Home > Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)(8)

Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)(8)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

MUCH LATER, AFTER Aunt Portia had gone home, I found myself standing in front of the new gym doors, which had the name Club Vita written in bold red letters. I cupped my hands to better see inside the glass doors, but all the lights were off. At midnight, odds were the owner had left for the night. Yet the Escalade was still here. Did that mean they lived here, too?

Mila followed and stood apprehensively behind me. “This is the worst idea you’ve ever had, Nora,” she soothed, like to a mad dog. “What if someone sees us?”

“They won’t. Come on, let’s do this,” I replied, taking a swig from the flask, my tongue numb to the taste. I passed it to Mila.

“You know I love you ’cause we’ve been friends since third grade, but we could go to jail. This is trespassing,” she said quietly, her gaze jumping around the deserted parking lot.

“You think?” I said, tucking my hair up inside my Longhorns ball cap and smiling a big Texas grin. Yep, the vodka had kicked in. “If we get put in jail, I’ll let you have the top bunk, I promise. I’ll even request silk sheets and a mint for your pillow.”

She didn’t even crack a smile at me. I sighed. “You’ll see, Mila, this will be fun. Come on, let’s live a little.” I walked over to the Escalade, eyeing the huge vehicle. Mr. Fitness must be well-off, judging by leather interior, high-end rims, and tinted windshield. And for some crazy reason this car had caught my attention, and I was going with it. I picked up a small pebble and tossed it on the hood, and when no alarm sounded, I turned back to Mila, victory on my face.

“What are you going to do?” she gasped. “I thought we were just checking the place out.”

I pulled the yellow can of spray paint from my backpack. “I’m going to turn this kick-ass vehicle into a preschool bus.”

“But why?” she said, a look of horror on her face.

Before I could answer, it started pouring, a hard summer rain that drenched us in no time. I tossed my head back and inhaled the suddenly damp air. And as I stared into the night sky, I saw no star in sight; I had no wishes to be wished.

No hope.

This night would not end well.

“Come on, let’s dance in the rain,” I said impulsively, pushing the bleakness away. I pretended to be okay and crooked our arms together and twirled her around, dancing and skipping like the professional square dancers did each year at the Fourth of July picnic in Highland Park. I wanted to be like those dancers. They seemed happy.

“You’re acting insane, Nora,” she said in an agitated whisper, pulling away from me. I stopped and stared at her a bit dumbfounded. Mila always did what I wanted. I was the dominant friend, and she was the follower.

She bit her bottom lip. “This isn’t the time to be trying out the dosey doe. You’re going to wake the whole freaking neighborhood.”

My spirits took a nose dive when I saw how frightened she was. She didn’t have the gumption for it, and I had no right to drag her down with me as I spiraled out of control. This wasn’t about Mila; this was about me. Whatever stupid thing I did tonight, she needed to be far away. I sighed heavily. “You’re right, Mila. Go back home, and I’ll call you when I’m leaving,” I said, taking the flask from her hand. She’d never taken a drink anyway.

“But I hate to leave you here alone . . . in the rain. And I don’t know what you’re going to do to that car,” she said, practically wringing her hands.

“Maybe I like hanging out in the rain,” I said with a shrug.

She shook her head. “You’re drunk, Nora. I can’t leave you.”

“You will because it’s past your curfew, and your parents will be mad. I’ll sleep it off in my car, Mila. Just go.”

She stared at me for a long time. “Okay, but call me when you get in your car. Please,” she begged, looking at the flask in my hands like it was a loaded gun.

Sweet, sweet Mila. You know those fluffy little rabbits you can buy at the pet store? The ones that come in different colors, like white, brown, auburn, and black? Apparently, there was this odd scientific study conducted in Switzerland once about which rabbit color people chose the most. They proved that 88.7 percent of people picked the white bunny to take home. As for me, I’d choose the black one every time because Mila reminded me of those little black bunnies with her gleaming dark hair, gentle nature, and instinct to run at the first sign of danger.

After she’d disappeared from view, I sat down in the rain on the curb and stared at the can of paint, contemplating this course I’d set myself on. I’d never done anything destructive my entire life. I’ve always tried to do every single thing right, and, yet, I sensed that this one act of vandalism would change everything.

And when the rain stopped just as suddenly as it had started, I took it as a sign. I pulled a jacket out of my backpack and used it to dry off a side of the Escalade. I picked up the can and started to work, clueless about the destiny that was hurtling toward me.

“I’d like to sleep for a hundred years, wake up and try again.”

– Nora Blakely

“DROP THE PAINT and turn around slowly with your hands in the air.” The loud command was said with a deep voice. “I’ve got a gun, asshole, so move nice and slow.”

I bent over and placed the can on the pavement. I started to turn when— “I said put your hands in the air!” he yelled.

I yanked my hands up and eased around to face the owner of the voice.

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