Focus (Page 29)

“An older brother is better than a younger one. Mine is the most annoying kid alive.” Tiffany replaced the eyeliner in her makeup bag.

I slipped in gold hoop earrings. “At least you guys have siblings. I’m an only child.”

“You didn’t like it?” Anne asked. She had two younger sisters.

“It gets lonely.”

“Levi’s an only child too, right? I guess you guys have each other now.”

I forced a laugh. “Speaking of Levi, I need you guys to swear you won’t let me go home with him if I get drunk.”

“What? You think you’ve lost your willpower?” Hailey adjusted her top one last time.

“I plan on drinking. Hopefully, we won’t run into them and it won’t be a problem.”

Anne nodded solemnly. “I won’t let you.”

“Thanks.” We all grabbed our purses and headed out.

We waited on the grassy median for the streetcar. Based on the crowd around us, Bourbon Street was going to be hopping. When the streetcar stopped, I had my money ready. I inserted the exact change into the machine, smiling to myself when I remembered my first time on a streetcar. It was the night of my first kiss with Levi.

The streetcar was packed to capacity, so we all found straps to hold onto. If the car was that crowded uptown, it was only going to get worse. Way before Canal Street, the car ignored the other stops because there was absolutely no room.

“This is crazy,” Anne said as we pushed through the crowds.

“You think so?” Hailey smiled. “Wait until Mardi Gras.”

“I can’t imagine.” I looked down at my outfit self-consciously when I caught a group of guys staring at us.

“Where should we go first?” Hailey asked once we reached Bourbon.

“Let’s do Tropical Isle. I want a Hand Grenade.” Tiffany uncharacteristically made the first suggestion.

“Sounds awesome.” I was just glad we had a destination.

We didn’t make it that far. “Hey, guys!” A group of girls from our floor called to us. Sometimes New Orleans felt more like a small town than a city. It was impossible to go anywhere without running into someone you knew. I didn’t think it was a bad thing.

“Hey! Up here!” A group of guys on a balcony yelled down at us. “Show us some titties if you want some beads.”

Hailey rolled her eyes. “Do they really think we’re that desperate for cheap plastic beads?”

Anne gave them the finger.

“Over here.” I covered my face with my hands as one of my floor mates, Amy, lifted her shirt.

Anne laughed, so I looked up. Amy had a tank top underneath.

“Get a life!” Amy yelled.

“Nice one,” a few of us said at once.

“Did you really think I was going to flash them?” Amy was definitely insulted.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I hoped not.”

“For future knowledge, I’m not a skank.”

“All right, duly noted.”

“We’re going to head over to Oz, you guys want to come?” Amy asked.

“No thanks,” Tiffany answered quickly.

I laughed. “We’re good.”

“You weren’t interested in hitting up a g*y bar on Halloween?” Hailey teased Tiffany.

Tiffany laughed. “That place is crazy even on a normal night. Plus, the last time we were there a guy from my American lit class was dancing. That was a sight I don’t need to see again.”

We all laughed and decided to check out some more bars. We continued down Bourbon Street.

“Those are incredible vampire costumes!” Anne pointed to two guys with long fangs and black capes.

I tried to get a closer look at their eyes as we passed them, and they definitely had the rings Levi had told me about. I was sure the fangs were real. I shivered. Halloween was a lot scarier when you knew monsters actually existed.

***

“Why, hello Matey.” Levi’s voice came as a whisper right behind me.

I spun around. “Hi.” The word stuck in my throat as I took him in. Dressed in a black tank and jeans, his clothing didn’t hint at a costume, but his wings did. I looked past him and noticed Jared and Owen dressed identically.

“We’re fallen angels.”

“Ah, those are really realistic wings.” I reached out to touch one but held back.

“You can touch me, Al. You always can.”

I shivered knowing he meant more than his wings.

“Wow, awesome costumes!” Anne walked around the boys, taking them in.

“Hailey has one of these costumes too, but I guess she thought being a slutty pirate was cooler,” Owen taunted.

Hailey glared. “We’re sexy pirates, not slutty.”

“I don’t care what you are. You can make me walk your plank anytime.” Jared said it to all of us, but his eyes were fixed entirely on Tiffany. She blushed. I resisted the urge to reprimand Jared. It might make Tiffany feel weirder.

“Just be glad he’s not asking you to walk his plank.” Hailey grinned.

“Ugh, okay, no need to give me that image.” I rolled my eyes.

“Want something to drink?” Levi was right next to me, his lips inches from mine. I leaned into him, already a little tipsy. Looking at the “Real Levi” was making it hard for me to resist him.

“Get me my usual.” Levi still hadn’t told me what was in my drink, but it was sweet, strong, and so good.

“Someone’s getting some tonight,” Jared mumbled, following Levi away. Levi heard and turned back to grin at me.

“No, he’s not.” Anne crossed her arms. The effect had her cle**age spilling out ever so slightly from her top. Owen’s eyes widened. If she noticed, she didn’t show it. “Allie made us promise not to let her go home with him if she was drunk, and she’s drunk.”

“I’m going to help them with the drinks.” Owen stumbled away.

I put down my empty glass on a nearby table. “I’m not drunk.”

“You’re getting there.”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to go home with him.”

“Sure…” Hailey rolled her eyes.

The guys returned and Levi took his spot next to me again.

“You make a good looking pirate.” He handed me my drink. “I’d go hunting for buried treasure with you anytime.”

I looked down at my tight, black top with the white ruffles and red ties, but knew it was the length of the black skirt that probably had his attention. “You’d like it better if it were all red, wouldn’t you?”