I’ve posted an excerpt of the book here, so you can have a preview of what’s to come. Earning Edie is available for pre-orders on Amazon, Apple ibooks and other online bookstores now.
Pre-order “Earning Edie” here, and receive your copy on April 1.
Well, my parents did it again.
They managed to turn what should be a happy occasion into another crapfest.
Sitting on a folding chair under the glaring sun, my hideous yellow gown soaking up enough heat to power a small village, I couldn’t muster much excitement about high school graduation. It was a stepping stone to our future, a milestone in our lives, blah blah blah.
To my right, Jessica Mallick flirted with Brian Morris while handling dueling text messages from her friends. Apparently, she’d made out with someone last night and was now strategizing about how to “catch” him.
Considering at least half the senior class would be leaving town when summer was over, I didn’t see the point. But when it came to high school girls, I was usually the exception, rather than the rule. I hadn’t had a boyfriend yet. And no, I wasn’t a lesbian, even though my cousin Daisy insisted on asking me that question every other year when I saw her for Christmas.
Still, I admired Jessica’s multi-tasking. Sitting directly under the sun on Ashe High’s football field, I was too miserable to focus on anything, much less two-way texting and one-way flirting.
I sweltered under the polyester gown, my skin growing sticky with humidity. Lifting my thick brown hair from my neck to get a little air moving, I snuck another peek at her phone to pass the time.
Another text message: “Doesnt he have gfriend”
“Not 4 long,” Jessica sent back.
The phone chimed with a return text. “You take Carlos; I get Jaime.” Followed by a winky face.
I knew those names.
Carlos Espinoza and Jaime Harris ran with the popular jock circle, pretty far from my more academic group of friends. My closest friend, Lily Brown, sort of surfed between the two circles, making friends with everyone, and she’d been obsessed with Carlos all four years of high school.
Watching him run through girls like soda pop while my awesome friend pined after him made me instinctively dislike him, but Lily had already promised I was going to his graduation party tonight, even if she had to drag me screaming. Lily’s promises often came across more like threats, but I was used to it.
“Lily!” I called across three rows so she could hear me where she sat with the other B names.
She turned, her blue eyes squinted against the bright sunlight.
“I don’t see them,” I said, hoping she’d take my meaning.
Her mouth dropped into a grimace, and she craned her neck to scan the crowd gathering in the football bleachers.
I watched her, rather than the crowd, tired of scouring the bleachers for some sign of my absentee family.
My parents had never been what you’d call good at the parenting thing. They were divorced, which you’d think would mean double the presents and birthday parties. Not so much. Instead, they each shoved parenting responsibilities at each other, and no one picked up the slack.
Instead of two presents, I often got no presents.
They hadn’t attended parent-teacher conferences in ages, which wasn’t that big of a deal. I made good grades anyway.
They’d also skipped my high school band concerts, which was a little harder to swallow. I’d eventually given up the clarinet, so it hardly mattered now. Only I sometimes wondered if I might have kept playing if I’d had someone take an interest. I suspected musical genius wasn’t in my genes, even with an enthusiastic parent in the crowd, but I’d never know for sure.
They’d even forgotten my birthday one hectic year.
But skipping my high school graduation. Really?
A smile lit up Lily’s face and she waved wildly to the crowd. I jerked my head around, hope surging.
My eyes landed on Lily’s brothers and sisters, who waved enthusiastically from the crowd, and my heart settled back into its steadier, if disappointed, rhythm. Figures.
She had a ginormous family, and they were all there. Her parents; her two older brothers in college; and her three sisters still in junior high and high school. It made me wonder where the heck they were all sleeping this summer.
Lily got annoyed by her huge family, but I envied her. There would be plenty of cheers when she crossed the stage.
I’d give anything to have someone in my corner like that.
Thirty minutes later, I shuffled off the stage — after a rousing speech about how we were all persevering like our mascot the Pioneers and the added of humiliation of being called Eddie Mason – to find someone had shown up for me after all.
“Look!” Lily pointed into the flow of people that now swarmed the graduates with congratulations.
Tequila shoved her way to us through the crowd, grinning widely. That girl could rival Lily for the best smile ever. It stretched across her face bursting with uncontained joy.
“You did it, Eeds!” she squealed and pulled me into a hug.
Somehow, I ended up squealing and bouncing up and down with the 13-year-old I mentored. I was supposed to be a model for at-risk youth, but sometimes it seemed like Tequila was the one teaching me about life. My parents hadn’t made it, but Tequila made the effort when it was anything but convenient for her.
“You didn’t have to come. How did you get here?”
Tequila shrugged her bare shoulders above her tube top and said “bus” before popping her bubble gum. She’d paired the bright purple tube top with tight white shorts.
“And what are you wearing? Are you trying to get knocked up?”
Tequila rolled her eyes, used to my mother hen act.
“For real, Edie? I know enough about sex to know you don’t get knocked up just because you look good.” She turned to Lil and gave her a hip bump. “Am I, right? Hmm?”
Lily laughed. “You’re right,” she said, earning a glare from me. “So, you want a ride home, Vodka?”
“Har-har,” Tequila said, used to Lily’s joke of calling her by every liquor except her actual name. “It never gets old.”
Lily gave Tequila a ride home and dropped my at my job, Jumpin’ for Joy, before heading home.
Technically, I had the day off to “celebrate” my big day. I opted to stop by, and see if I could catch an extra shift. Dad had been avoiding the tuition talk, and I was getting a bad feeling about how much financial support I was going to get.
My boss Joy took one look at my face and enforced “bounce therapy,” a term she’d coined for making me go jump in the bouncy houses we managed.
“You need to bounce the blues right out of you, missy!” she scolded playfully, pushing me toward the nearest fire engine red inflatable. “Today is your day. I won’t let you work. Besides, the place is practically empty.”
She had me there. She did a brisk business on the weekends and through birthday parties, but late afternoon and evening was always slow. So, I did as ordered, and reluctantly kicked off my shoes and started jumping.
Between Tequila’s surprise visit and Joy’s enforced bouncing, I felt lighter than I had since I realized my parents weren’t going to appear at graduation. I was almost in the mood to celebrate.
Maybe I would go to that party with Lily.
I’ve been celibate more than a year. For a guy, that’s like, forever.
The reason for my celibacy? The green Prius idling in my apartment parking lot. Or rather, activities with the driver of the Prius. I like cars, but not that much.
I ducked down, my palms sweating and curse words pouring from my lips. I couldn’t handle seeing Elana right now. Or, well, anytime, if I was being honest.
My sister-in-law must have been in town for my cousin’s graduation. I’d missed the ceremonies — and a run-in with her, thankfully — because of a last-minute news meeting at work. A news meeting that was anything but good news.
My column was on the chopping block unless I improved my readership in the next eight weeks. And that column was everything to me. It was my ticket to syndication in larger newspapers, and maybe even a book someday. But only of it was a success, and I was determined it would be, whatever it took.
It was kind of stupid to think I could hide from Elana. Besides being bright orange, my 1969 Dodge Charger was a distinctive classic car, and one I’d spent countless hours working on in Elana’s garage last year. She’d be sure to recognize it.
I smashed the gas pedal to the floor.
The engine revved loudly as I sped up — a feature that usually revved my ego, but today made me cringe — and the wheels squealed as I took a corner too fast.
My cell phone rang before I’d cleared the next block.
Grimacing, I let it go to voicemail.
I didn’t know how long Elana would hang around in the hopes of cornering me. I could go to Mama’s house, but there was always the possibility she’d show up there. Elana had gotten even closer to Mama since my brother died, which made me all kinds of nervous considering the secret we were keeping.
We’d made a stupid mistake. One that could rip out my mother’s heart.
It was every bit the cliché Jerry Springer scenario you might imagine.
My brother Gabriel had been traveling a lot for work, while I’d been spending a lot of time working on our project car in his garage. Hanging out with his wife. His lonely wife.
It doesn’t take much to add two and two.
Gabe and I were supposed to restore the Dodge Charger together, but like Elana, I was feeling his absence. I spent hours over there, working on the car and eating the dinners she made for me. We talked, and we drank wine, and we watched movies together.
Then it happened.
One hook-up. One impulsive fall into bed. One betrayal that couldn’t be undone.
And … hell, there were no excuses to be made. I fucked up. Big time. And there was no taking it back.
The phone stopped ringing, only to start up again. Fuck my life.
I drove aimlessly, gritting my teeth until the phone went silent once more.
Blessed silence filled the car. Elana had given up on reaching me, for now.
I should just man up and talk to her, but what was there to say? She only reminded me of our indiscretion. Of my brother, and the fact I could never make it right with him.
Gabe died in a car accident before I could even think about coming clean and asking for forgiveness. Or at least a good ass-kicking. That might have assuaged the guilt somewhat.
With him gone, and the chance for amends gone with him, I wasn’t sure I’d ever outrun the guilt.
Still unsure of my next move, I drove aimlessly. I needed a place to settle in and work. Shoving the guilt aside, I concentrated on the revelations of today’s news meeting.
I’d been doodling in my notebook, drawing a caricature of my managing editor, Tanya Nelson, as a blowfish shouting at a bunch of distracted guppies when Sean flicked my pen.
My head had shot up to see the blowfish herself staring me down, brown eyes narrowed in annoyance. I quickly flipped my notebook to a fresh page before she spotted her caricature.
“You’re quite the attentive reporter,” she said dryly, drawing a few quiet laughs from the staff. My mouth opened, my mind whirring through potential excuses for my distraction, but she continued on. “We’ve had to cut a reporting position.”
My mouth snapped shut, and I cast an anxious glance around the table. No one was missing. Except Shirley, but Shirley always came in late because she lived on a farm an hour from town. It had to be Shirley … Tanya wouldn’t actually lay me off in public, right?
“That means the rest of you have to shoulder some extra responsibility,” Tanya added, with a meaningful look around the table. A look that said, “Yes, I will be giving you extra work, and no, you won’t be getting any perks in return.”
A wave of relief had hit me. I still had a job. As for the reporting, who cared? My job was to write columns and meaningful features, not cover the daily grind.
“Nick, you’ll have to pick up some extra stories.”
Relief, gone. “But my column—”
“As I was saying when you drifted into la-la land, we’re considering retiring your column, so you can report full time.”
I’d shot from my chair, heart pounding. I’d worked my ass off, done the hard sell to get the damn thing started — and they wanted to discontinue it, already?
Even though I’d argued hard for my column, Tanya hadn’t budged much, outside of giving me an eight-week window to convince her to save it.
To do that, I needed a kick-ass column each and every week for the next eight weeks, and I had until tomorrow afternoon to turn in the first one.
Gotta love being a journalist in the era of dying newspapers.
My cousin’s house caught my attention. I’d turned down Carlos’ street on autopilot, but it was as good a solution as any. My aunt had an open-door policy for family, and I could kick back in their hot tub after I put my brain through the ringer.
I looked out the car window to get a better view of Carlos Espinoza’s house.
It perched on a hilltop impressively, and I could just see the kidney-shaped pool as Lily turned onto a gravel drive that led up to the house. Big columns supported a front porch and put me in mind of the Southern verandas I’d seen in movies.
I knew Carlos lived in this swanky Northwestern neighborhood, but I’d never been inside any of the homes here. Unlike most of our graduating class, I’d never attended one of his parties.
His house was positioned on a large corner lot, with a huge, perfectly manicured lawn. Tonight, cars parked haphazardly along the side of the drive and up on the lawn, giving me the feeling Carlos’ parents weren’t going to be too pleased when they came home. Then again, he threw these parties often enough they must be okay with it. I didn’t understand that, but admittedly, I didn’t understand much about parenting. I’d avoided my own parents since the graduation ceremony.
Lily blared the car horn and waved frantically through the car window at another group of friends. A loud whoop echoed back, and giddy laughter drifted on the breeze.
“Oh yeah, this is going to be that kind of party,” Samantha said gleefully from the front seat.
“What kind of party?” I asked guardedly.
“The best kind,” she answered cryptically.
I decided not to ask exactly what she meant by that, but now I was a little concerned I might be out of my depth.
Generally, I skipped the party scene, preferring a quiet movie with friends or a night in reading when I was alone. Lily had given up on dragging me to parties years ago, but she’d insisted graduation required a celebration.
The car lurched to a stop as Lily found a spare patch of grass to flatten, and I unwound myself from the cramped backseat with a sigh of relief. Carrie and Kelly Williams climbed out behind me; the twins had been noticeably quiet on the trip over, only whispering to each other. But they’d always been their own super duo, giving others only brief glimpses into their lives.
The group straggled up to the house in a disorganized line, and I hung back, while Samantha threw herself into the center of things, grabbing the nearest available guy and hitting the dance floor. Looking into that mass of twisting bodies weaving around furniture — and occasionally tripping over it — I wanted to turn around and run out the door.
“Let’s get some drinks,” Lily suggested, as if she sensed my flight instinct kicking in.
She grabbed my wrist and dragged me to the kitchen. I narrowly dodged an elbow to the face and tripped over not one but two sets of feet on the way there. After that, I stopped trying to track our path and watched the ground for obstacles.
“You kind of know your way around here, don’t you?” I asked suspiciously once we’d reached a bubble of space next to the kitchen bar.
“Maybe,” Lily smirked as she mixed sprite, vodka and some purple concoction into a glass. “Here, take a drink.”
It was obvious Lily wasn’t going to spell it out for me. But I had a feeling she’d been hanging out with Carlos before tonight. I had hoped she’d move on now that we’d graduated, but I guess I was wrong. She’d been crushing on him for far too long to give up now.
I hesitated, sniffing at the drink. It smelled like grape, but also like alcohol, reminding me of that awful cough syrup my mom forced down my throat when I was little.
“Come on, live a little,” Lil urged, already chugging down half a cup of the grape-flavored hangover-in-waiting.
Glancing around the party, taking in the chaos around me, I knew the only way I’d get through the night was if I joined the fun. So, I took a deep breath and braced myself for the worst. Then I slugged down a big gulp.
“Ugh!” My face twisted in disgust.
“Sorry if it’s too strong. I’m an amateur bartender.”
It was definitely too strong, but maybe strong was what I needed tonight. I shuddered, and forced another swallow down. And another, and another. I set down the empty cup proudly, and Lil filled it to the brim again with a grin.
I rolled my eyes, but took it with me as we made our way out of the kitchen.
Samantha grabbed my arm as I passed.
“Dance, girl!” she yelled, shimmying her hips while holding a cup in her left hand and a handful of Alex Combs’ shirt in the other.
I laughed, shaking my head, and plowed through the crowd of loud couples and obnoxious boys playing drinking games, shouting over the music, and shoving each other like a bunch of kids on the playground. I’d need a whole lot more to drink before joining that unruly mass.
“Party pooper!” she shouted after me.
Samantha never did understand people who didn’t want to live loud. She was the life of the party, but that would never be me.
Lily steered me into a group of rowdy graduates that included Carlos, and I hovered at the edges, sipping at my drink and attempting to follow the drunken stories.
“And then she was all, the prom is a special night! And she started crying right in the middle of the dance floor!”
Laughter broke out, though I couldn’t figure out what was funny, having missed most of the story and suspecting I wouldn’t find it funny even if I hadn’t. Just as I raised my cup for another drink, I realized it was empty.
“Here, take mine,” Lily said, shoving her cup at me, even as she turned for the kitchen. “I’m going to grab a beer for Carlos, so I’ll just make another.”
She disappeared into the crowd, and I drifted away from the group, searching out a little breathing room.
Finally, I spotted the staircase and blessed open space not filled with drunken teenagers. I climbed the stairs, taking a seat at the top where I could watch over the party while not smothering in it.
By then, I had made it to my third cup of fruity-flavored alcohol, and was feeling rather disconnected from everything. As I sat, the room below spun slowly, and I leaned against the wall for support.
Graduation is the launching pad to the rest of your lives …
Bass vibrated through the room, undaunted by the wooden door, and rattled the desk. I groaned and tapped the delete key.
Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete.
“You suck,” I muttered, glaring at the screen, which was once again blank.
The curser blinked, as if daring me to come up with something better. I’d been working for two hours — or at least searching for inspiration that long. But after reading, surfing the web and racking my brain, I was no closer to the perfect column topic.
And I was distracted.
A yell went up downstairs. “Body shots!”
It was followed by catcalls, whistles and drunken laughter.
Trying to work in the middle of a party wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had.
Doing my best to block out the noise, I reflected on potential column topics. The art walks piece I’d originally planned sounded like fluff. No way to win over the editors in the bid to keep this column. I needed more time to finish the political piece about the councilwoman who was overspending tax dollars for questionable travel arrangements.
Graduation had seemed like the logical solution, but that was the problem.
It was predictable, aka boring.
The newspaper industry is going down the toilet and as a result, this column is saying goodbye …
I sighed and took my hands off the keys. If there was any brilliance inside me, it wasn’t going to emerge with this party screaming outside my door, and I could definitely use a drink.
The view from the second floor revealed a disaster zone below. Empty plates and beer cans covered every surface. Glistening skin flashed as girls and guys grinded together to the blaring music that rivaled some nightclubs for noise decibels.
I was too old for this crap — or maybe too sober.
I longed for my peaceful apartment. Elana would be gone by now, but given the massive crowd in Carlos’ living room, I’d never get my car out.
I hesitated outside the guest room where I’d been hiding, trying to psych myself up. Just get in and get out. One drink and back to work.
Turning toward the staircase, I noticed a girl sitting alone at the top of the stairs. She wasn’t clubbed up like the other girls at the party, instead dressed in jeans and a green blouse.
I gave her a brief onceover, doing a quick inventory: No body glitter. No makeup. No cleavage.
She must have been dragged to the party by a friend.
“Not too social, are you?” I asked, raising my voice to be heard over the music.
Her brown eyes flicked over to me.
“No,” she said, without the hint of a smile.
If there were a projection screen that put her feelings up on the wall, I was pretty sure hers would say leave me alone.
Oddly reassured, I walked over and dropped down beside her.
She leaned away, pressing closer to the wall.
“Don’t worry, I’m not here to hit on you. I’m not even drunk, believe it or not.”
She nodded, turning her eyes to the crowd below.
She was pretty in an understated way. Her chestnut hair was straight and shoulder-length, held back by a makeshift headband that hinted at a retro style. Her fitted blouse outlined her curves nicely, while her jeans showcased long legs. There was a coltish beauty to her, something young and untamed, and yet I got the impression she’d done little more than run a brush through her hair before running out the door.
She struck me as that type of girl. Low-maintenance.
“Is that why you sought out the least social person at this party?” she asked.
Her lips curved in a smile, but a sad one.
That expression made me curious. Had someone harassed her? Or was she lonely, overlooked because she didn’t spray on enough glitter and flash enough skin?
“I guess so,” I murmured. “Drunk people can be pretty annoying when you’re sober.”
I gave her an opening to tell me some jerk had messed with her, but she just laughed and lifted her half-empty cup.
“I never said I wasn’t drunk.”
I hadn’t missed that, either. Her eyes were too glazed for total sobriety, though she was far from trashed.
“Yes, but you’ve missed the hyper phase and gone straight into the brooding, introspective phase. Much more dignified,” I teased.
She turned back to looking at the crowd below, but I could see the smile she tried to hide.
“Oh Lord,” she said. “Lil is getting in it now.”
She pointed to a slender blonde grinding with … my cousin. Of course.
“Carlos is a total player,” my staircase buddy told me. “I keep telling her that, but she won’t listen. I mean, he’s been with like every pretty girl in our year except Lil. I bet he just couldn’t let graduation pass without saying he scored with them all.”
“Does that include you?”
Now, why did I ask that? I didn’t want to know if this girl was another of Carlos’ conquests. I’d have to bolt, and I was just getting comfortable.
“Uh …” she said awkwardly, and took a gulp from her cup to stall for time.
Shit. She was an ex.
Why had I gone there? Her answer wouldn’t matter. She was too young, and I never dated anyone. Not after Elana.
Anytime I started to think I could move on, the familiar churning of guilt and regret in my gut corrected my mistake.
“I don’t really fall into the pretty girl category. I was never on his radar.”
I sensed her pulling back into herself, as she refused to make eye contact and sipped her drink. I couldn’t leave her hanging like that.
“Carlos is a dick.”
Great. Real classy, Nick.
She burst out laughing in earnest, to my relief.
I decided in that moment Carlos was an idiot. This girl was beautiful, and if she put in half the effort of the glossy girls downstairs, she’d outshine them all.
I watched this guy, whose name I didn’t even know, grinning at me and felt a little lighter than I had all day.
He was older. Somewhere in his twenties, I guessed. And compared to the obnoxious boys downstairs, he was sexy and sophisticated.
Too sophisticated for a high school party.
When I’d first seen him in the hall — a tall, dark stranger stepping out of a bedroom — I shuddered to think what he might be doing there. Now, with his body warming my side as he sat close, I wondered if someone waited inside for him.
He didn’t seem to be in any hurry. His eyes fixed on me while I watched the party and tried to seem unaffected by his gaze.
Why hadn’t I done something more with my hair, or dressed up a little at least?
I dismissed the thought immediately, glancing to the side to take him in once more. He was so far out of my league it was a joke.
His dark hair was short, but neatly styled, and his fitted T-shirt and dark-wash jeans hugged his body perfectly. He was lean, rather than bulky, but with enough muscle definition to show when he leaned back on his elbows and his shirt stretched tighter.
I liked his eyes best, though, a deep blue that contrasted vividly against his olive-toned skin.
In a word: gorgeous.
“Why so glum tonight?” he asked. “The only time you smiled was when I called Carlos a dick. Did he do something to you?”
“No,” I said quickly. “I just had a bad day.”
He stared at me so intently, and with such sincere interest, the words slipped free before I could think them through.
“No one came to my graduation today.”
I shrugged, trying to play off how much it bothered me.
“It’s pretty typical of my parents, actually. They’ve missed a lot of special occasions, but I was really hoping this one would be different, you know?”
“Out of town?”
I shook my head and sighed. “No, they just—” I stopped abruptly and glanced at him. “You don’t need to hear all this.”
“Actually, I’d like to hear it,” he said, leaning in close and lowering his voice. “And, it seems like maybe you’d like to tell it.”
Maybe it was the alcohol loosening my tongue, or maybe I just needed to vent. But I told him my whole sad life story.
At first, I talked about my disappointment with graduation. But he kept asking questions, and he was so easy to talk to, that before I knew it I’d given him a rundown of every birthday my parents had missed, every school concert. Even the story of my parents’ divorce, and the strain with my mom ever since I chose to live with my dad.
I went on and on, taking breaks only to gulp down the rest of my drink. And he soaked it all in, never interrupting, always listening intently.
When I finished, I felt drained but also lighter. As though I’d been carrying a burden of bitterness for so long, I didn’t realize it had made it hard to breathe.
“Wow,” he said when I finally fell silent, my throat a little sore from talking so much. “That is some story.”
“Sorry. I’ve probably bored you.”
“Nah, I’d like to hear more. Like your name, maybe.”
“Oh,” I laughed and held out a hand to shake, trying to ignore the flutters in my stomach when his fingers brushed my palm. “I’m Edie Mason. And you?”
“Nick,” he said as he pumped my hand with exaggerated enthusiasm and a grin that made my heart skip.
“Edie’s an unusual name. You spell that with a Y?”
“No, it’s i-e. E-D-I-E,” I said. “So, would you like to share your sob story now? It’s what drunk people do, apparently.”
“Ah, but you forgot,” he said with a slight smile, “I’m not drunk; you are. So why don’t you tell me more? Is your mother remarried too?”
“What are you, training to be a bartender?”
He laughed and nudged me with his shoulder. “No, really, I’m interested.”
I didn’t pause to consider why he wanted my story. It was just nice to have someone interested. So, I rolled my eyes at him good-naturedly and kept answering his questions until Lily arrived.
I didn’t notice her presence on the stairs until she tapped my shoulder.
“Edie, we’re getting ready to leave.”
I looked up. “Oh. Already?”
Lil rolled her eyes. “It’s 2 a.m., and Samantha’s got to work early tomorrow.”
Time had flown by while I talked to this guy. Nick.
He stood up and grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet, where I swayed for a moment before catching my balance against the wall.
“I’m Nick,” he supplied to Lily. “Edie and I were just talking about graduation.”
“Uh-hmm,” Lily said noncommittally. “And will Edie ever see you again?”
“Lil! He doesn’t have to see me again.”
Lil thought I was naive, and Nick was looking to take advantage. As if a guy that good-looking would actually pursue me.
Nick just grinned at Lily as if he knew exactly what she was about.
“I’m sure Edie and I will meet again,” he said. “At any rate, she can figure out how to find me.”
To my disappointment — but not surprise — he didn’t offer a phone number or ask for mine. He started down the stairs.
“What’s that mean?” Lily called after him, but he didn’t answer.
“Oh, well, let’s get you out of here. You can sleep over at my house, so you don’t go home drunk,” Lily said, helping me down the stairs.
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