Home > Freeks(5)

Author: Amanda Hocking

I’d been to parties before, but never ones like this. Not only was it packed, but everyone here was dressed like they came off MTV or out of a teen magazine. They were all flashy and bright, while I wore a flowing skirt and a denim jacket almost as old as I was.

“Just one drink!” Selena was backing away. “Stay right here, and I’ll be right back.”

She disappeared into the crowd, presumably running off somewhere to get me a soda. I’d planned on waiting for her to return with it, but people kept bumping into me as they tried to get by.

From the outside, the house had looked glorious—albeit foreboding—and now that I was inside, I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to see it on my own. After spending the past decade living in a motorhome, one of my guiltiest pleasures was looking around actual houses, and I’d never been in one quite as nice as this.

It was a strange setup. The classic antebellum architecture clashed against the ultra-modern plastic furnishings, looking more like they belonged in a showroom in New York than in a two-hundred-year-old house in the Deep South.

Next to the plantation shutters was a round sofa in bright red. A giant shiny white sculpture sat in one corner, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what it was supposed to be. An Andy Warhol print hung on one wall, with a Piet Mondrian on another.

Many of the pieces I recognized from the books I’d picked up in my travels. There wasn’t much to do on the road, so I spent most of the time with my head in a book.

I’d edged my way out of the living room and went into what I can only guess was another sitting room—this one furnished as garishly as the last—but stopped when I caught sight of another painting.

It was an anarchist drawing of graffiti-style writing and paint smeared haphazardly across it, with a cartoon wolf in a top hat lusting after sausage. The only colors were beige, black, white, and red, and there was something abrasive yet captivating about it.

“Wolf Sausage,” a guy said from behind.

When I turned back to see who was speaking, my heart skipped a beat. It was him. The guy from the balcony.

The first thing I noticed—after his eyes, which I could finally see up close were an amazing dark golden brown—was how tall he was. While I’m on the short side, he stood nearly a foot taller than me, and the way he kept his chestnut hair pushed back probably added another inch to him.

He had this imposing presence to him, even though his tone had been friendly, and part of me felt like I should be afraid. It wasn’t that he was handsome—though he was. Dark arched eyebrows, high cheekbones, and a hint of something devilish playing on the smile on his lips—almost like Jim Morrison but with his short hair tamed instead of Morrison’s uncontrolled mane.

I couldn’t really define it—not what should’ve frightened me about him, and not what made me defy that fear. But it was there, quickening my pulse and heightening my senses, and I found myself smiling back at him.

“What?” I asked before I’d gone too long staring at him without speaking.

“The painting,” he said, but he kept his eyes on me. “It’s by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and it’s called Wolf Sausage.”

I glanced back at the picture and noticed that both the words “wolf” and “sausage” had been written on it several times. “That seems like an apt title.”

“Yeah, it is.” An amused smile curled up at the edge of his lips, but his eyes narrowed slightly, as if inspecting me. “I saw you outside.”

“You may have,” I said, pretending not to know what he was talking about. “I was enjoying the night air.”

“Are you a friend of Selena’s, then?” he asked.

Before I could answer, he reached out suddenly and pushed me to the side so a few people could get by. They were laughing loudly and liquid sloshed out of their plastic cups. I would’ve found myself covered in beer if he hadn’t moved me out of the way.

To save me from getting soaked, he’d put his arm around my waist, pulling me closer to him. Our bodies weren’t touching—not exactly, but when he breathed deeply, his chest pressed against mine.

I considered staying in his arms, but that would probably seem creepy and weird since we’d just met. As soon as the people had gone by, I moved away from him, and he dropped his arm.

“So you never answered my question,” he said. “Are you friends with Selena?”

“Kind of, I guess. I just met her.”

“Hmm,” he said, almost as if he didn’t believe me, and I met his gaze evenly. “How did you get invited to this party exactly?”

“There you are!” Selena shouted, saving me from an explanation, as she hurried over to us with a can of Pepsi. “I was afraid you’d left.”

“Nope. I’m still here,” I said.

She handed me the can. “I wasn’t sure what kind you’d like, so I hope this is fine.”

I smiled. “Pepsi is great, thanks.”

“So. I see you met my little brother.” Selena put her elbow on his shoulder, attempting to lean on him, but since he was much taller than her too, it left her at a comically awkward angle. “I don’t know what Mom and Dad fed him as a kid, but he just wouldn’t stop growing.”

He glanced down at his sister. “We were just talking about how you two know each other.”

“Logan is completely smashed, and she helped me haul him inside,” Selena explained, straightening up so she wasn’t leaning on him so inelegantly.

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