Monday, 6 March 2017

Paradise Lost Chap 5

An hour later I was kicked back with Noelle, Kiran, and Taylor in a set of chaise longues near the
pool, my face tipped toward the sun. We were full of Caribbean barbecue and each had a pina colada
(mine virgin) to sip. Noelle had insisted I change, so now I was wearing a white polo-shirt dress and
a ton of SPF. My Pennsylvania skin was so not ready for the Caribbean sun.
"So by the fall, you'll be seeing my face everywhere," Kiran said, adjusting the brim of her wide
sunhat so that her entire face was shaded. "In magazines, on billboards--"
"On the sides of buses," Noelle put in as she worked her long hair into a braid down her back.
"Hey, all exposure is good exposure," Kiran told her, raising one red fingernail.
"Tell that to Reed," Noelle said slyly.
My blood stopped cold. Was that a jab about the Dash video?
"The face of a whole cosmetics line," I said, ignoring Noelle's comment. "That is so incredible."
"I know. My agent said the company hasn't had a non-actress do it since, like, the nineties," Kiran
replied. "I guess they just thought I was that hot."
"But not at all modest," Noelle added, flicking an unseen speck off the skirt of her dress. Awaiter in
white shorts and a colorful Hawaiian-style shirt paused in front of us, smiling as he lowered a silver
tray full of tarts, cookies, and slices of frosting-laden cake.
"Your dessert, ladies," he said, moving to place the tray on the table between Taylor and me.
"You're leaving that here? No. Please. Put it over there," Taylor said, flicking her hand in Noelle's
"Still working on that willpower, Bell?" Noelle asked as the waiter did as was requested and moved
to the next group of chairs.
"Just playing it safe," Taylor replied, glancing at the sweets as if they might jump up; hurtle over
Noelle, Kiran, and me; and cram themselves down her throat.
"Understood." Noelle picked up a chunk of white cake and took a bite, then slowly, decadently,
sucked the coconut icing from her fingers. I couldn't tell if she was taunting Taylor or just enjoying
herself. Probably a little bit of both. "So what about you, Taylor? How's Chitown?"
"Cold," Taylor replied. She faced forward again and looked up at the perfectly clear blue sky. "But
my father bought me an entire new fall and winter wardrobe and a Land Rover when I told him I'd
decided to stay in Chicago. Plus, I love my high school. I'm president of the senior class and should
be graduating number one. Hopefully there will be an early acceptance letter from Stanford when I get
"Wow, Taylor. Sounds like you've got everything you wanted," I said. When I got home, I was really
going to have to deal with narrowing down which colleges I wanted to visit and apply to, something
that should have been on my mind all semester and would have been if I hadn't been so distracted by
Cheyenne's suicide and my stalker and my breakup and everything else. Maybe I could get a good
essay out of the whole experience. TOPIC: WHAT PERSON OR PERSONS HAS HAD THE MOST
Noelle tipped backher head and sighed. "So I guess Ariana intimidating you into leaving Easton
actually was a good thing."
Taylor and Kiran exchanged a glance, and Taylor looked down at her lap.
"Is that what happened?" I asked. How long had I been dying to have this conversation?
"Basically," Taylor said, forcing a smile. "She was worried that if I stuck around, I would crack and
tell the police what we did that night. Which, let's face it, I probably would have. But I never knew
she went back there that night, Reed, I swear."
"I know," I replied, trying to ignore the black, festering scab inside my chest. The scab left behind by
Thomas's murder, which I was now starting to realize would never fully heal. Okay, maybe I didn't
want to have this conversation. "Let's talk about something else." Kiran finished off her latest drink
and placed the glass on the ground next to her chair. "I vote we talk about how Upton Giles somehow
got even hotter this year." She turned her gaze toward a large wood dining table shaded by a red
awning, where Upton was being aggressively courted by Paige, Tiffany, and Amberly. Daniel, Gage,
Weston Bright, and Sawyer and Graham Hathaway were hanging with them as well, drinking beer
from little brown bottles and starting to get loud. I had to admit, Upton was fun to look at. He laughed
at something Amberly said, and the laugh carried throughout the party. It was a throaty, uninhibited
laugh. The kind you live to bring forth in any way you can. He was still laughing when he turned his
head and happened to look at me. My body temperature instantly skyrocketed. He narrowed his eyes
inquisitively, clearly curious about the interloper in his midst, and leaned over to Gage to whisper in
his ear. Gage glanced at me, smirked, and whispered back. I could only imagine what he was saying.
No doubt that I was some prudish, penniless farm girl from Podunk, Pennsylvania.
Paige got up from the table and tugged Tiffany away with her, excusing herself to the bathroom. They
roped Amberly into joining them as well, probably trying to prevent her from getting any alone time
with Upton. It seemed there was actual strategy involved in the Upton Game.
"That's it. I'm going in," Taylor said as soon as she saw that Upton was female free. She stood up,
straightened her dress, and tossed back her hair. "How do I look? "
"Very Upton worthy," Noelle said with a nod.
"You think?" Taylor was giddy. "Wish me luck."
"Luck!" we all shouted after her, earning an irritated glance, since half the party heard us. Kiran,
Noelle, and I all laughed as we sat back in our seats. I hadn't felt so relaxed... ever. I closed my eyes
and took a deep breath of the tangy Caribbean air. A girl could get used to this.
"Okay, I'm getting bored," Kiran said with a yawn. "What do you guys want to do next?"
"We need to shop," Noelle said, crossing her legs at the ankle. "Reed needs some vacationwear."
"Bien sur! I am so in," Kiran said, clapping her hands.
"Ah, but you're forgetting one little problem. Reed has no money," I said. Noelle flicked a hand. "A
minor obstacle."
Yeah. For you, maybe.
"You cannot spend the entire week in jeans and a T-shirt," Kiran said. "Not with the events we have
"We'll figure it out. We always do," Noelle said. She lifted her head and looked across the patio. "Uhoh.
Crash and burn."
"What?" I asked, opening my eyes.
I heard chairs scraping against the ground and looked over to see Upton, Graham, and Sawyer all
getting up from the table to follow a sullen-looking Taylor around the pool. They were headed in our
direction, and I suddenly found myself tugging down on the hem of my dress and sitting up a bit
straighter. Noelle saw my preparations and smirked. Great. Now I felt like a total hypocrite. But just
because I didn't want Upton and the Hathaways to think I was a slob didn't mean I wanted to win the
Upton Game. Not at all.
"Reed, this is Upton Giles and Sawyer and Graham Hathaway," Taylor said upon arrival, and not at
all enthusiastically. "Guys, this is Reed."
"Hi," they all said in unison. Upton and Graham put on bigger smiles than Sawyer.
"May we join you?" Upton asked in a startlingly sexy British accent. My toes actually curled at the
sound of his voice.
"Sure," I said.
As the guys pulled over more lounge chairs, I widened my eyes at Noelle. "You never said he was
British!" I whispered.
"Oops." She snorted a laugh at my expense.
When I turned around again, Upton was settling into Taylor's vacated chair, right next to mine. My
cheeks turned sunburned red. Had he overheard that?
"Graham! Come sit by me," Noelle ordered. "Let's chat." I glanced at Kiran, who shrugged. Clearly
she didn't know what that was about either. Since Upton had appropriated her chair, Taylor was
forced to sit with Sawyer off to Upton's left. My heart was bouncing around like a ping-pong ball. Of
all these girls, he wanted to sit next to me, a milky white troll.
"So, Reed, I hear you're quite the intriguing individual," he said, sitting sideways on his lounge and
leaning his thick forearms on his knees. There was a thin, white scar across his left shin. So not
entirely perfect.
"Really? How so?" I asked, hoping he wasn't about to bring up the fact that I had almost been
murdered . . . twice.
"Well, rumor has it you come from somewhere outside the big five, so that in and of itself is
intriguing," he said with a smile. His eyes were even bluer than the ocean crashing behind us.
"The big five?"
"New York, L.A., London, Paris, Sydney," Kiran clarified. "The big five."
"Ah. Too bad for the rest of the world," I replied. "Has Rome been informed?" Everyone chuckled at
my joke, including Upton. In spite of myself, I beamed. He placed one hand on his knee, and I found
myself staring at his fingers. No guy I knew had hands that large. They were not teenager hands. They
were man hands. The kind of hands you couldn't help imagining running through your hair and down
your back and over your skin. . . . I was definitely starting to understand the appeal of the Upton
"So, Graham, how's your dad doing?" Noelle asked.
"He's fine," Graham replied, kicking back with his legs hanging down on either side of his chair.
"Talking to my dad, from what I overhear," Noelle said.
"What does your dad do, Graham?" I asked, mostly because it forced me to stop staring at Upton,
which was starting to get embarrassing.
"He's the dean of students at Drew University," Graham replied.
"So . .. why's he talking to your dad?" Kiran asked Noelle.
"Let's just say Daddy's trying to save the Hathaway family from Jersey," Noelle replied cryptically.
"I happen to like Jersey," Sawyer said, slipping on a pair of black sunglasses.
"You would," Graham joked.
Sawyer ignored him. He pulled a tattered copy of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
from his back pocket and started to read, curling the front cover around the back of the book.
"Well, while I'd love to hear the rest of your opinions on Jersey, I need a drink," Upton said, rising.
"Reed, would you like anything?"
Everyone basically froze. The fact that he had singled me out wasn't lost on any of us, least of all
Taylor, who sunk down low in her seat.
"Noelle, pass the cake, please," Taylor said, reaching a hand out over Upton's now vacated chair. I
swallowed hard as the tray was passed to Kiran, then to me. Before I could even get it to Taylor, she
grabbed a nice big chocolate tart and shoved half of it into her mouth. This was not good. I was here
to have fun, which meant spending time with my friends, and I couldn't exactly do that if Taylor was
jealous and hating me. It was obvious that I was going to have to send Upton a clear signal.
"Actually, we were just leaving," I said, getting up and dragging Kiran with me.
"We were?"
"Yes. Noelle?" I said pointedly.
"Right." She got up and grabbed her clutch. "We need to go shopping. Reed was not prepared for the
"So not prepared," I agreed, rolling my eyes. "Taylor? You're coming, right?"
"Sure. Why not?" Taylor said through a mouthful of tart. "There's nothing to do around here anymore."
Noelle linked arms with Taylor and me as Kiran finished off her drink. "Boys, we'll be seeing you,"
she said.
"I hope so," Upton said, looking right at me.
And even though I was so not playing the Upton Game, I liked to think that he was watching me
appreciatively from behind as we strode away.

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Terima kasih sebab sudi menerjah ke ruangan saya kali ini.
Anda diwajibkan untuk komen. Amaran keras!
*ceh tipu je HAHA =P*