This Love(2)

By: Emily Snow

“Right. Because he’s so hideous.” Rolling her eyes, she hands over one of the drinks she brought over. It’s a dainty concoction in a real glass, not the red Solo cups used at parties in my neighborhood.

“It smells like cotton candy,” I muse aloud, eager to change the conversation.

“Oh? Well that’s because the bartender infused the drinks with it. A bartender, Veronica. I feel like I should hold up my pinky.” To demonstrate, she wriggles her little finger and comes dangerously close to dropping her drink on the gleaming marble floor. “This whole place is like Richie Rich meets American Pie.”

“Except nobody’s sticking their genitals into a pie.” When she mutters “yet,” I pretend to dry heave then take a sip of my drink. I’m no alcohol connoisseur, I’ve drank only a handful of times and each one has someone with the last name Delaney attached to the memory, but this is the best drink I’ve ever tasted.

“Also—” I hold up a finger, pausing to take another swig. “We just watched a street race before coming up here, so how high does your pinky really need to be?”

“Hmm. Good point. And speaking of that street race...” Her hazel eyes retrace their path to Bennett. “Fast and the Furious might be hotter than Graham. Possibly. I can see why I’ve heard his name a million times since I moved here.”

Since she transferred to Birchwood last fall, I’ve mentioned Bennett’s name maybe a few times. Nowhere close to a million. I hotly point that out. She fishes a piece of ice from her drink and pops it into her mouth, shrugging.

“Maybe you haven’t, but you’re not counting every other girl at Bitchwood. Apparently, the guy’s a sex god and—” Her mouth gapes open. “Whoa!”

“Let me guess, the pie screwing has commenced?” But my amusement dies a swift and painful death once I decide to investigate what’s pocketed half the room’s attention. Monica. She’s descended from her third-story lair and is sidled up to Judson. Shimmery lips uttering something in his ear. One manicured hand gripping a glass of amber-colored liquid while the other alternates between fondling his chest and fluffing her honey blonde hair.

Charlotte drifts forward to stand next to me. “That is their mom, right? Think she’ll break up the party?”

“Unfortunately. And no, she won’t.” I scan the room for Graham. He’s where I last saw him, lounged on a tufted, ivory velvet chaise with a bottle of beer. His jaw is clenched but he doesn’t budge. Not that I expect him to; Monica is his least favorite person in the world. Our eyes lock.

“Need my help?” I mouth.

He mouths back, “Fuck Monica,” and jabs a finger in her direction. Bennett has already untangled their mother from Judson and is guiding her to the private elevator, his features stony.

It’s not like I haven’t seen this before. Before he left for Duke, he was always the one to take care of her whenever she got blackout drunk or popped too many pills. But tonight’s different. She’s doing it in front of his friends. His expression, the lack of emotion as he avoids their stares and whispers, snags something buried deep within the walls of my chest.

“Hmm.” Charlotte tweaks the thick strap of her purple tank top and grimaces. “The guy that lost his car doesn't seem to mind.” Sure enough, when I peek his way, Judson's bumping shoulders with Zeke. They disappear into one of the rooms branching off from the spacious living area, where Erik keeps a stash of expensive whiskey.


“They were in the same year and were always … competitive. I better go and check on him.” I shoot Charlotte an apologetic look, the soles of my strappy white sandals already slapping on the floor as I hurry toward the curved staircase. “I’ll be back fast, I promise.”

She waves me off. “No, take your time. I’ll just … wow. Wow. I’ll be right here.”

Before I’m out of earshot, I pivot around. “I guess it really is like something out of a movie, huh?”

And then it really is hard to forget where I am and how out of place my presence is.

I’m more familiar with the Delaney’s four-story penthouse than the two-bedroom apartment I share with my father in Queens. That sounds exaggerated, but sadly, it’s true.

For years, I spent more time here than I did at home, even after the guys were too old for a nanny. Instead of letting Mom go, Erik offered to keep her on as their housekeeper, so there were many Saturday afternoons and late nights where I helped out because an eight thousand square foot apartment is a beast for one person to handle alone. After Mom got sick last year, and it became clear she’d never return to work or leave the hospital, she was so confident in my knowledge of the Delaney’s place—and their wants and needs—she asked me to personally show the new staff the layout.

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