Madison’s party is not as fun as she’d made it out to be.
Maybe it’s the fact that everyone is incoherently drunk, or that the leering looks of guys actually repulse her, but she’s not really enjoying herself. She holds onto her drink for dear life, contemplating perhaps calling it a night as the crowd blends into nothing more than blank faces. In her drunken stupor, it’s hard to pinpoint each individual one.
When she does spy a familiar friend, she’s relieved to see it is Zoe; the brunette’s thoughtful eyes around the room, glancing between a group of girls swooping around a crying friend and some college kids experiencing what appears to be an intense game of beer pong. Sucking in a breath to steady her hazy head, Cordelia slowly walks over to her. “Everyone left you too, huh?” she asks wryly.
Zoe momentarily jumps at the sound of her voice so near, then eases into a smile. “Madison abandoned me the second a guy made eyes at her. Go figure.” She shakes her head in irritation, then takes another forceful sip of her drink – some fruity smelling thing that Cordelia has been avoiding all night. “I thought you were with Queenie?”
“I was “cramping her style” apparently.”
The brunette rolls her eyes, but smirks nonetheless.
“I’m guessing you were living up to your mom friend calling?” Despite being perturbed, she feels herself grow more eased under Zoe’s light laughter.
“I can’t help it.” She confesses with her own grin. I just care too much. With that thought cast away and a distracting swig of the own bitter liquid in her cup, she squints around the crowded room. “Where did everyone else go?”
“Nan is somewhere around here with Luke. And Mallory – she went off Coco.”
There’s another smirk, impish, alongside an arch of her eyebrow. Zoe responds in equal, leaning herself gently against the door frame where she’s stood. “I know. Didn’t see that one coming. But then again, I thought you would have bailed by now.”
She wonders if she’s supposed to be offended at that. It’s barely one am, and she’s not that much of an old soul that she would have retired already, but a part of her seems surprised at herself, too. The party isn’t exactly her kind of scene, not really. Too many drunk guys with wandering hands and childish drama that she can’t abide by. At least there are people though. Anything seems better than the idea of sitting home alone on a Saturday night watching Friends reruns.
Blinking at Zoe, she resigns herself to an empty laugh. “Am I that predictable?”
“No,” she says, “you just don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself.”
Cordelia shrugs then, “it’s okay, I guess.”
“Would it be better if a certain someone was here?”
The question has her stilling in place like a deer in headlights, mouth agape and brain scrambling to make sense of the words as though they are spoken in some sort of alien language. Zoe is hiding a grin, her inebriation seeming to give her a bolder approach than normal, seeing as she continues in wake of Cordelia’s ongoing lack of a response. “What’s going on with you two anyway?”
She sucks in a sharp, painful breath now against a constricted throat, letting it shudder out with her response. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Cordelia lies – really, really badly.
There’s a hardening of her gaze, more in scrutiny than annoyance, like she’s trying to figure Cordelia out. Zoe leans in nearer now, clearly sensing the way Cordelia’s heart is rattling inside its bone cage right now. “You and Misty . . .?”
With a wince, she bristles defensively, though tries to maintain her cool and collected character that is decidedly not at all cool or collected. The lump in her throat swallowed, Cordelia chuckles. “You’ve been spending too much time with Madison.”
“Oh, come on, Cordelia. I’ve got eyes, you know.”
Something close to dread settles on her stomach, nestling in and making home inside of her. “Zoe.” She says, smiling although there is little happiness in her response. “There is nothing going on, I assure you.”
Zoe doesn’t answer straight away, exacerbating the anxiety clawing at Cordelia’s heart, and regards her with a musing glance. Despite the intense background noise around them, Cordelia can barely hear a thing.
She does, however, hear the next question that Zoe asks, just as jarring as the first. “Do you want there to be?”
More than anything in the world.
“I -” Cordelia clamps her lips closed before anything incriminating can flow out of them, but that seems to be enough of an answer for Zoe. Perceptive as ever, she only smirks. The blonde does her best to calm the nervous tremor that usurps all other functions in her body.
Then there’s a friendly hand on her shoulder, one that squeezes and lingers. “Your secret is safe with me.”
“Zoe, I don’t -”
“Madison was right.” She cuts across Cordelia’s useless countering. “You do look at Misty differently than everyone else.”
Realizing that denial is a fruitless expedition, she merely heaves with a sigh. “I do wish she was here.” She confesses, barely a murmur against the noise of the party. It’s not meant for Zoe’s ears, not really; she just happens to be a spectator to Cordelia’s admittance. For once out loud and not in her own head, as if she’s getting that little bit braver. Maybe one day she’ll muster enough courage to utter those words in front of the one person she really wants to.
But Zoe is smiling at her now, the action tarnished with sympathy – maybe pity – and nods. “Maybe she can come next time.”
Cordelia hums doubtfully, perhaps to snub any waxing hope. “Yeah.”
Their serious conversation comes to an end as two drunken idiots try dangling from the chandelier with as much success as one would expect. Even with the burn of alcohol in her veins, she finds her enthusiasm dimming after that and soon after makes the decision to go home.
What is usually a short cab ride seems to take hours, her mind spinning like a carousel that she can’t get off. Misty refuses to leave her mind, even for a second, and when she does eventually settle into her bed that night, head clouded by more than the alcohol, she reaches for her phone. It’s easy to find Misty in her contacts, eyes staring at her number.
She hesitates, eyeing the time in the corner of her screen, but a part of her really doesn’t care. The urge is strong, undeniable and Cordelia easily succumbs to it. With as much care as she can in her inebriation, she types a quick message. Hey, you awake?
Ignoring the twist in her stomach, she throws up head back against the pillows and allows herself to reflect on the night, on Zoe’s words. They hang above her head with no signs of giving up. Are her feelings for Misty so transparent? Would it be less noticeable if she wore a sign around her neck saying ‘I like Misty Day’? Her face pinches with a frown, eyes glancing to her blank phone screen that shows no sign of a reply.
A groan resonates deep within up, crawling up her tight throat and out of her lips until it echoes around the room. She feels stifled in what should be her sanctuary, where walls close in and air grows cold inside her lungs.
Cordelia jumps to her feet and is leaving the room before she can even register it, migrating to the kitchen where a glass of cold water helps to clear her head. As she begins to ascent back up the stairs, she eyes the dark corners of the large house where shadows creep in an unsettling way. In the end, she supposes her room is the best place to be and returns with her glass and chips in the other hand.
Both are immediately forgotten about as she spies the notification. Her heart seizes in excitement, fingers so hurriedly moving to put in her passcode that she gets it wrong the first couple of times. Her smile widens upon seeing Misty’s response.
Sure am. Isn’t it a little late for you? 😉
Her heart warming and fluttering, she bites her lower lip to keep the smile in place.
She pauses in thought for a moment, and decisively bites the bullet. Can I call you? The idea is a fleeting one, but she’s already sent the text before she has a moment to really think about it, and Misty quickly agrees. In fact, it’s her caller ID that shows up not seconds later.
Cordelia answers with a grin. “Hi.” Her words are slightly slurred, tired, but filled with sweet fondness.
Misty, on the other hand, brims with worry. “What’s wrong, Delia? Did somethin’ happen?”
All she wants to do is sweep Misty is in her arms and take away every gram of fret from her body. Unfortunately, her only option is to talk it out of her. “Nothing happened,” she says, voice adopting an airy quality.
Her friend pauses, the line falling quiet, though Cordelia thinks she can hear the distant sound of a baby wailing somewhere in the background. Soon, Misty’s sweet, probing cadence returns. “Are you drunk?”
“No.” Cordelia laughs, “well, maybe a little.”
She hears Misty joining in, low and gravelly, like she was just woken up from sleep. For a moment, she wonders if her text brought her out of slumber. “So, you’re drunk diallin’ me right now?” She teases.
Eyes grow in shock, grin wobbling on her lips. Misty’s playful taunting moves right to her core; she can hear the smirk in her voice, envision the way her brow points neatly upwards and her insides just about turn to jelly. “I just . . .” She pauses, biting on her tongue before anything slips from her lips. Her own quiet is deafening. Does Misty hear the strain in her voice? “I -”
There’s an exhalation from Misty, impossibly long, before she replies. “I’m glad you called.”
Time stops moving around her and she smiles against the phone. She gulps. “You are?”
“Oh yeah, was sat here thinkin’ what you could possibly be getting' up to at Madison’s party.” Misty replies, words thick with playfulness. “Seein’ as you’re such a party animal.”
Cordelia snorts, a hand moving to cover her face and hide further laughter. “Why do you all think I’m so boring?”
“I don’t think you’re borin’.”
She lets her eyes close then, her drunken stupor beginning to take hold. Tiredness wears at her body, but she fights it with a soft smile pressed to her mouth as Misty speaks. “Did you at least have fun?”
“It was okay.”
“It would have been more fun with you there.”
Misty laughs loudly. “Oh, you know I’d love to see you drunk. Even if it meant having to go to Madison’s party.”
“Then come next time.” She whines. “Promise me.”
Neediness doesn’t just creep into her demand, instead it envelopes every syllable in it until Misty clearly takes pity on her and whispers out. “Okay. I promise.”
Cordelia grins once more and sighs out her happiness at that. The surrounding room no longer suffocates or intrudes; she settles into the soft sheets with legs stretching out at a leisurely pace. Still, despite her newfound content, something doesn’t sit quiet right with her.
I wish you were here now. She thinks, and then in her vulnerable state she’s suddenly saying those words. If Misty hears the heartache within them, she doesn’t ask any further, though there is a long pause. One that has Cordelia’s nerves fraying on end, eyes flying open once more and brimming with dread.
“You do, huh?” She giggles, all light and pretty and enough to make Cordelia’s stomach swim with butterflies.
Too far in to backpedal, she bites her lip “Yeah.”
She’d do anything to be able to see Misty’s face right now, to decipher exactly what emotions it’s currently holding. Because all she can hear is her steadied voice. “You really are drunk, aren’t ya?”
She might not be that drunk, but she’s drunk enough for more words to slip out unfiltered. “I miss you.”
She laughs again and Cordelia finds herself chuckling along in spite of the way sleep pulls at her mind.
“I was with you last night.”
“Still miss you.” She insists, then daringly asks. “Don’t you miss me?”
“You’re my best friend . . . of course I do.”
Those words should be enough to satiate her yet she finds them increasing her greediness, exacerbating the want in her heart. “We should do something tomorrow.”
“I have chur – "
“Afterwards.” She insists. “I’ll come pick you up.”
Misty sighs then, but not in the way of Cordelia’s demand being a chore. More a wistful exhale that fills the space between Cordelia’s ears with a gentle hum. There is no fight in her friend when it comes to her request and she soon finds her words. “Okay. I’ll text you when we’re done.”
Cordelia’s face splits into a beam. Her once tired limbs become overcome with energy, any hint of tiredness flying out of the window. Unfortunately, she is the only one awash with the sudden buzz, for Misty is yawning deeply on the other end of the phone. “You should go to sleep.” She returns to her motherly nature like the flick of a switch.
“Hm, you too. Sleep off all that liquor.”
She snorts out a laugh. “Goodnight Misty.”
A pause, then a sweet. “Night. Sweet dreams.”
Cordelia stares at her phone for longer than she should after Misty hangs up, a dumbly delighted smile refusing to budge from her lips.
She waits the next day at the end of the dirt track drive with music playing quietly in the background. Nerves prickle at the back of her neck, but she pointedly ignores them by scrolling through her phone and thinking of anything but their conservation last night. Cordelia supposes there’s a little embarrassment lingering inside of her, for things she wonders if she’d say with the lack of alcohol.
Any worries about it are cast out when she peers Misty from the corner of her eye, appearing in the doorway. There’s someone stood next to her, a burly man with a good half a foot on Misty and the same dirty blond hair. One of her brothers? She makes a note to ask until she focuses on the way Misty’s brows furrow in annoyance and she shakes her head vehemently.
He throws his hands up then, towering over her for all of a few seconds. Cordelia fights the urge to go and put herself between them, despite knowing he’s at least a foot taller than her and double her width.
But Misty spins on her heel, putting distance between her and the man who clearly calls after her, to no avail. Walking with hunched shoulders, Misty only quickens her pace. A smile springs onto her lips when she spies her, all but setting into a run and climbing into the car. “Hey.” She drawls, catching her breath. There’s a long pause as she observes Cordelia. ”How you feelin’?” Her eyes crinkle with mirth, only for Cordelia to realize she isn’t wearing her usual deep black eye liner.
She rakes her eyes down then, taking in the long cream dress that she wears, with flowers stitched neatly to the bodice. Unlike many of her other clothes, there aren’t any mud stains or tears, and it actually seems to fit her slim figure rather than hang loosely. Even her wild hair appears to have been tamed. Cordelia can’t help thinking how beautiful she looks. “I’m fine.” She grows sheepish. “Sorry about waking you up.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Buddy had the whole house awake anyway.” Misty caves off the concern. Dark bags under her eyes confirm her story, while lines crease on her forehead, especially as Cordelia’s gaze moves past her friend to where the man still stands in the doorway with nothing short of a brooding glower.
A look thrown over her shoulder, she grumbles. “Ignore Tommy. He’s just pissed ‘cause I won’t lie to Daddy for him.”
“Lie?” she inquires.
“He keeps sneakin’ off during church to go see some girl. Who’s married.” The last words are spoken emphatically, eyes widening in a way that has Cordelia grinning. She moves her gaze away from him and then sets on putting the car in motion.
She takes a moment to gather her thoughts. “Sounds like a real drama.”
“I don’t wanna be involved.” Misty confesses, all too quiet.
“Then don’t get involved.”
She tsks then, eyeing her with nothing short of an intense gaze. “It ain’t that easy. My family is way too involved in each other’s lives.”
Cordelia nods like she understands but, in all honesty, there is not an ounce of comprehension there. She doesn’t have any siblings, cousins, or extended family. Just her and Fiona, and they are definitely out of synch with each other’s business. But Misty continues her rant with an expanding frown and slumping shoulders.
When she sees the vacant expression beginning to meet Cordelia’s eyes, she sighs. “Sorry. I don’t mean to bore ya.”
All to quickly to backtrack, she shakes her head. “No, you’re not. I just wish I could relate. I have the curse of being an only child.”
“You mean the gift.” She corrects. “What I’d give to be an only child.”
A smirk tugs on at corner of her lips at the way her words are said in exasperation and dramatics. “Surely you’d miss them?”
Her expression says otherwise, annoyance spreading like wildfire. Cordelia laughs gently, eyes squinting against the low winter sun as she drives. The journey isn’t long – Misty must recognize where they’re going seeing as she doesn’t ask and eventually, she stares at of the window thoughtfully while Cordelia peeks glances at her.
When they park up, at the same overlook they’d gone to the night they’d egged Hank’s car, Misty jumps out with a burst of energy. She beams as she spies the items in the backseat of the car. “You brought food?”
“Thought you’d be hungry.” Cordelia’s cheeks tinge the slightest of pinks, though Misty isn’t looking her way.
Her friend takes a moment to observe the view, just as beautiful in the daytime, with the mixture of sun and clouds overlooking the town. She closes her eyes, breathing in the air that always seems clearer up here. Wind collects around them, sending Misty’s tidy hair into a flurry that she fails in patting down.
Cordelia grabs her makeshift picnic and follows Misty to the dry spot she finds on the ground. Blankets are lay neatly before she even contemplates sitting down, leaving Cordelia to grin and set confused eyes on her. “Since when do you care about mud?” She asks gently.
“This is my church dress.” She flattens it neatly underneath her.
She nods, offering her the selection of sandwiches. “Why didn’t you change?”
Misty stills, not quite a deer caught in the headlights, but still the hint of panic washing over her features like a gentle wave. Clouds hide the sun rays from her features, highlighting the shadows under her sleepy eyes. She tucks some hair behind her ear. “I like this dress.” She says simply, timidness catching at the edge. “I think it’s pretty.”
Cordelia grins, taking a bite of her own food. “You do look pretty in it.”
The panic returns with a vengeance on the Cajun’s face, and Cordelia covers its track so keenly that she almost chokes on her mouthful of food. “So, how many siblings do you have?” she thinks back to her questions a couple of weeks ago. “I don’t think you’ve ever said.”
Blinking, she toys with the hem of the plaid blanket. “Uh, I got two sisters and four brothers.”
“Jesus.” She breathes. “No wonder you want a break.”
A stark laugh bubbles over, then she shrugs. “Yeah, they’re a lot.”
“You’re the youngest, right?”
She nods then, eyes wide and face innocent, definitely making her look the part of baby of the family.
“You know,” she teases, leaning in with a strawberry poised in front of her lips. Misty watches this with glossy eyes and lips parted until Cordelia’s words bring her eyes back north again, “I hear that the youngest always get away with everything.”
Misty perks a brow. “Oh yeah, where’d you hear that?”
“Wish it were true. Only reason I get away with stuff is ‘cause there’s too many of us to keep track of.” She gives a wry smile. “Especially since Hunter and Buddy came along.” When Cordelia’s brow knits together in thought, she supplies further explanation. “Hunter is Nash’s kid, then Nell had Buddy last year.”
She nods, storing that information away for future reference.
Misty continues with a faltering smile. ”’Course Jackson’s wife is expectin’ too.” She rolls her eyes. “Twins.”
“Okay, I’m gonna need you to write all this down so I can keep up.”
She receives a playful shove from Misty, enjoying the feel of her fingers on her upper arm. For the briefest of moment’s, Cordelia shifts her gaze downward to where her arms are covered over with the sleeve of the dress. They hone in, as though trying to physically see through the material, to where Misty claims she’d hurt herself climbing a tree. The second Misty notices this, she tugs sharply away as she clears her throat and then wraps her arms around herself. “It’s not that hard to remember.” She says, anything to take the attention away.
Cordelia almost asks again, but buries the question deep inside of her alongside the feeling of sudden nausea.
She puts a strained smile onto her expression, shuffling closer to Misty before she looks out at the view. It’s not much, their little town. Nothing more than a High school and a few political scandals, but she guesses it’s home. That being said, she can’t wait until the day she gets to fly the nest toward college.
The very idea brings a melancholy ache to her chest, however, when her eyes find their way back to Misty and she frets over the idea that going might mean leaving her behind. In spite of the bitter sting against her ribs, she doesn’t let it spread to her friend.
Misty, for the most part, seems at ease. She thoughtfully picks out every bite of food, which Cordelia finds herself watching as though it’s the most interesting thing in the world. Through thick eyelashes, Misty locks their eyes and grins “You look tired.”
She feels it. She counters with a nudge of their shoulders. “Speak for yourself.”
“Well, someone wanted to talk to me at two am this mornin’” Cordelia notes how Misty doesn’t shy away from her loitering presence, only leans closer. When she turns, their faces are inches apart. She suddenly feels lightheaded, as though they’re say on the top of Everest rather than a lookout.
“You didn’t have to reply.”
Her brow quirks, the corners of her lips twitching. “What if Madison had done somethin' bad to you?”
“Like what?” she gets out through giggles.
“Oh, I dunno. Set you up with some pervy college guys.”
“That was a distinct possibility.” She catches the way Misty is staring at her, waiting for a missing piece of information. “What?”
She hesitates, hiding the slight tenseness behind a wary smile. “Did anythin’ happen?”
“With a boy.”
“Oh god, Misty. You’re acting like we’re in the fourth grade!” She says in incredulity, only for it to spread when Misty bows her head and averts her eyes. Cordelia grows calmer then, sucking in a sharp breath. “Nothing happened, with anyone.” She gives a self-deprecating grin. “Should I be worried that nobody tried to make a move?”
Misty jerks up at that, eyes stilling from where they glisten with some mystery emotion. “At one of Madison’s parties? I don’t think so.”
“Hm, you’re right. Not exactly like I’d entertain the idea of hooking up with any of them.”
She doesn’t answer right away, her face pinching together with thought in a way that Cordelia’s finds mesmerizingly adorable. “So, the person you liked wasn’t there?”
And this is the moment Cordelia freezes with fear, air trapped in her throat. The ice of the emotion spreads through her veins until it grips around all the organs in her chest with a tight squeeze. “What?” She chokes out.
“After you broke up with Hank . . .” She frowns. “You said that you started having feelings for someone else.”
Oh. That conversation. She feels it burned into the forefront of her mind, draining her from within. She holds in a sigh, but it soon grows stale in her lungs and cries to be released. As it forces itself out, it accompanies a shuddery, “yeah.”
Misty observes her curiously. Her eyes seem wider, pupils dilated. “Do you still like them?”
Cordelia gulps thickly against her constricting throat and offers nothing more than a half shrug. She doesn’t want to lie to Misty, but she fears the repercussions of telling her the truth. Not just for her, but more so for Misty. And more worryingly, she dares not think what it could do their friendship because she knows that Misty can’t return those feelings.
At her strange demeanor, Misty reels back slightly. “Did I say somethin’ wrong?”
“No.” She reaches up, needing some tactile comfort before she combusts amidst her sudden anxiety. Hands find Misty’s arm and refuse to leave. “I just don’t think it’s going to work out.”
She doesn’t know how she expects Misty to react, but she certainly hadn’t considered that the blonde would look almost relieved at that confession. Ever the doting friend, though, she places her hand on Cordelia’s. “I’m sorry, Delia.” She comforts.
“Don’t be. It was a long shot, anyway.”
This seems to confuse Misty more, who appears to become lost somewhere deep within the cavern of her thoughts, leaving Cordelia to her own company. She picks at the food, then lifts her knees so they’re against her chest and watches the world around them. In the town, everything seems so much faster, people rushing this way and that. Honking horns and revving engines can be heard even at their distant stoop; even closer to her she can hear bird song and rustling wind.
She turns to Misty again, her pale face too staring out ahead of her with an expression more of despondence than Cordelia’s admiration. Lips pursing together, she wishes she could climb into her head and find out what’s bothering her.
With a flutter of eyelashes, Misty’s eyes become focused once more and she regards Cordelia like one would a pretty bouquet of flowers. “This is nice.”
Cordelia hums her agreement.
“I don’t want to go home.” She says quietly, voice filled with a sadness that Cordelia doesn’t understand. What she does know is that it breaks her heart to see.
“We can stay here as long as you want.”
Misty toys with the blanket again, smacking her lips together in thought. “It’s gonna get cold.”
She waves off any worries. “We can sit in the car. Or go back to mine.”
A smile fights its way onto the Cajun’s face. “That sounds good.”
Cordelia counters it with her own grin. “You can tell me more about your family. Feel I need to study all these names.”
A blush climbs from Misty’s ears to her delicate cheekbones. “You don’t need to know all their names . . .”
“What if I meet them one day though?” She says, bordering on optimism. One day she’s going to get that invite to Misty’s house, no matter how patient she has to be.
But Misty is just watching her and smiling with her own disbelief, before she helps to tidy up their leftover food. Most of it is snacked on by her friend on the drive back to hers, although she does send Cordelia into a fit of giggles as she haphazardly tries to hand feed her grapes while she’s driving.
Her house brings with it an afternoon of planting seeds followed by scrolling through her Netflix. Still feeling the effects of the alcohol, Cordelia finds herself in somewhat of a haze. Conversation is lazy, but comfortable; she soon notices Misty’s own eyes drooping. Their gazes meet from where they’re lay on sofa, her giving a silent okay for Misty to succumb to her tiredness. She does not long after that.
Cordelia follows, not before staring at her friend like some lovesick fool.