【 Ｉ ｎｅｅｄ ｔｈａｔ Ｋｅａｎｕ Ｒｅｅｖｅｓ ｃｏｎｔｅｎｔ．】
I decided to plump up chapter eight with a movie theater scene rather than continue the end of my novel.
You will remain in suspense.
The napping was much needed for the travelers. One night of drinking doesn’t fix eight hours of jet lag, so Ben, Chris, and Paul were happy to have the opportunity. Jon might have been too, but he had yet to return to the house. The napping didn’t last long enough – well, the napping didn’t last as long as they may have hoped. Napping never really lasts long enough. Napping is a hard science to make concrete statements about – hard science here meaning difficult science, not like hard versus soft science – but ultimately, Ben, Chris, and Paul probably would have enjoyed sleeping for a few more hours. It was also probably in their best interest not to sleep that entire time for the sake of reducing jet lag, like, one of those mixed agency ‘batter my heart, three-person'd God’ ‘make the decisions for me, oh higher power, for I know not what’s best for me’ scenarios, except instead of God assaulting John Donne per his request, Liza was walking around with a pot and spoon waking up the house per nobody’s request.
“Jesus Christ, Mother!” Heather yelled, coming out of her room.
Billy too crept out of his own room, hair a mess and eyes a little bleary. The two shared a like frustration. Liza paused in her noise-making, staring at Heather and Billy with a big smile on her face.
“Longer than an hour is too much napping,” Liza said gleefully. “While I appreciate seeing you all in a state of not using your phones, I’m hosting a weekend of fun, not a youth hostel.”
Heather yawned and Liza banged the pot once more before skipping away to the guest quarters. Heather reached a tired arm out to stop her.
“Can you not make our friends hate us more than they probably already do?” Heather asked.
Liza turned around and put on a sad looking face.
“Isn’t that my duty as host?”
Heather returned the comment with an unpleased stare. Liza let the pot and spoon drop to her sides.
“Fine, you want to go wake them up yourselves, be my guest. But go quickly. I just got a new projector for the home theater and I haven’t yet found a time to show it off,” Liza said.
She quickly ranted about a failed plan to have a movie night with her book club that didn’t happen because Darlene hadn’t finished the book because she was ‘working too much’ and ‘didn’t have time to read’. Liza skipped away to the kitchen, blissfully unaware both where she had found the pot and spoon and where she ought to put them back.
Heather and Billy returned to their rooms to throw on clothes. Billy exited his room wearing an ill-fitting red and black blazer. Heather stopped, staring.
“What is that?” she asked.
“I stole it from the Cinemark back when I worked there in high school?” Billy said.
He reached into the pocket and pulled out his nametag. He carefully, and poorly, pinned it to the coat.
Heather rolled her eyes and the two head down to go wake up their friends. They entered the guests quarters and without speaking silently agreed to have Billy wake Ben and Heather wake Chris.
Heather knocked on Chris’s door. No response. She knocked again and opened the door. Chris was under the covers, sleeping peacefully in a half-formed fetal position, a zygote position if you will. It was like a nativity scene where Chris was one of the sleeping livestock that came with the set that you don’t really know where to put so you sort of just throw them behind the wise men or something. Heather didn’t want to break the peace – she was annoyed enough that Liza had broken her own – but she suspected ridicule from Billy if she spent any more time staring at a sleeping friend. She picked up a pillow and lightly tossed it onto the lump of Chris under the covers.
Chris stirred awake and looked around. Room, more room, oh goodness.
“Heather!” he exclaimed, yanking as much comforter as possible to cover his body.
He wasn’t naked or anything, just shirtless. Even though he had frequented a pool with Heather and friends on more than one occasion, the environment was different and he was taken aback.
“Hey sleepyhead. Get dressed and head to the theater. Mother wants to show off her new tech.”
Billy didn’t give Ben the privilege of a knock, choosing instead to burst into the room as loud as Liza had been.
“Morning, Bitch!” he yelled.
Ben, who was napping on top of his comforter, awoke violently. He bolted upright, and stared across the room at a laughing Billy.
“Part of me wants to return the favor and tell you that you should also invest in a safety pin for your own boxers, but it’s a cute look,” Billy said.
Ben looked down thinking something in line with ‘twas hubris led me here’ and quickly picked up a pillow.
“Theater ASAP. Wear more clothes.”
Billy closed the door.
The two wrestled Paul awake together, and after a short wait, the five walked together through the house, down a set of stairs, and into the theater. It was expansive. The seats were fixed in five rows of ten with ample space between each row and another two seats hidden away in the projector room. The wall for projection was easily cinema standard and the room was painted just like a real theater. As they filed in, Liza’s voice broadcasted from the ceiling intercom.
“Excuse me kids, you’re not allowed in without an usher.”
The intercom cut, the lights turned off, and the door to the projector room opened. Liza stepped out wearing a black and red blazer identical to Billy’s except better tailored. She handed a flashlight Billy. He took it eagerly.
“Welcome one and all to the Liza-plex.”
Liza spoke with comic grandeur. Heather tried to hide her smile.
“My usher-in-training Billy will lead you to your seats. Buckle up.”
Liza returned to the projector room while Billy directed everyone to their seats in the second row from the back. Heather entered first followed by Chris. Ben scooted in next with Billy right after, and Paul decided to be funny by going one row further down. The seats were recliner seats that Liza had purchased from the same wholesale seller that real movie theaters went through. Paul fiddled with the settings aggressively.
“What movie are we watching today, Mr. Usher sir?” Ben asked, turning to his right.
“I have no idea,” Billy said. “But based on past experience, I’m gonna guess something really old.”
An offended shout sounded from the projector room. Liza stuck her head out.
“Excuse me, but 1993 is not ‘really old’”
“If I wasn’t born yet, it’s old,” Heather shouted back.
The movie started and Liza dipped out of the theater. The five were happy to be around one another and spent more time chatting than actually watching the movie. Liza returned with popcorn on a tray which was happily received. She looked at the seating arrangement and carefully placed herself in the back row regularly soliciting reviews of the projector. Ben smartly noted that it was hard to tell given that the film was form ’93, but the colors were vibrant.
“Jesus Christ, that’s a lot of nudity,” Heather said with wide eyes. “Why is there so much nudity?”
“Oh it’s just the first scene. Keep watching. It’s my favorite film and I want to watch you enjoy it.”
By the time the popcorn was finished, Heather had taken the initiative to put her arm around Chris snuggly. Billy saw this and became hyper aware of his physical presence. He tried to focus his energies on the screen.
“Is that the guy that plays Lockhart?” Chris asked, pointing.
“Who?” Liza asked.
“Professor Lockhart. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” Billy said.
“The one with the big snake,” Heather said, pulling out her phone. “2002. I think I was in third grade?”
Liza remembered taking Heather to some of those films, and she definitely remembered the big snake. She hadn’t liked that snake. They continued watching.
“Smash or pass the brown-haired guy?” Billy whispered.
“Pass,” Ben said. “I don’t think I’d be able to get over the crooked tooth.”
Ben turned back to the screen just in time for a close up face shot of one character and everyone gasped.
“Please tell me this is somehow part of the Matrix extended universe,” Billy said. “I don’t care if it’s not. I’m going to pretend it is.”
Liza tried to hush everyone, but they continued chattering loudly as one does when realizing that a film one didn’t research well enough beforehand unexpectedly stars Keanu Reeves.
“Why does he look so grumpy?” Chris asked to no one in particular. “Did he realize all the continuity errors?”
“I don’t know if I can take this movie seriously anymore, Mother,” Heather said. “I don’t think he belongs in a comedy.”
“It’s a comedy, but there are some serious parts too,” Liza tried to reason. “There’s tragic potential and all that.”
Liza’s words fell on deaf ears. She was unable to stop the ‘let’s hate on Keanu Reeves for a hot moment’ train. Much like everyone’s universal love for Ke$ha, everyone present also had strong feelings about the extended filmography of Keanu Reeves. Mid-roast, Andy made an appearance. She strolled down the aisle and took a seat behind Billy. Andy tugged on his blazer.
“I’m split between shunning you for stealing this and fawning over how adorable you look,” she said. “It’s like you’re sixteen all over again.”
Billy ignored her.
“You can’t put on a film that features a scene with an oiled up Keanu Reeves and expect us not to mock it, Liza,” Billy said.
Liza gave up and dragged Andy out of the theater with her to go get more popcorn. When they returned, Heather and Chris were still cuddling. Paul and Ben had fallen asleep, and Billy was undergoing a panicked crisis, trying to find the best course of action with Ben’s head that had fallen onto his shoulder. Andy coughed loudly to announce their presence, and both Paul and Ben jumped up. Billy and Ben exchanged an embarrassed glance, but any blushing was covered by the darkness of the theater.
“I appreciate your pretending to be interested,” Liza said. “But I won’t force you to watch if you aren’t.”
Everyone spoke at the same time, consoling Liza in obviously fake, drawn out lines of ‘oh we love it, Liza!’ ‘it’s really cool so far’ and ‘Is Professor Trelawney in this one too?’. Liza could tell their words were empty immediately but felt validated nonetheless.
“It’s fine. You all should go prepare for tonight anyway,” she said. “And I want everyone looking their best.”
Liza and Andy remained in the theater for the rest of the film, keeping the popcorn for themselves.
Paul took a car of friends in town to grab new clothes for the party. Liza – even after the repeated demands of her daughter – refused to give a dress code or color theme aside from ‘smaller party than last night, better fashion, and we will be using the ballroom.’ Heather and Billy stayed with Liza through the afternoon and helped set up the party. Help here referring to the contractors that Liza had hired rather than Liza herself.
“I didn’t know this place had a ballroom,” Billy said, arranging chairs.
“Oh we don’t use it much,” Heather said.
Though it was her own home, she did have to ask for directions when Liza said to meet in the ballroom, but to her credit she had lived elsewhere during college.
There wasn’t too much to decorate. The ballroom was gorgeous already. All that was added were a few silver ornaments here and there, a seating area for guests, a seating area for a seven-piece musical group that Liza had hired, and the bar.
The first to arrive was a woman who looked remarkably like Andy, but carrying a violin. Andy had never carried a violin. She was more of a bagpiper herself. Once the rest of the music section arrived, a viola, cello, bass, flute, clarinet, and bassoon, Liza shuffled away to go get dressed. Heather and Billy followed suit while the musicians tuned their instruments.
Liza was first to return with only the musicians and bartender present, so she left. Heather and Billy returned, Heather in a well-tailored floor length charcoal grey gown with a sweetheart neckline and pockets, Billy in a grey suit that was just a bit reflective over top of a hot pink shirt and white bowtie.
“The pink was a choice,” Heather said, stepping out of her slippers and into a pair of black two-inch pumps.
Billy was about to defend himself when Liza entered the room in wearing a gown of pure silver. She looked like pure mercury, and as she entered the musicians began to play. She pranced over, the sound of stiletto heels clicking as she walked.
“I paid them to do that,” Liza said, turning to the section and telling them they could stop. “Isn’t money wonderful?”
“It really is,” she said.
Paul and Jon were next to arrive, looking better dressed than frankly anyone in the room had expected. Well, it would be disingenuous to imply that the bartender or musicians would have pre-conceived expectations of the brother’s fashion abilities, but it definitely was surprising. The two wore standard matching suits, which Jon somehow made look considerably uglier just by the way he walked, stood, breathed, and existed.
“I hope we’re not early,” Paul opened.
“Oh by no means,” Liza said, staring over his shoulder at the door. “The invitations did say nine. Why don’t you four have a drink while I go look for my sister.”
Liza left the ballroom under the pretense of looking for Andy, but actually just to have an excuse to reenter with more people. Chris and Ben showed up, also in matching suits – they chose a dark navy. Connor and Bailey were last to arrive, Connor in all black and Bailey wearing a dress very similar to Heather but much limper, and no pockets.
“Oh no, you might have to go change,” Chris whispered to Heather after getting a good look at Bailey.
“I think we know who wore it best.”
Liza returned with Andy to flowing music. Liza was still in her silver dress and Andy was in a slightly duller and thicker version of the same, like if Liza’s dress had been washed a few too many times, but was also built for the winter.
The lights dimmed, the music played, and Liza quite aggressively demanded that everyone dance.
Heather, appropriately, paired with Chris. Heather had gone through a dance phase after her horse phase, so she knew what she was doing, Chris less so, but Heather was able to lead in a way that made it look like Chris was doing the work. The two spun around the dance floor in an effortless rotary waltz.
Connor and Bailey paired up immediately. The two were surprisingly swift dancers. This left Jon alone, and a charitable Andy swept in as his partner. Jon was a centipede of left feet and his hands were sticky.
Liza and Paul glanced at each other, back at Billy and Ben who were staring around the room nervously, and paired together. Liza lead with confidence and the two spun around, keeping eyes on the rest of the floor.
Billy and Ben paired together in performative reluctance.
“Are they together?” Liza asked Paul as the spun.
She had neglected to put in her contacts, which didn’t make her completely blind or anything. She had had Lasik, and without the contacts she could function, but faces were still a little blurry.
“Heather and Chris?” Paul asked, turning his head every which way. “Or Billy or Ben. It’s yes to both.”
“Good good,” Liza said. “I guess while I have you here, what are your thoughts on Chris?”
Paul smiled, continuing to step in time.
“Great guy,” Paul said. “If you really want a good review, I’d talk to Ben. They’ve been best friends for longer than I’ve known them, but I’ve only good things to say about Chris.”
Liza was comforted by Paul’s words. From her own perception, Chris was relatively harmless, but even the best of people use Yelp from time to time.
“He is a lightweight though,” Paul said. “I’d change that in him if I could.”
Elsewhere on the floor, Billy and Ben were battling hand positions.
“No, no, I’m leading,” Billy said, pulling his hand out of Ben’s and reorienting it so Ben’s was in his.
“Who said you got to lead,” Ben replied, shifting his own hand.
“I took Ballroom Dance 1 in college,” Billy hissed, taking back the lead and nearly running into Paul and Liza.
“I also took Ballroom Dance 1,” Ben said, moving his other hand to Billy’s back. “We were in the same class.
“Yeah well I took Social Dance in high school,” Billy quipped. “That’s got to count for something.”
The two continued to spin. There was something about the rotary waltz that made it so you really couldn’t be unhappy – unless you were Andy of course dealing with Jon’s sticky hands. The background turns to a blur from the spinning leaving your partner the only thing in focus like an Instagram photo. You feed off the push and pull of your partner with a constant joyful fear of breaking the rhythm. Billy stared at Ben and Ben back at Billy, and the two couldn’t stop from smiling, even if they were still bickering the whole time.
Joy aside, the two were objectively poor at special awareness, careening around the ballroom with reckless abandon. Heather and Chris’s dodged the gay loose cannon on the dance floor gracefully. They didn’t speak, but stared at one another smiling. One of those ‘conversations without words’, except not really a conversation, or if it had been a conversation, the only words exchanged would have been ‘I feel joy’ again and again.
The music ended and the couples broke their forms, Billy and Ben quickly, Chris and Heather slowly, and Paul and Liza last of all; Liza insisted that Paul twirl her out for a final spin. Everyone clapped, mostly for the musicians, Liza for herself. The crowd split up, most to the bar, and Jon, Connor, and Bailey to the seats. The music started back up.
“Oh my god, is she singing?” Bailey said, looking over at the music section.
The violinist was playing violin and providing vocals in tandem. Bailey was slightly aroused.
“You two still down for the plan?” Jon asked.
He sipped his drink. Scotchka on the rocks.
“Of course,” Bailey replied, taking a sip of her own drink, whiskey. “My purse is like, full to the zipper with lube.”
Connor blushed, and Jon grinned.
“We just need to ensure that Heather leaves for long enough and we’re set.”
Ben and Chris returned to the table. Billy and Heather were chatting with their parents back at the bar. Chris, who was only one and a half drinks in was already buzzed.
“Well look at you two love birds,” Jon jeered.
Ben and Chris stared back Jon, confused.
“He means you two independent of one another,” Bailey said. “It’s all very cute.”
Ben blushed, and Chris smiled sheepishly.
“You think so?” Chris asked.
“I mean, I always assumed that Paul would end up with her, but you seem to be doing a good job.”
“You two are absolutely adorable,” Liza said.
Heather smiled, but Billy shied away from the words.
“And I want you to know, Heather, that I approve of Chris. Word’s out on Ben though.”
Heather winked. Billy flushed and sipped his drink.
“You know for someone constantly rejecting the mainstream, you seem to be riding my coattails this weekend,” Heather said, playing with her dress.
Billy gave her a confused look.
“Oh you know, Chris and I start being a thing and now you and Ben are dancing again.”
Billy started to speak but was cut off by Heather.
“The change looks good on you,” she said. “The boy. Not the pink.”
“Well I think you two deserve a celebratory shot,” Liza said.
On Liza’s word, the bartender poured four shots of vodka which Liza, Andy, and Heather took. Billy hesitated initially but took the shot. He made a face.
The night continued as did the drinks and the dancing. Partners were swapped here and there, tripping happened, but all in good fun. As the night began to stretch thin, Paul flashed a hand gesture which Connor returned with a nod. As the music finished, ending the dance, Connor tapped on Heather’s shoulder. She broke from Chris.
“Could I talk to you over here?” Connor asked.
Heather, confused, obliged and walked with Connor across the ballroom away from Chris. Chris, quite drunk, made a brief vocalization of approval and sat down next to Jon. He zoned out.
“Do you need to pee?” Jon asked Bailey.
“Yes, yes I do,” Bailey replied.
She grabbed her bag and walked out of the ballroom, passing Connor with a wink.
Heather didn’t know who Connor was. Up to this point he was just another one of Jon’s creepy friends, but she was social-drunk and a little drunk-drunk, so she was willing to get friendly. Connor grabbed her hand and took her out of the ballroom.
“I’ll be back!” Heather called out to no reaction from the room.
The music started back up.
“Where are we going?” Heather asked, trotting along.
Connor walked quickly. He produced a ball of pink fluff from his pocket. Heather recognized the fluff.
“Why do you have the key to the cellar?” she asked.
“Well, Billy, Chris, and I were talking earlier today and they said that the cellar was super cool, and I never got to be here for the tour,” he said. “So I was looking to see if you could show me around?”
Heather thought for a moment, still following Connor. It seemed like a reasonable request. They reached the cellar and Heather led them down the stairs, carrying the flashlight.
“Damn, I left my phone upstairs,” Connor said. “Do you have yours? I’m having a hard time seeing.”
“Why yes I do!” Heather said, gleefully demonstrating that her dress had pockets. “Look at how it fits so perfectly into my dress. It doesn’t even leave a lump or anything because there’s already so much volume.”
Heather spun around and handed he phone to Connor.
“Thumb?” he asked.
Heather provided her thumb and opened the phone. Connor flipped on the flashlight and the two walked through the cellar. It was much bigger than Connor had expected, which was good. Heather gave the tour to the best of her abilities, explaining the black light and covering all the ground that her mother usually did when entertaining guests. They reached the far back corner with the barrels.
“The funny part about this is that some of the barrels are completely empty,” Heather said, grabbing one and tipping it slightly.
“Wild,” Connor, said.
“Oh! I almost forgot Mother’s stupid joke,” Heather said, shining the flashlight around the room.
She had no idea what wine was where.
“Have you ever read that Edgar Allen Poe story?” Heather asked.
She racked her brain for the title.
“‘The Cask of Amontillado?’” Connor filled in.
“Yes! That’s the one!” Heather said.
Heather was going to mention how there was an actual cask of Amontillado somewhere in the cellar that she didn’t know, but was stopped when Connor turned off his light and yanked the black light from her hands. He sprinted to the exit, pointing the light over his own path, Heather’s entirely unclear.
“Connor what the hell!” Heather yelled, her voice cracking. “Where are you going?!”
“I’m drunk and it’s a prank!” Connor yelled back.
He was not drunk and it was definitely not a prank.
“Connor if I bump into shit and knock something over Liza’ll have a cow!” Heather yelled to no avail.
Heather heard the sound of the cellar door open and shut leaving her in pitch black.
“This was a terrible idea,” Heather said, reaching out in front of her, stumbling blindly in the dark. “I’m going to have to talk to Paul about the people he lets his brother hang around.”
Exiting the cellar, Connor sprinted across the house and to Heather’s room where Bailey stood outside, waiting. He checked his watch; they were well within time.
“How’d it go,” Bailey asked, opening the door and walking in.
“Perfectly,” Connor replied. “She’ll be in there for at least ten minutes.”
Back in the ballroom, Chris was getting anxious. Heather had been gone for longer than he had expected, and given the current dancer pairings, he was left with Jon, and he didn’t want to dance with Jon. Jon had sticky hands.
“Hey Chris,” Jon said in a worried tone.
Chris turned to Jon. He really didn’t want to dance with Jon.
“I don’t want to dance with you,” Chris said bluntly.
“You don’t have to,” Jon said. “Let’s grab Paul and head out for a second. There’s something you might want to see.”
The two marched over to Paul who was swing dancing with Liza, pulled him away and exited the ballroom, shouting back something about needing to pee. Only Billy, Ben, Liza, and Andy remained, but with the musicians and bartender it still felt like a party.
“What’s goin’ on l’il bro,” Paul said, drunkenly.
He reached over and ruffled Jon’s hair. Jon slapped his hand away. Jon led them through the house to Heather’s room. Paul and Chris recognized the room immediately, having had been in there with Andy during the morning’s charades.
“What are we doing here?” Chris asked. “Is Heather okay?”
Chris was starting to feel nauseous drunk, and that feeling fueled his fear that Heather might be ill.
“Oh she’s okay… maybe more than okay.”
Upon hearing the three sets of footsteps in the hallway, Connor and Bailey went to work, which wasn’t a euphemism. Connor got cold feet at the idea of having sex in the host’s bed and chose instead to dry hump fully-clothed.
“Oh fuck!” Connor screamed loudly, bouncing on the bed with the intent to produce a good bedspring sound, but failing.
“Oh fuck!” Bailey shouted back, doing her best to imitate Heather’s voice.
Chris’s ears perked up.
“Jon, what’s going on.”
Connor dismounted Bailey and the bed. He stood at the foot of the bed and rammed it violently into the wall. The headboard made a satisfying slam.
“Oh Connor!” Bailey yelled.
“Heather!” Connor yelled back, continuing to shake the bed.
Chris’s face drained to white and flushed to red in the space of two seconds. Paul looked at his friend. He hadn’t seen Chris like this since middle school. With a treble and a shake Chris lunged for the door, but was immediately apprehended by Jon and Paul. They succeeded in pulling him back, but not before he collided with center of the door.
Connor turned around sharply. Jon hadn’t said anything about Chris entering the room. He exchanged worried glances with Bailey and climbed back onto the bed.
“Get on top,” he said.
Bailey obliged, pushing her dress out of the way.
“She’s in there with you!” Chris yelled at Paul through gritted teeth. “She’s in there with you!”
Paul stared at Chris in utter confusion.
“Chris, I’m here with you right now, not in there. Do you hear me?”
Paul loosened his grip on Chris’s arm. Chris breathed heavily and dropped to his knees, crying. More banging sounded from Heather’s room, but it was not heard over Chris’s sobs. Paul kneeled down to Chris’s level. Jon stood by awkwardly.
“Chris, you are so much better than her,” he said. “You need to stop crying and start not giving fuck what or who she’s doing.”
Chris’s crying faded, and he looked up at Paul.
“Who…” he said.
He looked to the door and lunged at it. Had he been more sober or in a different mood, Chris may have not had had the quad strength to go from a near seated position to a dead spring in one motion, but he was fueled with a sudden rage curiosity and moved quickly, too quickly for Paul. Chris grabbed at the door knob and pulled. The door did not open, not because it was locked or anything, but because it was hinged to push inward like most bedroom doors.
Jon and Paul took that moment to lunge at the enraged Chris who managed to open the door. They tackled him to the ground. Paul reached to shut the door immediately, but not before all three caught a glimpse of a figure in a grey dress straddling a pair of legs.
Jon and Paul knew it was best to get Chris as far away from Heather’s room as possible. While the two disagreed constantly, they still had a fraternal telepathy though which they agreed to drag Chris halfway across the house. When they were out of earshot beyond reasonable doubt, Paul slapped Chris in the face.
“You need to get your shit together,” he yelled. “I know you’re mad, and I know Heather is being the most dishonest, terrible friend ever, but this is her house, and you can’t just break in on two people having sex! What were you planning on doing when you got in there?”
Chris continued to pant. His head was less clear than it had ever been. His thoughts were completely gone and his mind functioned only in pictures. All he could see was Heather on that bed.
Paul slapped him again. Chris looked up at Paul.
“What,” he said.
“I need you to be civil.”
Chris took in the words but didn’t really process them.
“Before you ran into that door, we could have walked away. She would have been none the wiser, and we could have dealt with this sober and another day,” Paul said.
He stared directly into Chris’s eyes. There was something about his face that felt sincere, but the anger welling felt much more appropriate to scratch.
“I don’t know if she saw or heard us, but there’s a good chance she did. Either way, you have two choices, Chris.”
Paul’s eyes burned into Chris’s.
“You either grab your shit and leave this house immediately or you walk into that ballroom like all we did was pee and pretend like nothing happened.”
Chris did not respond. Paul could tell he wasn’t listening.
“Tonight is not the night for this, Chris. Tonight we are ignorant. Tonight we are kind. Tonight we are guests.”
Chris’s brow unfurled, which Paul took as a sign of progress. Jon’s face was twisted too, but only because he was trying his hardest not to beam at his own progress.
“Do we need to walk outside for a bit,” Paul asked.
“I’m gonna go smoke a joint if you’d like to join,” Jon offered.
Chris looked between the two and took a deep breath.
“I think I’ll be fine,” he said. “Let’s go back.”