It Girl #10: Classic | Chapter 16 of 36

Author: Cecily von Ziegesar | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2873 Views | Add a Review

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The Waverly Field House was filled with Owls in varying states of obvious intoxication, and the volume was reaching fever pitch. Matched couples were scattered about, figuring out how to tie themselves together with the regulation rope bindings for the Three-Legged Race. Callie and Alan stood a little bit back from the starting line of the current heat of three-legged competitors, watching the mayhem unfold. Verena Arneval and her tall, geeky senior match hobbled for three wobbly steps and then collapsed, her partner squashing her into the AstroTurf of the Field House grounds.

“Heh. Face-plant,” Alan said from beside her, laughing. “Ten points!”

Callie smiled but said nothing. She had yet to uncover one single thing she and Alan had in common, but by now she’d come to appreciate their pairing’s randomness.

Reason number one for this newfound appreciation stood on one side of the crowd, his dark blue eyes brooding and stormy whenever they landed on Callie. Which was roughly every three seconds. Reason number two stood almost directly opposite, his leg tied to the geekiest girl to ever wear a maroon Waverly blazer. Easy. Brandon. Easy. Brandon. Callie felt like she was watching some kind of Ping-Pong competition as her head swung back and forth between them.

Easy caught her eye from where he stood, arms crossed, just watching her. His dark brows rose, like he expected her to do something—and she knew exactly what that something was. After all, she’d promised, hadn’t she? Callie swallowed. And then, against her will, she felt her head pulled around to find Brandon’s gaze on her—just as troubled and just as dark.

Callie felt her breath go shallow. She hadn’t even had more than a sip or two from Alan’s flask, but her head was spinning.

“Christ,” Alan said, looking at her with a bemused sort of alarm. “Are you okay? You look like you’re tripping the hell out.”

“I just… I can’t…” Callie felt the Field House walls closing in on her, as if she were being gripped and squeezed by a giant, sweaty fist. Alan threw down the rope he’d been halfheartedly trying to tie into a decent knot and took Callie’s elbow.

“Forget this,” he said. “Let’s get out of here. I have a much better idea.”

Easy stared at her from off to the right, Brandon from the left.

Callie knew she was a coward, because she dropped her gaze and let Alan usher her far away from them both. He led her outside, where the snow had started to fall again. It wasn’t until they’d reached the coffee bar in Maxwell that she was able to breathe normally. She let Alan direct her to one of the comfortable couches in the deserted student hangout and sank down into the plush cushions. She closed her eyes, breathed through her nose, and willed herself to be calm.

“Here.” Alan plunked a large coffee in front of her and flopped down next to her on the couch.

“Um, thanks,” Callie said. She pushed her strawberry blond waves back from her face and unzipped her royal blue Michael Kors coat, letting it fall off her shoulders. She didn’t know what kind of coffee Alan had bought, but it didn’t matter. Anything would do. And if she needed anything stronger, she knew where he kept his flask.

As she picked up the cardboard cup, Alan dug in one of the interior pockets of his coat. He pulled out a ziplock baggie, opened it, and then grinned at her.

“Brownie?” he asked.

Callie raised an eyebrow. She didn’t have to ask what was in it. This was Alan St. Girard.

“I thought you were a smoker,” she said. “When did you turn into Rachael Ray?”

“I like edibles,” Alan said, still grinning. “It’s a natural progression. It attracts significantly less teacher attention and makes a great mid-class pick-me-up.”

Callie decided she didn’t care. Maybe her life would make more sense if she viewed it from the Alan St. Girard perspective. He was certainly never in danger of succumbing to a panic attack, was he? Hardly. She accepted the proffered brownie and took a huge bite. She expected it to taste like dirt and weeds, but it didn’t. Chocolaty goodness exploded on her tongue. She sighed happily. “Betty Crocker would be proud.”

“It’s all yours,” Alan said, pulling out a second brownie for himself. “Bon appétit.”

They both settled back against the couch, and finally, slowly, Callie relaxed. She could feel the tension gradually leaving her body with every breath she took. It helped that Maxwell, usually overrun with Owls and the very last place anyone would ever go to relax, was like a ghost town tonight.

“Everybody must be at the Field House,” she said after a while. “Maybe to escape the snow.”

“Waverly is falling down, falling down, falling down…” Alan sang to the tune of “London Bridge.” He was wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt from Ben & Jerry’s that read CHERRY GARCIA, and suddenly Callie couldn’t stop giggling.

She visualized Easy and Brandon as Three-Legged Race partners, bound by the legs and hating each other but grimly soldiering on toward the finish line—only to collapse in a tangle of limbs. All to the tune of Alan’s ridiculous song.

She collapsed against the back of the couch, laughing uncontrollably. Alan laughed, too.

“I don’t even know what you’re laughing about,” he said after a few moments while Callie wiped tears from her eyes.

She regarded Alan for a moment. He was scruffy and silly but really one of the nicest guys she knew. She had the sudden urge to spill everything to him. It might be the best idea she’d ever had, or at least a much better idea than many of the ones she’d had recently. It wasn’t just because of his special brownies, either. He was Easy’s roommate and friend. And he was also friends with Brandon. And unlike some of the other guys—like Ryan Reynolds or Heath Ferro—he wasn’t likely to use anything she told him against her. That just wasn’t his style.

“Well?” he asked. “Should I sing a different song?”

“It’s Easy,” Callie said. “And Brandon.”

Alan blew out a breath, as if he’d just climbed up a huge hill. He shook his head. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s… a whole thing.”

“It really is,” Callie agreed with a sigh.

Before she knew it, the whole long, tortured saga poured out of her. She and Alan were the only people in the whole of Maxwell, and their little couch felt like a safe little oasis from the drama of her life. She told Alan everything, going all the way back to when she and Easy had started making out in the rare books room in the library at that party at the beginning of sophomore year, even though Callie had been dating Brandon at the time. She went over every single excruciating detail of her relationship with both boys—well, not every detail—and she didn’t spin the story to make herself look any better.

As she talked, she played with the edges of her open, cream-colored Joie cardigan and the belt loops of her brown Theory slim-legged cargo pants. It was as if she couldn’t sit still. And when she was finished telling Alan all of her secrets, she felt much better. It was like finally getting her legs waxed and her eyebrows shaped after letting it all go for far too long—she felt smooth and clean.

“Whoa,” Alan said after a few moments. “That’s some intense shit.”

“I know,” Callie said, and suddenly she was giggling again. “But it’s my life.”

Alan laughed. “I guess you’re stuck with it, then.”

“I guess.” She let her head fall back against the couch. “What would you do?”

Alan shifted his position on the couch with a thoughtful frown. He stuck his long legs out in front of him and shoved his hands into the pockets of his Diesel jeans. “I would go back in time and choose one of them,” he said, after a moment or two of intense consideration. “With no overlap.”

Callie sighed and closed her eyes. If only time travel were an option. Unfortunately, Alan’s brownies weren’t that powerful.

“But I get that you can’t exactly do that,” he continued. “It’s like the three of you are caught in a vicious circle. Like it’s an undertow, and none of you can get your heads above water.”

Callie tugged harder at her belt loops. She pictured Easy and Brandon caught in the pull of the ocean off some deserted beach, tossing and turning in the waves, and she could save only one of them. She looked at Alan. “That’s exactly what it feels like.”

Alan shrugged. “So you break the cycle,” he said matter-of-factly.

Callie frowned. “How do I do that?”

“You break up with both of them,” Alan said, stroking his beard. “The way you should have years ago. Then you wait and see who fights the hardest for you.”

“They’re not going to fight each other, Alan,” Callie said, rolling her eyes.

“They would if this was a Bruce Lee movie,” Alan replied immediately. He shook his head, as if to clear it of images of martial-arts masters. “But that’s not what I mean. You watch and see who fights for you. In, you know, a nonviolent way. Whoever that is, well, that’s the one you’re meant to be with.”

Callie stared at his goofy stoner grin and his kind brown eyes. She thought about how helpless she felt when Easy was around. He was like a fire she could never quite put out. And she thought about how good Brandon was to her, how understanding and sweet, never angry or demanding. And she thought about how little she wanted to hurt either one of them yet again.

Alan might possibly be the most brilliant person she’d ever encountered.

“Oh my God,” she breathed. It was all clear to her. Finally. “Thank you, Alan!” she cried, and gave him an impulsive hug.

“You got it,” he said, grinning.

Callie flopped back against the couch and couldn’t help smiling. Because for the first time since she’d walked into the foyer at the dean’s house and seen Easy Walsh standing there surrounded by broken glass, she had a plan.



Instant Message Inbox

BrettMesserschmidt: If you’re still in for Operation: Isla Takedown, I have a major breakthrough to report…

TinsleyCarmichael: I am so in. That overdressed liar offends me with every breath she takes.

BrettMesserschmidt: I can get us into her house. Yes, the dean’s house, site of all our pain. Tomorrow?

TinsleyCarmichael: Let’s get this party started.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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