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Authors: Jolene Perry

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Teen & Young Adult, #Romance, #Contemporary

Dizzy

BOOK: Dizzy
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DIZZY

 

By

Nyrae Dawn

&

Jolene Perry

 

 

 

 

 

Nyrae’s Dedication:

To Jolene… I hope it’s not silly to dedicate a book to you that you co-wrote, but no one else feels right for our book. I had such a blast writing DIZZY with you. You’re hilarious and I have so much fun playing off each of your Ziah chapters.  Thanks for writing Dylan’s perfect match and for being my friend.

 

Jolene’s Dedication:

To Nyrae… I hope it’s not silly to play copycat and dedicate it right back to you, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I love that you mentioned collaboration, and two months (or less) later, we had this book. Been SUCH a fun ride, and I love that I can show up on your doorstep and crash on your couch, and that most of the best books I’ve read have been because of you. Also. NO one else could have written Dylan, and done this story justice, or written some of my favorite lines EVER.

 

 

 

 

One

~Dylan~

 

Dad picked the perfect time to go out of town. Of course, I know he chooses this night on purpose. Every year since Mom’s been gone, he’s bailed on the anniversary. It works for me though. What am I saying? It more than works. Dad’s not the only one who knows how to find a distraction. He’s not the only one who needs it either.

Party. My house. Beer. Girls. Yeah, I’m definitely down with that.

I hike across our kitchen and start opening bags of ice and packing them around the keg. My brother Derrick taught me the trick of putting a keg in an old trashcan, and it works perfectly. As ice rattles against the thick plastic, I let myself wonder what Derrick’s doing today. I mean, I’m sure he’s partying because that’s what the Gibson Boys do. I learned from the best. But I can’t help wondering if he remembers what today is. If he plans on having an extra beer to wash the memory down like I will. Or maybe college has changed him enough that he’ll drown himself in work like Dad does.

I shake my head. Nah, this is Derrick. My brother isn’t a sellout.

I jump when something slams into my kitchen door. “Open up! It’s the Po-lice.”

My heart only skips one beat before I realize who it is. Dumbass. I open the kitchen door and shake my head at my best friend Paul.

“The cops don’t say po-lice.” His lame attempt at a joke slips my mind when I spot the brown paper bags in his hand. “Nice. Your hookup came through? What’d you get?”

He pushes his way into the kitchen, setting the bags down on the marble counter. “Two bottles of Tequila, two of Vodka, and a couple of Rum. That’s all I could score.”

My lips stretch into a smile. “That’s all we’ll need. Cooler’s in the corner. Put ‘em in there. I don’t want anyone in the fridge. My dad’s only anal about certain stuff, but the fridge is one of them. He’ll notice if the hummus is scooted over a quarter of an inch.”

“He may notice, but he won’t say anything.”

Which is true. Dad’s always been pretty laid back when it comes to me and Derrick. “Still, it’s his thing, so I don’t want anyone to screw it up.”

My brother and I may have always known how to get our way with Dad, but we’re also a team, the three of us—the Gibson Boys against the world. I don’t know. Dad used to joke around like that when we were younger. I used to think it was cool, but now I know what’s up. He’s trying to focus on the good. He doesn’t want us to realize what we’re missing. Or maybe it’s really that he needs to forget what he’s missing. Or maybe I’m over-thinking stuff way too much today. I need to chill.

“The flyers went out?”

Paul nods his buzzed head. “You doubt me? Of course. This museum you call a house will be packed. Tonight’s going to go down in history as the best no-costumes-allowed Halloween party Portland has ever seen.”

Everyone has costume parties for Halloween. This year we decided costumes would be an automatic ticket out of here.

“Museum?”

Paul pops his knuckles. “Museum. Mansion. Castle. Mall. Whatever the hell you want to call it.”

“I don’t care what you call my house, but I do want to call you a dumbass.”

Okay, so my house is big. All Dad does is work, remember? But the rich jokes get old after a while. Plus, it’s not like Paul’s mom isn’t loaded.

He walks back over to me. “Come on, Dylan. Stop your whining and get’cha ass ready. We’re partying in T-minus-one hour, and I have it on good authority that Chastity Edwards is coming just for you. And that girl is anything but—chase? Chaste? Whatever the hell the word is, she’s not that.”

With laughter rolling off me at Paul and his lame sayings, I almost forget what today is. Forget Dad’s off doing God knows what, forget to wonder what my increasingly MIA brother’s up to. All I want to do tonight is have a good time.

***

Music is pumping through the speakers, vibrating my heart and probably the walls of my house, too. It’s The Black Keys, and I can practically feel every beat as it thumps through Paul’s cousin’s sound system. He’s nineteen, I think, and wants to be a DJ. All I know is he’s the guy we always go to when we need someone to man the music. There’s not a lot of people I would trust with that job because the last thing I want when I’m drinking is music that makes me feel like I’m going to puke. Jeremy knows his shit when it comes to good tunes.

I down the rest of the beer in my cup. I’m short two vital things for making this night kick the kind of ass I need it to kick—my drink and a girl. It’s time I find them both. Stat.

“Hey, Dylan. What’s up?”

“Awesome party, D.”

“Dude, your parties kick ass,” people toss at me.

As I weave my way through what I know has to be ninety-nine percent of our senior class, half the rest of the school, and probably public-school kids, too, I yell my responses. “Nothing. Thanks and thanks.” I have that happy-buzz, tingling feeling coursing through my body.

There’s a fine art to drinking that a lot of people don’t understand. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m a lush or anything. Sure, I party every once in a while, but who doesn’t? I just happen to be one of the smarter ones who knows what I’m doing. I don’t want to end up drinking so much I’m even more depressed than I was going into the night--or praying to the porcelain god.

Once I get my happy buzz, I slow down. Not enough to lose said buzz but enough that I don’t turn into a drunk, teenage girl. Have you seen drunk girls? They always start with a girly argument. Then they shift to crying, then hugging, and then to the bizzaro-world of confessions of BFF love. 

Yeah, I don’t claim to understand girls, but I like them. A lot. Even if I don’t trust them. Which leaves me with the tough job of hopefully finding one who, like me, only does the happy-buzz thing.

Pushing through the kitchen doors, I hear, “D! Come ’ear.”

Come ear? Oh, here. Paul’s still learning how to keep the happy buzz. He’s in the corner of my kitchen. Becky’s sitting on our expensive-ass table, and Paul’s standing between her legs. Bingo. Chastity is next to them, a pair of pants painted onto her long legs and a shirt that shows her belly-button ring. Damn. That’s new. And hot. I definitely would have known about the piercing sooner if it wasn’t a recent addition.

Her blonde hair is all curly today, like she did something different to it, and she’s got tons of makeup on. I fight a groan. I’m not really into the whole makeup thing. Makes girls look too fake, but how do you say that without sounding like a dick?

“Hey, Dylan,” Chastity says as I walk up to her. “You look good.”

Now, this is the part where I know I’m going to come off sounding too cocky, but I know I look good. I’m wearing my favorite jeans, my new shoes and a black button up shirt left open. Underneath is a nice, white shirt that on its own wouldn’t do the trick. Simple, but effective.

“Thanks. You, too.” I step up beside her, showing I want to be close to her, but waiting for her to give me some kind of clue she wants the same thing. Even though according to Paul she’s here for me, he’s been known to get his lines crossed from time to time, and I don’t want to assume anything.

Chastity steps closer, nudging my arm with hers. Her mouth is next to my ear, so close I feel her breath. “Thanks for inviting me. It’s good to see you.”

Paul did not cross his lines tonight. He had it dead on. Before I know it, my cup is full again, and I have my arm draped over Chastity’s shoulder. Paul’s doing what he does best, which is perform, making fun of this dance he saw, and we’re all laughing at him. All the thoughts from earlier are so gone from my head now. I’ve let them all find their way to the back of my brain to think about another day.

All of a sudden, Paul slips mid-dance in some beer on the floor. My head drops back, and I bust up when he almost falls. When my eyes are forward again, I see her. I’m going to blame it fully on the alcohol, because what else can it be—but I suddenly get a little dizzy. My breath speeds up. She has long, blonde hair. Not super blonde, kind of a dark blonde, and big green eyes. She’s curvy, and I can’t help but stare. I don’t know who this girl is, but she’s freaking gorgeous in a totally natural way.

She takes a step and then another one, heading our way. And she’s scowling at me. Maybe not at me in particular, but at the whole scene. She’s mastered what I like to call The Look. It’s when girls crinkle their nose, tighten their mouths and raise their eyebrows in a holier than thou way. I’m not even sure they know they do it, but every. Single. Girl. I’ve ever met has The Look in her arsenal.

It shouldn’t look good on her, but even through the scowl she’s hot. She keeps walking forward, and soon she’s standing in front of us, arms crossed and giving me The Look face to face.

Forget that I’m standing next to the beer. Forget that the door to outside is right next to us. For some reason, I feel like she came over here for me. And according to “the look,” she hates me. I will some witty comment to come out of my mouth. I’m usually good in a clinch. I can pull a comeback or a sarcastic comment out of thin air. Right now, I have nothing.

All I can say is, “What?”

 

 

 

 

Two

~Ziah~

 

What
?

How do I even answer that question?

He’s standing with a plastic cup full of beer, and his arm draped around some girl. It’s such a possessive way to hold someone. Like, your body is pressed against me, making me feel all desirable, and I’m using you for an armrest. Nice.

He actually takes a drink while his arm is still resting on her shoulders, and while he’s still staring at me.

Wow, he has totally straight, white teeth. And nice hair. Touchable black hair—all messy, but still perfect. Then I let my eyes fall down. God. Of course. He probably spent more than two hundred dollars on his stupid jeans. It’s probably his dumb party. And his freaking mansion.

He’s still staring. I must be scowling.

The girl under his arm gives me a once-over and looks away. Right. I’m no competition ‘cause my jeans aren’t two sizes too small. Whatever.

“Someone said there were sodas over here? Fridge maybe?” I reach toward the handle.

“Don’t touch that.” He almost, almost lets go of the girl with the skin-tight jeans, but not quite. Where would he put his arm?

I hold my hands up.
 
“Fine, whatever.” Guess he’s anal about his fridge.

“On the porch,” he says from behind me.

I don’t look back—just wave to say thanks and head for the glass door.
 
When I step outside, I can finally breathe. It’s like as soon as I get into a huge group of people like this, I don’t know where to put my hands. These aren’t my people. My people are with my boyfriend, James, in a biology lab across town. Not in overpriced, over-tight jeans getting wasted.

“I can’t believe I got talked into this,” I say under my breath.

It’s just not my thing. It normally isn’t James’ thing either. He just heard about it from his cousin. Then my friend Alyssa got all excited, and they begged me to come. But is he here? Nope. Not yet. Oh. And also not answering my texts.

James and I have been dating for more than a year—since the beginning of junior year. It’s hard because I didn’t see him much over the summer, and since school started again, he’s been busy. I love that he’s so driven, but it’s also hard. We’re into all the same things, and we’re both headed to med school. So I get it, but I also miss having him around.

I stop and scan the porch for coolers. Oh, perfect. There’s a couple making out on the corner of the deck. Who thinks the back porch, even if it’s the size of a basketball court, is the perfect place to make out? I’m sure there are like twenty rooms to choose from upstairs.

When I find the thing, I step over and pull open the lid—thankful it’s not next to the desperate couple. Tequila, Vodka, Rum. Of course. Why am I here?

It’s a Halloween party that forbids costumes. Not that I’d really want to dress up, but who does that?  When I said that to James, he said it’s also a back-to-school party. So these people do Halloween with no costumes and back-to-school parties two months late? I’m pretty sure they’re psychotic.

I should be home studying. Senior year. It’s important. Senior grades are a big mark for university applications. My AP classes will actually be college credits. I don’t see how jumping around in someone’s house to good music—even though it’s being played way too loud—and getting hammered is a good way to celebrate us being in school, but whatever. James is coming, so that should make it worthwhile.

“Hey!” Alyssa jumps on my back as she comes outside. She already reeks like whatever she’s been drinking. We’ve only been here a half hour. Alyssa and I have been best friends for like, ever, but sometimes I just don’t get her. “Can you believe this place?”

Her bright blue eye-shadow looks amazing on her with her brown eyes and short, dark hair. I’m wearing mascara and lip-gloss. I feel all goopy when I put on more than that, and I have no idea what I’m doing and would probably just end up looking like some kind of street-walker, only in jeans and comfortable shoes.

She looks like she belongs here. I do not. This is not a white T-shirt and worn jeans kind of party. Too late now, and even if it wasn’t too late, I have no idea how to look like Alyssa or almost every other girl in this place.

“It’s pretty amazing.” I have to yell even though she’s right next to me. And amazing doesn’t even begin to cover this house. It’s unreal. Like, I can’t believe only one family lives here.

“Where’s your old man?” she yells.

She calls James my “old man” boyfriend for no real reason. Well, okay, for kind of a reason. He wears old man shoes to school with his jeans, and James and I are comfortable with each other. I don’t feel the need to suck his face off in public like the couple on the porch.

“His internship carried over from last summer, remember? And they went late.” I’m trying to be supportive and not mad that he didn’t drive me here like he promised. I had to drive my mom’s two-tone Subaru with the five-year-old color scheme, which Alyssa hates.

Anyway, Mom’s car has GPS. I still managed to get lost, still managed to be late, and James still isn’t here. My phone vibrates.

JAMES: ALMOST THERE.

My chest relaxes in relief.

“Okay, well, I’m headed back in. There’s like, practically an arcade in the basement. I’m going to go down and play pool.”

I point to her chest, which is already half out of her shirt.

She shrugs. “I’m wearing a bra. One more drink, and I won’t care what shows when I lean over the table.” She smirks and heads back inside.

Right. No way she cares now. She’s placing her feet way too carefully, which means she’s thinking about where her feet need to be. Which means she’s had more to drink than she lets on.

Now what? I can’t stand out here forever, and it’s not like I’m alone. My eyes shift to the couple in the corner. Who knows what’ll happen between them next. Dissecting cats is one thing, watching people grope each other is just gross.

I spin around to go back inside and run into someone. I’m soaked.

“Watch it!” I start wiping the front of my shirt. Beer, of course. His hand reaches out toward my chest. I knock it away. “Don’t touch me!”

And then as I look up, I’m left speechless. His blue eyes are amazing, unreal, electric. It hits me in the pit of my stomach.

“Shit, I’m sorry. I was just coming out to show you where the soda is...” He leans closer to me as he talks, and I should totally be moving away. But I’m not.

I open my mouth to speak, but I can’t. He’s hot. Like, rich-boy mixed with hand-picked genetics or something. Muscular without being huge. I can’t take in a deep breath. But then I do, and he smells... amazing. Like boy, but good. I’m seriously dizzy just from standing close to this guy. Must be some expensive cologne. Wait. We’re standing way too close.

Oh no. Rock in my stomach. I know him.

“Oh, right. You’re the guy who uses a girl for an armrest.” I scowl.

“Chastity is not an armrest. She’s...”

“Fine. A decorative armrest.” Decorated like a skank. Yes, I’m feeling this mean. “And I bet her name is a lesson in irony.” I push past him into the house.

“What the hell? I came out here to be nice.”

“By spilling your beer all over my shirt?” I yell behind me. I know I’m being kind of bitchy, but this whole party situation has me on edge.

He follows me into the house. “I’ll... uh... buy you a new one?”

Why does he have to sound so clueless? Snobby? I spin toward him. “It’s not about money. It’s about you ruining my shirt!”

His face is blank. “Umm, it’s just a white T-shirt.”

Thank you for that obvious statement.

“Ziah!”

My head turns and there’s James. Relief. James also looks like he doesn’t belong here. He looks like he just stepped out of a lab in his old jeans and a university T-shirt. He scratches his neatly trimmed blond hair (something he always does), and his light brown eyes are on me. I don’t look back, don’t stop, just run up to meet him. I start to throw my arms around him in gratitude that he’s finally here.

“Whoa...” He puts his hand up between us. “I don’t want that all over me. What happened to you?” He’s yelling because there’s no other way to talk with this much noise.

I look down and catch sight of his brown, comfy leather slip-on shoes. Alyssa’s right. They’re totally old-man shoes. Funny. Oh, he asked me a question. “Some jerk spilled his beer on me.”

My phone buzzes.

ALYSSA: I DON’T FEEL SO HOT. WHEN R WE LVING?

I frown and flash James my phone, pretending to be annoyed instead of relieved that we’re going to have to go. And already? That girl has a talent for getting too wasted, too fast.

“Well, so much for the party. I’ve always wanted to come inside. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” He leans toward me a little. We’re standing close. Just a few more inches, and I could close the gap and put our lips together, because now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure when we last kissed. Instead of kissing, he leans toward my ear to yell again.

“Wanna take off?” he shouts. “We should probably get Alyssa home.”

“And maybe I’ll drop by and see Mom.”

My mom owns a great, funky restaurant in an up and coming area in downtown Portland. She’s there all the time and loves it when I stop in late. Her normal nights get her home at just after one on a weekend, sometimes two.

I put my mouth close to his ear so he can hear me. “Wanna come?”

He smells like lab—all antiseptic. Not like... Oh-kay. Not going to think about the hot guy in two hundred dollar jeans. Not when I have James right here, and so close.

“Why don’t I take Alyssa home so you don’t have to backtrack? It seems silly to take two cars all the way back home and then another car back into downtown to your mom’s place,” he yells. “Besides, I don’t really want to smell like restaurant and bar.”

Because antiseptic is so awesome. I sigh and my chest sinks. “I haven’t seen you.”

He gives me this half-smile like I’m being silly. “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. No big deal.”
             

He shrugs and steps back, and suddenly I wouldn’t mind if James put his arm around me like I was his armrest. Just to be possessive. Just to make me feel like he wanted to be close to me. His hand closes over mine, and we walk to the door holding hands. Only our fingers aren’t even laced together.

Alyssa’s sitting on the front porch when we step outside, frowning and looking… well, wasted. James drops my hand as we step out. Alyssa groans, and rests her face on her knees. She and I are in all the same AP classes, and I swear she’s smarter than me but has to do stupid crap like this. The girl just doesn’t know when to stop drinking.

“I’ll take you home.” James reaches out and half-carries her toward his car. I don’t know how he got a parking spot actually in the driveway. I’m almost a block down the street.

I glance back at the party and catch rich-boy with his armrest back in place. I can barely see him through the people wandering around between the front door and the kitchen.

He starts to tip his cup again when our eyes meet, and he freezes. It hits me just like before, in my stomach, this knot of nervous tingles. Even from way out here.

The armrest looks up at him. He’s still looking at me, and her head starts to turn my way. That’s my cue to move.

What was that? Why did I have to look back at some spoiled, beer-spilling man-whore? I’m sure he is. I mean, who else dates someone like Chastity? She looked like she was about to audition for a music video. I suck in a breath and almost wish I’d been drinking so I could play off my reaction to him. And my general meanness toward everyone in the room.

“So, I’ll see you tomorrow?” James asks.

I jog to his side of the car and stand close, but not so close that I get beer on his shirt. Instead of pressing us together, I touch his stomach through his T-shirt hoping for anything from him.

He gives me a peck. “Tell your Mom I said hi.”

“Yep.” I stay close. I’m looking for something more. Some feeling in my chest or in my gut to keep me here, to make us closer. Or even something from him—a touch or a look—something that shows he can’t get enough of me.

Instead he stands, watching me with the same relaxed smile he always wears. I duck my head into the car. I’m being silly.

“I’m not ditching you, am I?” I ask Alyssa.

Her eyes are closed, and her face is pressed against the window. “Nah...” She gestures loosely with her hand. “Your old man will get me home...” Her arm tucks back into her front. She’s done moving.

I stand back up next to James. “You need to take her in the back door...”

“I got it.” Then to Alyssa, “Watch my upholstery.”

“Love you, James.” Give me something to hold onto here.

“Yeah. Love you, too.” He slides in the driver’s seat, closes the door, and drives away. I’ve barely seen him all week, and he’s gone. Just like that.

I don’t move. I watch him drive off, wishing for something between us that just isn’t there. Some crazy spark, something, anything...

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