Peyton rushes around her small apartment putting out bowls of food and bags of chips wearing a long, ice-blue, sparkly dress. In the month since I forced her and Max binge watch Disney movies with me, the nickname of the popular ice queen has caught on with our little group. Luckily, instead of plotting my murder, she’s embracing it this Halloween and dressing the part for the Halloween party she just had to have.
“I can’t believe you wore that for the party,” she complains, still frowning at me when she comes back to the kitchen.
I look down at my black t-shirt and black skinny jeans in confusion. “What? I’m dressed up.” My voice is defensive, because I know I put way almost no thought into my costume. I thought it was clever though – Kat being a cat for Halloween.
“You’re dressed like it’s any normal day,” Peyton says with a roll of her eyes. “The only difference is, you don’t usually look like a goth wannabe with cat ears.” She ignores my glare as she continues trying to make sure everything is perfect for tonight.
I don’t know why she’s so concerned, the only people who are going to be here are our usual crew. SarahBeth is out with her brother, his girlfriend, my sister and her baby daddy. Surprisingly, Livvie and Emmett are coming here instead, but they were the only unknowns aside from Annabelle. I’m still not sure if she’s coming. She hasn’t been much for parties as long as I’ve known her.
“Hey! I have whiskers too!” I say, pointing to where the black lines are drawn on either side of my nose. She waves me off in exasperation just as the first people arrive.
Wyatt is the first one to get to the door, and when I see who’s on the other side, I grimace. Clay walks in wearing a t-shirt and Meghan. She’s vapid and shallow. Peyton can’t stand her, but she’s been hanging all over Clay since football season started. She’s dressed in an extremely unsurprising “sexy” nurse outfit, complete with a skirt that barely covers her considerable assets, and hanging on Clay’s arm like she’s afraid he’ll desert her.
Max walks in behind them, thankfully alone, and pulls me into a quick hug when he sees me. He kisses my forehead, much like a favorite uncle would, before grabbing Peyton around the waist and smacking a loud kiss on her lips. Wyatt jerks him away from her with a scowl. “Get your own girl, asshole.” Max laughs at his possessiveness, but I can’t help but feel a little jealous. Peyton just got more romantic attention from Max than I ever have.
I watch them sadly, not noticing when Clay comes to stand beside me until I hear him laugh. “Aw, Kitty Kat, you look precious.” I turn to glare at him, and he’s grinning broadly. Reaching out a finger, he drags it along the tail attached to my jeans and smirks. “You know what would make this better?”
I narrow my eyes at him, sure I’m not going to like whatever it is he says. “What?”
“If this tail was a little more … attached.” He winks, but I don’t get his meaning. When he sees my confusion, he laughs. “I mean; I’d be more impressed if there was a hole right here.” He pokes the seam of my jeans, right where the tail is pinned on. “A cat tail plug would be way more fun to tug.”
It still takes me a second to get his meaning, but when I do, I gasp, my eyes going wide as saucers and my face bursting into flames. “You’re so gross, Clay!” I slap him on the arm and scrunch my nose up in disgust. “That’s disgusting.”
He starts to laugh, and soon he’s bent at the waist and gasping for breath. “Oh my God,” he wheezes, “you should have seen your face.” Clay laughs harder and I cross my arms over my chest, turning so he can no longer see my tail.
For the first time tonight, I notice what he’s wearing. “What are you supposed to be?” He’s wearing a pair of loose jeans and a yellow t-shirt with big white buttons and a cowhide vest printed on it. It looks familiar, but I can’t place it.
Looking entirely too proud of himself, he says, “I’m Woody. Get it?” He’s such a child.
This time I’m the one to roll my eyes. “How old are you, three?”
“Nah, I’m eight … inches.” He gives me an exaggerated wink.
Meghan laughs before she tugs on his hand, prompting both of us to look at her. It’s obvious neither of us remembered she was even there, and that makes me feel crappy. “I’m hungry, Clay,” she says, pushing out her bottom lip and twirling a lock of dark hair around one finger. I start to snort, amused by her actions, but I manage to hold it in.
“Hey Meghan, I like your costume.” It’s a total lie, but I’m trying to be nice. She just stares at me, not saying a word. For some reason, she disliked me immediately. It’s like she thinks I’m out to take Clay from her, something that couldn’t be further from the truth. Clay lets her lead him away, leaving me standing in the middle of the room alone.
Thankfully, I don’t stay that way for long. “Kat!” a voice shrieks before a whirlwind of red and black wraps her arms around me and hugs me tight.
“Hey Scar,” I say when she pulls back, letting me see her full costume. She’s dressed in an almost obscenely short dress that matches her two-toned hair. Red horns are perched on the top of her head and the grin on her face shows her for the devil she is. “Where’s Annabelle?”
The smile falls from her face, and I wish I hadn’t said anything. “She’s at the dorm. I tried to get her to come; I even went so far as to offer to do her homework for the next two weeks. She wouldn’t take it though.” I laugh, understanding why that wasn’t a good bribe. Scarlett barely does her own homework, let alone anyone else’s. I don’t get the chance to reply because Peyton’s yell grabs my attention.
“Okay, y’all. It’s movie time!” Shuddering inwardly, I wonder why I agreed to this. Scary movies are my least favorite thing ever.
Somehow, I end up sandwiched between Clay and Scarlett on the smaller couch where we’re packed in like sardines. Peyton and Wyatt are on the couch along with Max, and Emmett and Livvie settle in on the floor. Peyton starts the movie, and I look around for Meghan. When I don’t see her, I lean over so only Clay can hear me to ask, “Where’d your girlfriend go?”
He gives me a WTF look before answering. “Meg isn’t my girlfriend. Her sorority is having a big party with Sigma Phi, so she just came in for a minute to say hi and grab something to eat on her way over.”
“Oh,” I say dumbly. He turns back to the television and when I look over, I groan loudly. Peyton has a sick sense of humor. When we were at the store looking at movies, I mentioned that my mom wouldn’t let me watch the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. She was adamant I stay away, even when my friends were all watching them. Once, when I was about eight, I told her I was going out to ride my bike when I was actually sneaking over to my best friend Laura’s to watch the movies. She found me out and came right over to drag me home again. I was mortified.
Not even halfway through the movie, I’ve decided I’m never falling asleep again. Every time one of the characters falls asleep, they’re chased by a madman. The first time someone dies, I practically jump into Clay’s lap, causing him to laugh. Embarrassed, I slide back into my seat, but the next attack has me grabbing his arm and shrieking.
“Calm down, Kitty Kat,” he cajoles. “It’s just a movie.” His shoulders are shaking with his laughter, but I’m beyond caring.
Hiding my face in his arm, I mutter, “I don’t care. I hate scary movies.” I sound just as pouty as Meghan did earlier, but right now, all I can concentrate on is the bloody visual in my head. Still chuckling, Clay pulls his arm away from where my fingers are digging into him, but before I can protest, he drops it over my shoulder and pulls me into him. I burrow closer, burying my face in his side and squeeze my eyes shut. I cover my free ear with a hand and try to calm my breathing. Clay’s hand strokes my arm from my shoulder to my elbow, relaxing me slowly and all too soon, he’s shaking me awake.
“Hey sleepyhead. Movie’s over.” Once I’m sitting up, he stands, stretching his arms over his head. His shirt rides up, showcasing his taut abs and trim waist. I look away quickly, meeting Scarlett’s grinning face. She says nothing, raising one eyebrow as she looks between Clay and me.
“Don’t even start,” I tell her sharply.
Her smile widens. “Wasn’t gonna.”
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