THE MORNING AFTER
I bolted awake. A siren.
The police were outside my house. Ready to arrest me for underage partying, excessive flirting, and an overcrowded hot tub.
My brain turned on. No, not the cops. Just my phone—my dad's ringtone.
Which was even worse.
I rummaged around the futon. No phone. Instead I felt a leg. A guy's leg. A guy's leg f lung over my ankle. A guy's leg that did not belong to my boyfriend.
Oh God. Oh God. What have I done?
Upstairs. The siren ring was coming from upstairs, the main level of Vi's house.
Maybe if I closed my eyes, just for a teeny-tiny second . . . No! Phone ringing. In bed with not my boyfriend. I managed to get myself out of the futon without disturbing him and—um, where were my pants? Why was I in bed with a guy who was not my boyfriend without any pants?
At least I had underwear on. And a long-sleeved shirt. I looked around for some pants. The sole item of clothing within grabbing distance was Vi's red dress that I wore last night for the party.
That dress was trouble.
I ran up the stairs bare-legged. At the top, I almost passed out.
It looked like a war zone. Empty plastic cups littered the wooden floor. Half-eaten tortilla chips were planted in the shag carpet like pins on a bulletin board. A large blob—punch? Beer? Something I'd be better off not identifying?—had stained the bottom half of the pale blue curtain. A white lace bra hung from the four-foot cactus.
Brett was in surfer shorts, face-planted on the couch. He was using the purple linen tablecloth as a blanket. Zachary was asleep in one of the dining room chairs, wearing an aluminum foil tiara on his lolled-back head. The patio door was open—and a puddle of rain had flooded the carpet.
WEEEooooWEEEooooWEEEoooo! Phone was louder. Closer. But where? The kitchen counter? The kitchen counter! Nestled between a saucer of cigarette butts and an empty bottle of schnapps! I dove toward it. "Hello?"
"Happy birthday, Princess," my dad said. "Did I wake you?"
"Wake me?" I asked, my heart thumping. "Of course not. It's already"—I spotted the microwave clock across the room—"nine thirty-two."
"Good, because Penny and I are our way to see you!"
Terror seized me. "What does that mean?"
My dad laughed. "We decided to surprise you on your birthday. It was actually Penny's idea."
"Wait. For real?"
"Of course for real! Surprise!"
My head was spinning, and I felt like vomiting and it wasn't just because of the many, many, definitely too many glasses of spiked punch I had consumed last night. My father could not see this place. No, no, no.
Oh God. I'd violated 110 percent of my dad's rules. The evidence was all around, mocking me.
This wasn't happening. It couldn't happen. I would lose everything. If, after last night, I had anything left to lose. I took a step and a tortilla chip attacked my bare foot. Owww.
Mother friggin' crap.
"That's great, Dad," I forced myself to say. "So . . . where are you exactly? Did your plane just land?”
Please let them still be at the airport. It would take them at least an hour to drive here from LaGuardia. I could make this house look presentable in an hour. I would find some pants. Then I would toss the bottles and cups and cigarette butts and vacuum the tortilla chips and maybe the bra, maybe even Brett and Zachary—
"Nope, we just drove through Greenwich. We should be in Westport in twenty minutes."
There was groaning from the couch. Brett flipped onto his back and said, "It's eff-ing freezing in here."
"April, there's not a boy over, is there?" my dad asked.
I sliced my hand through the air to tell Brett to shut the hell up.
"What? No! Of course not! Vi's mom is listening to NPR."
"We just passed the Rock Ridge Country Club. Looks like we're making better time than I thought. We'll be there in fifteen minutes. Can't wait to see you, Princess."
"You too," I choked out, and hung up. I closed my eyes. Then opened them.
Two half-naked boys in the great room. One in a tiara.
More half-naked boys in the bedrooms.
A hundred empty bottles of booze.
And Vi's mom nowhere in sight.
I was a dead princess.
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