three people we really got along well with. All thirteen of them were nice for the most part, though, and all of them had something we could talk to them about. Being gay was like that; you could have nothing in common with someone, but the gay thing was always there to fall back on. For me and Sarah, it just meant falling back on our original fake stories we’d told.
Two and a half weeks after our first kiss, Sarah surprised me at lunch with a folded piece of paper in her hand. She and Hannah bore matching grins as she handed it over to me and announced, “Guys, look at what we’re doing tomorrow night.”
I unfolded the paper and took in the colorful writing on it. “Justin Barnes is having a party,” I announced, struggling to sound enthusiastic. “Cool.” He was a football player, which probably meant a night of booze and debauchery. I knew Sarah was probably aching for a party at this point after over a month of nothing, so there was no doubt she’d be dragging me along.
“Awesome.” Connor grinned, leaning over to examine the paper in my hands. “I’m there. Who else is in?”
“Everyone, of course,” Sarah replied. “The whole school should be there, for the most part. Justin throws the biggest parties of the year. Graham and Bonnie, you guys are going, too.”
“Hey, I’m not complaining,” Graham agreed, raising his hands in the air defensively. “I just can’t get caught with alcohol on my breath again. I’ll drive.”
“Perfect. You’re the only one with a car big enough to hold all of us, anyway,” Hannah said.
And that was how on Friday I found myself squished between Dina and Sarah in the middle row of Graham’s eight-person SUV around nine thirty at night. I felt bad telling my parents I was spending the night at Sarah’s, but it wasn’t like that was necessarily a lie. I was going to spend the night at Sarah’s. There was just a small stop in between that I’d failed to mention.
Justin Barnes’s house was kind of huge. The only person I knew who lived in a house bigger than his was Sarah, in fact. It was three stories high and already filled to the brim with teenagers, and I could hear the music blasting from all the way down the street. I wondered briefly if the neighbors would wind up calling the police because of the noise, but then I realized that in this particular neighborhood, the houses were spaced further apart. Justin’s was one of only three on his entire street, and the music was faint as we passed by his neighbor.
Graham parked on the side of the road and we agreed to meet back at his car at eleven-thirty, to give him time to get everyone home before midnight. We split up pretty quickly after we got inside: Dina and Josephine grabbed Bonnie with the intention of forcing her to dance, Connor and Graham went off somewhere – most likely to scope out girls to hit on – and Hannah left to grab a drink and then mingle with the rest of her other friends on the football team and the cheerleading squad.
That left Sarah and I alone to get drinks by ourselves, and although she didn’t bring up Sam at first, I could see her scoping out the other people at the party like she was looking for someone.
“Do you think Sam is here?” I finally asked her, as we stood together near the wall of Justin’s living room, sipping our drinks and watching the crowd of dancers in the center of the room. I mostly watched Dina, Josephine, and Bonnie, who looked like they were having fun in the center of the crowd.
“I don’t know,” Sarah said. “But I’m sticking to the plan either way: don’t approach; be approached.” She smirked at me. “Besides, I can’t do anything with him here, anyway. At least not in front of everyone. I’m here with you.”
“Plenty of empty rooms,” I pointed out, not really meaning it, and she laughed.
“Yeah, I guess. We’ll see.”
We fell silent as I scanned the room for another moment. Right around the time I finally found Sam,