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Authors: Lauren Abrams

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Falling Into You

BOOK: Falling Into You
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Falling i
nto You

Lauren Abrams

All rights reserved.

Copyright © by Lauren Abrams

The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the expressed written permission of the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review. 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locals is purely coincidental.

Chapter 1

HALLIE

I hate parties.
I hate the tinkling laughter and the awkward conversations about the weather and the empty compliments and the watery punch-like substances and the way my mouth feels rough
and dry
in the morning.
I even hate beer pong.
And yet, I seem to spend
half of my waking hours
getting ready for one party or another. I really need to work on
building a stockpile of excuses to get myself out of these things
.

“Hallie, you do know that you’re supposed to wait until after the party to shed your clothing, correct?” S
ophia’s standing in the doorway
and shaking her head at the sprawling pieces of clothing covering her guest room.
I throw a pillow at her.

“I have
nothing to wear,” I moan
.
Sophia
, as always,
is
beautiful
in
a short black dress that matches
her hair
.
It dips
low in the front and the back, revealing perfect, olive-colored skin.
I
groan
.

“That’s what I’ve been telling you for months. I’ve been trying to take you shopping ever since the first day of school, but you’re always telling me that clothes aren’t importa
nt.”

She raises her eyebrows. “‘
It’s the person inside, Sophia.’” She imitates my voice and I look around for another pillow when she raises her hands to defend herself, laughing at me. “Seriously. Wear whatever. It doesn’t matter anyways.”

“Of course you would say that.” I throw my arms up. “Everything I own is hideous.”

She doesn’
t argue
.

Just hide out for the first hour,” she suggests instead,
perching on the end of the bed after
tossing aside a brown shirt with a look of disgust.

By that time, everyone will be drunk.
Really.

“How many people are we talking about here?”
On the plane to New York, she mentioned a “little soiree.” However, t
he dozens of bottles of every kind of booze imaginable that were delivered earlier that afternoon
are making
me suspicious.

“I don’t know. A hundred? More?

“Sophia!”


Hallie!” She’s grinning at me. “
It doesn’t matter whether it’s ten people or a hundred or a thousand. The parties are all the same. Let me break it down for you.”

She rolls her eyes and
plays with her fingernails. “
Someone will bring a guitar
and they’ll want to play really bad versions of something that sounds vaguely like Bob Marley
. T
hank God, that will get shot
down as soon as the party really gets started. Stoners will be on the balcony,
so unless you want a contact high, stay away from there.
The socialites
will linger
in the bathrooms
with their party favors
until they decide that they want to dance. The
drunks will
get loud and the noise complaints
from the pesky neighbors
will continue until
everyone is passed
out on the couches.

She ticks each group off, one by one.
“Most importantly, e
veryone
who isn’t in one of those groups, or the people who fall somewhere in between,
will find someone to
hook up with
,

she
continues, winking at me
.

“Let me guess. Your plan is to find a hook-up.”

“Obviously. Now we just need to fi
gure out which
category
you fit into.
Seri
ously, though, try to stay away from the bathrooms. And get your ass dressed.

She
glances
at me
over her shoulder
with one arched eyebrow
as she leaves the room
.

Her
laughter echoes
down the hall.

I settle for my best pair of jeans and a blue shirt that my best friend Ben always tells me to put a sweater over. His big-brother protectiveness
is
probably a good sign that the shirt was good enough for my first New York party, I think.

The trickling of more laughter comes in under the door of the guest room, and I take a deep breath. It was going to be fine. I’ve been to a million parties, and they’re usually more or less what Sophia described. Halting for a second to check myself in the mirror, I open the door hesitantly and p
repare myself for a long night.
Since
I wasn’t going to fall in the
“party favors”
group, the stoners group,
or the people looking to hook up,
I guess that left me with the drunks.

***

I knew that
the jeans had clearly been the wrong choice when I emerge from my room and run into one of
Sophia
’s party guest
s, who is blowing her nose into a tissue as she leaves the bathroom.

“Where are you from?”
she asks me without bothering to pause for introductions. She’s checking me
up and down
, a look of horror in bloodshot eyes
.

Of course
,
she was dressed in four-inch heels that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe
and a green dress that I would have given my right arm for
.


Ohio
,” I say
, smiling.

I think she’s trying to give me a snarky smile, but it comes off
as complete disgust. Apparently, being from Ohio is the equivalent of having a terminal disease.
Without saying another word, s
he
immediately turns
away from me
and darts into the living room
,
shrieking
, “
Sophia
! We have to get you out of that silly college that you’re at! We’re dying here without you!”

They
squeal for a few minutes.
Sophia
rolls her eyes at me over the girl’s shoulder, mouthing, “Whore.”

I laugh
in spite of myself.

I try
again with the next couple of
people I see
, offering my nam
e instead, but the reaction doesn
’t change. One of them eve
n hands
me his coat and a bottle with a blue label, saying, “You can take care of that, can’t you?”

What I want
to do
is
chuck the bottle back in his
entirely too pretty
face. Instead, I dutifully
leave
his
coat on my bed, which had apparently been designated as the coat room
. I then manage to make my way through the gathering crowd and place
the bottle of fancy Scotch next to all of the other fancy bottles.

Great. Now I couldn’t even lock myself away
in my room
, because I’d probably get covered in coats
.

I’m lurking near the kitchen, nursing a beer, w
hen the next guest
busts
through
the door. He
glances
at me and starts to hand over a
bot
tle of champagne and his coat.

“The coat room is that way,” I gesture, pointing towards the hallway.

“What? No coat girl?” He’s leering at me. Ugh.

I
turn away
. Apparently,
jeans and a shirt was code for coat girl.
The cavernous living room, which looked enormous just minutes before, was n
ow stuffed with people. I dart
outside, hoping that
the corner of the balcony that I had scoped out earlier
was empty.
I would just have to deal with the contact high.
With a sigh of relief,
I nudge my way through
the haze of weed and smoke
and find a tiny bit of space hidden behind a giant planter.

If I could just block out the persistent humming of a guitar being strummed and the hollow noise that ice and a mix of vodka and juice makes as it sloshes against red plastic cups, I could pretend I was
alone.

I lean
just a little bit too far over the railing. I’m perched dozens of stories above a brightly-lit New York City night and I breathe in. From the 27th floor, New York didn’t smell much different from Ohio or Atlanta or any of the other places I’d been. It was disappointing, to say the least.

I had dreamed about this view since I was four years old and my mom made me watch
Miracle on 34th Street
. Before then, I thought everyone lived in a small house with a small yard and ran around their neighborhoods eating the red, white, and blue popsicles from the ice cream truck.
My parents and I
had been to visit cities, Cleveland and Chicago and Pittsburgh, but I didn’t think anyone actually lived there.

I
n my head, the tall buildings were full of robot people.
  But
Miracle on 34th Street
taught me that there were real people who lived in real cities with ice skating rinks and museums and th
ousands and millions of people.
I had fallen in love with the idea of New York.

In the
naïve fantasies
of a four-year-old, this was MY view.

My
slightly more realistic
nineteen-year-old mind reminds
me that this particular view of all of New York, from a four-bedroom, 3000-square feet apa
rtment on Fifth Avenue, belongs
to Sophia. M
ore precisely, the view belongs
to her father, William and her stepmother, Cleo.

And the well-dressed hordes of people wandering out on the balcony to steal a puff of a cigarette or a long-wanted kiss with a dru
nken high school crush, belong
to Sophia, too.

Unfortunately
, I would have t
o
reenter the lions’ den eventually
.
I had only been outside for a
few
minute
s before my feet start
turning into frozen bits of ice, a result of the fact that
I had never been good at packing. I usually threw a bunch of clothes into my suitcase and then hoped for the best.
This time, it was to the severe loss of any feeling in my feet. The warm Atlanta weather had lulled me into believing that flip flops were somehow going to be a sensible footwear choice.

BOOK: Falling Into You
7.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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