisper of a kiss on my forehead. 

"Who'd have thought you could grow so cold, Juliet?" he says, a low laugh rumbling through his words. 

I drop my eyes, a small smile toying at the corners of my lips. You can't grow cold: it is either there, or it isn't. You choose to hide it, or you let it out.

I hug him tightly to me, and we stumble up the pathway together like we're already drunk - but we both know the fun hasn't even started yet. Last time, Ben got so drunk he slept in Kendall's washing machine with a pair of grandma knickers on his head. We all got pictures before he woke up.

"You should drop Charlotte, you know, Juliet. You're better than her."

I nod, running my tongue over my front teeth. "You're probably right, but its best to have a back up if things go wrong."

He laughs as we begin to join the throng of people, the sounds of our voices beginning to blur with the crowd. "Yeah? I don't think you need a back-up. You've got me."

"Is that a promise?" I say softly, curling my arms around his neck even though its vaguely uncomfortable since - although I'm not small - I'm a lot smaller than him. One of my eyebrows tilts upwards, and he runs a bronze finger across it.

"What?"

"That you won't leave me?" My lips are awfully close to his: almost touching, but not quite. Almost. Almost, almost, so goddamn close.

His face splits into a grin: handsome, but kind of like a wolf. "I guess," he says, and then, just as I think he's about to kiss me, he pulls away, a wicked gleam in his almond eyes. "I'm going to find Daniel, okay? See you later."

I chew on my lip, watching him leave. His black hair isn't exactly a beacon for attention in the dimly-lit rooms, but it shines with almost a blueish tinge like perhaps he's dyed it that way, though I know he hasn't. It sometimes looks like that - probably because of something sciency-or-rather, but I like to think that's just the way his hair is. Midnight, cobalt.

I love him. This is love, in the real world. Sure, it would be nice if he liked one-on-one time more often and warm hugs, but he's kind to me, he's pretty smart, he doesn't drink excessively and he doesn't take drugs, and he's beautiful too, even though he'd possibly wring my neck if I used the word in front of him.

I make my way over to the kitchen, where alcohol is spread out like a feast over the benches. Across the white marble are a selection of colourful bottles which I can't be bothered to read the titles of because they're too little and I've forgotten my glasses, and I won't have to lie to Mum if I truthfully tell her I don't know what I had. I snatch up one of the less mean looking items, and tip a few drops into a plastic cup. I won't even like it that much - too strong, too bitter, too harsh as it seeps down my throat. It doesn't make sense that I'll be drinking so much of it.

I remember Charlotte telling me, a year ago, she couldn't stand any kind of drink 'like that', and she'd rather stick pins into her eyes than go to one of 'their' stupid parties late at night, getting so high people think they're touching clouds. I told her she shouldn't ever stick pins in her eyes because it was bad enough of me having to wear contacts for being short-sighted, let alone being completely blind. So we agreed we'd rather go to a party than stick pins in our eyes, and we also agreed we wouldn't get crazy drunk until our IDs allowed it.

You know. If promises are really meant to be kept, it should be a hell of a lot more difficult to break them.

I sigh, already tasting a bad scent in my mouth. The minute I walk through the door at home, Mum is going to pounce on me like a cat and she'll smell this from a mile off. Literally. The stench rolls off my tongue like a sensual, black wave, a hint of poison and a whole ton of trouble.

There was this one boy- I hold onto the table for support. There was this one boy, a couple of months back, who told Charlotte and I that if love was something you could touch, it would be a spirit with the highest percentage of alcohol ever in it. I pointed out to him that if that were the case, love would kill. And he said it already did. Then he dropped some raisons in his beer, and we stopped taking him seriously, even if he knew how to say something really deep that could have the craziest effect on you.

I inch my way around the bench to the sink, and wonder absently whether the red-black stuff was a little strong for the first drink of the evening. Hell- I haven't even talked to anyone yet, let alone dance. I blink quickly a few times and then run the tap quickly to splash some water over my face. Its ice cold, like it must be winter outside, even though I'm pretty, pretty sure it's only August. It is, isn't it?

I stink my tongue out and let the water run over it, washing away the heavy taste from my lips. Ugh. Ugh- it reeks. Really reeks. And it sticks to me like I imagine a rotten egg smell might, or uncooked meat gone mouldy and left in the cupboard too long. It makes me feel kind of gross, kind of sick.

Hey- is that Charlotte over there? She looks like she's having fun. I bet she hasn't drunk anything yet. Is she dancing with that boy? He's fit. She actually looks kind of pretty, even though I thought she looked bratty when we were getting ready. I giggle. Hugo thinks we're both bratty, but not much as me think I don't. I have manners: I say thank you. I bet Ben's dancing too- he's a really bad dancer but he's kind of at it good, yeah? He does the swaying thing where he sways around and its really cute, but this is one of our first parties so we haven't swayed yet unfortunately. I wonder if he's thinking about me- maybe he's trying to find me? 

I cling to the edge of the sink, the running water swirling around like it makes its own storm. I wash my face with it again, letting the droplets dribble off my face.

What time is it? Have I been alone? Shit. Am I drunk? No way. It's been like five minutes? Ten, maybe. Twenty at the most. Shit.

I spray more water on my face, and then feel even worse as the water runs through my hair too. It's by my nose, choking me slightly, down the back of my throat, stinging right up close to my eyes- wait. The alcohol, or the water? I can't tell. It fills me up, from my lungs to my heart, a sticky, molten liquid I can't understand. It's in my head, asphyxiating my brain.

It feels like I've drunk a bucket of hot tar.

Oh God. God, help me. More water. I dribble more all across my hands and my neck and across my arms and down the back of my shoulders until the cold really bites my skin, and I wake slightly. Open my eyes. I didn't realise they were closed: was I half sleeping? What was in that drink? How much did I-?

Water.

I lean forwards across the sink, and throw up practically everything I've drunk this evening. I'm going to kill whoever made these drinks. I'm going to- My thoughts are cut off by nausea and pain and tiredness and worry and more nausea and more worry, but mostly nausea.

I stagger straight out of the kitchen. I need to calm down. I can't stay at this party - I'm so intoxicated it wouldn't just be boring, it would be dangerous. Ben has to take me home - if he doesn't, I might cry.  I will cry. No, I won't. That would be embarrassing and childish. I might cry.

"Ben?" I call out, across the hallway. There aren't as many people as I thought there were, and I worry I might have blacked out at some point. It could've been hours, since I took that first drink, and I have absolutely no idea. Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God. I swear I didn't drink too much.

"BEN-"

There's someone a few metres from me, standing next to the dining table. His hair shimmers a deep, midnight blue, and the gold lines of his face shine with bright light. He looks tall - much taller than me. He has a small, dangerous smile balancing on his thin lips, and a swatch of dark and light, dark and light glinting across his eyes. I can't tell what colour they are. They're like mirrors.

"BEN-"

His lips run across the tan jawline of someone else, his hands snake around the waist of someone else and his eyes are fixated upon eyes so blue they could match the sea for beauty. I can't tell who they are: I doubt I've ever seen them before. They're kind of broad, kind of tall, kind of handsome, and I've never wanted to punch someone more in my entire life. I can hardly stand.

The pain. Was it here before?

"Jules, I'm sorry- I'm going to take you home, okay?"

I think Charlotte is saying something very close to my ear. I can't listen. I'm screaming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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